BC's Royal Tour: From Prince George to Prince Rupert by RV

BC's Royal Tour:
From Prince George to Prince Rupert by RV

Jan's Lee Travellin' News

Northern BC
Hiking in the woods.

Northern BC's Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) is fast becoming one of Canada's most popular routes for RV exploration. Beginning on the Queen Charlotte Islands, Highway 16 stretches over 1,000 km/625 miles, linking Graham Island with the mainland port of Prince Rupert, and extending through the Rocky Mountains to the province of Alberta. Lush fertile valleys, towering mountainscapes and captivating lakes fill the western section of this region, which extends from the shores of the Pacific Ocean to the city of Prince George.

There are more than 10 provincial parks and numerous private RV parks with full and partial hook-ups, sani-stations and other amenities between Prince Rupert and Prince George. Acting as the connector for many of northern communities, Highway 16 provides an excellent setting for RV'ers and campers who enjoy the remoteness of the outdoors and the comfort of their own schedule.

If you are travelling from Vancouver and points south, Highway 1 and 97 will take you to Prince George, the departure point for this trip. Follow Highway 1 east to Hope, and then north through the Fraser Canyon. When you reach Cache Creek, you will pick up Highway 97 north.

Travelling from the east, you can access Highway 16 at several junctions in Alberta. The road west to Prince George will take you through Jasper and Mount Robson Park, which are famous for their amazing landscapes.

Prince George

Prince George sits at the junction of two rivers, the Fraser and Nechako, on what was once the traditional First Nations trading route for the Carrier and Sekani. The city has several excellent museums, the most famous being the Prince George Railway Museum. The Native Art Gallery features exhibits from local Native artists.

The local rivers offer some great opportunities for canoeing and kayaking. The Northwest Brigade Canoe Club has published a book that can give you more information about the river conditions, which run from flatwater to Class V rapids.

Prince George is also the junction for the Alaska Highway (Highway 97 north) and the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16). In this case, your journey takes you west 97 km/61 miles on the Yellowhead Highway to the town of Vanderhoof, in the centre of the region's ranching and logging area. It is also a haven for wildlife photographers and birdwatchers will enjoy the Vanderhoof Bird Sanctuary, a stopping point for Canada Geese in the spring and fall.

Lakes District
Photo courtesy of Roger McColm

The Lakes District features over 300 wilderness lakes. Stuart Lake is 60 km/38 miles north of Vanderhoof on Highway 27 at the town of Fort St. James. There are two provincial campgrounds at the southeast end of the lake (Paarens Beach Provincial Park and Sowchea Bay Recreational Area) and both accept reservations.

Beaumont Provincial Park sits on the shores of Fraser Lake, 37 km/22 miles west of Vanderhoof. Some of its sites are wheel- chair equipped.

The town of Burns Lake (129 km/81 miles west of Vanderhoof), is the gateway to one of BC's largest recreational areas, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, and the starting point to the popular Lakes District Circle Tour. The tour escorts you along the shores of Burns and Francois Lakes, winding up at Houston 74 km/46 miles west of Burns Lake. The local Forest District office can provide maps of preferred camping and fishing areas on this route.

Northern Rocky Mountain.
Photo courtesy of WayneSawchuck
Bulkley Valley

Like many of the small communities in this area, the town of Houston dates back to the early 1900's. Its first hotel was a large tent, but the reputation of this area for steelhead, coho and spring salmon fishing is legendary. Smithers 64 km/40 miles west of Houston, sits at the gateway to several well-known recreational areas. The Babine Mountains Recreational Area and Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park are approximately 15 km/9 miles east of the town (look for the turnoff in Smithers). Visitors can stroll through fossilized lake beds (fossil collecting is prohibited) and view the ancient remains of insects, fish and plants that have been preserved by Mother Nature. A secondary road takes you further to Babine Lake and a limited number of campsites. Amenities are few but the remote nature of the area is worth it. Be sure to check with the Smithers Info Centre to ensure your vehicle will be up to the current road and weather conditions.

Photo courtesy of Mark White

Bulkley Valley has been known for its Bavarian-like pastureland, with mountain ranges that are legendary both for their beauty and extraordinary hiking opportunities. Take the turn-off to Twin Falls and Glacier Gulch 4 km/2.5 miles west of Smithers. Glacier-fed streams, spectacular waterfalls and breathtaking vistas are all part of this excursion. The three-hour hike is recommended for moderately experienced trekkers.

The remarkable history of Northern BC's Aboriginal and pioneer villages have been a magnet for many travellers in this area. The Hazeltons, 68 km/43 miles west of Smithers, are three communities linked by the pioneer history of the 1900's. The 113 km/71 mile Hands of History tour and journey to North America's oldest totem at Kitwancool begin here. The totems at Kispiox and Kitwanga, also part of this tour, tell their own stories of this area's 10,000 year-old culture.

A visit to this area is not complete without taking the Nisga'a Circle Tour through the ancient Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed and the beautiful Nass Valley. The Terrace Tourism office can provide directions to the Nisga'a Memorial, located 100 km/60 miles north of Terrace on Nass Valley Road. Prince Rupert (132 km/83 miles from Terrace) is the last stop on this tour. The city was the brainchild of a railroad tycoon who believed that he could make

Prince Rupert the commercial centre of BC. One is left to wonder whether his vision would have succeeded - had he not taken a fateful voyage on the Titanic in 1912. Now the hub of fishing commerce for Northern BC, Prince Rupert is also the departure point for tours to the Queen Charlottes and numerous adventures north.

For more information:
Tourism Northern British Columbia:
Tourism BC (accommodations/reservations):
1-800- HELLO BC / 1-800-435-5622
BC Parks (reservations):
Hazelton Visitor Information Centre (May to September)
Or Read:
"Inside out British Columbia: A Best Places Guide to the Outdoors" by Jack Christie. Published jointly by Sasquatch Books and Raincoast Books, 1998.
"Canoe and Kayak Trip Guide for the Central Interior of British Columbia" by the North Brigade Canoe Club, Box 327, Prince George, BC V2L 4S2.

Copyright Jan Lee

Jan Lee        jnlee@sfu.ca

Be sure to read other articles by Jan Lee in the BC Adventure Network


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BC's Royal Tour: From Prince George to Prince Rupert by RV