Last updated December 14, 2019
I love hot springs and I love natural ones even more. What’s not to love about those hot, sulphury pools of water? When you’re far from civilization in northern BC, the Liard River Hot Springs campground is a great way to relax and marvel at the vastness of BC. Plus, a warm soak amidst a lush, boreal forest is the perfect way to let go of the aches and pains of travel!
Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park is located at Historic Mile 496 (kilometer 765) on the Alaska Highway. It’s a wonderful place to spend a night camping and to take full advantage of the nearby hot springs. It was a highlight on my northern BC trip this past summer!
↠ 21 reservable
↠ 32 first-come, first-served
↠ $26/night + includes hot springs free
↠ $16/night off-season
↠ Day use: $5/adults, $3/kids, $10/families
↠ Annual pass: $10/adults, $20/families
↠ Off-season: Free
|Dates||Open year-round. Dates change annually, so please refer to the BC Parks website for the most up-to-date information.|
|Pros||Private and well-maintained sites, easy access, near hot springs, open year-round, potable water, pets allowed, frequent wildlife sightings, hot spring fee included in the camping fee|
|Cons||Fills quickly in the summer, no cell or internet service, no hookups, limited food options, no showers|
Liard River Hot Springs
If you’re into hot springs — which, I’ll be honest, it would be weird if you weren’t — you’ll definitely want to visit the second-largest hot springs in Canada! Liard Hot Springs is second only to Fairmont Hot Springs; however, Liard actually lays claim as the largest natural hot springs in the country.
The hot springs themselves are only a short, ten-minute walk from the campground and a well-maintained boardwalk connects them. It passes through a warm swamp and boreal forest where you can often spot wildlife such as moose and elk! We didn’t see any, but we were lucky enough to spot bison on the highway just outside of the park.
The day-use area gives you access to many of the same facilities as the full campground, including the hot springs, playground, toilets, picnic area, and potable water. Many people stop for only a few hours to enjoy Liard Hot Springs, but I highly recommend actually camping here. It gives you more time to enjoy the peaceful, relaxing waters and check out the area!
Liard River Hot Springs campground
The campground is open year-round and full facilities are available from May 1 through September 30. There are 53 sites; 21 are reservable and the rest are first-come-first-serve. To make a reservation, you’ll need to do it through Discover Camping.
The campground fills quickly during the summer. Checkout is 11 am, so try to arrive at the campground right away to increase your chance of getting a site. We arrived at 11:45 am and had our pick of about half the campground. There’s also a large overflow area across the highway that has a few fire rings, pit toilets, and dumpsters.
The campsites at Liard River Hot Springs campground are wonderful. They are large and have plenty of space and trees between them, which makes them very private. The picnic tables and fire rings are well maintained and the sites are always freshly raked. Every site is very level and we slept quite comfortably in our tents. Some people have reported highway noise from sites near the road, but it generally quiets down in the evening.
The sites are large enough to accommodate RVs and trailers up to 32’. They are back-in only and have no hookups. You can get potable water from the tap near the entrance, but it’s not an ideal place to fill up because your trailer would block the road.
Campsites are $26 per night for both the main campground and overflow. During the winter, it’s reduced to $16 per night. Your camping fee includes access to Liard Hot Springs, which is a really great deal! Usually, the camping and pool fees are separate.
If you’re only visiting for the day, day-use passes are $5 for adults, $3 for kids, or $10 for families. If you visit lots, annual passes are $10 for adults and $20 for families.
You can pay for camping and day-use at the gatehouse, which doubles as the local visitor centre. The staff are very friendly and are happy to answer your questions! Your fees go towards the park by funding services, staff, and maintenance. Keep in mind that you can only pay in cash.
Amenities + Services
The Liard River Hot Springs campground has limited services. There are no hookups, cell service, wifi, or showers available. That’s not to say you’re left without any amenities or services! There are picnic tables and fire rings with grates in every site, potable water, pit toilets, trash cans, a great playground, and picnic shelters. There’s also a book swap located inside the gatehouse (or $2 per book if you don’t have one to swap).
During the off-season (October 1 through April 30), potable water isn’t available.
If you absolutely need a taste of home, you can get wifi and rent showers at the lodge across the highway. A word of caution: don’t expect a lightning speed internet connection and be grateful for the shower because there aren’t many places for one along the Alaska Highway.
Your pets are welcome in the campground, but they need to be kept on a leash. When you’re headed up for a soak in the hot springs, your furry friends need to be left at camp because they aren’t allowed in the hot springs area.
There are very limited food options in the area. If you don’t bring your own food, your only convenient option is the Liard Hot Springs Lodge across the highway which has a convenience store and restaurant. There are additional options available at Muncho Lake Provincial Park, which is about an hour away.
The convenience store has very few options and we found it quite expensive; we paid $2.50 each for Mr Noodle cups. The simple, sit-down restaurant is a much better option if you’re looking to fill up after a long day on the road. They have a decent selection of food but don’t offer any special dietary options or fancy meals. It’s also a little expensive, but that’s not surprising considering the extremely remote location in northern BC. We were just happy to have a warm meal after a few long days on the road!
The campground also has bear storage lockers, which I highly recommend using if you’re sleeping in a tent.
The Liard Hot Springs campground is located deep in northern BC and is almost on the Yukon border. There are very few amenities or services around, so it’s important to be prepared when you head up.
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PS: Bring CASH. The campground and hot springs only accept cash.
- Swimsuit: You don’t want to miss out on the Liard River hot springs when you’re camping here, so make sure to bring your swimsuit. I personally love my Londre swimsuit — it’s a local BC brand that’s made of recycled plastic bottles and feels (and looks) amazing.
- Hydration pack: During the summer, there’s potable water at the campground and it’s important to fill up while you can. Drinkable water isn’t always the easiest to find in northern BC, so take advantage of it while you can. Hydration packs carry more than water bottles, which means you’ll spend less time hunting for water and more time enjoying the north.
- Quick-dry towel: When you’re camping, the last thing you want is a towel that’s soaking wet when you pack up the next day. With a quick-dry towel, that’s not an issue! They work great as extra pillow cushioning or a “blanket” if you need it, too.
- Lightweight camp stove: If you don’t feel like using the campfire to cook (or there’s a fire ban), a lightweight camp stove is perfect for heating up your dinner and making yummy, warm drinks. The MSR Pocket Rocket is a great little stove for doing just that! (It’s not the same one pictured above, but it performs better than that stove did.)
- Camp chair: Camp chairs make nights around the fire cozy and relaxing. I have the Helinox Chair One and love it; it’s lightweight, small, and comfortable. It is a little on the pricey side, but it’s totally worth it.
Not all provincial parks are created equal. Luckily, the Liard River Hot Springs campground is one of the better ones! The campground itself is well maintained and private, and the hot springs are beautiful.
There isn’t much else to do in the area other than soak in the hot springs, but it’s worth spending at least one night at the campground. We easily filled up our day with two soaks in the hot springs and relaxing in camp.
I can’t recommend Liard River Hot Springs enough! I was there only two weeks ago and am already scheming how to get back.