The beautiful province of British Columbia offers an extensive amount of activities, sites, and landscapes to enjoy throughout the year. While the southern part of the province boasts the more urban areas, the northern area of British Columbia lets visitors enjoy a variety of historical, natural and cultural sites and more remote regions. Lose yourself in the multitude of Provincial Parks, or learn about the history of explorers, settlers, and the aboriginal cultures of the province. Experience the great outdoors as it was meant to be, with clean, crisp air and magnificent scenery. Northern BC has something for every traveller!
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Sikanni Chief Falls Protected Areas
Located just off the Alaska Highway, at Mile 171, you find the incredible Sikanni Chief Falls. This powerful 30-meter falls is an impressive site, and visitors can enjoy the rushing sound from a scenic viewpoint. A beautiful 1.5 km hiking path takes walkers to the perfect vantage point. Keep your eyes open for moose, elk, black bears, grizzly bears and, of course, mountain goats, which are frequently found on the steep river banks. Take note though, this site is 15 kms off the main highway on a gravel road. Website
Fort Nelson Heritage Museum
Most travellers heading up the Alcan Highway may be tempted to drive right through Fort Nelson, but if you have the time, stop and visit this quirky and informative little museum, located right across the road from the Visitor’s Center. This fun, family friendly museum has a little bit of everything and anything – from a collection of mounted animals to antique vehicles to old telegraph equipment and much, much more. This affordable site is open during the summer season from 10 AM to 7 PM daily. Website
Muncho Lake Provincial Park
This park is heaven on earth for outdoor enthusiasts. Located just off the Alaska Highway, this secluded 88,420-hectare park hosts activities ranging from hiking to scuba diving, horseback riding to rafting. The towering folds of limestone that make up the surrounding mountains gives the area a unique appearance. Camping is possible at two sites if you are inclined to spend the night. The jade colored waters of Muncho Lake give travellers an opportunity to fish for lake trout, arctic grayling, bull trout and whitefish. Don’t forget to get your fishing licence before throwing your line in. Website
Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park
Up the Alaska Highway you encounter Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park, an excellent spot to, if you are camping, spend the night, or simply take a break to soak away your worries. The second largest hot springs in Canada, Liard boasts a setting that can’t be beat. Located in a lush boreal spruce forest, this year-round pool consistently has water temperatures from 42 – 52° Celsius. Wander the boardwalk for a chance to glimpse moose, or visit the hanging gardens. Reserve your campsite early to avoid disappointment, and remember, this site only accepts cash payments. Website
Whirlpool CanyonAt Mile Marker 516 on the Alaska Highway you find a small recreational spot that affords phenomenal views of the Liard River and an area called Whirlpool Canyon. A much-overlooked rest stop, this is a part of the river where massive rapids and whirlpools deposit logs on the banks to create some unique natural beauty. There is a short walking trail that leads from the small parking lot to farther down river to see more of the canyon. Watch out for the large herds of wild bison that may be on the highway! Website
Dawson Creek: Self Guided Walking Tour, Alaska Highway House, and Train Station Museum
As the official start point of the Alaska Highway, Dawson Creek is rich in pioneer and World War II history. Pick up your complimentary walking tour map from the Visitor’s Center, and spend an hour exploring the downtown, with its walls of original photos and interesting murals, and learn about the rich history of the area. At the same time, take some time to visit the Alaska Highway House, the Train Station Museum, and of course, the Mile 0 marker, located along your walking route. Website
Chetwynd Chainsaw Carvings
If you happen to be travelling Highway 97 from Dawson Creek to Prince George, make sure you stop in the small town of Chetwynd, just 100 kms from Dawson Creek. The main reason to stop here is to see the amazing Chainsaw Carvings. Since 2005, Chetwynd has hosted the International Chainsaw Carving Championship, bringing in carvers from all over the world. There are now more than 120 intricately carved figures around the town. Take a walk to view the carvings, or visit on the 2nd weekend of June to witness the Championship yourself! Website
Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark
The second Global Geopark in North America, this is an area of geological heritage of international significance. There is an abundance of hiking trails that lead to 21 different destinations and 41 different geosites within the park itself, and hikers can witness the beauty of waterfalls, meadows, lakes, canyons and mountain peaks. Take some time to join the guided walk to the dinosaur tracks close to the town, and for something indoors, pop into the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery to discover the fossils found in the area. Website
Huble Homestead Historic Site
Just 10 minutes off Highway 97, and 30 minutes north of Prince George, you will find the interesting Huble Homestead. Open seasonally, this site will take you back in time to the days of trappers, miners and settlers. This 54-acre park includes the original homestead and many other pioneer buildings and artifacts which detail the lives of the settlers of the region, as well as the Giscome Heritage Trail, which was once used by pioneers and First Nation people connecting to the Summit Lake area. This site operates by donation only, so please be generous!
