Skookumchuck(aka T'sek) - Whistler Area Hot Springs
Skookumchuck Hot Springs, located two hours north of Whistler along the edge of the huge Lillooet River. The name Skookumchuck means "strong water" in the language of the Chinook people of the Pacific Northwest. The name is associated with the hot springs because of the nearby First Nation community of Skatin, which was once called Skookumchuck.
The Skookumchuck Hot Springs were also once known as St. Agnes Well during the days of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, but that name has fallen into disuse. They are also known locally by the Skatin name as the T'sek Hot Springs. See a short history of Skookumchuck Hot Springs here.
Just 20 minutes north of Whistler you pass Nairn Falls Provincial Park. This is a great pit-stop on your way to Skookumchuck. Whether you hike the short, 1.2 kilometre trail to Nairn Falls or just check out the river viewpoint near the parking lot. Back on the highway, Pemberton is just 5 minutes north of Nairn Falls. This little town is your last chance for gas, food, alcohol, ect, as you will shortly be leaving civilization and entering the wilderness around Lillooet Lake.
As you drive through Pemberton, just before Mount Currie you will see North Arm Farm on your right. Keep your eye out about 5 minutes past the McDonalds/Petrocan intersection and you will see it. This is a great place to see and wander around the beautiful farm grounds, visit the interesting farm animals and marvel at the amazing view of Mount Currie. The farm is free to visit and open weekends in the winter and everyday the rest of the year. They have a fantastic cafe with all sorts of baked goods and lunch items as well as various farm fresh produce for sale as well. Also, a great place for your last coffee before entering the wilderness.
Another 10 minutes on the highway further and you come to the turnoff to the In-Shuck-Ch Forest Service Road(see directions below) and begin the long and beautiful drive along Lillooet Lake. There are several excellent Lillooet Lake and Lillooet River viewpoints to stop and see along the way. From the obvious and frequent viewpoints along the road to the numerous and inviting campsites along the way.
These campsites are great places to stop and see Lillooet Lake, have a beer, swim, or all three. Depending on the season, Lillooet Lake can be emerald, though cloudy green or muddy brown. This is all dependent on the spring runoff and especially the silty brown, Lillooet River that flows into Lillooet Lake from Pemberton. Lillooet Lake flows into the rushing and crashing Lillooet River and Skookumchuck sits at the edge of this beautiful river. Once you see the end of the lake and start driving along the river you are getting close to the hot springs.
The Skookumchuck Hot Springs start in a pool which is far to hot to use so there are a network of tubes emanating from this pool to feed a ramshackle array of tubs. There are five tubs, which include one very large one under an A-frame which could hold 10 people and is beautifully comfortable. A smaller one under a half A-frame privacy screen which could hold 8 under the stars. And three more open tubs. Clothing, you will quickly discover, is optional. There are small change rooms and one outhouse a few metres away. Click here for a Short History of Skookumchuck Hot Springs.
Skookumchuck Hot Springs - Campsite & Usage Fees
The Skookumchuck campsite is very nice. Almost all of the sites are at the edge of the beautiful and huge Lillooet River with amazing views of the mountains beyond. Most campsites have picnic tables and deluxe(forest fire-proof) firepits. Occasionally you will find firewood left behind from previous campers at your chosen site, however, your best bet is to bring a bundle of wood with you. There are some good places to buy firewood along the drive to Skookumchuck. Nesters Market in Whistler sells bundled firewood and the Petro-Can gas station in Pemberton. Another good option is to bring an axe along with you as you will see an abundance of excellent firewood on the In-Shuck-Ch Forest Service Road along Lillooet Lake. Usually, you can easily spot plenty of old, dry and disintegrating trees laying near the road. You usually don't need an axe as the branches and thin tree sections can be broken easily.
The Skookumchuck campsite grounds are surprisingly flat, lots of room for tents and the area is thick with trees giving you some privacy from other campers. The well laid out and cute campsite ring road that runs through the campsite allows you to back your vehicle right up to your site.
There are several outhouses and a few water taps in various places. The water from the taps is drinkable, however, a sign warns to boil first. This is widely disregarded, and likely only a precaution from the campsite owners against charges if someone gets sick. The Lillooet River is not recommended to drink as it contains runoff from the farming town of Pemberton.
