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Nisga'a lava bed, near Terrace

Experience Terrace Treasures in British Columbia’s North

Let’s visit a place where you can enjoy the wilderness, hiking, cultural diversity, fishing, and great campgrounds plus convenient shopping. Welcome to Terrace, “A place to belong,” a city of about 12,000 on Highway 16/The Yellowhead. It sits at the junction of the Skeena and Kitsumkalum Rivers. Below the local bridges fly fisherman try their luck on the river hoping to beat the record for the largest spring salmon. Keep your eyes peeled for the creamy-coloured Kermode or Spirit bear, the symbol of Terrace.

Nisga'a lava bed, near Terrace
Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed | Photo: B. Rees

One of the most outstanding places we visited was the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park, the first provincial park jointly managed by First Nations and BC Parks. Situated 100 km north of Terrace we found ourselves in an alien landscape of ancient lava. In 1750 a volcano erupted, killing thousands of Nisga’a and forcing survivors to relocate their villages. It’s an eerie feeling walking over the remnants of such a cataclysmic event. Take a guided tour to the volcanic crater or walk into Vetter Falls. Nisga’a Visitor’s Centre in a stunning glass longhouse-like building houses the Ancestors Collection with treasures returned to the people.

A suspension bridge over the Nass River at Gitwinksihlw was too much for my fear of heights but a hike to the river to see a traditional fish wheel in the river was intriguing. If it’s hot springs you’re wanting go to Aiyansh Hot Springs.

Kitselas Canyon National Historic Site, near Terrace
Kitselas Canyon National Historic Site | Photo: B. Rees

Kitselas Canyon National Historic Site, 20.8  km east of Terrace on the Skeena River is home to the Gitselasu/Kitselas people. They have lived in the area for over 5,000 years. At the head of the trail are longhouses. Farther on is the Clan Totem Pole Garden with the remains of totems from the 1800s. The viewpoint overlooks the raging rapids.

Trapline Mountain Alpine View
Trapline Mountain Alpine View | Photo: B. Rees

Friends took us up Trapline Mountain for a picnic at the top. What a panoramic view in the alpine at 1,448 meters, and above the tree line. Ask a local to take you around some of these out-of-the-way places.  It will enhance your experience of the area. There are many trails for all levels of hiking or strolling.

On the east side of Terrace is Thornhill Meat Market (2891 Clark St) with fresh meat, great bacon, groceries and deli selection. From May to October, the Skeena Valley Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays from 9-1. What a deliciously diverse selection of food along with beautiful local crafts. Come for the food and stay for the entertainment. We found the biggest craft store in the north at Creative Zone/Crafts and Hobbies for All Ages (4818 Hwy 16 West). It has everything from beads to hides to paints to cloth. Terrace Inn Liquor store (3005 Kalum Rd) has discounted prices so we stocked up. Prevost RV Dealer, on the west end of town, goes the extra mile for RV repairs. When our furnace quit and they couldn’t get a new one for 2 weeks they put in a second-hand unit to keep us going until Prince George and never charged for it. That’s service! There are the usual box stores but also plenty of local businesses.

No trip would be complete without an ice cream cone so we went to Chill Soda Shop located at 4805 Highway 16 in an old Foreman’s Residence beside the railway tracks. I have never seen such a big selection of candy but the best part was their ice cream.

Terrace Salmon Carving at Terrace Visitor Centre
Terrace Salmon Carving at Terrace Visitor Centre | Photo: B. Rees

The tourism office on the eastern edge of town is a one-stop for RVers. The ample size lot accommodates bigger rigs and has a full-service dump station. Friendly tourism staff welcomed our furry friends out of the heat.

Terrace is big enough to have all the amenities but small enough to be easy to navigate. For a side trip take the scenic drive along the Skeena River to Prince Rupert for fish ‘n chips. Take a day trip to visit the Haisla village of Kitimat just north of the town of Kitimat.

The Terrace-Kitimat-Prince Rupert area is a wealth of wonderful things to see and experience.

Places to Camp in the Terrace Area

Nass Campground, open May-October has 16 sites. 

Lakelse Lake Picnic Area
Lakelse Lake Picnic Area | Photo: B. Rees

There are 2 provincial parks with campgrounds. Lakesle Lake Provincial Park is 20 km south of Terrace. Furlong Bay Campground sits beside Lakesle Lake.  It has 156 sites, some with power, a shower room and a dump station. In the summer it books up quickly. We got lucky. Fifty sites have power. Wood, dump-station and hydro are extra. Furlong Bay on the lake feels like a tropical rain forest with huge plants. Devil’s Club, a medicine plant Indigenous people taught us how to use, towered over my husband. The leaves were big enough to wrap him up in them if they weren’t so prickly.

