Great Northern Circle Route

This spectacular road odyssey travels through the untamed wilderness and geological wonders of BC’s magnificent north. Bountiful fishing opportunities and plentiful wildlife viewing are complemented with numerous natural and historical attractions.

This driving route takes at least 10 days and covers 3188 km from start to finish. Along the way, you will encounter majestic waterfalls, scenic hiking trails and beautiful BC towns to explore.

Your journey begins in the vibrant city of Prince George. Home to over 120 parks and plenty of indoor attractions, Prince George has something for everyone. while in town, you can visit the David Douglas Botanical Garden at the University of Northern British Columbia, one of the finest botanical gardens in northern BC and a perfect place to recharge your batteries.

Another option is the Cottonwood Island Nature Park, which is open year round and named after the 300-year-old Black Cottonwood trees lining the nearby Nechako River.

Get your camera ready for the beautiful Bijoux Falls.

Drive north on Highway 97 to the scenic Pine Pass and be sure to stop for a photo opp at breathtaking Bijoux Falls before heading to Chetwynd.

The Chetwynd Visitor Centre is a nice, friendly shop-style kiosk with bathrooms, including a recently renovated accessible washroom, and high-speed Internet.

Head north on Highway 29 to Hudson’s Hope – known as the “Land of the Dinosaurs” – and peruse the dinosaur fossil and footprint collection at the Hudson’s Hope Museum. From Hudson’s Hope you can continue northeast on Highway 29 to Fort St. John along the spectacular Peace River or backtrack south to Chetwynd and detour south to Tumbler Ridge. From Tumbler Ridge, backtrack north to Highway 97 and head east to Dawson Creek.

Overnight in Dawson Creek (Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway) and explore all that the town has to offer. A pit stop at the Dawson Creek Visitor Centre is a great way to find out about special events, get directions to local attractions or grab a souvenir. Take a virtual tour before heading out. Continue north on Highway 97 to Fort St. John.

While in Fort St. John, take a moment to learn about the history of the area at the Fort St. John North Peace Museum. Peruse outside exhibits as well as over 6000 artifacts inside the museum (and an accessible washroom).

Take a dip in Canada’s second largest hot spring, Liard River.

Stop at the Fort St. John Visitor Centre – located in the Pomeroy Sport Centre – for WiFi access, up-to-date road and weather conditions, and event information. The stretch of highway north to Fort Nelson has outstanding roadside wildlife viewing so keep your eyes peeled for spot deer, moose and the occasional black bear. As you head north, look for Stone’s sheep, American bison and other wildlife. Pass through Muncho Lake Provincial Park, a beautiful jade green lake nestled in a valley surrounded by folded mountains, or head further north to soak in the natural pools at Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park.

Enjoy the clear blue waters of Boya Lake.

Stop at the famous sign post forest in Watson Lake, Yukon. More than 67,900 license plates, road shields and homemade signs are mounted there (make your mark!). Head south on scenic Stewart-Cassiar Highway 37 to swim in the crystal clear waters in Boya Lake Provincial Park. This park has three campsites designated as accessible and an accessible pit toilet.

Continue south to Dease Lake.

From the town of Dease Lake, truly adventurous travelers can take a side trip to Telegraph Creek to view the “Grand Canyon of the Stikine,” an 80km stretch of rushing waters through deep canyons toward Telegraph Creek. (NOTE: This road is steep and narrow in some places and not recommended for large RVs.) Back on Highway 37, head south through Iskut. This is a wilderness experience without amenities so plan ahead. Detour an hour west at Meziadin Junction on Highway 37A to the rustic town of Stewart, on the BC/Alaska border. Along the way, you’ll pass Bear Glacier – one of the few roadside blue glaciers in the world.

From Stewart, cross the border into Hyder, which sits at the head of Portland Canal. Tour the magnificent Salmon Glacier, one of North America’s largest, or climb the bear viewing platform at Fish Creek to see black bears and grizzly bears fishing for salmon. Backtrack south on Highway 37 and drive through the Kispiox Valley – home to more than 50 First Nations totem poles – then head east along Highway 16. In the Hazeltons, visit Anderson Flats Provincial Park, which features excellent fishing, camping and day-use recreation opportunities (June through September) for children, seniors and individuals with limited mobility.

Continue south to Smithers.

View the spectacular Twin Falls.

Near Smithers, venture near the thunder of cascading Twin Falls, which are fed by the Hudsun Bay Mountain glaciers. Experience park through a virtual tour to get an idea of its accessibility.

Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park features one of the world’s most significant fossil beds. Explore the plant, animal and insect species that inhabited the area 50 million years ago and remain preserved in the shale formations. Northeast of Smithers are the rugged peaks and abundant wildlife of Babine Mountains Provincial Park. (NOTE: There are no accessible amenities within this park as it is rugged and remote.)  South on Highway 35 is Burns Lake, the gateway to the Lakes District with more than 300 wilderness fishing lakes. Hiking and mountain biking enthusiasts can visit Boer Mountain Recreation Site, which has two accessible outhouses.

Return to Highway 16 and travel east. Near Vanderhoof, take a detour north to Fort St. James National Historic Site to experience the fascinating history of Canada’s fur trade.

Fort St. James was established by explorer Simon Fraser in 1806 for the North West Company, the site was dubbed “the Siberia of the Fur Trade” because of its harsh winters. Today, Fort St. James National Historic Site is reconstructed to the year 1896, and it includes a re-created Hudson’s Bay trading post. Original log buildings have been restored to create the largest grouping of wooden buildings representing the fur trade in Canada. Fort St. James is also the gateway to excellent fishing on numerous lakes. To finish the circle route, return to Prince George via Highway 16 east.

Visit the Hello BC website for more information. Drive safely!

By | 2018-06-18T11:36:08-08:00 May 8th, 2018|Driving Routes|0 Comments

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