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Soak Away Your Worries
at Liard River Hot Springs

by Murray Lundberg

Originally posted on March 14, 1999, updated on April 6, 2017

    If you drive the Alaska Highway and don't spend some time in the pools at Liard River Hot Springs, you've missed one of Mother Nature's most sublime gifts to Northerners. Wonderful in the summer, the springs are beautiful beyond description in the winter. Three hours north of Fort Nelson, B.C., at Km 764.7 (Historic Mile 497), the hot springs should be a red-circled item on your circle tour map.

Soaking away your worries at Liard Hot Springs Liard Hot Springs in the fall.
Click to enlarge

    The water in the large pool at Liard Hot Spring, called Alpha Pool, remains at 42-52°C (108-126°F) year round. More comfortable temperatures are found farther away from the source. The pool has a wooden deck along one side, stairs down into the water, and changing rooms are just a couple of steps from the water. The pool empties via a small waterfall that has a bathing area below it.

    There is a seasonal day-use fee of $5 for adults, $3 for children or $10 for families.

    There used to be a second pool, Beta Pool, a half-mile beyond Alpha Pool, but it was closed several years ago. Beta Pool was a bit smaller and much deeper, and was a great place to escape summer crowds at the main pool. At the Beta Pool, rumour has it ( ) that despite signs stating that bathing suits must be worn, clothing was optional at times.

    Beyond today's pool, a short side trail takes you to the Hanging Gardens, a series of terraces with lush vegetation.

The beauty of Liard Hot Springs at Christmas Liard Hot Springs makes a unique Christmas vacation spot.
Click to enlarge

    Ever since the area first became heavily used, during the construction of the highway, this region has been of significant importance in terms of land-use planning. Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park now provides 53 campsites, picnic tables, toilets and drinking water. The Liard River Corridor, of which the springs are a focal point, is an area of 90,450 hectares (223,000 acres) that has been recognized for the importance of its archaeological sites, fossils, old growth spruce, high population of grizzly and wood bison, and sites which show evidence of Native and fur trading activities dating back to the early 1800s.

    Across the highway from the springs is the Liard Hotsprings Lodge (formerly Trapper Ray's) - this log structure has fuel, 12 rooms in the lodge and 25 RV sites, and is open year-round (phone 250-776-7349). As Trapper Ray's, the lodge was well-known mostly due to Ray's campaign to save the Northern Woolly Spiders (Undertoilet Seaterus) - I'm no "spiderologist", but the ones pinned to the wall looked rather like cotton balls with pipe-cleaner legs! Buying a pin was said to help set up a Wooly Spider Refuge nearby.

    A half-mile south is the site of Liard River Lodge, one of the original highway lodges, located on a spectacular bluff above the river. It closed in 1999, and burned in the summer of 2015.

    For notes on what else to expect along the Alaska Highway, we have posted a mile-by-mile photo album with over 100 photos of the highway shot in all seasons.

Linked below are photojournals and a video from some of my recent visits to the hot springs: