Ainsworth Hot Springs-Balfour
Ainsworth Hot Springs and Balfour are neighbouring unincorporated communities located about 15 km (9.3 mi) from each other and are situated on the north shore of Kootenay Lake. Ainsworth Hot Springs is best known for its natural hot springs, considered to be the best commercial hot springs in British Columbia, as well as Cody Caves, a network of limestone caves. Balfour, located at the juncture of Kootenay Lake with its West Arm and is the western terminus of the Kootenay Lake Ferry, which at 8 km (5 mi) to Kootenay Bay, is said to be the longest toll-free vehicle ferry in the world.
Balfour is about 35 km (22 mi) east of Nelson on Highway 3A, which takes about 25 minutes. Ainsworth Hot Springs is an additional 15 minutes north of Balfour via Highway 31.
- Mountain Man Mike's Bus Service, ☏ , [email protected]. Twice per week service between Kaslo and Vancouver with stops in Balfour, Nelson, Castlegar, Christina Lake, Grand Forks, Greenwood, Rock Creek, Osoyoos, Keremeos, Princeton, Manning Provincial Park, Hope, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, and New Westminster. Weekly service between Calgary and Kaslo with stops in Okotoks, High River, Claresholm, Lethbridge, Fort Macleod, Pincher Creek, Sparwood, Fernie, Cranbrook, Creston, Salmo, Nelson, and Balfour.
The Kootenay Lake Ferry is a free ferry that crosses Kootenay Lake between 1 Balfour to 2 Kootenay Bay (located 70 km (43 mi) north of Creston) and connects Highway 3A; the ferry is about 8 km (5 mi) long which takes about 35 minutes. Sailings are about every 50 minutes during the summer and every 100 minutes during the winter; the schedule is subject to change and there can be delays during peak times.
Drivers coming from Creston and points-east wishing to bypass the ferry can take the Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3) west to Salmo, across Kootenay Pass, and then Highway 6 to Nelson, a 2-hour drive under normal (summer) driving conditions.
By public transit
- BC Transit (West Kootenay Transit System), toll-free: . Offers bus routes in the region, including Monday to Saturday service connecting Balfour, Castlegar, Fruitvale, Nelson, Rossland, Slocan City, and Trail.
- Route 10 operates between Balfour and Nelson (55 minutes) from Monday to Saturday.
- Health Connections trips three days per week between Balfour and Kaslo. Health Connections trips are open to everyone to ride, but must be reserved in advance and trips to medical appointments receive priority
- 1 J.B. Fletcher General Store Museum, 3602 Sutton Street, Ainsworth Hot Springs, ☏ , jbfle[email protected]. Restored heritage building that serves as a museum and contains a retail shop with unique gifts by local artisans.
- 2 Pilot Bay Lighthouse, Pilot Bay Road, Kootenay Bay (Pilot Bay Provincial Park). Pilot Bay Lighthouse is located on a 0.6 km lightly out and back trail a short drive from the Kootenay Bay Ferry Terminal. The lighthouse offers scenic views and is good for all skill levels.
- 1 Ainsworth Hot Springs (Spirit Waters at Ainsworth Hot Springs), 3609 Hwy 31, Ainsworth Hot Springs (Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort), toll-free: , [email protected]. Temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Consist of warm mineral waters in a natural cave and pool. The hot springs originate around the Cody Caves, above and to the east of the resort. The warm mineral water enters the system at a temperature of 47°C (117°F) before it is cooled to an average of 42°C (108°F) for the 150-foot horseshoe caves, and an average temperature of 35°C (96°F) for the main lounging pool. Adult - $14.00; Senior (60+) - $13.00; Youth/Student (13-17) - $12.00; Child (3-12) - $10.00; under 3 - free; Family (2 adults/2 children ages 3-17) - $40.00, extra child $9.00.
- 2 Cody Caves (Cody Caves Provincial Park), Ainsworth Hot Springs. Cody Caves are a network of limestone caves in the Selkirk Mountains near Ainsworth Hot Springs and are protected by Cody Caves Provincial Park. Approximately 800 m (875 yards) of the Cody Caves passageways are explorable. The caves have several types of calcite formations, such as stalagmites, stalactites, soda straws and flowstone and the Ainsworth Hot Springs originate from the caves.
- Cody Caves Tours, Cody Caves Provincial Park (approx 35 min from Ainsworth Hot Springs), ☏ , [email protected]. Offers guided tour of Cody Caves, offering a variety of tour packages that will appeal to all adventurous types. For anyone age 5 and up to who are capable of a moderate hike to those that enjoy a much more strenuous and physical adventure.
- Boating and fishing. Kokanee, Rainbow Trout and Burbot are all present in Kootenay Lake with various marinas and public boat launches available.
- Cycling. There is both road and mountain biking in the area.
- 3 Harrop Cable Ferry (8 km W of Balfour). Runs across Kootenay River, accessed from Highway 3A, connecting to communities of Harrop and Procter on the south bank. Service is on demand, 24 hours, and crossing time takes 5 minutes.
- 4 Balfour Golf Course, 602 Queens Bay Road, Balfour, ☏ , toll-free: , [email protected].
- 5 Kokanee Springs Resort, Crawford Bay, ☏ , toll-free: , [email protected]. 18 hole, par 71. Considered by many to be the flagship of Kootenay golf courses, is situated in a mountain setting on Kootenay Lake. Every hole offers golfers spectacular panoramic views of the Kokanee Glacier and surrounding area. Restaurant and accommodations available on site.
Balfour has a grocery store. Crawford Bay (located near Kootenay Bay, across the ferry) is home to a number of handcrafted artisans.
Eat & drink
- Dock 'N' Duck, 7924 Balfour Wharf Road, Highway 3A, Balfour, ☏ .
- rel-ish at the Osprey, 602 Queens Bay Road, Balfour (Balfour Golf Course), ☏ .
- Ktunaxa Grill, 3609 Hwy 31, Ainsworth Hot Springs (Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort), toll-free: , [email protected].
- The Village Bakery, 284 3rd Street, Procter (accessed via the Harrop Cable Ferry), [email protected]. Located in the historic Procter Schoolhouse.
- 2 Ainsworth Motel, 3595 Hwy 31, Ainsworth Hot Springs, ☏ , toll-free: , [email protected]. from $95 (peak season) $85 (off-season).
- Ainsworth Hot Springs Suites, 3620 Highway 31, ☏ , [email protected]. Lake front accomodations located directly across from the hot springs resort.
- 4 Kootenay Lakeview Spa Resort & Event Centre, 1285 Queens Bay Road, Balfour, ☏ , toll-free: , [email protected]. Encompasses 60 acres above the western shores of Kootenay Lake.
|Routes through Ainsworth Hot Springs-Balfour|
|New Denver via ← Kaslo ←||N S||→ END|
|Castlegar ← Nelson ←||W E||→ ferry → Creston → END|