Oh the Liard Hot Springs, a true treasure of the North.
And what could make a hot spring better than the scenic cold of the same North.
So, best hot springs in the world? Perhaps not. The hot-spring splendours on the global scale are too numerous to list. Nonetheless, the LHS is a must soak.
The surrounding area is pristinely scenic and, as expected, quiet. To reach the alpha pool, one strolls along a board walk, winding through thermally blessed plant communities. Even at -30°C, green plants can be seen as if it was spring, spared winter by warmed water and soils.
This site was developed with simplicity in mind. No concrete or buildings enclose the pools. The alpha pool is lined with rounded gravel, and margined with lush Canadian jungle vegetation. In the winter, hoar frost encapsulates poolside plants, giving the true winter-wonderland effect.
As one would expect, given the people/m² of the Yukon, the m² of hot spring per person at Liard is ample with two sizable pools to choose from. In the winter, you most likely will soak with a few others and it’s norm to have the pool all to yourself at times.
The alpha pool’s true genius is its temperature gradient across the pool. The eastern side is the warmest; in fact a bit scalding. The temperature drops as one floats west to the relatively cooler, though pleasantly warm outlet. This temperature change allows you to migrate to cooler or warmer waters as desired. The alpha pool also has a good flushing rate, avoiding the human soup effect.
The beta pool is a five-minute walk further than the alpha pool. Notably, the beta pool is no longer maintained, but the existing facilities are there (e.g. change rooms, boardwalk).
This quieter, unmaintained site is the preferred spot of those looking to down a few wobblies with the soak (note: glass bottles/glasses should be avoided for obvious reasons).
Be aware that the beta pool is larger, deeper, cooler and has a muddy bottom. It may appear as a scene from Stephen King’s It. Furthermore, this site is crawling with bears in the summer.
If you’re soaking in the winter, I would recommend the alpha pool just for its superior warmth.
If you ever get a chance, take advantage of this worst-kept secret in the North. There is no better way to spend a frigid day then a soaking in the LHS.