Day 14 Liard Hot Springs & off to the Yukon

Our starting mileage for the day was 5601 kilometres. Officially we had spent two weeks on the road. We had a couple destinations in mind, Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park, then Watson Lake Campground in the Yukon.

When we woke in the morning the temperature was only 7 Celsius, which is not what we were used to for the middle of July, but then again, we were in Northern British Columbia. As we headed back out to the highway to start our drive, the sun was shining bright, and by 10:20 a.m. the temperature had risen to 17 Celsius. On our drive, we saw quite a bit of wildlife, our bear count rose to eight, six black bears, and two brown bears.

Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn sheep Lamb
Reindeer
We happened upon a Reindeer taking a tinkle.
Two reindeers
Black Bear
Brown Bear

We arrived at Liard River Hot Springs around lunchtime, and our first thought, was we wished we had booked a campsite there! Sadly the campground was full, but we were still able to visit the hot spring. This hot spring was completely different from Miette Hot Springs, in that it is a natural spring. First you take a walk along a boardwalk through a boreal spruce forest before arriving at the spring which is also surrounded by the boreal forest. The water temperature ranges from 42 to 52 Celsius!

As you meander through the river, the leaves in the trees are rustling, there are birds fluttering around, singing to each other, and if you are lucky enough you may see a marmot sunning him/herself on the boardwalk, which we did!

Enjoying the hot spring at Liard River Hot Spring Provincial Park.
Enjoying the hot spring at Liard River Hot Spring Provincial Park. I was unable to enter the top of the hot spring, it was just far to hot for me.
The much cooler end of the hot spring.
The much cooler end of the hot spring.
A marmot
A marmot.

After swimming around in the hot spring, we were exhausted from the heat of the water, and smelled horribly of rotten eggs! The water does not have the most pleasant odor, but the heat makes up for it. We felt totally relaxed afterwards, and actually dreaded getting back in the car again, when we both just really needed a nap.

The drive to Watson Lake Territorial Campground, took us up through British Columbia, into the Yukon, back into British Columbia, then up to the Yukon again. Two different time zones along a very curvy stretch of highway.

Sign post forest Watson Lake, Yukon

We camped at site #29 at Watson Lake, the campsite was fabulous, but at the same time it felt like I was in the Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds with the extremely watchful ravens and grey jays encircling us. The ravens observed every move we made, until they were satisfied we were not a threat to them. It was weird.

As I walked around the camp, I met a couple from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and a talented woodcarver from Whitehorse.

Campsite at Watson Lake Territorial Campground
Campsite at Watson Lake Territorial Campground

Next destination – Whitehorse, Yukon.

Off to the Rockies, Day 11

The map above does not show are actual starting point, thus not giving out Nicole’s home address to the world. We did though take the Bow Valley Trail out of Calgary since it was more of a scenic route. After saying goodbye to Nicole, and watching a Magpie literally pick up some dog poop, then realizing what it was, dropped it square on her lawn furniture! As pretty as they are, they are apparently considered pests because there are just so many of them out west.

We were on the road by 7:30 a.m., mileage now 3944 kilometres, and since neither of us had been to the Canadian Rockies, we were quite excited. First we had some grocery shopping, and a stop at Canadian Tire for more camping supplies, and a new air mattress since ours had sprung a leak that we were unable to locate. As soon as we drove on to the highway, we were immediately distracted by the dog running all over the three lanes. Vehicles, thankfully all slowed right down, and a few of us tried to stop the dog by very slowly edging our cars closer to him. Matt then pulled our SUV over to the side of the road where I did get out, and tried with no luck to call the dog over. The dog eventually trotted off the road onto the hillside happy as a lark. He really looked as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

Finally towards the Rockies we went ,and as they came into sight, both of us were just in awe. The closer we came to them, it was like every view was a picture postcard.

Below are just a few pictures of the Rockies; these were actually taken through the front window of our SUV which my husband cleaned each time we stopped.

Once we reached the Rockies our next stop was Banff National Park, where all must pay an entrance fee even if you are just driving through, this fee is more than worth the price. We then headed up the Icefields Parkway towards Jasper National park where we set up camp for the night at Mount Kerkislin Campground on the Athabasca River. We were at site #30 of 42. This campground is a self-registration camp, and we soon learned it was best to start looking for a campground around 3 p.m. each day before all the best spots were taken. On the drive we saw our first Bighorn Sheep which were of course blocking traffic. We were quite a ways down the road, so I did exit the car to snap some photos.

