Soaking at Liard Hot Springs

Monday (6/26) was another great weather day as we awoke at Strawberry Flats campground.  Lucy and I went for one last walk along the Muncho Lake shoreline.  “Muncho” in the Kaska language means “big lake”, an apt name given it’s 7.5 miles length (one of the largest natural lakes in the Canadian Rockies). 

Lucy wants to stay here longer so she can trot through the jade colored, clear water at Muncho Lake.
An overlook stop at the north side of Muncho Lake for one more view before we left the area.

We broke camp and slowly headed up the Alaska Highway, looking for the abundant wildlife that others assured us we would soon see.  Nothing.  One road sign after another warned of impending herds of Bison and Caribou.  Watch out.  Go slow.  We did both, yet never saw a single animal on the drive to Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park.   That’s ok, the drive was still gorgeous.  

Does seeing a Western Tiger Swallowtail count as seeing wildlife?
Maybe a Limenitis arthemis counts? I'm not a butterfly / moth expert, but I sure know how to use Google Lens!

Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park is an oasis along the Alaska Highway.  The campground has no services, but offers private, wooded sites surrounded by an electric fence to protect campers from the local bears.  A quarter-mile long boardwalk leaves the electric fence safety and leads to the primitive, natural hot springs.  Mineral springs flow throughout the entire area, creating a special ecosystem that attracts unique plants and insects.  Dragonflies and butterflies were everywhere. 

It's been days since we added a silly selfie, so here it goes. This was taken as we started down the boardwalk.
The path wanders through forested and swampy areas that look perfect for wildlife. Except, of course, we didn't see any.

Parks Canada has created a unique, natural experience here.  Hot springs usually involve sterile swimming pools filled with temperature controlled  mineral water.  Liard Hot Springs is different. Visitors climb down steps into an active stream bed near the hot spring source.  The shoreline is is thick with lush plants.  Cold spring water occasionally trickles in, creating significant temperature layers that flow with the current. Temperature control is simple: move upstream toward the source for hot and downstream for cooler temps.  The sulfur odors from the mineral springs mix with the surrounding forest aromas.  We left happy and relaxed. 

The campground fee allows for as many visits to the hot spring as you wish. No timed entry like many other hot springs.  It was enjoyable to take our time and explore the stream for as long as we wished.  Eventually we headed back to our campsite.  After taking Lucy for a walk and eating an early dinner, I headed back for another session.  My brother David and his friend Mindy were here just a few weeks ago.  A moose greeted Mindy in the evening.  I went back at the same time, but Mindy’s Moose was nowhere to be seen. 

Tuesday (6/27) was another  blue sky, sunny day with comfortable temps in the 70’s.  We drove to Watson Lake, Yukon.  Our wildlife viewing  improved significantly: 9 black bears, 2 brown bears and one lonely bison named Sparky (family joke).  Unfortunately, for the second time of the trip, we caught a rock in our windshield.  Good thing we had another repair kit!  We are already on our third windshield in just 18 months, so Earl (our RV) is a proven rock magnet.  We chose to stay at the Downtown RV Park in Watson Lake, Yukon.  This is as far from wilderness camping as you can get.  We “camped” in a  gravel parking lot with extremely narrow spaces.  However, they have full RV hookups, a much needed laundry facility and a grocery store next door. This location met our needs and we spent the afternoon catching up on our domestic duties. 

We saw 9 black bear at different times during the drive. They were feasting on plants along side of the highway.
We also spotted two brown bears (grizzly bears) on Tuesday afternoon (6/27)
This was the only bison we saw. Not quite a herd.
We made it further north. We've never been to the Yukon before!
Downtown RV Park in Watson Lake, YT is crowded, but convenient.

On Tuesday evening (6/27), Lucy and I walked over to the famous Watson Lake Signpost Forest. This is a fun tourist attraction where people hang something from their hometown. The tradition started as the Alaska highway was being built in 1942.  Today the “forest” has grown to include more than 77,000 signs. It’s intriguing to wander around and look at the various places represented.

Lucy got to visit the Watson Lake Signpost Forest.
Lucy: "Ok Dad, can we go find a lake to play in, now?"

On Wednesday (6/28) we plan to drive to the Teslin area.  We are loving the northern provinces of Canada!

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