This stretch of highway passes through a deep valley chock-full of commercial facilities like world-class golf courses, resorts, and hot springs. The low elevation makes for relatively mild winters and an early start to the summer season. And with the Purcell Mountains on one side and the Rockies on the other, the valley certainly doesn’t lack for scenery.
Continuing north, the Rockies close in and the scenery becomes unbelievably beautiful. Twenty-eight kilometers (17.4 miles) north of Skookumchuck, an unsealed logging road takes off east into the mountains, leading to 1,994-hectare (4,930-acre) Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park.
The road climbs steadily from the highway, entering Lussier Gorge after 11 kilometers (6.8 miles). Within the gorge, a steep trail leads down to Lussier Hot Springs. Two small pools have been constructed to contain the odorless hot (43°C/110°F) water as it bubbles out of the ground and flows into the Lussier River. Within the park itself, the road closely follows the southern shorelines of first Alces Lake, then the larger Whiteswan Lake.
The two lakes attract abundant bird life—loons, grebes, and herons are all common. They also attract anglers, who come for great rainbow trout fishing. Both lakes are stocked and have a daily quota of two fish per person. The park road passes four popular campgrounds. The sites are $15 per night and fill on a first-come, first-served basis. There are no hookups or showers and reservations aren’t taken.
If you thought the scenery around Whiteswan Lake  was wild and remote, wait till you see this 8,790-hectare (21,720-acre) wilderness, a rough 52 kilometers (32 miles) from Highway 95 (turn off the Whiteswan Lake access road at Alces Lake). You can’t drive into the park, but it’s a fairly easy six-kilometer (3.7-mile) hike from the end of the road to picturesque Fish Lake, the park’s largest body of water.
Bring everything you’ll need because there are no services within the park. Camping is possible at one of four designated areas for $5 per person, or you can stay in the large cabin nestled in trees beside Fish Lake ($15 per person).
North of Canal Flats, the highway approaches and passes the weirdly shaped Dutch Creek Hoodoos, a set of photogenic rock formations carved over time by ice, water, and wind. The highway then quickly reaches these hot springs and surrounding vacation homes, golf courses, and an airstrip long enough to land a Boeing 737.
Despite all the commercialism, Fairmont Hot Springs Resort (250/345-600, www.fairmonthotspringsresort.com ) is still the main attraction. The appeal of the hot springs is simple; unlike most other springs, the hot water bubbling up from underground here contains calcium, not sulfur with its attendant smell. Soaking in the outdoor pools (daily 8 a.m.–10 p.m., adult $10, senior $9, child $8) are a magical experience, especially in the evening.
Lazily swim or float around in the large warm pool, dive into the cool pool, or sit ’n’ sizzle in the hot pool and watch the setting sun color the steep faces of the Canadian Rockies . The resort also boasts two golf courses, horseback riding, a small alpine resort, a lodge ($164–365 s or d), a RV-only campground ($23–36), and a variety of eateries.
South of the resort is Spruce Grove Resort (Hwy. 3, 250/345-6561 or 888/629-4004, www.sprucegroveresort.com , unserviced sites $25–29, hookups $30–34), where campsites are spread through trees and along a quiet eddy in the Columbia River.