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View from Mountain Shadow campground near Iskut

Travel the Stunning Stewart-Cassiar/Highway 37 in Northern BC

The Stewart-Cassiar Highway is 724 km of stunning scenery in British Columbia’s north. My husband and I took our time exploring this amazing area from the Yukon border in the north, to Kitwanga in the south and over to Stewart and Hyder, Alaska.

Boya Lake, Stewart-Cassiar Hwy, Northern British Columbia
Paddling on Boya Lake, Northern British Columbia | Photo: B. Rees

Our favourite provincial park on the entire trip was Boya Lake, 87 km from the Yukon border. It’s far away from traffic noise, WIFI, and when it’s full it’s still quiet. Boya Lake itself is clear aquamarine with a white glacial silt bottom and 24 of the 44 sites are snugged up to its shore. Even so we didn’t expect to find a lakefront site so I could hardly contain my excitement before jumping out with the dogs and yelling, “Honey, I’m home.” A loon added its mournful call. Aah, four days of being lost in nature.

Boya Lake, Northern BC sunset
Sunset at Boya Lake, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

A stay at Boya wouldn’t be complete without canoeing. No motors are allowed on the lake but canoes are available. With the first dip of the paddle, all my cares disappeared. For me, this is a spiritual place. My days began with tea in a china teacup, watching the squirrels and listening to the loons. They ended with the Master painter sweeping peach and mauve sunsets over the lake. If you want a true getaway, this is the place to go and the only thing wrong with Boya Lake …the stay is never long enough.

pieces of jade at Jade City
Pieces of Jade at Jade City | Photo: B. Rees

Jade City is a fascinating place to stop. They offer travellers free overnight camping, WIFI, and coffee. The family that runs it has been mining jade since the 70s and it’s part of the reality show, “Jade Fever.” Watch them cutting jade outside for sale. I bought a small slab for an RV cutting board. The store has a dizzying selection of jade, rocks and gems.

The main hub for travellers fueling up and getting supplies is Dease Lake. It’s also the jumping-off point for paddlers on the Dease River or adventurers going to Telegraph Creek.

Tatogga Lake Resort, Stewart-Cassiar Hwy, Northern BC
Tatogga Lake Resort, Stewart-Cassiar Hwy, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

We were welcomed by a stuffed moose in the dining room of the Tatogga Lake Resort, an interesting log building that resembles a museum inside. There’s a one-ton jade boulder by the fuel pumps although they aren’t always open. It’s mainly a seaplane base for tours into the mountains.

South of Tatogga is Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park with 50 sites in a well-looked-after park beside the lake.

We followed the glacial blue waters of the Nigunsaw River before crossing the Bell Irving River bridge to stop at Bell 2 Lodge. Though they principally cater to heliskiers in the winter, during the summer travellers can stay in chalets, the lodge or at the campground. It has 10 full-service sites plus 3 dry camps. There is a restaurant and fuel.

Fall at Meziadin Lake
Fall at Meziadin Lake, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

A gorgeous green lake welcomed us to Meziadin Lake Provincial Park where we camped overnight. They have 66 sites, some with power but no sani-dump and we were lucky to get a spot.

Waterfalls veil near Stewart
Waterfall Veils on Road to Stewart | Photo: B. Rees

No trip would be complete without taking the road from the Meziadian junction to Stewart and Hyder, Alaska. It’s a photographer’s dream. Prepare to be wowed as glaciers drape the towering mountains, and waterfalls plunge from the tops. We pulled in where a waterfall broke up into a myriad of veils. Bear Glacier flows blue from the mountain to a lake beside the road.

Stewart stores and cars
Stewart, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

Stewart is nestled at the foot of glacier-topped Stewart Mountain, on Portland Canal. We stayed in full-service Bear River RV Park.  There is a beautiful boardwalk over the estuary. Heritage buildings and funky storefronts make up the main street. Stay a few days and take a trip to Hyder, Alaska.

Bear at Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site, Northern BC
Bear at Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

Crossing an unguarded border we drove into Hyder that looks like the old west. Remember, just because you crossed into the USA without being questioned, you still deal with the border guards coming back into Canada. Get Hyderized at the old Glacier Inn. Visit Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site for safe bear watching from the boardwalk. We went along 25 km of rough gravel road, sometimes one-lane, up the mountains to see Salmon Glacier. What a breathtaking sight but it cost us a tire. A tire guy drives around Stewart in his truck fixing tires!

Salmon Glacier, Northern BC
Salmon Glacier, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

After we left Meziadin we stopped at Gitanyow – the Land of the Totems. At one time they had more original totems than anywhere else. Kitwanga village was our home for the night. We visited Gitwangak Battle Hill Historic Site where from the top of the hill tribes fought rivals.

Summing up the Stewart-Cassiar trip my advice would be to prepare for driving through the wilderness, allow plenty of time to explore and learn the history.

Fuel stops from Kitwanga are at the junction of Highways 16 and 37: Gitanyow 19 km; Meziadin Junction 149 km; Stewart 220 km; Bell 2 249 km, Tatogga Lake(not always open) 392 km; Iskut 406 km; Dease Lake 499 km, Junction 37 at Yukon border 724 km.

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Other information to help you plan your camping trip include:
Wilderness Adventure Along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Kitwanga Junction
Exploring Northern British Columbia – A Circle Tour Adventure: Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Discover British Columbia’s Travel the Great Northern Circle Tour

For camping accommodations in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #campinbc #explorebc

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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