The Exploration Place – Science Center and Museum
Located in the city of Prince George, this family friendly museum is geared towards those who have an interest in local heritage, the First Nations of the area, natural history, science or paleontological exhibits. Interactive displays and activities for children, along with live reptile and fish exhibits, give youngsters a chance to really enjoy the site. Open year round, the museum also hosts changing seasonal displays and a 1912 narrow gauge steam engine which runs during the summer. Website
Central BC Railway and Forestry MuseumSitting on the edge of the city of Prince George, this museum offers up one of the largest collections of vintage rail items in the province. From locomotives to artifacts, this is definitely an impressive site. In addition, the site is home to an impressive array of antique chainsaws and big forestry equipment which was used in the early logging days of the city. Feel free to climb up onto the locomotives or on the machinery, and you can even end (or begin) your visit here with a ride on the mini rail train! Website
Fort Saint James National Historic Site
A short jaunt off Highway 16, in the Vanderhoof area, travellers will find one of the most incredible heritage sites, not just in the province, but in the country. This seasonal summer site features the largest collection of original fur trade era wooden buildings, and has activities that both visitors of all ages will enjoy. Participate in the famous Chicken Races to earn prizes, or take the Escape the Fort Challenge. Spend the night in 1896 in the luxurious Murray House, or use one of the tent sites right at the fort. Website
Midsummer Music Festival
Now the longest running music festival in Northern BC, people from all walks of life gather in Smithers for a summer weekend of fun and music. With an eclectic mix of performers that change on a yearly basis, this is an event made for families, couples and singles alike. Along with the headliners, regional and local performers are showcased for some fresh new sounds. With crafts, games, and a stage for their own kind of music, children are easily entertained! Bring your instruments to jam alongside the musicians during the interactive workshops. Check online for current dates. Website
‘Ksan Museum and Historical Village
On the riverbank of the Skeena River in Hazelton, you will enjoy the replicated aboriginal village of Ksan. This area has been used for centuries by the local Gitxsan’s tribe. Along with a fascinating museum of almost 600 pieces of historical ceremonial and everyday use pieces, you can spend time experiencing what life was like in the traditional village. The intriguing totem poles, a carving area, along with traditional songs and dancing, add another dimension to your visit. Guided tours are available, and there is a convenient campground for both tents and RV’s located on-site. Website
New Hazelton Lookout and Waterfall TrailOne of three “Hazelton’s” located on Highway 16, this is an excellent spot to stretch your legs and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. Head to the end of Laurier Street in New Hazelton to access the trailhead. The trail to the lookout is steep, but well worth it, as it affords amazing views of the valley and the surrounding mountains. The waterfall trail is easier, and it is guaranteed that you will enjoy the rushing waters of these unnamed falls. Allow yourself an hour to do both trails. Website
Gitanyow Totem Poles
Formerly known as Kitwancool, the town of Gitanyow is home to British Colombia’s largest collection of totem poles, among which are some of the oldest known. This town was made famous by Emily Carr, who painted many of these in 1928. Each cedar pole tells a story, a history, and the spirituality of the people who carved them shines through in the expert craftmanship. To access this incredible site, you need to take a short detour off Highway 37, also known as the Stewart-Cassiar, or Dease Lake Highway. Website
Meziadan Fish Ladder
Many travellers think of BC as a common place to see salmon, and they would be right! This is an excellent opportunity to see sockeye and chinook salmon as they migrate back to the lake. This 670-foot-long fish ladder bridges both the upper and lower Victoria Falls, with 33 ascending pools! There is a public viewing area at the foot of the ladder, as well as an area where visitors can view operations. Visit in late summer for the best viewing, and watch out for the bears, eagles and wolves which frequent the area looking for dinner!
