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Exploring Northern British Columbia – a Circle Tour Adventure: Tour 2 Stewart-Cassiar Hwy

The Northern British Columbia Circle Route is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This vast region encompasses stunning scenery, majestic mountains, rolling hills and wildlife-viewing that will amaze you. Provincial parks, national historic sites one of which offers a glimpse of some unique ecosystems and the dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), as they bring the skies to life in a rainbow of colours, must be witnessed. All of this and more bring adventurers to this part of British Columbia.

The entire route starts and ends in Prince George, rightfully called the northern capital of BC and heads in a counter-clockwise direction north on the Alaska Hwy 97 (Tour 1), south on the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy 37 (Tour 2), and east on the Yellowhead Hwy 16 (Tour 3).

Tour 2 Stewart-Cassiar Hwy (Hwy 37) from the Alaska Hwy

Black Bear along the Stewart-Cassiar

Black Bear along the Stewart-Cassiar by

The 740 km / 460 mi Cassiar Hwy links Alaska Hwy 97 and Yellowhead Hwy 16 and is open year-round. Heading south from Watson Lake, Yukon you will travel through the Cassiar Mountains which offers stunning scenery with pull-outs available.  Wildlife including black bears, stone sheep and caribou are often sited.

Section 1: Watson Lake, Yukon to Dease Lake

Directions & Estimated Driving Time:  Leaving Watson Lake on Hwy 1 turn south in 21 km / 13 mi onto Hwy 37 Dease Lake Hwy with signs to Stewart/Kitwanga. You are now back in British Columbia and on the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy 257 km / 160 mi. 3.5 hours. Remember to change your time.

Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in this area go to Camping & RV in BC and search under the appropriate community.

Things to Do:

Boya Lake Provincial Park – an easy-to-access scenic park with camping. A great stop-over whether for a break or overnight. Canoeing and motor boats are allowed on the lake and there are lots of small islands and bays to explore.

Jade City – aptly named but don’t be fooled by the idea of a major city. In fact, Jade City is a very small community with a popular jade store called Cassiar Mountain Jade Store, which has a wide selection of unusual and interesting gifts designed and made by the family-owned business. You can even see jade cutting demonstrations and is definitely a worthwhile stop.

Cassiar Mountain Jade Store, Jade City

Cassiar Mountain Jade Store, Jade City by

Dease Lake – heading to this community you will see many scenic views of Dease Lake with pull-outs along the highway. Black bears and moose are often on the road. The community itself primarily serves as one of the centres for adventurers into the Mt. Edziza and Spatsizi Wilderness Park. Guided trips are available from here as are sightseeing tours. You can also enjoy a spot of fishing for Dolly Varden, Grayling and lake trout as well as Northern Pike in the summer months.

Section 2: Dease Lake to Meziadin Junction

Directions & Estimated Driving Time:  Continue south on Hwy 37 331 km /206 mi. 4 hrs 50 mins.

Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in this area go to Camping & RV in BC and search under the appropriate community.

Things to do:

Sightseeing Seaplane Tours – are available from Iskut and a great way to view the stunning scenery of the protected wilderness areas of Mt. Edziza and the Grand Canyon of the Stikine and Spatsizi Plateau. Iskut also offers excellent fishing, and wildlife viewing.

Camping near Iskut

Camping near Iskut by Tim Swanky

Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park – a good stopping point for either a picnic or for overnight camping. The campsites are by the lake with stunning views of Todagin Mountains. You can also fish for rainbow trout, do some kayaking and explore the trails.

Meziadin Lake Provincial Park – this scenic park is an excellent destination for exploring the area. Reservations for campsites can be made. From here you can take a day trip to Bear Glacier and Stewart. Rainbow Trout and Dolly Varden are the main species in the lake (there is also a convenience store where you can buy a fishing licence plus fishing gear). In the fall, you can watch the salmon spawning. Lake tours and full-day tours to the glaciers are available.

Side Trip to Stewart & Hyder Alaska via Glacier Hwy 37A 65 km / 40 mi from Meziadin Junction. Bear Glacier with its viewing platform is one of the many glaciers that you will see on this route. Salmon Glacier is the fifth largest glacier in the world and offers stunning views. Accessible 37 km / 23 mi north of Stewart.

Salmon Glacier

Salmon Glacier by Tim Swanky

Section 3: Meziadin Junction to Kitwanga

Directions & Estimated Driving Time: Continuing heading south on Hwy 37 153 km / 95 mi. 2 hours.

Where to Camp: For campgrounds and parks available in this area go to Camping & RV in BC and search under the appropriate community.

Things to do:

Totem Poles – for one of the largest display of original totem poles in BC’s northwest, stop by Gitanyow. Further down the highway is Gitwangak, close to Kitwanga, which is a Native reserve with some of the most authentic totem poles in the area.

Totem Poles, Kitwanga

Totem Poles, Kitwanga by Tim Swanky

Gitwangak Battle Hill National Historic Site – located in Kitwanga a wooden fortress once guarded the area. Interpretive panels up the stairway and along the boardwalk to the site outline the fortress’ history. Once at the top, you are afforded excellent views of the river below and the Seven Sister peaks to the south.

Side trip to Terrace, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii. Our circle tour heads east on Hwy 16 at Kitwanga (see Tour 3) however there is lots to explore by heading west on Hwy 16 – first to Terrace 100 km / 62 mi from Kitwanga and then on to Prince Rupert a further 140 km / 89  mi. From Terrace you can venture north on the Nisga’a Highway which will take you to the Nass Valley (route information)and amazing lava beds. Read blog for more info on the Nass Valley. Prince Rupert is also the gateway to Haida Gwaii.

Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert by

Published: March 22, 2018
Last Updated: November 29, 2022