Touring British Columbia’s Hot Springs

Robert Smith takes us on a tour of British Columbia’s Hot Springs aboard his 1982 Laverda 1200 TS Mirage.

The author at Rogers Pass on the Trans-Canada Highway. Photo by Robert Smith

In 1811, explorer David Thompson of the Northwest Company set out to map the Columbia River from its source in the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean. No doubt, at the end of a hard day’s travel, he and his party would have welcomed soaking in an outdoor hot tub..

And while I have no evidence that Thompson actually visited any of the region’s hot springs, it seems pretty likely his party would have taken advantage of those they found. British Columbia’s interior is dotted with mineral springs heated by subterranean magma, and I plan to try a few.

Southern British Columbia shares much of its history and geography with the Pacific Northwest U.S. The Coast Range extends north into British Columbia, as do the Cascade Mountains, while the Rockies form the Province’s eastern border. Between the coast and the Cascades are lush rainforests. In the middle, the northern reaches of the Sonoran give British Columbia a true desert, while the Columbia River watershed drains the rain and snowmelt from the Rockies’ western slopes.

Westside Road snakes along Okanagan Lake. Photo by Robert Smith

Early explorers traded with the indigenous peoples for beaver pelts, and the goal of David Thompson’s trip was to establish a fur trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River. This would also reinforce England’s claim to the region that is now Washington State. Sadly for Thompson, a party sponsored by John Jacob Astor beat him to the mouth, and established the town of Astoria. (The Oregon Treaty of 1846 eventually settled the Washington-British Columbia border at the 49th parallel.)

2/27/2021 10:33:46 AM

Wow what a great tour of the hot springs of British Columbia by Robert Smith aboard that beautiful Laverda Mirage! I had to grab the atlas and follow his every turn and stop, even made a few wrong turns myself as I tried to follow his trail then caught up along the way. It inspired me during these cold days of February to plan a trip of the many hot springs here in our great state of Colorado. Thanks Robert.

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