Liard Hotsprings, 1647 km from Calgary
About three hours north of Fort Nelson on the Alaska Highway is one of British Columbia’s treasures: the Liard Hot Springs. Here in the middle of nowhere, in one of the coldest areas of the mountains, is a hot spring that all travellers, locals and wild animals know about and flock to in their journeys through this region.
Once you pull into the parking/camping area you need to take a five-minute walk down a boardwalk over a warm water marsh. Moose and other animals like to frequent this area at night and in the winter. We could see moose tracks in the marsh as we made our way towards the alpha pool. Access to the hot springs is free, though I am sure it is only a matter of time before the B.C. government starts charging for entry. The gates to the area are locked up at night to prevent people from getting mauled by wildlife.
We could also see lots of fish in the marsh. The sign posted along the way says: “The small fish in these pools are lake chub who were isolated from others of their kind thousands of years ago. This unusual population has adapted to life in the hot-springs, where they feed on the abundant invertebrate life, plankton, and algae.”
Let me tell you: after driving for over 20 hours it was beyond fantastic to be able to hop into the hot springs and loosen up some very tight muscles.
The alpha pool varies in temperature; at the head of the pool the water is scalding hot (so hot that few can stand it) and on the lower half of this pool is ice cold. So, somewhere in the middle, there is a perfect spot for everyone! The entire pool is shallow.
The beta pool is bottomless deep and is a two-minute walk up the hill from the alpha pool. It is not as pretty as the first one, and not a lot of people know about the beta pool so it was pretty quiet when we were there.
One really funny thing to note: the blue streaks in my hair seemed to oxidized while in the hot springs and turned green. I’m thinking this was because of the sulphur in the water.