At nearly 200,000 square miles, Northern British Columbia is a land of towering mountains, pristine rivers, ancient forests, and abundant wildlife. Rich in First Nations heritage and scattered with small, friendly towns and cities, this explorers' paradise boasts some of Canada's greatest road, rail, and sea journeys.
Among the most famous of these journeys is the Alaska Highway, starting at Dawson Creek, north of Prince George. Alaska Highway House, near the Mile 0 post in Dawson Creek, tells the story of this engineering marvel, built by Americans and Canadians in just nine months during World War ll.
The highway winds north through Stone Mountain Provincial Park, where caribou and Stone's sheep can be spotted from the highway, and through Muncho Lake Provincial Park with its striking jade-green lake. A must-stop is Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park, where orchids bloom around Canada's second largest hot springs system.
Highway 16, or the Yellowhead Highway, stretches east to west across Northern BC. From Jasper, Alberta it follows valley bottoms west through the Rocky Mountains to Prince George (population 74,000), Northern BC's largest city. Then, through ancient forests and past pristine lakes and fish-filled rivers, it continues to the coast. Highlights en-route include Fort St. James National Historic Site, the alpine-themed town of Smithers, and the renowned '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 Skeena service from Jasper to Prince Rupert.
Oceanside, Prince Rupert boasts the charming Cow Bay shopping district, the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site, and the Museum of Northern British Columbia, showcasing more than 10,000 years of local history in a longhouse-style building.
From Prince Rupert, ferries sail north to Alaska and south through the Inside Passage to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. Sailing through the Inside Passage, past snowy peaks and forested islands, possibly accompanied by dolphins swimming alongside, is a spectacular experience. BC Ferries' MV Northern Expedition, a comfortable ship featuring a restaurant, cabins, and Haida art, is a great way to complete, or start, any northern adventure.
From Prince Rupert, BC Ferries vessels also sail to Haida Gwaii. Formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, this archipelago of more than 150 islands is home to the Haida First Nation. The Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site protects the southern reaches of the archipelago, including the SGang Gwaay UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of the last authentic examples of a west coast First Nations village. Another must-see is the Haida Heritage Centre at Kay Llnagaay in Skidegate, where the museum, a First Nations bistro, and a carving house offer insights into Haida culture and heritage.
Northern BC's vast and rugged landscape lends itself to unlimited outdoor adventure. Provincial parks offer hikes from easy to expeditionary; multi-day raft adventures along northern rivers that are the stuff of bucket lists; and fishing, especially for salmon and steelhead, that is legendary in the region's lakes, rivers, and fjords. Mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, and more are all available on a large scale.
In winter, skiers venture north for untouched terrain and some of the world's best snow conditions. Shames Mountain near Terrace, Hudson Bay Mountain near Smithers, and Powder King Mountain Resort east of Mackenzie offer lift-serviced verticals, while the region's three mountain ranges boast some of the largest heli-and-cat-skiing areas found anywhere.
For tailor made holidays to Canada contact the experts at Bon Voyage