Stewart Estuary BoardwalkA remote wilderness town, Stewart is an excellent place to really experience animal and bird life. If you happen to be here to enjoy the hiking or other activities in the area, check out the Estuary Boardwalk, a 278-foot raised boardwalk that takes through the estuary ecosystem behind the Visitor’s Center. If you visit early in the morning, or late in the day, you will have ample opportunity to view a variety of birdlife. It is also very common to see bears strolling around town or on the sides of the roads here. Be bear aware! Website
Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park
Meaning “red goat” in the native Tahltan First Nation language, Spatsizi is one of Canada’s largest parks and one of the most important habitats for Woodland Caribou. For outdoor and animal enthusiasts, this is the perfect area to spend a lot of time as the park encompasses two unique geographical areas – the Spatsizi Plateau and the Skeena Mountains. Along with canoeing, fishing, and hiking, this is an excellent wildlife and birding zone, as it is common to see bears, wolverines, beaver, hoary marmot, stone sheep, mountain goats, and more than 140 species of birds. Website
If you are heading out on the Cassiar Highway to or from the Yukon, Jade City is a nice little spot along the road to spend a bit of time. A family run jade operation, this little destination has a population of about 20 people, and a mining history of about 40 years. 90% of the worlds jade comes from this area! Take a short ten-minute drive down to the abandoned mining town of Cassiar, join a guided hike, or learn everything you need to know about jade. As well, overnight RV parking is free.
Atlin Museum and Historical Walking TourMost travellers know that BC is a pretty big province. However, did you know that there are places that can only be accessed from other provinces? Atlin is one of those, a unique town that can only be accessed from the Yukon. While the area is rich in natural beauty, the town itself is seeped in history of the gold rush! The museum here is located in a 1902 schoolhouse, and houses artifacts from the Klondike Gold Rush. Ask at the museum for the walking tour of all the historical buildings in town. Website
Nisga’a Museum and Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park
Anhluut’ukwsim Laxmihl Angwinga’asanskwhl Nisga’a – that might be too much of a mouthful for most tourists to handle pronouncing, and might likely be forgotten unless written down, but the landscape and scenery will be held in memory for a lifetime. As the first provincial park jointly managed by a First Nations tribe and the BC government, it is a fantastically unique destination. Take a guided tour through the most accessible volcanic areas, with a 3 km walk through old growth forest to an amazing viewpoint above the crater.
Museum of Northern BC
Located on the waterfront in Prince Rupert, at the very west end of Highway 16, this museum is housed in a traditional cedar wood longhouse, where it holds an impressive array of cultural and historical items from the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest. This area has been used as a trading center for more than 9000 years, and the Hall of Nations inside the museum reflects the different styles and culture of each of the coastal nations that have left their stamp on the area. Temporary exhibits of art and history round out the experience.Website
North Pacific Cannery National Historic SiteA slightly different type of historic site awaits you in Port Edward. With 125 years of history, the cannery shows an important economic and cultural part of the area. The site itself includes industrial buildings along with boardwalks and residences of the workers. Choose from two different tours – the Industry Tour, or the Cannery Life Tour – or explore the area at your leisure on a self guided tour. You probably need two hours to really enjoy the site, and if you have time, indulge in lunch at the Mess House! Website
Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands)
Yes, we know this is more than one island and one site. However, Haida Gwaii was voted as one of National Geographic’s Best Trips in 2015, and we think it should be on the list every year. Along with the unmatched natural beauty of the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and the Haida Heritage Site, visitors can experience the SGang Gwaay UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the last authentic examples of a west coast First Nations village. Keep in mind that it is necessary to make reservations!
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