There are no overbearing rules applied to the Skookumchuck Hot Springs as there are in other hot springs you may encounter elsewhere. The tubs are open to use 24 hours, 365 days per year. There is a sign saying no dogs allowed near the hot springs, though they are allowed in the campsite.
There are usage charges. If you want to overnight, the cost is $10 per vehicle, and $10 per person (kids 10 and under free). If you don't overnight then no vehicle charge and $7.50 per adult. Day use hours are listed as 9am-8pm Summer and 9am-6pm Fall/Spring/Winter. Payment must be made in cash. In 2015 the Hot Springs have be taken over by new management and seem to be directed more towards a money making operation. The prices shown on this recent sign(pictured here) have nearly tripled!
Skookumchuck Hot Springs - Driving Directions
From Whistler, zero your odometer in Whistler at Village Gate Boulevard and follow highway 99 (Sea to Sky Highway north toward Pemberton. At 32km you will arrive at Pemberton, an intersection, with a Petro Can gas station on your left and Mcdonalds to your right. Continue straight, through Pemberton. At 39km turn right at the sign to Lillooet(pictured left). Follow this winding road, for 10km and soon (5-10 minutes) you will come to the massive Lillooet Lake on your right. At 49km turn right, just as you pass the lake on your right you will see a sign for the In-Shuck-Ch Forest Service Road(pictured right). Continue down this logging road as it hugs the mighty Lillooet Lake on your right. At 78.8km you will come to a fork in the road. Bear left and you will immediately see another sign to the Skookumchuck Hot Springs. At 96.5km, on your right you will pass the sign welcoming you to "St. Agnes Well, T'Sik, Skookumchuck Hot Springs".
More Whistler Area Hot Springs
Keyhole Hot Springs, just a few kilometres up from the old turnoff to Meager, are in an amazingly beautiful setting. There are two cemented tubs into the rock perched on the edge of Lillooet River. These are the most beautiful, however there are several more possible springs to be had close by. There is a fabulous sandy area between the cliff and the river where hot spring water bubbles from the sand. There is a shovel here to dig yourself a beautiful pool and channel river water in as needed to moderate the temperature. There is also a small fire pit as well as several log seats. Keyhole Hot Springs are very popular which can be seen by the elaborate hot springs layout as well as the huge campground area in the deep forest, high above the hot springs about a 10 minute walk away. Signs of semi-permanent dwellings can be seen in stages of ruin, but overall the campsite area is amazing.
Sloquet Hot Springs is a wonderfully wild set of shallow, man-made pools fed by a small, all natural, and very hot, waterfall. The pools stretch from the waterfall to the large and crashing Sloquet River. The large, spread out campsite for the hot springs lies a short 5 minute walk from the springs. You have to follow a dark and quickly descending trail toward the crashing river. As you near, you can smell the unusual, but kind of nice hot springs scent, and you see steam rising all around you, some steam rising, bizarrely, out of the grass clearing on the edge of the river. On your left a rising cliff, on your right the crashing river... Meager Creek Hot Springs is located 93k northwest of , was beautifully developed into gorgeous pools, with a caretaker and usage charge. At its height of popularity, Meager Creek Hot Springs had 30,000 yearly visitors. Unfortunately, due to two recent avalanches it seems unlikely to ever officially reopen. After several years of being closed, access reopened on 2009 with a nice, expensive, new bridge. Only to be dramatically obliterated from another slide in 2010. The access bridge over the Upper Lillooet River which cost nearly a million dollars was wrecked in seconds in 2010. There was considerable wrangling and negotiating to get it built in in 2009, however nothing came of it. For the foreseeable future Meager Creek Hot Springs will only be visited by the brave and determined via the new Harrison Hut Trail. This involves following the new Harrison Hut Trail for 6 kilometres then following an old logging road for 3.5k down to the springs. It is a pretty long route. From the time you leave Whistler to soaking in the hot springs, you are looking at about 5 hours! Still the Harrison Hut Trail is pretty amazing. There is an incredible viewpoint a couple kilometres in that gives you an amazing glimpse of the devastation route.