Alaska Highway/Liard Hot Springs – Winter 2012

The Alaska Highway is arguably the most interesting built piece of the Northern Rockies.  I’ve had the opportunity to make a few runs as far as Liard Hot Springs (about 250km north of Fort Nelson) but didn’t have the time (or rationale) to run up to the Yukon border, which would involve another 250km.  Similar to my time on Highway 37 last year…close…but no Klondike.  Unfortunate, but most (if not all) of the noteworthy topography on the BC portion of the ALCAN is between Fort Nelson and Liard, so it it wasn’t a total loss (in terms of personal spatial exploration).  Fort St. John to Fort Nelson is probably one of the more boring drives in the Province and I’ve completed that run enough times to last a lifetime.   Below are a few shots from a winter drive along the mighty 97N, through Muncho Lake and onto Liard hot springs.

MacDonald Creek Valley

MacDonald River valley.  This is the entry (or exit) point of the Wokkpash trail.  I had originally planned to hammer that trek out this summer, but unfortunately weather and available time had other plans.  The Wokkpash will take one straight down that valley, across a pass and back out to the Alaska Highway.

Summit Pass

Summit Pass in the winter.  At 1,300m it’s one of the higher sections of the highway.  I believe it is also an original alignment as well.  Mountain goat alley.

Toad River Deer

Deer at Toad River on one of the provincial side roads (I believe Toad Mountain Sub is one of the most northern side roads in British Columbia).

Abandoned Station

The Alaska Highway is littered with old abandoned service stations and hotels (not to mention dozens of hectares of brownfields in the form of WW2 era munitions, fuel and refuse dumps).  Prior to many of the realignments completed since it’s construction, the highway was a much, much longer journey on a inferior gravel road.  Breakdowns and maintenance issues were common, and fuel efficiencies were much lower, creating the need for numerous stations and motels.

Muncho Lake Storm

Unfortunately the weather did not agree with me and I wasn’t able to capture the jade like features of Muncho Lake.

Liard River

The Liard River valley on approach to the our most northern suspension bridge in British Columbia.  Lots of wood buffalo along this section of the road.

Liard River Hot Spring

Liard Hot Springs

Alpha Pool - Liard River Hot Spring

The Alpha Pool.  I visited the Hot Spring during the summer, but I really wanted to see it in it’s winter glory.  It’s free in the winter as well.  I’m hardly a hot spring expert, but I have visited several around the world.  What I found most enduring about Liard was that one is actually in the hot spring pool.  As opposed to the more familiar springs in Banff where the spring water appears to be fed into a constructed pool.  It’s open 24/7 and I’ve been told that the place can get pretty wild during the later hours….


View of the Alpha Pool from above.

Hanging Garden - Liard River Hot Spring

Just above the Alpha Pool is the Hanging Garden, an frost/ice encrusted spring that feeds down into the pools and marshes below.  Above this is the Beta Pool which apparently used to be open to the public but has was permanently closed some time ago.

Alpha Pool - Liard River Hot Spring

New change facilities were added to the pool this summer.

Northern Rockies Lodge

The Northern Rockies Lodge.  I spent the night here before heading back down to Fort Nelson (no use in not taking advantage of the winter rates).  Owned by a Swiss family with an eye for the built aesthetic (the interior is fantastic), this joint is by far the best maintained facility that I’ve seen on the ALCAN.  Schnitzel, imported Swiss beer and supposedly home of the New Years’ party in the north.  Definitely recommended if you are up that way.

And thus ends probably my last journey up through the Northern Rockies for the next few months.  I’ll be heading back down to my old position in Dawson Creek this December, but I will be holding on to the Fort Nelson area and will making a few runs over the next year or two.

One Response to Alaska Highway/Liard Hot Springs – Winter 2012

  1. Allison says:

    Beautiful photos, Bryan! What a gorgeous area of the province – Thanks for sharing!

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