Are you looking for a biker-friendly place to visit? Then put the Village of Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, at the top of your list of motorcycle vacation spots. This little community has engaged in a co-operative effort with local motorcycle enthusiasts to attract bikers and the tourism dollars they bring. After all, people travelling on motorcycles tend to stay in motels and eat at restaurants—and that mutual sense of appreciation makes Radium Hot Springs one of the most welcoming motorcycle destinations in the province.
Radium Hot Springs forms the southernmost corner of a popular route, the 320-kilometre loop known as the Golden Triangle. The Triangle winds its way through three national parks: Yoho, Banff and Kootenay (there’s a modest entry fee for visitors who will stop in the parks, but one pass includes entry to all of the national parks; you’ll want to take photos and make a rest stop, and your fee will go toward upkeep of the parks and their facilities). From Radium Hot Springs, the Triangle takes you north on Highway 95 to Golden, about a two-hour ride along the Columbia Valley wetlands where you’ll see an impressive variety of waterfowl, great blue herons, ospreys and eagles. The next leg of the Triangle takes you east on Highway 1 through Yoho National Park and its stunning alpine vistas to the Castle Mountain Junction, located 26 kilometres west of Banff. From the junction, you’ll return south to Radium Hot Springs on Highway 93, passing through Banff National Park where you’ll enjoy plenty of twisties in the Rockies—this is also a stretch of road known for lots of wildlife, so exercise caution just as you would anywhere else.
If you’d rather take more of a bite-sized day trip, a ride to Golden and back or to Lake Louise (or the Castle Mountain Junction) and back will fit the bill—although you may end up spending a few hours just stopping and taking in the views of the lakes and mountains.
Must-do things in Radium include soaking in the hot springs after riding the Triangle. You will also find many opportunities for recreation including golfing, hiking, river rafting and wildlife viewing—this beautiful community offers endless outdoor enjoyment. And if you’d rather explore on a dirt bike or an ATV, you’re going to love the trails that crisscross the mountains and canyons.
Each July you can find upwards of 1,000 bikers gathering for the annual memorial rally at Horsethief Hideout, a private ranch in Invermere, which is 15 kilometres south of Radium Hot Springs. The event started as a remembrance of a family friend. “So many people come each year,” said the ranch’s owner, Gary Oja. “Everybody has lost a loved one. When the bagpipe plays at the top of the cliffs, each person spends a few minutes remembering.”
Oja, one of the people at the forefront of bringing the community and bikers together, welcomes all bikers to enjoy Radium Hot Springs. Whether you’re on a Harley, a Honda or even a bicycle, his attitude is that “If you’re riding, you’re riding.” Although the highway riding around Radium is best from spring through fall, Oja chuckles as he describes regularly seeing a couple of local oldtimers cruising along the highway in the snow on their motorcycle and sidecar with chains on the tires.
Riding B.C. highways
When you’re riding a motorcycle on B.C. highways, the number one thing to be aware of is the abundance of wildlife. You can’t predict what an animal will do or which way it will run. Always scan your surroundings as you ride and be prepared to use collision-avoidance techniques. According to Gary Oja of Horsethief Hideout, many of the memorial events held at the facility are related to bike-animal collisions. “Ride safe,” he said. “Be smart and keep riding.”