Hot and Warm Springs

Sahtu Hot Spring (R. Popko)
Last updated: July 2012

Hot and warm springs often have unique ecosystems and are important to many different species. At a hot or warm spring, water temperature, air temperature, humidity, and water chemistry all differ from the surrounding area. As a result, the area around a hot or warm spring sometimes supports species or communities that are uniquely adapted to these environments, such as calcium-tolerant plants or warm-water bacteria. They can also support species that are endemic to only those environments. For example, some hot springs in the Nahanni National Park Reserve support the Nahanni Aster (Symphyotrichum nahanniense), an endemic globally rare plant that is found nowhere else in the world. Hot or warm springs can sometimes support populations of plants and animals that are disjunct from the rest of that species distribution further south. Furthermore, their salty spring deposits are often used by wildlife as mineral licks.

The PAS Biologist with the Government of the Northwest Territories' Department of Environment and Natural Resources has compliled known locations of warm and hot springs in the NWT.* Springs described as 'hot' or 'warm' or where water temperature was at least 10oC are included on this map. Latitudes and longitudes of spring locations have varying degrees of precision (including some that were digitized based on descriptions); therefore, all locations should be considered approximate. Where two springs appear to be duplicates of each other (i.e. same name and/or very close together), one was removed. It is possible that some springs were removed in error or that two separate points on the map could represent the same spring. Other hot or warm springs may exist that were not known of at the time of this mapping effort.

Researchers and residents are encouraged to contact the PAS Secretariat at with their records.

* Sources:
  • Popko, R. Mineral Licks and Springs in the Mackenzie Mountains NWT. Unpublished Database. Environment and Natural Resources, Government of the Northwest Territories, Norman Wells, NT. 2005.
  • Bonny, S. NWT Springs Field Notes. Unpublished Data. Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB. 2006.
  • Woodsworth, G. Hot Springs of Western Canada, Second Edition. Gordon Soules Book Publishers Ltd., West Vancouver, BC. 1999.
  • Parks Canada. Shapefile of Hotsprings In and Around Nahanni National Park Reserve. Unpublished Database. Parks Canada, Fort Smith, NT. 2006.
  • Caron, M.-E., Grasby, S.E., and Ryan, M.C. Spring Geochemistry: A Tool for Mineral Exploration in the South Nahanni River Basin of the Mackenzie Mountains, Northwest Territories. In Mineral and Energy Resource Potential of the Proposed Expansion to the Nahanni National Park Reserve, North Cordillera, Northwest Territories. Geological Survey of Canada Open File 5344. 2007.
  • Grasby,S . Personal Communication. Research Scientist, Geological Survey of Canada, Natural Resources Canada. 2008.
  • Houseknecht, S.J. Natural History Study of Mineral and Thermal Springs in Canada. Prepared for Parks Canada. TERA Environmental Consultants Ltd., Vancouver, BC. 1984.