Alberta is one diverse province. Sporting not only mountains, the Canadian Badlands, prairies and boreal forest, we’ve got several hot springs bubbling below the surface. We’re going to dive into where you can find soothing soaks at Alberta hot springs.
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Alberta Hot Springs
While it’s true there’s more natural hot springs in BC than in Alberta, we’ve still got some choice spots for a dip. Most of Alberta’s Hot Springs are family-friendly and all have healing properties thanks to the high concentration of minerals in the thermal water.
Hot springs have been used by Canada’s Indigenous Peoples for centuries. Bathing in these waters can soothe sore muscles, set you up for a blissful night’s sleep and even help relieve symptoms of certain ailments like arthritis. Here’s a look at the best known hot springs in Alberta (and a few popular ones just outside our borders).
Note: Due to COVID-19 some hot springs facilities may be closed. While we aim to update posts as quickly as possible, it’s best to directly check with the facility you want to visit before arriving.
Hot Springs in Banff
Banff is one of the only places in Western Canada with two very different options for soaking in mineral water. The first hot springs in Banff option is a public, commercial hot springs that’s family friendly. The second is at Fairmont Banff Springs and is for spa guests only. More on each of these options is below.
Banff Upper Hot Springs
Banff Upper Hot Springs are the most popular hot springs in all of Alberta. Run by Parks Canada, it’s located on Sulphur Mountain, about 4km outside of Banff townsite. The springs are fed by 100% natural mineral water and the temperature stays between 37 and 40°C.
The Upper Hot Springs has full amenities including towel and swimsuit rentals, change rooms, a gift shop and food options. There are also family rates available and prices include a locker rental. Single entry is very reasonable – under $10.
Note: The Upper Hot Springs are currently closed due to COVID-19.
Where to stay?
The closest hotel to Banff Upper Hot Springs is the Rimrock Resort. It’s got some of the best views out of any hotel in Banff. They also have good drink and happy hour specials. There’s a large indoor pool and a spa if you don’t feel like soaking in the hot springs every day.
Fairmont Banff Springs
The thermal waters at Fairmont Banff Springs aren’t, sadly, piped in from Banff Upper Hot Springs. (Though they used to be nearly a century ago.) Still, visitors to Willow Stream Spa located in Fairmont Banff Springs can take to the mineral waters in their traditional Kur pool.
This Kur pool is modelled after the grand mineral pools in Europe. It’s gorgeous, under a domed ceiling and framed by floor to ceiling windows. When you float, you can hear music underwater.
The pools (besides the Kur, there are three plunge pools with cascading waterfalls!) are adult only and are accessible through spa purchase. Pro tip: be sure to time your spa treatment appropriately. You want want to take the waters before getting a manicure or pedicure.
Note: During COVID-19 the mineral pools may be closed, but spa treatments are still available.
Kananaskis Nordic Spa
Full disclosure: like Willow Stream Spa, this Nordic spa isn’t a natural hot spring. There are no thermal waters here, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth visiting. Kananaskis Nordic Spa is Alberta’s first Nordic spa, and the facility has a number of saunas, steam rooms and outdoor pools of varying temperatures.
It’s a blissful place to spend the day – especially if you’re able to snag an outdoor hammock. Dining and alcohol is available on-site, and you can book in for a massage. It’s an adults only spa, but there’s plenty of kid’s programming at Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, situated a few steps away.
Mist Mountain Hot Springs
Mist Mountain Hot Springs is Alberta’s true non-commercial, natural hot springs pool. It’s only accessible by hiking and truthfully, can be a bit confusing to find. To get there, head into the Kananaskis along Highway 40.
Before you set off though, add the GPS coordinates (50.522813°N, 114.883516°W) into your phone or GPS. Follow these coordinates to the trailhead. Once you get there, park off to the side and follow the trail until you reach the grassy meadow. At the T Junction, take a left and walk around the mountain. Cross the waterfall stream and head up to a bank and you should find the hot springs. The hike takes about 2-3 hours and is 8 km round trip.
Like most natural hot springs, there’s nowhere to change, so come prepared. There’s also nothing to protect you from the elements, so dress accordingly. The main road is closed during winter, so make sure you head to the springs between July and November.
Another good tip is to head there as early as possible. This hot spring is very small and only fits about 2 people. If you show up too late, you’ll be waiting around to take your turn.
