Formerly named Saint Agnes Well and Skookumchuck Hot Springs, the Tsek (or T’sek) Hot Springs have reverted to their traditional, Pre-Colonial name. Located smack-dab in the middle of the historic Harrison Lillooet Gold Rush trail in the Lillooet River valley, the Springs are well worth a visit. Surrounded by lush scenery and diverse wildlife, it’s no wonder why so many people come to visit. They’re a reprieve from daily monotony for Vancouver residents and tourists alike.
Before you go though, there are some things you need to know. If you go unprepared, your trip may not be as enjoyable, and no one wants that. I’ve put together a list of the most important information, and hopefully it’ll help you plan and make the most of your trip!
1. About the Springs
The Tsek Hot Springs are considered sacred by the Ucwalmicw community and have deep roots in their ancestral way of life. They’re regularly used by the Indigenous population for ceremonies, cleansing, healing, and praying.
At the Springs, you’ll find an array of tubs to bathe in. This is due to the too-hot-to-bathe-in temperature of the Springs themselves, and for the sake of convenience.
There are twelve tubs in total, four of them hot water tubs, seven of them adjustable to whatever temperature you prefer, and one of them a cold water tub (which gets VERY cold during winter). The hot water comes directly from the Springs below, and the cold water comes from a glacier-fed creek nearby. The water contains no additives and is one-hundred percent natural.
2. What to Bring
I bring a variety of items with me when I travel to hot springs. The list changes depending on where the springs are located, how hard they are to get to, how long I’m planning to stay, and what season I’m visiting in.
For a minimally developed area like Tsek Hot Springs, where modern day comforts like potable water and cell phone reception are nowhere to be found, these are the items I’d take:
- A first-aid kit
- Filled water bottles (not glass)
- Water filtration system (LifeStraw, iodine tablets, ect.)
- Camping equipment if staying overnight (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, ect.)
- Printed directions
(Since the Springs are located in bear country, I also recommend bringing bear mace as a precaution)
3. What to Wear
The Springs are clothing optional, and many patrons bathe au naturel. They’re also heavily visited, so if you’re not comfortable with a dozen or so people seeing you naked, you might wanna wear a bathing suit.
When choosing outer layers, consider the time of year, temperature, and weather. If it’s 50° and raining, don’t wear basketball shorts and a tank top. Wear practical clothes that you don’t mind getting wet and dirty, because they more than likely will.
For shoes, I recommend wearing closed toed sneakers or running shoes. While hiking boots might be a little overkill for this particular site, I do not recommend wearing flip-flops or open-toed sandals anywhere that you will traverse high incline uneven terrain. (even if it’s only for two hundred feet) Instead, bring a pair of flip-flops so that you can change into them once you hit the Springs.
4. When to Go
Tsek Hot Springs are open year round from 9 AM to 8 PM during Summer, and from 9 AM to 6 PM during Fall, Winter, and Spring.
Though technically open, the Springs are often inaccessible December through April due to snow and ice. Because of this, it’s best to check the official Tsek Hot Springs Facebook page for road conditions before you visit. If the road is blocked by snow and you’re up for a challenge, it is possible to hike/snowshoe in. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until the snow melts.
Besides inclement weather, the only times the Springs are closed are during ceremonies. They’re held by the Indigenous population and are often a few days long. Check the Springs official Facebook page for scheduled ceremony days before you plan your trip.
If you want to beat the crowds, avoid visiting during Summer – especially on weekends. The least crowded days to visit are weekdays, and the least crowded time of day to visit is early morning.
5. Admission fees
To keep the Springs running, an entry fee has been put in place. It’s known to fluctuate often, so don’t be surprised if during your visit the entry fee is different from what it used to be. Visa and MasterCard are both accepted payment methods, but cash is preferred. The current admission fees are:
Day Time Hot Springs Rates:
Children 15 and under are free
Overnight camping & Hot Springs:
Vehicle: $10 a night
Adult: $10 a night
Senior: $7.50 a night
Youth: $7.50 a night
Children 15 and under are free
As of June 2019, management of Tsek Hot Springs have changed the parameters for which individuals can reserve campsites. You must have a party of at least five people, four vehicles, and you must be staying for at least three nights. This is in response to frequent last-minute cancellations and no shows. It also ensures that there are plenty of walk-in campsites available for first come, first serve.
For those of you who meet these requirements, and would still like to make a reservation, send the Tsek Hot Springs official Facebook page a message with the following information:
- Arrival date
- Departure date
- Number of adults
- Number of children
- Number of vehicles
Camping at Tsek Hot Springs is a popular activity that is open year-round. There are roughly 30 campsites, all of which are secluded, well maintained, and scenic. They come with a picnic table, fire pit, and best of all, 24-hour access to the Springs. Some of the sites are even backed by a beautiful turquoise river.
Management prohibits camping for more than 14 consecutive days, and there’s no cell service or Internet on-site, so keep this in mind if you’re planning to visit.
8. Checking Conditions
Before you visit Tsek Hot Springs (or any other natural area) you ought to check conditions. This is especially true if you are intending to light a fire or drink water from the site. Fire bans and boil water advisories are not uncommon, so before you plan your visit, make sure to check the Springs official Facebook for updates.
