Quirky Attractions in the Kootenays
Unique, historic, and cultural gems to visit.
The wild forest, mountain, and coastal landscape of British Columbia make it an ideal destination for a motorcycle road trip. Highway 16, also known as the Yellowhead Highway, stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the rugged Pacific coastline, offering riders a mix of quiet highway, forest-lined stretches, and curves to explore.
Start your trip in the heart of the Rockies at Mount Robson Provincial Park, part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site. Catch a glimpse of rare wildlife, admire cascading waterfalls, and explore limestone caves. Tete Jaune Lodge, near the junction of Highway 16 and Highway 5, is a great place to stop for the night. It’s named after a Métis fur trader from the 1800s, Pierre Bostonais, who was nicknamed Tête Jaune (meaning Yellow Head) because of his blonde hair.
Prince George is the largest hub you’ll find on Route 16—stock up on supplies and treat yourself to a meal out. Try The Salted Cracker for lunch or the Twisted Cork for dinner. Prince George is located where the Fraser and Nechako rivers meet, and where Highway 97 intersects.
Lakes District, known for its ample fishing options, is two hours west of Prince George. Stop for gas and snacks at Decker Lake Trading Post, and allow extra time to get lost browsing their unique collection of antiques. Trade wheels for wings and explore from the sky with Lakes District Air. You can take a flight tour for the day or fly to a private lake and stay the night in a cozy cabin. Continue to Smithers and stop for a little hike, paddle, golf, or fishing adventure.
A hidden gem off Route 16 is the trip to Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park. Follow Highway 113 (Nisga’a Highway) as it winds around Lava Lake and reveals stunning views of the mountains. Watch for bears, which are common here in the summer—you may even see the rare white Kermode bear. Explore the lava beds and visit one of the Nisga’a First Nations villages. Continue through the Nass Valley to Laxgalts’ap to visit the Nisga’a Museum.
Arguably the most scenic part of the trip, this final stretch of Route 16 winds through to Prince Rupert with the ocean on one side, forests on the other, and mountains towering above. Prince Rupert is a hub for outdoor activity, so you’ll want to plan some extra time to experience as much as you can. Hop on a fishing boat for the day, take a tour to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, go for a hike to Butze Rapids, or take a short drive to the historic North Pacific Cannery. Top this ultimate BC road trip off with a few extra days exploring the islands of Haida Gwaii. http://www.khutzlodge.com/tours.html
Be sure to check the following resources to plan for the latest conditions:
For more on exploring the north of British Columbia:
Featured Image: Terrace to Prince Rupert. Photo: Jong Sun Park.
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