Melt your cares away in a magical setting

Radium Hot Springs, in Kootenay National Park is a delightful winter getaway that will be sparkling magnificently when the Winter Radiance lights up.

The ladies and gents of Canadian Rockies Hot Springs, operated by Parks Canada, have been building a frozen waterfall since the start of December that will become a fixture on the Hot Springs’ retaining wall this winter.

The three-tiered “icefall” will be the main feature of Winter Radiance, which starts Dec. 20. It’s one of the most relaxing and exciting experiences to be had, possibly since home entertainment systems were first installed.

“We’re going to have potlights and lights and we want it just to be really dramatic,” said Laura Armstrong, assistant marketing coordinator of CRHS.

Brent Peters, an expert in ice building gave a lot of tips and helped set up the frame. You may be familiar with Peters’ winter creations; he’s the man behind the ice wall at Banff’s Snow Days.

Art students from Invermere will also contribute to the display. On Dec. 19, the students will sculpt a bighorn ram out of snow, which will sit above the waterfall.

“We’re just trying to create a really wonderful winter display for people to enjoy when they’re here,” said Donna Cook, marketing coordinator of CRHS.

That’s adding to the natural beauty that already exists in the frosty weather.

The steam from the hot water rises and forms heavy snow crystals that cling onto every surface – giving the atmosphere a magical feel.

The size of the pool makes the soak even more enjoyable. In the thick mist you can hear shouting kids, but you don’t see them as they splash on the other side. It’s totally relaxing, as people can just swim slowly past each other and fade into their own private steam cloud.

“In here it’s so big – you’re not close to other people, you can really just bring your whole family and relax,” says Armstrong.

A home away from home

After staying less than 24 hours in Radium, I daydream about my next stay at the Bighorn Meadows Resort. We arrived in Radium when the sun was long gone, so we saw only quaint hotels and buildings lit by street lamps as we drove through the town.

I close my eyes now and picture the Sunday morning when I opened the window shutters and got a wonderful vista of the Purcell mountain range gleaming in the morning light. In the foreground were more than 30 white butts of the resident herd of bighorn sheep grazing on the frosted golf course.

But the burger I ate at the Fire’D Up Breakfast & Burgers more than made up for having to cook my own meal. Looking down the menu, half-dead with hunger, my eyes could only focus on one word – LOADED, with onion rings, and the tastiest mushrooms in the world topping a delicious thick meat patty.Stepping out of the door, I got yet another amazing Rocky Mountain view. I felt like I had woken up in a dream where I now lived in Radium. The one-bedroom apartment suite in the 700 block felt like my shinier home-away-from-home. With a fully equipped kitchen – I made note that next time I stay here I’ll have to bring groceries.

The burger was piled twice the height that my mouth could open, but I found a way to eat the whole thing – with a salad. The colour came back to my cheeks after a few bites and a couple of swigs of Whistler’s Powder Mountain Lager.

Our waitress had endless stories to tell of life and wildlife within the Radium community.

The locals and wildlife are totally chill with sharing the town. They have to be since the town and Kootenay National Park share borders. The locals know how to be cautious around the animals, and the animals mostly keep to themselves.

“Radium is a really great place to come and spend some time in the winter,” said Kara Cassidy, administrator Tourism Radium Hot Springs.

Radium is only 28 kilometres from Panorama and surrounded by spaces for all kinds of winter activity, from snowmobiling to tobogganing.

The Catamount Glacier is open on a temporary basis from Feb.14 to May 31 for only motorized sports vehicles, such as snowmobiles and ski-doos. Any other time it can only be accessed in the summer by hiking.

This winter in Radium is full of cool – and warm – experiences. The luminescent icefall is only around until March. As soon as the temperature hits -10C and warmer, the icicles start to melt away.

Just like your troubles when you take a soak in the hot pools.