Giant Devils Club Medicinal Plant at Furlong Bay Campground, Lakelse Lake
Giant Devils Club Medicinal Plant at Furlong Bay Campground, Lakelse Lake | Photo: B. Rees

Kleanza Creek Provincial Park, 15 km east of Terrace is beside the Skeena River and Kleanza Creek. There are 34 vehicle-accessible campsites suitable for RVs. For the adventurous, there is a trail to Kleanza Canyon.

Ferry Island Tree Carving
Ferry Island Tree Carving | Photo: B. Rees

There are 6 private campgrounds. We visited Ferry Island Campground and Park managed by the city and situated beside the Skeena River. 103 spacious sites sit among the trees. Meandering along the 2.8 km loop through the forest we looked for cottonwood tree carvings done by local Rick Goyelle. It was like a treasure hunt finding some of the 55 expressive faces carved into the bark.

Wild Duck Motel and RV Park on the west end of town are clean and friendly. We were surprised to meet up with a pair of older women from Powell River who were touring the north in their camper. One of them has mobility issues so showering at campgrounds can be a problem. They stayed at the Wild Duck because there is a shower room fully equipped for people with disabilities.

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For campgrounds in this area and elsewhere in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

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Terrace and the Nass Valley in Northern British Columbia are worth a Visit

Fly Fishing in Northern BC. Photo: Destination BC/Jeremy Koreski

Fly Fishing in Northern BC. Photo: Destination BC/Jeremy Koreski

I remember visiting Terrace, New Aiyansh and Greenville, in Northern BC years ago.  A long drive of about 15 hours from Vancouver, just under 1,400 km and multiple stops I will never forget.  My father did his residency program in the smaller towns of both New Aiyansh and Greenville, small towns of no more than 2,000 residents each.  Located right on the Skeena River with an abundance of nature, it makes for a great way to escape the city life and find solace in the most remote corners of beautiful British Columbia.

Nisgaa Memorial Lava Bed

Nisgaa Memorial Lava Bed

Terrace and the surrounding areas are especially known for spawning grounds for Coho and other varieties of Salmon. The fishery industry here is huge and relies on fresh waters for year-round fly fishing. I remember trying homemade canned, as well as smoked, Coho Salmon, that my father got for us, and it was the most delicious Salmon I’ve ever tasted, mouth-watering and seasoned to perfection.

North of Terrace is the Nass Valley, home to the Nisga’a First Nation. According to the Nisga’a government, the Nisga’a Treaty sets out, “the right of the Nisga’a people to fish throughout 26,838 square kilometers of territory known as the Nass Area. The Nass River is being managed as part of a modern, scientific fishery to provide a sustainable resource for the Nisga’a people today — and for generations to come.”  Camping, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and kayaking are also some of the other outdoor adventures that can be enjoyed in the area. Plus a visit to the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park and Museum in Greenville is well worth exploring.

Exstew Falls, terrace Northern BC. Photo: Destination BC/Grant Harder

Exstew Falls, terrace Northern BC. Photo: Destination BC/Grant Harder

Many hiking opportunities abound in the area with trails ranging from 2 km to 10 km depending on your fitness level and time.  Some of the trails are Howe Creek Trailhead, Grand Trunk Pathway and Terrace Mountain Trailhead that offers a spectacular view once you reach the top. Exstew Falls, just west of Terrace, is a short hike with a stunning waterfall.

There are various camping opportunities in and around Terrace and Camping and RVing BC is a good place to start.  Kleanza Creek Provincial Park is located in the valleys of the Coast Mountains overlooking the Skeena River, and based on historical facts was one of the first sites where mining for gold began in the late 1890s.

Kleanza Creek Provincial Park, Terrace, Northern BC. Photo: Destination BC/Emanual Smedbol

Kleanza Creek Provincial Park, Terrace, Northern BC. Photo: Destination BC/Emanual Smedbol

I have visited Terrace and the surrounding areas a few times and I always like to explore the outdoors and discover something new.  Learning about the origins and the history of the city I’m visiting adds another dimension, another layer to what I already know about the people and the place.  Specifically, for Terrace, the more popular tourist sites include, George Little House, constructed in the memory of the town’s founder; Heritage Park Museum, where you can explore artifacts dating back to the early 1900s and visualize how life was for the locals at the time; and George Little Park, where the Terrace Art Gallery displays both modern and classical works of local artists.  Be sure to check out their website for the most current information and the latest exhibition on display.

Published: May 24th, 2017

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