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TRAVEL JOURNAL INDEX > We're Soaking in It (part 2)

Muncho Lake, British Columbia to Watson Lake, Yukon Territory   08/27/06 (Day 124)
We're Soaking in It (part 2)

All epic drives should include stops at as many hot springs as possible to help soak off the road. The first hot spring we indulged in on the journey were the Banff Upper Hot Springs but that was many, many miles ago.

Appropriately, the Alaska Highway lays claim to one of the best hot springs we’ve ever seen. Liard River Hot Springs is in a lush area of British Columbia which is home to 250 species of plant, including orchids. Though the springs are part of the Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park, the soaking areas themselves have not been so “civilized” that they’ve lost their natural feeling. Yes, some steps and railings and boardwalks have been added to make it easier to get in and out of the hotter Alpha pool and deeper (and, therefore, cooler) Beta pool (which was closed when we were there due to bear activity), but the rest of this area has been left as mother nature made it.

At the Alpha pool, water flows in from the spring itself, collects and deepens (to about rib cage level) through a long curved pool that still has small pebbles covering the bottom, then flows slowly out over a small waterfall that you can sit under if you like. Three underwater benches let you comfortably immerse yourself to about chin level, the water is truly hot and, for $5 a day, it’s good value.

Back on the road we see more caribou and buffalo on our way to Watson Lake, home of the famous Signpost Forest. Started in 1942 by a homesick army engineer who was in Watson Lake working on the Alaska Highway, the original collection of a few road signs on display on the outskirts of town has exploded into a bewildering maze-like forest of more than 54,000 signs (many of them obviously stolen) from around the world.

It is impressive and pointless at the same time.

With skies darkening ominously, we opt out of camping and choose to stay at the intriguingly named Air Force Lodge instead with our host Michael, an effusive German who owns the place along with a bright red Corvette. Michael says he used to put the speed demon through its paces on the runway at the local airport but he hasn’t been able to do that since security crackdowns in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Now, sadly, he’s working on “powering down” the engine. We’re pretty impressed at the idea of owning a Corvette in the Yukon, period.
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