Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
Distance from Vancouver: 5h30
We decided to head to the Sloquet Hot Springs for our August long week-end. We expected the campsite to be quite busy so decided to leave Vancouver early in the morning. Because we didn’t have a 4WD, we took the ‘long way’ through Whistler and Pemberton. From Pemberton, follow the directions to Lilloet (right on the 99, after the small white chapel). About 10km after the turn out and just before the 99 goes up in switch backs in the mountains, turn right and then follow the In-Shuck-Ch Forest Service Road. This service road is (Thank god!) very well marked with markers every kilometer (up and down) with the name of the road. If at any point you don’t see a marker for a while, or if it says something else than ‘In-Shuck-Ch’, you are not on the right road anymore! Make sure you always follow the directions towards the hot springs or towards ‘Tipella’, which is a village past Sloquet Hot Springs (North of Harrison Lake!). A good visual is the large electric lines going all the way along Lilloet Lake and River. The service road basically follows/crosses it multiple times.
At approximately 48km on the In-Shuck-Ch road, you will drive past the intersection heading to the Skookumchuck Hot Springs on your right. I’ve heard really good things about these hot springs and it could be worth stopping for about 1h or so on your way, or on your way back! We wanted to stop on our way back to Vancouver, but… keep reading!
The directions we were following got us a bit confused – we read that we were suppose to cross a massive bridge over the river just before the intersection to the Sloquet Hot Springs… which we never crossed. Not long after KM 76 on the In-Shuck-Ch, you will see on your right a sign for the Sloquet Hot Springs. Turn right, and then keep going straight (there is a 3 way intersection, the left heading back on the main road, the right heading up, and straight ahead going to the hot springs!). From there, Sloquet Hot Springs are 11km away! The last 10km are the worst on the service road, but it has been worked on this year and is much better than we expected (and by talking with the ranger at the campsite, it is much better now).
On our way back however, and we are still unsure when it happened, we took the wrong way back. We left the Hot Springs back on the In-Shuck-Ch, and between KM 76 and 63 (going down), we ended up on the Lilloet West Service Road (basically we think we took the wrong way at a 3 way intersection). As we weren’t sure where we went wrong, we decided to take a leap of faith and keep riding down that road – assuming it would lead somewhere at some point. If you do that, don’t panic! The Lilloet West road will take you on the other side of the river/lake all the way to KM 29, where you need to CROSS the river on the Tenas Lake bridge. It took us a bit of map reading and navigation looking at the mountain peaks to figure out exactly where we were… as well as stopping at least twice to move away some rocks or a small fallen tree! At this point, I am still UNSURE if there is any way to get back on the 99 if you keep going all the way on the Lilloet West road. I wouldn’t take that chance if your gas levels are not very high! Because of that, we missed the Skookumchuck Hot Springs on our way back…
We did the entire trip with a 2WD, but I would be concerned when the weather isn’t dry or after heavy rains… if in doubts, get a 4WD! You can also get there with a 4WD via the Harrison West FSR which takes you North along Harrison Lake.
When we arrived to the Sloquet Hot Springs, we were welcome by the BC Recreation Park Ranger who explained us how the site worked, where to go, and were charged 15$/vehicle/night. There are about 17 camping spots, but most sites can take multiple tents. When you drive in, I would recommend heading to the left and driving down and around the road to get the camping spots a bit away from the main sites/trail to the hot springs. They are listed as the ‘Overflow camping’ on the BC Recreation Map, however they are more private and larger than the other ones. There are outhouses on the site, as well as garbage and recycling!
The hot springs are a short 5 minutes downhill hike from the campsites. There are multiple pools (starting from VERY HOT near the little waterfall) to comfortable and very cold (i.e. directly in the Sloquet river!). We found most people to be very mindful and clean around the springs, however some people were drinking in glass container that broke in and around the springs (at least she cleaned it!), or left their cigarette butts behind… but we can’t really change that. The evening was very lovely, with people lighting up some candles and enjoying a warm soak in the springs as the temperature fell down a little (in the middle of a heat wave though, not that cold at all!).
We had a very relaxing time in the hot springs and stayed for 2 nights (well worth it, after the 5hrs difficult drive up there!). I would recommend going when the outside temperature is a bit cooler if you can! Although, as I mentioned before, make sure you can make the drive up there even if there has been a bit of rain and the road isn’t as clear as it was for us!
Your trip looks great! I really want to visit Sloquet, too. Just wondering — do you know why you have to drive up through Whistler and then down past Lillooet Lake to get to Sloquet, instead of along the #1 HWY and up, past Harrison Lake?
Thanks so much for any advice!
Good question! You CAN drive up from Harrison Lake if you want, but you need a 4WD with high clearance! We had a small 2WD and the road from Lilloet could be challenging depending on the weather. People we talked with who came up from Harrison all had 4WD and told us that we would have gotten stuck more than once if we did try to go up that way. Some of them with a 4WD even said they would actually drive back by Whistler because the road was quite intense to drive!
Long story short – if you have the car for it and you are up for an adventure, go for it! But I would definitely not recommend it without a high clearance! Hope this helps 🙂 Have fun!