One of the best stops on the entire Alaska Highway is the fabulous Liard River Hot Springs, located in the Liard River Hotsprings Provincial Park north of Muncho Lake. Relaxation seeps into your body as you ease into the second largest hot spring in Canada. There are two hot springs at Liard, with water temperatures ranging from 42°-52° C (107°-126°F). The nearest is the Alpha pool, and half a mile beyond that is Beta pool, which is larger and deeper, and is likely to have few other people there.
The hot springs complex is of national ecological significance and is well known for its natural setting in a lush boreal spruce forest. A boardwalk that leads to the hot spring pools passes through a warm water swamp and boreal forest that supports rich and diverse plant communities, as well as mammal and bird species. Watch for moose feeding in the warm water swamps. Due to the lush plant life influenced by the warmth of the springs, the area was originally known as the “Tropical Valley”. Unlike most other thermal springs in Canada, Liard River Hot Springs does not flow directly into a nearby river or creek, but into an intricate system of swamps. Due to the continual inflow of warm water, the swamps never freeze in winter, despite being extremely shallow and located at a latitude of nearly 60° north.
The first written recording of the hot springs on the Liard River was made in 1835 by Robert Campbell of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Following Campbell’s exploration, the Liard River was used as a trading route to the Yukon, but was abandoned in 1870 as the rapids along the upper Liard River were too treacherous.
This is one of the few provincial campgrounds along the Alaska Highway that remains open all year round, and with good reason. Even in the depths of winter, which lasts eight months here, the hot springs provide relief to weary Alaskan bound travellers and adventurers after a long day on the road. It would be crazy to bypass this natural phenomenon without popping. The park is such a popular stopover for tourists that the campground fills up early each day during the summer months. The park has a day-use/picnic area and offers campsites with fairly rustic facilities. There are two lodges close to the hot springs.
Caution: Beware of bears, even in areas where groups of campers are bathing. If there are warning signs posted about bears, please heed them!!
The Liard River Hot Springs are located in Liard River Hotsprings Provincial Park in the Liard River Valley, at kilometer 765 of the Alaska Highway 97, approximately 38 miles (60 km) north of Muncho Lake Provincial Park and 3 hours north of Fort Nelson.
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