It had been a long day. A long week, really.
It was an adventurous, exciting, and really neat experience, this whole driving to Alaska concept. But there were aspects that were difficult, especially with kids.
We arrived at Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park in British Columbia exactly one week after we had left home for our trek. Traveling along the Alaska Highway (or Alcan Highway) was proving to be more than we bargained for – in a good way.
But the warning of rough gravel roads was not to be taken lightly, as we learned, and our caravan of travel experienced our fair share of bumps in the road. After a week of hitting the road, traveling for 12+ hours in one shot, then setting up (boondocking) on the side of the road for the night….We were ready for a night off.
I had read all about Liard Hot Springs and how special it was. I couldn’t wait to see for myself.
One tip I read was that they don’t take reservations, but that they fill up quickly every day, so try to get there by 1:00-2:00. We rolled in just around 1:00 and were able to secure two of the four remaining campsites. By the time we walked back up to the entrance to pay for our site, there was a line out to the road, and they were turning people away who wanted to camp.
Traveler’s tip: There is a parking lot across from the park entrance that you can camp in (dry camping). I don’t know the price, but it is overflow parking and you can pay to access the hot springs. This is a good backup plan if you are set on visiting the park.
It was wonderful to have an actual site. We were unable to get two spots together, but it was a short walk to visit the in-laws’ campsite.
Liard Hot Springs also housed a great playground – something I noticed in many of the provincial parks in Canada. As we waited in line to pay for our sites, Clara and Ethan got to run over to the playground and let out a bit of energy. This was perfect since as soon as that was done, we were able to start heading out to the hot springs.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the hot springs are beautifully kept with a nice boardwalk leading out to them. They said the boardwalk is approximately 1000 feet long, and we found it to be quite relaxing and beautiful. Upon arriving to the actual hot springs, there was an amazing wooden structure built, looking as though it had always been a part of the scenery. There were male and female dressing rooms and composting toilets. We left our bags out on the benches in front of the pools, as they were in plain sight.
The pools are divided into two different areas. The top pool, where the hot spring is actually located, is significantly warmer. It is reported that the pool ranges from 108-126 degrees In fact, as you venture toward the end of it, it can become unbearably hot. The steps were wide and plentiful, and the pool had an underwater bench seat along the side for visitors to sit on. The bottom of the pool was some sort of small gravel, and didn’t bother me, though Wanderstead Husband (Mr. Tenderfoot) had trouble venturing far from the steps.
The top pool overflows with a pretty little waterfall into the lower pool which is much cooler, as it has a steady stream of water from a creek flowing through the bottom of it. This pool also had steps into it, but BEWARE! They were quite slippery, and I saw many people lose their footing – even after a warning. The bottom of this pool is “natural”. That is, dirt, rock, etc. As always, be bear aware (and moose aware!). It is not uncommon to see one or the other munching on vegetation near the hot springs.
All in all, it was a very relaxing and wonderful experience. After sitting in the truck for hours and hours, we were able to loosen up our muscles a bit and get some movement.
Traveler’s Tip: I was wearing a toe ring – sterling silver I believe – and the minerals in the water discolored it. It turned an almost gold color. It did return to normal coloring within a few days, but do take note.
The playground proved to again be a great motivator in helping the little one to leave the pools. She enjoyed her time there, using the logs as a floating device. Trying to get a three-year-old out of a warm pool can be challenging, but the promise of more playground fun? Awesome.
It was here, in our shady, peaceful, relatively warm campsite, that I finally was able to relax enough to make what I would consider a proper dinner – steakhouse burgers with sautéed mushrooms and homemade baked fries. We enjoyed our dinner, then sat outside for our first proper camping campfire. We cannot wait to head back to Liard Hot Springs.