This was a very short driving day because we planned to stop at Liard River to visit the hot springs. The Liard River Hot Springs are apparently a must stop on the Alaska Highway. And, of course, it was still my birthday week.
It was pretty chilly the last couple of days at Muncho Lake, so the thought of a soak in some hot springs was quite appealing.
Road Name (s): British Columbia Highway 97 (Alaska Highway)
Road Conditions: Very good, some road work along the shoulders.
Miles Today: 36
Miles driven from Canadian border: 1206
Miles on the Alaska Highway: 477.7
Driving Time: :50 minutes
We arrived at the Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park, where the hot springs are located. Although at CA$26 the camping fee is a bit steep for dry camping in a provincial park, the fee includes the hot springs, which normally cost CA$5 per person, or CA$10 per car for the day.
The other advantage to staying at the provincial park is that the boardwalk leading to the hot springs is walking distance from all of the campsites. The boardwalk crosses a beautiful wetland area for just under ½ mile to the springs and then across to a “hanging garden”.
Tip of the Day: There is a very large gravel rest area across from the Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park where we saw several RVs boondocking. There is still the fee for the hot springs, but boondocking saves the extra CA$16 per night campground fee. The rest area does seem to get crowded though.
Although the hot springs are the hot attraction (pun!), the boardwalk leading to and from the springs is surrounded by a stunning wetlands area. This environment is said to support more than 250 boreal plans, including many orchids. It was lush and green with lots of little wildflowers throughout. We saw and heard lots of birds in the trees and butterflies were flitting about.
There were various ponds along the boardwalk, with tall grasses growing amongst them. We watched a family of two geese and two adorable goslings swimming and walking about while feeding. Moose and bear are frequently seen here.
The hot springs are indeed very hot. There is a higher pool, which is the hottest, and whose water runs down to a lower pool. I really liked the fact that the pools have been maintained in a mostly natural state.
There are two structures by the pools, as well as steps with hand rails leading down to them. One structure is a shelter with benches and little storage nooks alongside the pools. The other, a short walk away, houses rest rooms and changing rooms.
The boardwalk continues to the hanging gardens that are basically an enormous tufa structure that has been built up over time by the springs. This part of the walk is closed at times due to bear activity but was open when we were there.
The one downside to the hot pools is that there are mosquitoes, no-seeums and horse flies hovering around the pools. The first day we were there, which was the warmest day, they were all around any part of us that was not in the water. The second day, which was cooler and windier, they were not as bad.f
Our walks to and from the pools became photographic expeditions, and Hector had a field day photographing all the beautiful plants and flowers. We also walked out on the boardwalk in the evenings, specifically looking for moose that supposedly live in the area, but did not see any.
Liard Hot Springs is definitely a must on any trip up the Alaska Highway,
But the followint morning, we were off once again, this time to Watson Lake and the signpost forest.