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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.

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

Plan a Trip to Smithers in Northern British Columbia – Where There’s Plenty to See & Do

We got a chuckle out of Smithereens calling Smithers the “center of the universe” on their tourism board west of town. Standing at the viewpoint we saw Hudson Bay Glacier and Twin Falls in the distance and decided to drive there. Twin Falls is approximately 4 km from the Visitor’s Centre. To get there, turn left off the highway onto Lake Kathlyn Road and follow it to reach Glacier Gulch Road. The last section is gravel and the parking area not big but well worth the trip. We hiked 15 minutes up the mountain to the Twin Falls viewpoint for a spectacular scene. The more adventurous hikers can carry on another 3,000 ft. to Kathlyn Glacier.

Twin Falls and Reeses
Twin Falls in Smithers, BC | Photo: B. Rees

There are many hikes or easy trails in the Smithers area and are listed in the trail guide. The 13 km Perimeter Trail meanders past Riverside Municipal Campground situated beside the Bulkley River famous for steelhead fishing. We enjoyed staying there with easy access to the trail, going down by the river to watch the fishermen, or watching the full moon spread its glow over the water.

Bulkley River, Smithers
Bulkley River, Smithers | Photo: B. Rees

Take the Telkwa High Road Tour for a real treat. The road is suitable for RVs. The map from the Visitor’s Centre (1411 Court St. behind the Bulkley Valley Museum) gives highlights to visit. It’s an easy half-day of pleasurable exploration. Start the tour by driving west to Witset, home of the Witsuwet’en First Nations/ People of the lower hills. A full-service Witset Campground and Museum overlooks the thundering Witset Falls, formerly called Morricetown. Go down to the falls and watch fishermen with long poles dip-net salmon. The fishermen are tied to the rocks so they can’t fall but it’s nerve-racking and exciting to watch.  There are lots of cheers when they bring in a big salmon.

Dipnetting at Witset Falls
Dipnetting at Witset Falls | Photo: B. Rees

From there take the secondary Telkwa High Road as it turns east. It winds its way through farmland and rolling hills. Stop at Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park for a picnic by the creek and a walk into the canyon to see fossils. Frankly, they were so tiny we could hardly see them but it was fun hunting. It is illegal to take them away.

When the road comes out again on the #16 Yellowhead Hwy we stopped for ice cream in Telkwa. It’s a tiny village with a peaceful walk along the Bulkley River. Their claim to fame is the Demolition Derby and beef barbeque held Labour Day weekend in September. Telkwa Provincial Park and Campground is up the hill.

The Nipples Range, Northern BC
The Nipples Range, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

Our friends took us up Kitseguacia Lake Road into the mountains, not recommended for motorhomes. As The Nipples range rises high and pointed in the distance the road climbs to about 3,000 ft and gradually deteriorates while the scenery gets more spectacular. The first stop is at “The Boot”, like Mother Hubbard’s boot but it’s a house built by retired teacher Toby Walsh. He used fire hoses for the laces and created Sasquatch toes for his steps.

The Boot house near Smithers
The Boot house near Smithers | Photo: B. Rees

Talzen Lake Recreation Site was serene and the wilderness campsites empty. At Rocky Ridge Resort a bear sat on the road in front of us in his version of a stand-off and giving me the perfect photo op. Eventually, he wandered off. It was a real treat to have a local show us around some of the out-of-the-way places tourists wouldn’t normally see. We don’t tow a vehicle so it’s the only way we find these hidden gems.

Black Bear
A Black Bear is a Common Sight in BC’s Backcountry | Photo: B. Rees

Smithers is an Alpine-themed town halfway between Prince George and Prince Rupert. We had fun wandering the six-block main street where 7 ft. tall Alpine Al plays a giant alphorn carved out of a 1,000year-old cedar. The Sausage Factory (1107 Main St.) has been providing the best sausages and deli goods since 1974. We went back twice for more goodies. Around the corner, we found decadent cream puffs at Paul’s Bakery. At Smithers Brewery (3832-3rd St.) we bought a flight of 3 beers and 1 cider and sat in the sun enjoying them. I found a pretty blouse for $5 at a thrift store, my kind of shopping. Bovill Square has a bandstand for summer concerts. These stops are but a fraction of what you can find along Main Street.

Smithers Sign
Centre of the Universe! | Photo: B. Rees

Our favourite place to shop anywhere we travel in Canada is the local farmer’s market. Bulkley Valley Farmer’s Market behind the Museum/art gallery is abundant in fresh food and crafts. We set up a table to sell our books and jewelry while stocking up on groceries. It is such an enjoyable atmosphere surrounded by friendly people and delicious food.  It opens May 1 to late September, every Saturday from 8:30-12:30.

TIP: If you find this blog interesting why not subscribe to the enewsletter and never miss another story!

For other campgrounds in the area check out the Camping Map under Smithers and other communities.

Smithers offers a wide range of recreation, photo ops, and things to do. Houston, Babine Lake and Granisle are nearby for added pleasures. Give yourself plenty of time to explore.

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

Published: July 8th, 2021

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