The District of Kitimat lies in the Kitimat Valley in the heart of the Pacific Inland Coast.
This distinct area lies between the British Columbia Central Coast, which surrounds Bella Coola, and the North Coast, which is based around Prince Rupert.
The young town is a destination location at the southern end of Highway 37, about a half hour drive from the Highway 16 turnoff, near Terrace. Highway 16 is a main east-to-west route across Northern British Columbia.
Kitimat River and Minnette Bay
The District of Kitimat sits in an enclosed wilderness haven on the cusp of the ocean. The Kitimat River, which winds next to Highway 37, cuts its way across town until it spills into Minnette Bay. Minnette Bay turns into the Douglas Channel, which runs past protected parks, nature reserves, and hot springs until it eventually flows into the Pacific Ocean.
Wilderness and Wildlife
The land surrounding Kitimat is mostly untouched nature and Haisla territory. The islands and rocks that distinguish the Douglas and surrounding channels are full of old-growth forests and wildlife, such as eagles, sea lions, wolves and bears, including the rare Kermode bear. The Kermode bear is a rare species of the black bear that is born with a pure white coat due to a recessive gene. Take a wildlife viewing tour, and try spotting one, although be forewarned that they're elusive creatures! Experienced boaters and paddlers can also cruise down the channels on for more amazing natural sights.
Just before entering Kitimat, Kitamaat Village Road, on the east side of the highway connects to Kitamaat Village, the main home of Haisla First Nations. Drive for 20 minutes southeast along this road and check out the amazing views across Minnette Bay towards the District and the Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum smelter, a fascinating and massive site. The village is also worth a tour.
Terrace is the closest city to Kitimat, a half-hour drive north on Highway 37. From there, drive west to Prince Rupert in about an hour and a half, and south to Smithers in about two and a half hours. Prince George, the largest city in Northern British Columbia, is approximately six hours by vehicle from Kitimat.
Climate and Weather
Kitimat's weather is always changing, but extremes are rare. The area is usually covered or dotted with snow from the early November to mid-April. Rain is on and off year-round, with an annual average of about 239mm/9.5in. Temperatures in the summer hover around the 20˚C/68˚F, while winter temperatures stick close to the freezing point, dropping as far as -20˚C/4˚F below at times.
Bring snow gear and warm clothing if visiting during the winter, and rain boots from fall to spring.