From glaciers to hot springs

Radium Hot Springs offers mountain sledders exceptional high terrain riding and natural hot springs

by Trish Drinkle

Snowmobilers riding along a glacier in the mountains.
From February 15th, snowmobilers can ride the stunning Catamount Glacier. Riders must keep in mind, though, that North Star Glacier, which is right next to Catamount, is strictly off-limits. Tamara Osborne/Steve Pacsay photo

Considered the warm side of the Rockies, Radium Hot Springs, B.C., hosts some of the best mountain sledding on the planet. Comfortable temperatures and frequent fresh, dry powder create the perfect storm of awesome when it comes to sledding. Located three hours west of Calgary, Alberta, Radium Hot Springs offers a wide variety of accommodations— such as hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, cabins and RV campgrounds.

Picture an epic pow-filled day, complete with a soak in the healing mineral hot springs, which are located in the townsite of Radium Hot Springs. Odourless and clear, these waters revive and relax a weary snowmobiler. 

Temperatures in the area usually sit around the -10 C to -15 C zone, but cold snaps in mid-January can occur where the temp dips to -20 C. Dry, frequent powder is the result of this accommodating temperature range. Many riders love this area as it’s just cold enough to keep you comfortable when exerting energy while riding, resulting in minimal goggle fogging and overheating. 

Something for everyone at Forster Creek

Forster Creek, located 20 kilometres west of Radium Hot Springs, is maintained by the Windermere Valley Snowmobile Society. This area hosts a variety of mixed terrain—including open meadows for carving and playing, steeper climbs for the adrenalin junkie and some great basic tree riding for the bushwhackers out there. Riders of all levels can find thrills and excitement riding Forster. It can get high in elevation, some points reaching over 10,000 feet, so be prepared for the elevation change.

In this area, you will find the absolutely stunning Catamount Glacier, which is open from February 15 to May 31. Outside those times, it is off-limits to snowmobilers and is utilized by a heli-ski operation. The glacier is epic to ride, but make certain you know your boundaries as the North Star Glacier is right beside Catamount Glacier and it is strictly off-limits. There is no signage indicating the change of glaciers, so for the sake of all enthusiasts out there, know before you go. The first glacier is Catamount and the second is North Star.

Awesome alpine riding

Brewer Creek is another popular ride area in the Radium Hot Springs region. Situated 17 kilometres south of Invermere, Brewer Creek offers moderate to intermediate alpine riding. The access trail in is not groomed, but it leads you to epic meadows and awesome alpine riding. There are a few slide paths on the trail in so exercise common sense and caution when riding, as you would riding any other mountain ride zone. 

For the experts only

The Rocky Point ride area is considered an advanced ride zone. Located west of the rural community of Brisco, this area is accessed along the Bugaboo Forest Service Road. Extreme caution is always suggested as the six-kilometre trail in gains over 900 metres in elevation with many slide paths and terrain traps along the way.

Check the avalanche forecast before you go, be prepared with the appropriate mountain riding survival gear, and know your terrain before you head out. Once in the play zone, you will find many alpine basins to quench your thirst for dry, deep powder. Riding along the Grizzly Ridge gives you an incredible view of the Bugaboo Mountains. 

Education and preparation are key to making your mountain ride experience an enjoyable one. Temperatures can fluctuate immensely from morning to afternoon so layering is key to staying warm and dry. Avalanche training is recommended before any mountain riding adventure is embarked upon and classes are being offered all across Western Canada from many educators. More information can be found at the Canadian Avalanche Centre’s website.

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