The North & the BC Coast

The northern part of BC is far less populated than the southern half, but contains some of the provinces most spectacular Scenery. The main access to the north is Hwy. 97 from Cache Creek. As you head north on Hwy 97, you pass the town of Quesnel, about 120 km south of Prince George. From here, you can take a side trip to the old Gold Rush town of Barkerville, which has been completely restored. This is also close to the start of the Bowron Lake canoe circuit. This takes about 8 days. See link in the table below for more info.

Prince George is the first major city up Highway 97. From here you can continue north through Dawson Creek, Ft. St. John and the Alaska Highway. If your intent is to travel the Alaska Highway, my suggestion would be to take another route. Instead of heading north of Prince George, travel west on Highway 16 instead to Terrace, then north through the lava fields to Stewart and then North to join the Alaska Highway at Cassiar.

A nice town along Highway 16 is Smithers, a Swiss style town with lots of accommodation including a riverside municipal campsite. Further west is the town of Hazelton where an Indian display, called Ksan, features displays of Indian dancing, totem poles, long houses, etc. Travelling north from Terrace on Hwy 37 you reach the town of Stewart located on the Alaska border (southern panhandle). The town on the American side is called Hyder. Everyone should visit this village and go to the Glacier Inn to be Hyderized (a shot of 180 proof alcohol). You can also stick a dollar bill on the wall and sign it. There are dollar bills dating back to the 1800's with some very famous signatures on some of them. Continuing north to Cassiar on Hwy 37, you pass through some of the most spectacular scenery in BC. I worked on the construction of this highway in the early 70's. We were the first people through there in 100 years since the old telegraph trail. We had to deal with grizzly bears, 10 ft tall devils club and swamps.

If you are not planning on driving the Alaska Highway, one alternative is to continue west on Highway 16 to Prince Rupert. from here you can catch a BC Ferry (car carrying) down the Inside Passage to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island (See links below). From here you can drive to Nanaimo and back over to Vancouver. This is a kind of poor mans Alaska cruise. It is also possible to book a cruise on BC Ferries from Pt. Hardy at the northern tip of Vancouver island to Bella Coolla, halfway up the coast. See Discovery Coast Cruise below. Both of these trips will take you through some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the world. There is also a ferry to Alaska from Prince Rupert. See link below..

Hudson Bay Mountain and Glacier near Smithers, BC


The Ferry Traveler  BC and Alaska ferry schedules
Smithers, B.C Guide to this pleasant Northern town
Northern Communities of British Columbia  Guide to Northern BC Communities
http://www.accommodationscariboo.com On-Line Booking - Cariboo
Seashore Charters Homepage Prince Rupert Fishing Charters
Smithers Guide to this attractive Northern Town
Bowron Lakes Canoe trips Provincial Government Guide to this
Fresh Tracks Company doing Bowron Lake Canoe tours.
Dawson City Hostel Dawson City, Yukon

Highway 24 to Bella Coola:

I get quite a few enquiries about this Highway which runs from Williams Lake to Bella Coola on the coast for over 400 Km, especially in regard to its infamous hill. The hill is the steepest public highway in Canada and is 18% in one section. It is also gravel, although the majority of Highway 24 is paved. The hill is narrow and has 1 or 2 tight switchbacks plus sheer drops on one side. It is not as scary as most make it out to be, however. You can take an RV down it, but I would not take a large RV down there. A truck camper or Class C or smaller motorhome is just fine. They do take large trucks down there but I would not advise taking a large 5th wheel or trailer down it unless you are experienced with this type of road. The main thing is to take it slow, honk your horn going into blind corners and use your transmission, not your brakes to control your braking when possible. I took the road in 4 wheel drive & second gear going down. I had a heavy camper on board.

The hill

The hill



Queen Charlotte Islands:

Known as the Galapagos of BC, these unspoiled Islands are the birthplace of the West Coast Haida Indian Culture. Probably the best way to see these is with an organized tour, especially a Kayaking Expedition (see my tours section for some companies). You can get there on your own by ferry, and there are Hostels.


BC Ferries- Queen Charlotte Islands  Ferry Schedule for Queen Charlotte Islands