A rare gem
Just as we are leaving BC for the Yukon is Liard Hot Springs. It’s worth noting for anyone not paying attention that we typically steer clear of campgrounds and commercialized hot springs. We like our nature to be more… natural, and we aren’t a fan of the crowds or the noise that tends to come with them either.
Liard Hot Springs happens to be a rare combination of both. A provincial campground that also has a developed hot spring inside its boundaries. We have heard good things about this spring for a few years, but still approached cautious and absolutely willing to skip it and keep driving.
As it turns out, this park is far from anything in either direction, which means there are a lot of people stopping/camping here. It’s pretty desolate territory with nothing (but wildlife and highway) for long distances in either direction.
We pulled up to the entrance and were informed it was $10 for a soak. The number of vehicles made us think differently. $26 to stay/camp for the night included the springs and gave us the ability to use the springs in the middle of the night when we could hope/assume everyone else was sleeping, but again…puts us in a campground with a bunch of RVs, generators, etc. Turns out it didn’t matter much as they were sold out and our only option would be the “overflow” camp across the street. Still $26 but nothing more than a big parking lot of vehicles filling up quickly. No thanks.
We drove back a few km and found a nice quiet private spot to camp next to the river, explored a bit and eventually decided to go back and spend the $10 for the soak just to see what all the hype was about. As we pull in the lady remembers us and lets us know that she just had a space open up. Not sure why she told us when the vehicles in front of and behind us all got directed to the overflow lot, but we decided the ability to get a few soaks in overnight would be worth the risk of camping inside. We ended up very pleased that we did!
The hot spring is indeed a developed/commercial spring rather than the natural/untouched springs we’ve come to know and love…but its done so well we honestly didn’t care. The walkway to the springs is a long raised platform that weaves its way through a hot marsh to protect the environment beneath and the spring itself is almost perfectly hugged by a remarkably well designed and built structure which wraps around one side of the spring but leaves the other sides completely natural and untouched.
We enjoyed our soak here and either the soaking had everyone so peaceful/tired or the late hour (because the sun is staying high far later in the day up here) had everyone already asleep by the time we got back to camp. Only had one conversation with a couple who approached to talk about the van, and other wise a nice quiet stay.
We had discussed waking up at 2 or 3am for a truly solitary soak in the middle of the night but ended up sleeping right through. In the morning we couldn’t help but go back for another soak before taking off and had an equally pleasant experience with the handful of other early risers.
Alltogether no complaints whatsoever (and we are admittedly pretty picky when it comes to hot springs). Still would always prefer a truly natural hot spring all to ourselves, but if youre going to visit a commercial hot spring knowing you’ll be sharing with others- this should likely be the one. As far as developed springs goes, Liard stands miles above the rest we’ve come across.