WORDS BY MORGAN DINSDALE | MARCH 5, 2018
Across this vast country, scattered like constellations, are beautiful places tucked away into the wilderness, places cherished by their local communities and sought by wanderlust travelers roaming off the beaten path.
Nakusp, British Columbia is one of those places.
Quietly nestled overlooking Upper Arrow Lake rests this quaint and friendly village; tranquil escape from city life and gateway to exhilarating adventures. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing read under the cedar forests with a nice glass of wine and a view after a soak in a local hot spring, or tackling an ultra-trail marathon across the hills, Nakusp has something for everyone.
Kick Back in Mineral-Rich Hot Springs
For thousands of years, First Nations across British Columbia have soaked in the warm waters of naturally occurring hot springs to heal and rejuvenate. Hot springs are formed when groundwater that has seeped through the Earth’s crust is forced, under pressure, against hot rocks below ground, back to the surface. The water found in natural hot springs contains a variety of different minerals including calcium and sodium bicarbonate. When you bathe in a hot spring your skin soaks in these minerals known to boost blood circulation, reduce mental and physical stress, foster clearer skin, promote sleep, and relieve chronic muscle pain and arthritis.
Nakusp is home to a number of hot springs, showcasing a variety of temperatures, pools and mineral-rich waters. Nakusp Hot Springs, nestled against a mountain backdrop and towering above Kuskanax Creek, has such hot water coming out of the ground that it has to be cooled before being pumped into the pools. Halcyon Hot Springs imparts magnificent views of the Arrow Lakes and the Selkirk Mountains and offers a wonderful Dine & Dip package including delicious eats at its own Kingfisher Restaurant.
Summer Farmer’s Market
From mid-May to mid-October, Nakusp hosts a bustling Farmer’s Market each Saturday showcasing fresh local produce, artisan crafts and other hidden treasures of the region. While the town is home to several delicious restaurants, including a Tolkien inspired café, the Farmer’s Market is the perfect place to fill your picnic basket on a bluebird summer’s day with fresh eats and delicious treats and delight in the flavors of the region. It’s also a great way to get connected with the community, like the Nakusp & Area Community Trails Society, whose booth at the market helps coordinate informal group hikes on the various trails in the area throughout the summer.
Hikes with a Breathtaking Backdrop
When it comes to hiking Nakusp offers terrains for all abilities of adventurers, from easy strolls along the Waterfront Walk to day trips among the ancient red cedar forests to the challenging climb towards Saddle Mountain. There are nine pristine trails maintained in the area by the Nakusp & Area Community Trails Society, all of which highlight the untouched beauty of this remote paradise. If you’re looking for a more challenging quest then venture out to the Naumulten Lodge which sits at 2,208m/7,285ft in the Valkyr Range above the village of Burton. This backcountry lodge doubles as a base for self-guided or Valkyr Adventures’ professionally guided alpine hiking trips in the summer and backcountry skiing adventures in the winter. Whichever trail you choose you can be certain you will take in breathtaking vistas, encountering incredible wildlife, and find a smile spreading wider across your face with every step.
Nakusp Annual Wine Festival
Located in the southeastern corner of British Columbia, the Kootenay region is home to pristine rivers, waterfalls, hot springs, alpine meadows and snow-capped mountains for as far as the eye can see. Although a relatively new viticultural area, the region, in select microclimates, has grown grapes since 1995. British Columbia has since become one of Canada’s premier wine destinations, with plentiful vineyards sprawled across the province. In honor of this Nakups’ Rotary Club and the Arrow Lakes Grape Growers Society partner to host an annual Wine Festival held each spring at the Lodge at Arrow Lakes. Showcasing local B.C wineries accompanied by delicious food this affair is typically sold-out, so get your name in early. Monies raised from the event support local community projects as well as Rotary International’s efforts to eradicate polio.
For motorcycle enthusiasts, the ride from Creston, BC to Nakusp, BC is not to be missed. This beautiful drive showcases the hidden gems of interior British Columbia with little traffic, great pavement and perfect corners, twists and turns, and ups and downs. It is a motorcyclists’ dream roller coaster that follows the shoreline of Kootenay Lake along highway 3A before crossing the lake on a short, free ferry ride takes you to highway 31 toward the shores of Slocan Lake. The route then slowly winds down to the much-loved Riders Retreat Motorcycle campground in Nakusp. Visit in August and you’ll be treated to the Nakusp Hotsprings Rally, a tradition that has BMW enthusiasts from all over North America returning year after year.
Music in the Park
What better way to take in a beautiful evening than sitting by the water and taking in stunning views while enjoying the talents of local and visiting musicians? Every Wednesday evening in July and August you can enjoy free music from 6:30-8:30pm at the gazebo in Rotary Park, across from the beach. The weekly event features musicians of all genres from across British Columbia and beyond, and is a relaxing way to unwind after a day adventuring in the hills surrounding Nakusp. Grab a lawn chair or a picnic blanket, sit back, and soak up the sounds.
The Sufferfest Race Series
Home to many outdoors enthusiasts, Nakusp hosts the Sufferfest Race Series each summer with a myriad of races for cyclists, runners, and triathletes. From the Burton Amazing Triathlon and Relay Race to the Wildside Enduro to the Nakusp Road Bike Invitational, summer is packed with opportunities to get out, push yourself and compete against athletes of all levels. The interior of British Columbia has long been known for its exceptional mountain biking terrain which is showcased in several of these events including the much-loved Nakusp Supercross CX Bike Race, offering traditional or classic style cyclocross over a 2.5-3km course, winding back and forth along the shores of the Arrow Lakes. Designed for all ages and all abilities, these events are a great way to explore Nakusp while breaking a sweat.
Looking for a place to stay in Nakusp? Check out the Lodge at Arrow Lakes.