Great Northern Circle Route

10+ days, 3188.51 km (1981.25 mi)

Travel through the untamed wilderness of BC's north.

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Part 1

Prince George

Start your journey in the vibrant, modern city of Prince George. This outdoor playground has more than 120 parks and plenty of indoor attractions. Discovery is the theme at The Exploration Place Museum and Science Centre in Fort George Park, which features galleries about paleontology, First Nations, history, nature and more.

Admire modern, contemporary artwork at the Two Rivers Art Gallery or visit the vintage railway collections at the Prince George Railway & Forestry Museum. Nearby, tour Huble Homestead, a fully restored early 1900s homestead and trading post.

Drive north on Highway 97 to scenic Pine Pass. Stop at breathtaking Bijoux Falls before heading to Chetwynd.

Part 2

Hudson's Hope and Dawson Creek

Head north on Highway 29 to Hudson’s Hope, and visit the WAC Bennett Dam to learn about one of the largest earth-filled structures in the world. Backtrack 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, one can continue northeast on Highway 29 to Fort St. John. This stretch of highway runs parallel to the spectacular Peace River for more than 70km/43mi. (Note: Map shows this option.)

Alternatively, backtrack south to Chetwynd and detour south to Tumbler Ridge. Head out on a “Dinosaur Trackway Tour” to hike to dinosaur footprints. Backtrack north to Highway 97 and head east to Dawson Creek.

Part 3

Dawson Creek

Overnight in Dawson Creek – Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway– and visit the local art gallery, which is housed in a renovated grain elevator annex. Before continuing north on the Alaska Highway, stop by the Alaska Highway House to learn about the building of this famous road.

Continue north on Highway 97 to Fort St. John.

Part 4

Fort St. John to Watson Lake, Yukon

Just outside of Fort St. John, stop at the picturesque 13-km/8-mi long Charlie Lake, known for its fishing opportunities. Angle for trout, Arctic grayling, walleye and northern pike. Further north, stop to photograph the rich hues of Pink Mountain at sunrise.

The stretch of highway north to Fort Nelson has outstanding roadside wildlife viewing – spot deer, moose and the occasional black bear. Fort Nelson is a friendly town initially founded during the fur trade. Don’t miss the superb Fort Nelson Museum, which showcases the construction era of the Alaska Highway.

As you head north, look for Stone’s sheep, American bison and other wildlife. Camp at Muncho Lake Provincial Park; this beautiful jade green lake is nestled in a valley surrounded by folded mountains and brilliant wildflowers. Further north, soak in Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park’s natural pools.

Part 5

Watson Lake Sign Post Forest

Stop at the famous sign post forest in Watson Lake, Yukon. More than 67,900 license plates, road shields and homemade signs are mounted here. Make your mark, then head south on scenic Stewart-Cassiar Highway 37 to swim in Boya Lake Provincial Park’s crystal clear waters. Continue south to Dease Lake.

Part 6

Telegraph Creek and Stikine Canyon to Stewart

From the town of Dease Lake, adventurous travellers can take a side trip to Telegraph Creek along the edge of the great Stikine River. (Note: this road is steep and narrow in some places and not recommended for large RVs.) Behold the breathtaking “Grand Canyon of the Stikine,” an 80-km/50-mi stretch of impassable waters charging through canyons 300m/1,000ft deep, then flowing downriver to Telegraph Creek. In Telegraph Creek, a former access point to the northern gold fields, visit an original Hudson’s Bay Trading Post. Back on Highway 37, go fishing in Iskut or paddle the Iskut Lake Chain. This is a wilderness experience without amenities. Plan ahead and take a fly fishing or horseback riding adventure into remote Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park.

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.

Part 7

Glaciers, Bear Viewing and Totem Poles

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 ‘Ksan Historical Village, which features northwest-style longhouses and a museum. Continue south to Smithers.

Part 8

Smithers to Fort St. James

Near Smithers, stop alongside the highway to view the raging rapids of Moricetown Canyon. Further along the highway, venture near the thunder of cascading Twin Falls, which are fed by the Hudson Bay Mountain glaciers. 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. South on Highway 35 is Burns Lake, the gateway to the Lakes District with more than 300 wilderness fishing lakes. Return to Highway 16 and travel east. Near Vanderhoof, take a detour north to Fort St. James National Historic Siteto experience the fascinating history of Canada’s fur trade.

Part 9

Fort St. James and Return to Prince George

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, including Stuart Lake. An hour’s drive along on a gravel road, you’ll find exceptional canoeing on the Nation Lakes Chain – a 5 to 10 day, 120-km/74-mi route through four wilderness lakes.

To finish the circle route, return to Prince George via Highway 16 east.

Driving Directions

Part 1 - Vancouver
  • 6.25 km
  • 12 min
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