In regard to campfires, here are a few general guidelines to follow.
- Don’t start fires in strong wind conditions.
- Completely extinguish your fire before leaving the area.
- Light fires a safe distance away from combustible materials, including branches, wood, dry brush, and tents.
If you’re wanting to bring your furry friend, you may be in luck. All pets are welcome, so long as they are kept at designated campsites and not the Springs.
If you’re only going for a day trip, it’s not feasible for you to bring your animals, but if you’re staying for an extended amount of time, you may be able to make it work.
10. Cleanliness Expectations
Due to a management shift, many long time visitors will tell you that maintenance has slipped backwards. It’s a shame, but don’t let it scare you away. If you can look past the not-so-clean out houses, and are prepared to see some garbage thrown about, you’ll be A-OK. The site may need some TLC, but it’s still definitely worth a visit.
Sidenote: Make sure to bring your own toilet paper! There is often no toilet paper supplied or available for purchase.
Nestled in the southern Coast Mountains of British Columbia, the Springs are home to hundreds, if not thousands of different species of flora and fauna. Some are common animals and plants, others are more rare. On your drive and visit to the Springs, you may catch sight of animals such as black-tailed deer, caribou, moose, minks, otters, beavers, various species of waterfowl, marten, red foxes, skunks, Hoary marmots, and good ole raccoons.
There’s even been the occasional bear and wolf sighting in the area, so you never know what you might see.
12. Leave No Trace
As with any other natural site, I urge visitors to respect the forest and practice the principles of Leave No Trace. This includes leaving nothing behind, including biodegradable material such as apple cores and orange peels.
These items may seem harmless, but they can have detrimental effects on the ecosystem, so remember to pack it in, pack it out.
It’s understandable that you’d want to take pictures during your visit to the Springs. It’s a beautiful place, pretty much a wildlife photographer’s dream location.
You’re free to take as many photos as your heart desires, as long as they do not include others without their consent. Be mindful of other visitors and use common sense. It’s a clothing optional hot spring, so it’s even more of a potential privacy issue than normal swimming spots.
To protect the area and its visitors, management of Tsek Hot Springs have put some guidelines in place. Some of them are common sense, others are a bit more specific and may impact your trip if not taken into account. Here’s the list: (which can also be found here on the Springs official website)
- Camp only at designated campsites.
- You may not camp for more than 14 consecutive days.
- Do not cut off or damage trees or vegetation.
- Do not build or alter any structures.
- Clean up campsites before departing, leaving nothing behind.
- Quiet time is from 10 pm to 9 am.
- Do not leave food or garbage unattended or within reach of wildlife.
- Keep your pets quiet, on a leash, and supervised at all times.
- Keep music at a reasonable level.
- No shooting, no firearms, no exceptions.
- Keep campfires small and restricted to provided fire rings.
- Do not light campfires during strong winds or during a fire ban.
- Do not cut trees or remove wood (dead or alive) from the site. You must bring your own firewood.
- Do not leave campfires unattended.
- All motor vehicles must be insured.
- Drive cautiously and only on designated roads.
- Observe a maximum speed of 10km/h.
- Park only in designated areas.
- Do not drive or run your engine during campground quiet time.
- Take out what you bring in.
- Keep music at a reasonable level.
- No dogs at the hot tubs.
- No food at the hot tubs.
- No glass at the hot tubs.
- Keep out of source pool.
- Rinse feet before entering tubs.
15. Handicap Accessibility
There’s virtually no hike into the Springs, so if you’re not in the best of shape or have a mild injury, be rest assured.
That being said, I wouldn’t consider the Springs to be handicap accessible, due to a very short, steep walk up to the Springs. Keep this in mind if you or anyone you’re traveling with has impaired mobility.
16. Getting There
First and foremost, know that there is no cell phone service for most of the drive down or internet service on-site. It’s best to bring printed directions with you in case of GPS failure.
Tsek Hot Springs are located in southwestern British Columbia and sit on the Lower Lillooet River. They’re deep in the wilderness, so be prepared, and double check your supplies before you leave the house. A good portion of the drive is far removed from society with no gas station or grocery store in sight. Make sure your gas tank is full enough to get you there and back.
Drive slowly and attentively, especially in inclement weather. The road is rough, narrow, and full of potholes. It’d be easy as pie to pop a tire, so I’d bring a spare. Winter access to the Springs is iffy due to heavy snow and ice conditions, so I’d drive a high-clearance vehicle with chains.
Traveling to Tsek Hot Springs is an experience you shouldn’t miss out on.
Visiting them make for a refreshing weekend trip, for people of all ages. Hopefully this list answered some of your questions and helped you prepare for your visit to the Springs. Now that you know what you’re getting yourself into, I have no doubt you’ll have a fun, safe trip.
Hi, I'm Ash!
I’m a travel blogger who loves experiencing new things and deeply connecting with people. My missions are to help others around the world realize their travel dreams, and to spread the word about sustainable travel. Feel free to send me a message here.