Banff National Park
Banff the town
We naturally stopped in Banff for coffee.
  • Bighorn sheep on the roadway
  • Bighorn Sheep
  • Bighorn Sheep
Our campsite at Mount Kerkislin campground
Our campsite at Mount Kerkislin campground.
Beside the Athabasca River Mount Kerkislin campground
After setting up camp we went for a hike, and found the Athabasca River not far behind where we set up our tent.

The following pictures were taking from the vehicle as we drove through the Rockies to our campsite. There wasn’t a site on the road that didn’t leave us awestruck.

Towards Alberta, more prairies, then the badlands Day 8

After foraging for Saskatoon berries to add to my morning porridge, we packed everything up again, and started our travels towards Alberta at 8:47 a.m. – destination Dinosaur Provincial Park, mileage 2510 kilometres. 

Before driving off to Alberta, we stopped at the Tourist Information in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.Welcome to Moose Jaw signn

The World’s Tallest Moose at the tourism office in Moose Jaw.

Moose Jaw Moose with Matt
World’s Tallest Moose

While in the tourist information centre, Matt met a couple who were carrying their pet parrot in a cat carrier case, they wanted to know the temperature for the day. They were concerned it would be too hot for the parrot. We thought this a bit odd since they were travelling in a trailer which most likely had a working air conditioner. The excitement for the morning.

Driving towards Alberta, the landscape of the prairies started to change. Instead of the beautiful canola, large white deposits were seen covering the ground – Potash.

Potash along side of highway
Potash covering the ground.

As we got closer to Dinosaur Provincial Park, the landscape changed drastically. We had entered what is known as “the badlands“. You can read more about the Canadian Badlands on National Geographic. We reached Dinosaur Provincial Park at 3 p.m. on July 8th, kilometres driven 3403. We had an electrical site, site #75 with an unbelievable view, but not one tree for us. We were pretty exhausted after our day of sightseeing, driving, setting up the tent, cooking dinner, but we naturally found the energy for a walk before bedtime.

Our campsite #75
Our campsite, #75, Matt tried to attach our two umbrellas to the roof of the SUV for some shade. By mid-afternoon the shade from the tree across the road, had a

Waking up in Dinosaur Provincial Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site is like stepping back in time. Our alarm clock in the morning were the sounds of howling coyotes. The morning was spent walking as many of the trails possible before the heat really set in.

I don’t even know how to describe the landscape, it was just so different from anything I seen in Canada, having travelled much of the east coast, Ontario, and Manitoba. As we puttered around our campsite, and walked the trails we were warned to be on the look out for rattlesnakes, black window spiders, sinkholes, and oh scorpions! Sadly the only wildlife we did see were plenty of birds, and one deer.

Landscape Dinosaur PP
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Can you spot me?
One of the trails in Dinosaur PP
One of the many trails, where in certain spots there are wooden bridges to walk on.
Matt in Dinosaur Provincial Park
Matt hiked this trail early evening, it was a long trail to reach the top, and I decided to stay at camp knowing it would have been too long of a hike for myself. He sent me a text when he reached the top so I could snap this photo.
Another view of the landscape
Another view of the landscape. We had hiked down to the river, but we were unable to go for a swim in it, due to cow patties, apparently there were cows grazing upstream polluting the water. We were very, very tempted though considering the heat.
A cottonwood tree
The Cottonwood tree quickly became a favourite of mine with such distinctive bark.
Dinosaur bones
Dinosaur bones in the museum.
Doe in Dinosaur PP
One stunning doe!
A picture of a magpie
Our first Magpie. They were all over our site, and others, they seemed to enjoy picking out the dead insects in the grill of vehicles.
Magpie in flight.
Magpie in flight.
The Badlands Alberta
The Badlands.

On the day we were to leave for Calgary, Matt drove up to the camp office to purchase some ice for our cooler, only to have some old guy say to him “you know there is a shovel on your roof?” Matt’s reply “Again!”