Harrison’s natural hot springs bring the Tropics close to home

A Hawaii-style escape on a low-carb(on) diet.

Credit: Harrison Resort

BC’s Harrison Hot Springs Resort offers the tropical vibe of Hawaii without the hefty C02 price tag

Isn’t it marvelous to lie back in a warm swimming pool on a cool spring evening and watch your worries float away with the steam gently rising from the rippled surface? Ahhh, paradise…

If only Gaia felt the same way. Alas, the odd solar-thermal setup notwithstanding, pools are generally pretty bad news for the planet. According to a 2008 Natural Resources Defense Council report, America’s watery playgrounds send enough CO2 skyward in heating and circulating the water to equal the impact of about 1.3 million cars and SUVs. It’s a similar story here in Canada.

All that said, I recently found myself in full-bliss mode at Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa, marinating in a 35-degree-Celsius blob-shaped outdoor pool while my kids frolicked in the nearby waterfall. That’s because these allegedly healing waters—at the head end of a gorgeous lake just a 90-minute drive east of Vancouver—are heated by the earth’s own power plant.

For as long as anyone can remember, a pair of nearby natural thermal springs—the 40-degree “Potash” and the 65-degree “Sulfur”—have gushed hot water from deep underfoot. The resort pumps the agua to the hotel as well as a nearby public pool, which it also owns. The water is cooled slightly and chlorinated before reaching chillaxin’ weekenders like me.

This place was into geothermal heat way before it was trendy.

It’s a green angle that the resort doesn’t so much as mention to the 100,000-odd guests who roll through each year. And the good-earthly vibes don’t stop there. In often rain-swept Vancouver, these hot pools—surrounded by tasteful rockwork, plants and a cedar walkway, with views of the steep green hillside opposite—are about as close as you can get to a Hawaii-style escape, without actually boarding a jet. Close your eyes, and the whole setup can almost feel tropical.

Be sure to bring your bikes. Though the village of Harrison itself isn’t much to look at, pedal south to explore the farms and dairies of nearby Agassiz—including Farmhouse Natural Cheeses, which makes incredible cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses (try the nutty “country morning”) and Limbert Mountain Farm, which offers a tearoom serving 100-metre salads and light lunches. Also be sure to drop in at Canadian Hazelnut, and pick up a selection of flavoured and candied nuts.

All in all, it’s a getaway you can feel good about.

Biking in Harrison Hot Springs



James Glave

James Glave is an author (Almost Green), writer and communications consultant focusing on creative solutions to global challenges. His media career included stops at Wired News and Outside magazine, and he has worked on campaigns such as the TckTckTck.org climate project. He is active in his community around smart growth, food security, active transportation and more. Twitter