cabackroads--Liard Hot Springs.
trip dates: August 22 through August 24, 2016.
There were only a couple of must visits on this trip. Liard Hot Springs was one of those. The attraction was the hot springs which are pretty special, but also design of the visitor facility which in the past has won awards. It is difficult to find facilities that protect the environment and provide a quality visiting experience for the public. I was pretty excited about seeing the facility first-hand.
I believe the facility was rebuilt in 2014. Here is a link that discusses the rebuilding of the facility: http://www.formline.ca/LIARD-RIVER-HOTSPRINGS
There is a boardwalk that leaves the parking area and it takes about a 10 minute walk to reach the hot springs. Notice that the boardwalk does not have any small rails to keep wheelchairs from rolling off the boardwalk.
After a short 10-15 minute walk you come up to the hot springs changing room and the bathrooms. The Canadians have yet to discover SST toilets. I am sure this part of the facility did not receive an award!
The hot springs are a very special place as these interpretive signs show. Interesting to have a snail only found in the area of the hot springs. It would be interesting to see the evolutionary history of the snail.
The bottom of the hot springs is lined with small round crushed gravel. Which makes it easy to walk inside the hot springs area. As seen in the photo above...it is hot. The upper end of the hot springs might be approachable if your really tough. In the three days I only saw one person that managed to get to the upper end.
The water temperature drops the farther downstream you go. So it is pretty simple to find the perfect temperature. Out in the middle of the pond there are even a couple of benches that you can sit on and be pretty much totally submerged.
There are plenty of steps to get you into "hot" water. I was sitting on one of the underwater benches and started looking around for handicapped access to the hot springs.
It didn't take but a few glances around the pool to notice that there was NO access for people not blessed with perfect health. I found it hard to believe that a recreation facility built only a couple of years ago in a advanced country like Canada did not provide universal access to one of its most important recreation sites in northern British Columbia.
A Park Ranger came through patrolling the site a couple of minutes later and I asked about access to the hot springs. His reply was the boardwalk was the "accessible" facility on site. That folks with disabilities could use the boardwalk. I pointed out that this was a hot springs and it seemed pointless to provide access up to the hot springs, but not the hot springs itself! He just shrugged.
I lived in Canada for a couple of years and I understand that most Canadians really do not want to be like the United States. But there are a few things from the states that could be incorporated into Canadian life. The Americans with Disabilities Act would be a wonderful place to start.
Universal access I first ran into it at a junior college in California that was built in 1968. The entire campus was accessible and the design so good that NOBODY noticed except those that needed the universal access. In fact, I first became aware when I asked an instructor why the campus had some many folks with disabilities attending the college.
That was 1968. Twenty-two years before the American with Disabilities Act passed in 1990. It is ok to do the right thing before it is required by law.
So a professional stop that I was looking forward to seeing, became a major disappointment. The design awards should be rescinded. There is no excuse for building facilities in 2014 that do not provide universal access.
The weather forecaster kept talking about a major change in the weather coming soon. It was late August, and that means in the mountains fall was getting ready to make its debut.