Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park

Heinrich Lohmann

Whenever we travelled the Alaska Highway, up or down, the Liard River Hot Springs was a must stop. Sometimes it was just for an hour or two for a quick soak. Other times we stayed for a night or two. (We lived in the Yukon from 1982 to 1998.)

The Liard River Hot Springs are located on the Alaska Highway at kilometre 765, 307 kilometres north of Fort Nelson, British Columbia, or 218 kilometres south of Watson Lake, Yukon. This British Columbia Provincial Park is the second largest hot springs in Canada.

The campground and the day parking area are along the highway, and a boardwalk of approximately 300 metres leads to the springs. In times past, there was no fee for day use, but there was a voluntary donation box. I guess that didn’t work out so well because now there is a $5.00 per adult and $3.00 per child day use fee, or you can buy a family day pass for $10.00. This is still very reasonable.

This hot springs is unique because instead of flowing directly into a nearby river or creek like most thermal springs, it flows into an intricate system of swamps. This creates a microclimate for the area where plants grow that are not normally associated with Northern British Columbia. Here you will find fourteen species of orchids, ostrich ferns, black snakeroot and many more. There are 104 species of birds that have been recorded here, as well as 28 species of mammals. There is a wealth of information on their website at http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/liard_rv_hs/.

The campground is nice, with well-spaced roomy campsites, and the sites are raked clean for every new camper. There are two hand pumps for water, as well as a water faucet at the entrance to the campground. Firewood is ordered and paid for at the entrance, then delivered to your site. The daily camping fee is $26.00, and reservations are highly recommended. During the summer months, unless one gets there very early, the campground is full, but if you are lucky enough to get a spot, please note that they only accept cash.

The hot spring that is open to the public is called the Alpha Pool, and it has a water temperature of 42° to 52° Celsius! Since our last trip, the pool area has been upgraded with new change rooms, but the pool as such is still a natural pool.

Whether you are on your way North for a trip to Yukon or Alaska, or you are heading back from a Northern trip, this is a wonderful place to rest and relax after a long day on the road.

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