At half a million square kilometres, Northern British Columbia is a land of wildlife, rarely touched rivers, majestic mountains and hand-carved totem poles. Scattered with small, friendly towns and cities just steps away from nature, this explorer’s paradise boasts some of Canada’s greatest road, rail and sea journeys.
Highway 97 starts at the US border near Osoyoos, but it becomes the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek, north of Prince George. At “Mile 0” in Dawson Creek, Alaska Highway House tells the story of this World War II engineering marvel, built by Americans and Canadians in a brutal nine months. Further north, the highway winds through the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area, dubbed the “Serengeti of the North.” Moose, deer, caribou, Stone’s sheep and bison can all be spotted from the highway. A “bucket list” item for every serious RVer: no Alaska Highway trip is complete without a dip in rustic Liard River Hot Springs.
Highway 16, or the Yellowhead Highway, stretches east to west across the region. From Jasper, Alberta, it follows valley bottoms west through the Rocky Mountains to the city of Prince George (population 83,000). Then, through forests, past pristine lakes and fish-filled rivers, it continues on to the coast. Stops and side trips along the route include Fort St. James National Historic Site, Smithers and ‘Ksan Historical Village and Museum.
Rail enthusiasts can make the same journey over two days and entirely in daylight, on VIA Rail’s fabulously scenic “Jasper to Prince Rupert” route.
Oceanside, Prince Rupert boasts the Museum of Northern British Columbia (showcasing over 10,000 years of local history), the charming Cow Bay shopping district and North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site.
The Inside Passage trip between Prince Rupert on the Northern coast and Port Hardy on Vancouver Island is spectacular. Snow frosts the peaks of mountains, and dolphins often swim alongside the ship. BC Ferries’ MV Northern Expedition, launched in 2009, features exceptional comfort and views, fine dining and Haida art; a great way to complete, or start, any northern adventure.
First Nations art and culture are vibrant in Northern BC. Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands), an archipelago of over 150 islands, is home to the Haida people and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Haida Heritage Centre at Kay Llnagaay, opened in 2008, houses a museum, carving shed, artists workrooms and classrooms, as well as renowned artist Bill Reid’s canoe, the Loo Taas.
Visitors can heli-ski in some of the world’s best snow conditions, in the middle of undisturbed nature. The Smithers, Terrace, Stewart and Prince George areas have world-class heli-ski operations, with operating areas over a million square acres each.
Fishing is a passion — and at inland lakes, ocean-bound rivers and on the Pacific, Northern BC offers an experience for every angler and is known for their salmon and steelhead fishing.
The region’s vast and rugged landscape lends itself to unlimited outdoor adventure. Mountain biking, hiking, rafting and canoeing are all available, and on a large scale. Spectacular adventures await every level and ability — from family to fanatic.