Category Archives: Backcountry Camping

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.

Day 13 Stone Mountain Provincial Park, Summit Lake Campground

Starting mileage 4847 kilometres. It was a long drive today, roughly seven and a half hours but as usual the scenery was beautiful. As we crossed over back into British Columbia we gained an hour. The past few days, going from Alberta to British Columbia back to Alberta, changing time zones, we gave up keeping track of time. On this trek we saw an extremely large beaver in Beaverlodge, Alberta, and had some fun. We also came upon a very large Inukshuk.

Matt kissing the beaver
Matt kissing the beaver, Beaverlodge, Alberta
Looking up at the Beaver
Matt looking up at the Beaver, where you can get an idea of the height of the structure.
Catherine and the Beaver
My turn to have my picture taken with the giant beaver.
Matt and the Inukshuk
Matt and the Inukshuk

Back on the road, the highway came closer to the mountainside, it was an area known for landslides, thankfully we did not see one actually occur.

Mountain beside the highway
Mountain beside the highway, in an area known for landslides.

Looking at the map, our goal was Northern Rocky Mountain Provincial Park, and being quite late in the day, we stopped at the first campsite along the side of the road, literally. Summit Lake Campground, located in Northern Rocky Mountain Provincial Park is just off the highway facing an enormous stony mountain. There are a total of twenty-eight campsites, and we were at #7. We arrived in the rain, and there were no tall trees to attach the tarp to, so Matt ended up being pretty darn inventive, attaching the tarp to the car, then to the picnic table, using the shovel to raise it up on the table, giving us some shelter from the rain.

Our tent among the trailers
Our tent covered with a blue tarp. All the sites filled up quickly with trailers. We were the only crazy people with a tent, but again, what a view!
Stone Mountain Provincial Park Summit Campground
Stone Mountain Provincial Park Summit Campground. This was our site where the lone picnic table is, with a view of the highway, and the stone mountain.
Stone Mountain Provincial Park Summit Lake Campground
Stone Mountain Provincial Park Summit Lake Campground

This was another self-registration park. I, of course put the envelope in the incorrect box, thus wrote a note to insert in the correct box, explaining my mistake. The park warden came around later to collect the fees, and sell firewood to those lucky ones already at the park. Those who came later, were out of luck, and you could tell by the many unhappy faces, they were not impressed. The park warden came close to kicking out two males, who had collected wood from the area. He threatened them with eviction if they did not return every piece to where they found it, carefully watching their every move. Of course they didn’t pay either, so eviction was even closer, lucky for them, he took their money and let them stay. The next campground was hundreds of miles away.

As we had a sat around our glowing fire, we cooked a wonderful dinner of turkey medallions wrapped in bacon with some cheese tortellini.

Dinner of turkey medallions wrapped in bacon with tortellini.
Dinner of turkey medallions wrapped in bacon with cheese tortellini.

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.