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.

Visit the Central BC Railway & Forestry Museum, a fun industrial heritage attraction in a spacious park-like setting on the shores of the Nechako River. An hour east on Highway 16, you’ll find the Ancient Forest/Chun T’oh Whudujut Provincial Park, the only inland temperate rainforest in the world.

Forty kilometres north is the historic Huble Homestead where you can travel back in time to the 1900s and learn about early prospectors, as well as the traditional practices of the Lheidli T’enneh people at the First Nations fish camp exhibit. Tackle the 8.5-kilometre Giscome Portage Heritage Trail to experience what was once considered “the shortcut” (Lhdesti), the shortest route between the waterways flowing to the Pacific and those flowing into the Arctic Ocean.

Huble Homestead in Northern BC | Jongsun Park

Huble Homestead near Prince George | Jongsun Park

Stop for a wood-fired pizza at Betulla Burning, have a pad thai at Mai Thai, a roll from Sushi97, or opt for a classic like Cimo Mediterranean Grill.

PG is also home to BC’s northernmost winery, Northern Lights Estate Winery, which offers tours and tastings with views of the river. Beer lovers will want to check out the aptly named CrossRoads Brewing as well as the popular Trench Brewing right in town.

If mountain biking is your thing, visit the Pidherny Mountain Bike Trails. Prefer horses to bikes? Book a trail ride with El Shaddai Ranch and explore the Fraser River canyon.

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

Part 2

Chetwynd, Hudson's Hope and Tumbler Ridge

In Chetwynd, stop and admire the famous chainsaw carvings lining the streets.

Plant lovers be sure to visit to Memory Lane Greenhouse & Tea Gardens Bed & Breakfast. This charming garden setting is home to a 460-metre-squared (nearly 5,000 square feet) greenhouse filled with perennials, shrubs, trees, and vegetables, including rare heirloom tomatoes, some of which date back hundreds of years. There’s also a two-hectare (five-acre) International Friendship Garden filled with thousands of native plant and flower species from 19 different countries.

beautifully carved wooden sculptures

You can also stay in a lakeside cabin at Azouzetta Lake Lodge and Moberly Lake Marina and Resort, (which also offers boat rentals). Moberly Lake is home to northern pike, lake trout, and ling cod. Azouzetta, Gwillim, Jackfish, and Moose lakes are also popular fishing spots. If fly-fishing is your thing, wet a line on any of the nearby rivers, like the Burnt or Sukunka.

For those travelling by RV, Wild Mare RV Park is only five kilometres west of town, and Caron Creek RV Park and Riverview B&B can be found a quick 10 minutes south.

From here travel 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. Alternatively, take a side trip to Tumbler Ridge and embark on a “Dinosaur Trackway Tour” to hike to dinosaur footprints at the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark, or spend the day hiking some of the area’s spectacular trails.

Dinosaur Footprint Site in Tumbler Ridge | Mike Seehagel

Dinosaur Footprint Site in Tumbler Ridge | Mike Seehagel

Part 3

Dawson Creek

Overnight in Dawson Creek —”Mile 0″ of the historic Alaska Highway— and visit the Dawson Creek Visitor CentreArt Gallery, and Railway Station Museum, which is housed in a renovated grain elevator annex. History buffs be sure to check out the Walter Wright Pioneer Village, conveniently located next to the Mile 0 RV Park

Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway, Dawson Creek. Northern BC Tourism/Matthew Littlewood

Drive over the Kiskatinaw Bridge on your way to Fort St. John, one of the only timber trestle bridges still in use in British Columbia. It is also one of the most unusual, curving nine degrees along its 162.5-metre (534-foot) length. Kiskatinaw Provincial Park, situated right beside the bridge, provides tent sites for camping and river access.

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.

Stop in at either of Fort St. John’s two breweries, Mighty Peace or Beard’s Brewing to stock up for the journey ahead.

Fort Nelson Heritage Museum in Northern BC | Andrew Strain

Fort Nelson Heritage Museum | Andrew Strain

Next stop, Fort Nelson. The gateway to the Northern Rockies is a friendly town initially founded during the fur trade. Don’t miss the superb Fort Nelson Heritage Museum, which showcases the construction era of the Alaska Highway.

If traveling by RV, be sure to check out Triple G Hideaway, for full service hookups, gift shop and cafe.

Northern Rockies Lodge in Muncho Lake Provincial Park on the Alaska Highway

Northern Rockies Lodge in Muncho Lake Provincial Park / Andrew Strain

As you head north, look for Stone’s sheep, bison and other wildlife. Camp at Stone Mountain Provincial Park or Muncho Lake Provincial Park; these beautiful jade green lakes are nestled in a valley surrounded by folded mountains and brilliant wildflowers. For the full lodge experience, with float plane tours, canoe and boat rentals, full service RV hook-ups and exquisite dining, be sure to check out Northern Rockies Lodge.

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 Tā Ch’ilā Provincial Park’s crystal clear waters.

Boya Lake in Tā Ch’ilā Provincial Park, Northern BC | Matthew Massa

Boya Lake in Tā Ch’ilā Provincial Park | Matthew Massa

 

Take a side trip to the ghost town of Cassiar, then head south to Jade City, before heading to Dease Lake.

Jade City. Photo: Northern BC Tourism/Andrew Strain

Jade City | Northern BC Tourism/Andrew Strain

Part 6

Jade City to Stewart

From the town of Dease Lake, head south down Highway 37, paddle the Iskut Lake Chain. Be sure to make the trip to Cascade Falls.

