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.

Going north and back over to Alberta Day 12

We left our campsite at Kerkeslin and headed north, crossing back over into Alberta, mileage 4327 kilometres. Our goal was Miette Hot Springs and Saskatoon Island Provincial Park just outside of Grande Prairie.

First stop was Athabasca Falls, and we were not disappointed.

  • Top of the Athabasca Falls
  • Athabasca Falls
  • View of the roadway crossing the Athabasca Falls
  • Athabasca river churning through the rocks
  • View of walkways over the Athabasca Falls
  • Stairs beside the Athabasca Falls
  • On the stairs Athabasca Falls
  • The Athabasca River before descending the falls
  • The Athabasca River at the bottom of the falls.
  • The rapidly moving Athabasca River below the falls

Back on the highway we saw a coyote, two mountain goats, and a Bighorn sheep that appeared to be entertaining us.

  • Bighorn sheep
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Bighorn sheep

Still on the Icefields Parkway, we stopped along the road with other tourists to take a dip in the Athabasca River, I did not go in very far because oh my was it ever cold!

Matt wading into Athabasca River
Matt wading into Athabasca River, I did tempt to go in a bit, but the water was ice cold!
Icefields Parkway towards Jasper
Icefields Parkway towards Jasper

Next stop was Miette Hot Springs, the water was absolutely wonderful, this I did spend some time in, with a view of the Fiddle River Valley.

Miette Hot Springs
Miette Hot Springs

Before reaching Saskatoon Island Provincial Park, we made a quick stop at the Toyota dealer to buy some radiator fluid, we needed a top up because of all the driving we had been doing. We reached the park before dinnertime, to see snowshoe hares everywhere. Maybe due to the abundance of Saskatoon berries, a quick favourite of mine. I picked a large Tupperware container full, and they lasted a couple of weeks for me, a delicious addition to my morning porridge.

We were at site #93, and after quickly setting up our tent, having a bite to eat, we asked about the beach. We were told not to swim in the water you would get the “itch”. Apparently no one has been able to go in the lake for years due to blue-green algae and an abundance of leeches.

Campsite at Saskatoon Island Provincial park, site 93
Saskatoon Island Provincial park, campsite 93

Days 9 & 10 our last day in the badlands, then off to Calgary

Yesterday was awesome, we spent the day walking trails, and just resting in the beautiful sunshine. Without trees on our campsite, there was no way for Matt to hang tarp to provide some shade. He did do his best attaching two very large umbrellas on the roof of the RAV4, but by the next day I was pretty sure, my eyes were sun burnt. I should have been wearing my sunglasses for protection. I learned the hard way, my eyes were quite sore for a good week afterwards.

A photo showing the umbrellas on our car in effort to provide us with some shade.
Though there is some shade provided from the tree at the next campsite, it quickly disappeared, thus umbrellas on top of the car.

Before we left for Calgary, Matt hiked up a large mountain, I stayed at camp, packing up, knowing I would not be able to complete that particular hike. The video he shot really showed how wide-ranging the badlands are, covering 8,086 hectares.

Dinosaur Provincial Park

Mileage 3625 kilometres. We took a scenic drive towards Calgary because I wanted to make a stop in Drumheller to visit a few stores. Matt wanted a dinosaur shirt, and ended up buying one that glows in the dark. He has a thing for t-shirts with animals prints.

Here are a few pictures from the day:

Driving towards the Canadian Badlands.
The Canadian Badlands
Matt making a funny face standing in front of a dinosaur statues (Note, the animal print t-shirt, he has a thing for them).
In Drumheller, where dinosaurs roam. Well, actually there are just many statues. Note, his animal print t-shirt!
The prairie sky, Alberta
Prairie sky, Alberta, Canada
A red grain elevator in Dorothy, Alberta
Red Grain Elevator Dorothy, Alberta, Canada
Rain clouds in the distance, Alberta, Canada
Rain in the distance Alberta, Canada

We arrived in Calgary in no time at all. The main reason for visiting Calgary was to see my lovely friend Nicole, owner and writer of Girl in a Boy House.

Nicole and I at Nose Hill Natural Environment Park, Calgary, Alberta
Nose Hill Natural Environment park with Nicole and Barclay

Neither Matt nor I have ever been to Calgary, so Nicole drove us around, giving us a brief history of the city, then it was off for a walk in Nose Hill Natural Environment Park with Nicole’s dog Barclay. In the background are the Rockies. After our walk, we headed back to Nicole’s, where she took the time to make us a nice meal. Soon her husband arrived home from work, and the evening was spent having a few drinks, and chatting. It was an early night for us though, excited about reaching our next destination.