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#ExploreBC Road Trip: Northern Wild

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Frontier Experience | Callum Snape

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Witness the waterfalls, wildlife, and wonderful sights of the wild north through the eyes and the lens of Vancouver-based photographer Callum Snape. We join him as he travels through the northern wilderness of British Columbia with his Terrace-born partner Patrick Levesque.

Exchamsiks Valley, near Terrace.

Terrace

Get a window seat and have your camera ready for the flight from Vancouver to Terrace. The route takes a scenic journey over Bowen Island before turning up the Sunshine Coast and then flying over remote mountains and enormous glaciers.

Terrace is a small town in the heart of northwestern BC and is the perfect base for exploring the region. Fly in and pick up a rental car, or drive there if time allows. Start your trip by driving along Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) towards Prince Rupert, and turn down a small logging road to visit the secluded Exstew Falls. Walk five minutes to the lower falls or take a more strenuous 15-minute stroll to the upper falls to see two entirely different vistas. Be wowed by hundreds of falls seen from the water on an exhilarating boat tour up the Exchamsiks Valley. Here, waterfalls plummet from cloud-engulfed mountaintops into the pristine wilderness valley. Watch for bald eagles soaring overhead, and you might even spot a grizzly.

Take a drive up Nass Valley Road to see lakes and waterfalls such as Kitsumkalum Lake and the glacial-fed Vetter Falls. Be sure to check out the surreal and otherworldly lava landscape in Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park. (Note: at the time of publishing (Sept 2020), the Nass Valley is no longer accessible to visitors due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Check with the Nisga’a Nation by phone or email before you travel.)

 

Patrick Levesque at Kitsumkalum Lake, near Terrace.
Callum’s highlights:
  • Northern BC Jet Boat Tours was a highlight of our trip. Our guide Rob Bryce pulled up to one of the banks, we put waders on and followed him up a stream to the base of Rooster Tail Falls. The short hike to get there was enough to get your adrenalin racing, but the waterfall itself was breathtaking and powerful. After the hike Rob pulled onto another river bank and cooked lunch for us.
  • It was amazing to stay at Little Wolf Resort: the lodge itself is a work of art handcrafted from logs from Haida Gwaii, marble from Italy, and a fireplace from a castle in France. The food and accommodation were equally amazing. This is the perfect place to stay if you want to be off-the-beaten-path but close enough to town. If you visit, ask the owner about his Nobel Prize!
  • Hidden Acres Treehouse Resort is perfectly situated in Terrace, so it’s a great spot if you want to eat out locally or there are plenty of amenities within the cabin to cook up a delicious meal. We felt so relaxed here after an adventurous day exploring the mountains, and it was nice to come back and recharge.”
Frontier Farwest Lodge in Smithers | Callum Snape

Smithers

 

Drive east from Terrace to Smithers on a beautiful route along Highway 16 that takes about two and half hours. Stop in Hazelton to see the spectacular suspension bridge at Hagwilget Canyon and visit ‘Ksan Historical Village to learn about the Gitxsan people who have lived in the region for over 8,000 years. Take to the skies above Smithers with Alpine Lakes Air on a short scenic flight over the Babine Mountains to see sweeping views of the range and Babine Lake. Back on the ground, hike to Twin Falls and another local favourite, Crater Lake, which has a trail through beautiful wildflower meadows that goes into the alpine and over a plateau to the secluded lake set on Hudson Bay Mountain.

Callum’s highlights:
  • “The food in Smithers is really good. The Thai veggie burger and matcha lattes from Two Sisters Cafe were delicious. You can have dinner at Alpenhorn Bistro then a drink afterwards at Smithers Brewing, or take your food from Alpenhorn over to Smithers Brewing (they’re owned by the same people).
  • My favourite meal of our trip came from Frontier Farwest Lodge, where the chef uses all locally sourced ingredients and cooks up some amazing food to enjoy at the lodge with panoramic views of the mountains.
  • Frontier Farwest Lodge is such a beautiful property, perfectly perched along the banks of the Bulkley River. The lodge and the cabins provide rustic luxury surrounded by nature. What makes it even more special here is the staff, as they really go out of their way to make you feel like family. Since my last visit they’ve set up a campfire and seating area right on the river bank, which is where we spent every evening watching the sunset with a glass of wine.”
Taking a dip in Findlay Lake, near Terrace | Callum Snape

Respecting the wishes of Indigenous communities that have requested no visitors during COVID, Callum was careful to make sure he only visited places that are open at this time. We asked him how else he prepared for his trip to the north:

“With COVID-19 being a concern, we wanted to minimize our chances of potential exposure by packing lots of hand sanitizer, face masks, gloves, and sanitizing wipes. We were also extra cautious in our own friend bubbles leading up to the trip. With Northern BC having such pristine wilderness areas, we did our best to practice “Leave No Trace” principles at all times, even packing out some trash we found. With the possibility of encountering wildlife at any moment in time, we carried bear spray and made lots of noise on trails for our peace of mind. We’d recommend packing bug spray to make your adventures a little more comfortable. And you can see four seasons of weather in one day in this part of British Columbia, so always pack layers and a waterproof jacket so you’re prepared for anything that comes your way.”

This road trip was created 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.

Respecting the wishes of Indigenous communities that have requested no visitors during COVID-19, Callum was careful to make sure he only visited places that were open to visitors at the time of his trip. Please note that the Nass Valley has since closed to visitors (as of Sept 2020).  

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