Stay at Red Goat Lodge on the shores of Eddontenajon Lake, where you’ll find cozy cabins and canoe rentals. From Tattoga Lake, fly with Alpine Lakes Air into into the Spatsizi Wilderness Plateau, or tour the geologically unique Mount Edziza.

The Spectrum Range in Mount Edziza Provincial Park. Photo: Northern BC Tourism/Andrew Strain

The Spectrum Range in Mount Edziza Provincial Park. Photo: Northern BC Tourism/Andrew Strain

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.

Stewart, BC | Grant HarderStewart | Grant Harder

Visit the Stewart Historical Museum, which is housed in a 1910 fire hall, to learn about the town’s colourful mining past. Stroll along the boardwalk for spectacular views of the Portland Canal, or stay the night at the renowned Ripley Creek Inn and borrow free cruiser bikes to explore town.

Don’t forget to visit Toastworks, a museum dedicated to—you guessed it—toasters. (It also happens to serve some of the best coffee and breakfast in town.) Before heading out, be sure to pick up a gooey cinnamon bun at Temptations Bakery and Deli.

Part 7

Stewart to Smithers

From Stewart, travel south and relive history on an interpretive walking trail at at Battle Hill National Historic Site at the junction to the Stewart-Cassiar Highway and Highway 16.

Drive an hour east on Highway 16 to the Hazeltons and visit the world-renowned ‘Ksan Historical Village. Learn about Gitxsan history and culture, see traditional totem carvers at work, and stroll the shore where the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers meet. Continue south to Smithers.

'Ksan Historical Village in Northern BC | Andrew Strain

‘Ksan Historical Village in Northern BC | Andrew Strain

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.

Twin Falls near Smithers | Andrew Strain

Twin Falls near Smithers | Andrew Strain

Northeast of Smithers are the rugged peaks and abundant wildlife of Babine Mountains Provincial Park.

Smithers in the fall | Marty Clemens

Smithers in the fall | Northern BC Tourism/Marty Clemens

South on Highway 35 is Burns Lake, the gateway to the Lakes District with more than 300 wilderness fishing lakes, and world class mountain bike trails. Further east, near Vanderhoof, take a detour north to Fort St. James National Historic Site to 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.

A historic wooden fort overlooking the water.

Fort St. James

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-kilometre route through four wilderness lakes.

Ancient Forest near Prince George | Jongsun Park

Ancient Forest near Prince George | Jongsun Park

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

 

This road trip was updated specifically for the unique travel circumstances of 2020. Information is accurate at the time of publication; we recommend you contact businesses directly to confirm availability.

Travelling this route? Share your experiences with #exploreBC.

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Mentioned in this Article

Museums & Heritage Sites, Attractions, Accessibility

The Exploration Place Museum & Science Centre

The Exploration Place, Museum & Science Centre, is a Northern BC non-profit organization and registered charity whose mission is to preserve our...

Phone: (250) 562-1612

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Accessibility

Huble Homestead Historic Site

Huble Homestead is a heritage site located at the base of the historic Giscome Portage. Originally a homestead and fur trading post, the site has...

Phone: (250) 564-7033

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites

Hudson's Hope Museum

Hudson's Hope is situated on the banks of the Peace River in North Eastern British Columbia. It is a small rural town of 1100 people, some 80kms...

Phone: (250) 783-5735

View Listing

Biking, Backcountry Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Skiing & Snowboarding

Hudson Bay Mountain Resort

Hudson Bay Mountain Resort is a community focused ski resort located 20km west of Smithers in beautiful Northern British Columbia. In operation...

Phone: (250) 847-2058

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites

Fort Nelson Heritage Museum

The Fort Nelson Heritage Museum is situated just West of the historic Mile 300 milepost on the World Famous Alaska Highway. The museum is located...

Phone: (250) 774-3536

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Indigenous Culture

Ksan Historical Village and Museum

Phone: (250) 842-5544

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites

Fort St. James National Historic Site

This completely restored Hudsons Bay Company post, located on the shores of Stuart Lake, was an economic powerhouse of trade and commerce in the...

View Listing

Great Northern Circle Route

Travel through the untamed wilderness of BC's north.

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Attractions, Accessibility

The Exploration Place Museum & Science Centre

The Exploration Place, Museum & Science Centre, is a Northern BC non-profit organization and registered charity whose mission is to preserve our...

Phone: (250) 562-1612

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Accessibility

Huble Homestead Historic Site

Huble Homestead is a heritage site located at the base of the historic Giscome Portage. Originally a homestead and fur trading post, the site has...

Phone: (250) 564-7033

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites

Hudson's Hope Museum

Hudson's Hope is situated on the banks of the Peace River in North Eastern British Columbia. It is a small rural town of 1100 people, some 80kms...

Phone: (250) 783-5735

View Listing

Biking, Backcountry Skiing, Cross-Country Skiing, Skiing & Snowboarding

Hudson Bay Mountain Resort

Hudson Bay Mountain Resort is a community focused ski resort located 20km west of Smithers in beautiful Northern British Columbia. In operation...

Phone: (250) 847-2058

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites

Fort Nelson Heritage Museum

The Fort Nelson Heritage Museum is situated just West of the historic Mile 300 milepost on the World Famous Alaska Highway. The museum is located...

Phone: (250) 774-3536

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Indigenous Culture

Ksan Historical Village and Museum

Phone: (250) 842-5544

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites

Fort St. James National Historic Site

This completely restored Hudsons Bay Company post, located on the shores of Stuart Lake, was an economic powerhouse of trade and commerce in the...

View Listing

Great Northern Circle Route

Travel through the untamed wilderness of BC's north.

View Listing

#explorebc

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