Overnight in the Kananaskis
If you’re looking for a place to stay in the area, check out Kananaskis Mountain Lodge. Kananaskis Nordic Spa is on-site, and they have lovely renovated loft rooms, plus some fantastic dining options – love, love, love their burger.
Situated on the same grounds is Crosswaters Resort. They have an adults only wellness floor with fantastic amenities like in-room fireplaces, yoga mats, infused spa water, pillow spray and too cute little sleeping bags to put your devices in at night.
For a comprehensive listing of all the hotels in the Kananaskis region – close to both Mist Mountain Hot Springs and Kananaskis Nordic Spa, click here. For details on all the campgrounds in the region, check out this post.
Miette Hot Springs
Picturesque Miette Hot Springs can be found 61km east of Jasper and 51km west of Hinton. Like the hot springs in Banff and Radium, these Jasper hot springs are run by Parks Canada.
Miette Hot Springs are the hottest hot springs in all the Canadian Rockies, flowing at 54°C from the site. By the time the water reaches the public hot springs, it’s close to 40°C. These springs are 100% natural mineral water, comprised of: sulphate, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium and sodium.
Like Upper Hot Springs in Banff, Miette offers full amenities, including change rooms, a gift shop and food options. Single entry is under $10.
Stay near Miette Hot Springs
For accommodation, you can stay at one of the many hotels in Jasper or Hinton. Pocahontas Cabins would be your closest hotel option to the springs and is less than a 30-minute drive away. You can stay in a lodge or their log cabins are super sweet with loft bedrooms, full kitchen, dining and living room area. A wood burning fireplace and seasonal outdoor pool are the icing on the cake!
When driving to the hot spring, head northeast of Jasper on along HWY 16 towards Edmonton. You’ll turn off at Pocahontas Cabins and will drive to the end of Miette Road to reach the springs. If you want to camp, Pocahontas Campground is also nearby.
Note: Miette Hot Springs are closed until Spring 2021.
Hot Springs near Alberta
There are also plenty of hot springs near Alberta. If you live or are visiting close to the borders of Saskatchewan or BC, you’ll find some worthy hot spring options just outside the province.
Temple Gardens Mineral Spa
Of all the things to do in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, visiting Temple Gardens Mineral Spa is probably my favourite. While the vibe is more public swimming pool than spa, its two connecting mineral pools are loaded with minerals. You feel their weight within seconds of entering the pool
Each pool contains sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, bicarbonate, sulphate, boron, fluoride, silicon and strontium. The water flows at around 43°C. The outdoor pool is available year-round and connects to the indoor pool. The indoor pool has various depths and temperatures.
Hotel guests have access to the pool from 7 am all week. Public guests can visit between 10 am and 8:30 pm Monday-Friday and 12 pm and 8:30 pm on Sunday. Prices range from $10-$17, depending on age and the season. Kids are most welcome.
The pools are within Temple Gardens Hotel, so this is by far the best place to stay. You’ll feel so relaxed after soaking in these waters, you won’t want to get in your car and drive, trust! The rooms aren’t fancy, but they’re clean and come with a mini fridge. And you can’t beat walking to the pools in your bathrobe and slippers.
Located at Manitou Beach Saskatchewan, Manitou Springs is known as the Dead Sea of Canada. That’s because Little Manitou Lake is a salt water lake, fed by an underground spring. These waters contains magnesium, carbonate, sulphate, potassium, natural mineral salts, sodium, chloride, calcium, silica, and sulphur.
Thanks to the salt water, you can actually float in the lake or head into Manitou Springs Hotel and Mineral Spa to use their indoor facility (which looks like a community pool). Hotel guests at Manitou Springs Hotel get unlimited free swimming, but if it’s summer, the lake is more atmospheric.
Radium Hot Springs
Less than a 3-hour drive from Calgary, Radium Hot Springs is one of the most popular hot springs in B.C. Run by Parks Canada, it’s similar to Banff’s Upper Hot Spring and Jasper’s Miette Hot Springs with regards to pricing (cheap), pool rules and locker room facilities.
Radium’s thermal water is odourless and the pools are very family friendly. There’s more hot springs nearby Radium, but this is the closest one to Alberta. For more information about BC Hot Springs, check out this comprehensive post.
Where to stay?
Prestige Resort is a family-friendly hotel in the town of Radium (the hot springs is just on the edge of town). You can walk to pretty much all the shops and restaurants from here and they sport an indoor pool.
What’s your favourite hot spring to visit in Alberta?
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