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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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