this exciting seven to fourteen day trip in the lively and bustling metropolis
of Vancouver, with its wonderful array of public gardens, parks and beaches.
One of the most desirable cities on the planet to explore, Vancouver is awash
with outdoor possibilities, from the famous Stanley Park to the infamous Wreck
Beach. Once you've had your fill of art, shopping and fine dining, and have explored
what the city has to offer, travel south and board a BC Ferry at Tsawwassen for
the relaxing 90-minute scenic ride to Vancouver Island.
the spectacular Inside Passage
the capital city of Victoria, you'll discover the Victorian's love for
the natural world in the profusion of gardens, parks and hanging flower baskets,
where totem poles stand as a proud reminder of the Native heritage, and the Royal
BC Museum displays a world-class repository of historical and Native artifacts.
Cross the Malahat Ridge north of Victoria, and travel through the lush, rolling
Cowichan and Chemainus Valleys, with this pastoral atmosphere continuing as you
make your way north towards Nanaimo and Parksville. As you drive
the island highway, its always a treat to look across the Strait of Georgia at
landmarks on the mainland, as the spires of the Coast Mountains rise on the eastern
The farther north you head towards Courtenay and Campbell
River, however, the more the peaks and glaciers of the island's ranges vie
for equal attention, principally the imposing Comox Glacier, Forbidden Plateau,
and Mount Washington. Interesting stops along the North Island Highway include
a short side trip to Sayward, a small coastal settlement on Kelsey Bay,
and Port McNeill. From here, ferries run to nearby Cormorant and Malcolm
Islands, and the towns of Alert Bay and Sointula, located respectively
on each island. The U'mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay, an inspiring Kwakwaka'wakw
museum, examines cultural origins and potlatch traditions.
ready to travel through the protected waters of British Columbia's central and
northern coastline, and the 507-km Inside
Passage route plied by cruise ships en route to Alaska. BC Ferries' may not
rival the QE ll in size, but is majestic enough to carry freight trailers, family
sedans, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, and touring bicycles.
Passengers boarding in Port
Hardy for the trip to Prince Rupert include the usual manifest of adventure-hungry
world travellers you'd expect to find boarding a ferry in British Columbia, bolstered
by a contingent of tree planters, depending on the season. By the conclusion of
the journey, you'll probably be on nodding, if not full-blown speaking, terms
with many of your fellow passengers. Aside from the short stretch of open ocean
between Vancouver Island and Rivers Inlet, where the Central Coast archipelago
begins, the route north to Prince Rupert leads through a narrow maze of channels,
passes, and reaches. Snow and ice coat the peaks of the mountains, and their shoulders
plunge to the tideline. So rugged is most of this coast that if you were exploring
here by kayak, you'd be challenged to find a welcoming landing site. Passengers
should keep their eyes peeled for a whale or dolphin in Queen Charlotte Sound.
With a bit of luck, you might even see a white-coated Kermode bear on Princess
Royal Island's lengthy shoreline.
at Prince Rupert, the gateway to pristine wilderness, nestled up under
the Alaska panhandle. Witness the legacy of oral history, archaeological discoveries
and unique artifacts that depict ten thousand years of northwest coast history
at the Museum of Northern BC, or visit BC's oldest surviving salmon cannery, now
designated a National Historic Site.
exploring the town, board another ferry (summer) for the hauntingly beautiful
Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii), and learn about the fascinating
culture of the Haida people, or visit the Gwaii Haanas
National Park and Naikoon Provincial Park.
Venture westwards along Highway 16 through the Skeena River Valley to Terrace,
nestled within a forest amidst the Coast Mountain Range. Host to a myriad of outdoor
activities, visitors should break out their hiking boots and fishin' pole, and
keep their eyes peeled for the elusive 'Great Spirit Bear" - the white Kermode
for totem poles at the small village of Kitwanga and Kitwancool,
to see what are reputed to be the oldest and finest examples of totem poles in
the world. Admire the Hazelton Mountains and the 'Ksan Historical Village and
Museum in Hazelton, with its seven decorated tribal houses fronted
with several totems that stand silently on the banks of the Skeena and Bulkley
Visit K'san Historical
Village in Hazelton
the picturesque Bulkley Valley, Smithers is known as Little Switzerland,
offering great summer outdoor
recreation, and some of the best snowmobiling in British Columbia during the winter.
Travelling through Houston and Vanderhoof brings you to Prince
George, the hub of northern and central British Columbia, and the
departure point for brave souls
heading up the lonely Alaska Highway. Prince George sits between two mountain
ranges on a dry plateau at the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser Rivers. For
those who get their thrills under the open sky, Prince George is a paradise. Several
parks and heritage trails are close by, and literally thousands of lakes and rivers
beckon you and your rod, canoe, boat and backpack.
Southbound on the
Cariboo Highway 97, you'll follow the old Cariboo Wagon Road of the 1860s, which
led eager prospectors northwards on the great Cariboo Gold Rush, arriving in the
town of Quesnel, where you can soak up the rich history of the Gold Rush
era or try your hand at a little gold panning. Take a side trip to rediscover
gold country in the legendary and historic gold rush town of Barkerville,
88 kilometres east of Quesnel. Billy Barker found lots of gold here in 1862, whereupon
the town became the largest city north of San Fransisco; then it became a ghost
town; and now it's an exciting place of great interest to visitors.
up is Williams Lake, set in the heart of the Frontier, amid lakes and rolling
ranchland. Williams Lake has been the focal point and service centre for the ranches
of the Cariboo and Chilcotin regions since the turn of the century, and is home
to the famous Williams Lake Stampede, held in early July.
out the 11-metre Kharu cross-country racing skis, accompanied by a pair of 9-metre
poles, outside the Information Centre in 100 Mile House, the self-professed
International Nordic Skiing Capital. Stop at the gold rush town of Cache
Creek and visit Hat Creek Ranch, and the 1862 roadhouse that served the teams
and passengers of the B.C. Express Stage Line that travelled the original Cariboo
Welcome to Hat
your journey to Lytton, located where the green waters of the Thompson
River meet the brown, silt-laden rushing waters of the mighty Fraser River. Lytton
is perhaps best known as the "Rafting Capital of Canada" - numerous first-class
commercial rafting companies guide visitors through the white waters of these
adventurous river routes. Lytton was also on the path taken by hardy prospectors
who made there way north to the gold fields. Gold rush history and native culture
is evident in the different buildings and activities, such as Remembrance Day
Pow Wow. Definitely a destination of unique and exciting adventures! Want a closer
look at Hell's Gate? Take the airtram for breathtaking views of the Fraser River
as it roars through this famous gorge.
On your way back to Vancouver,
visitors will want to spend several days exploring the lush Fraser Valley.
The pretty little town of Hope holds great appeal for outdoor adventurers.
Kawkawa Lake Park is nearby, as is Coquihalla Canyon
Provincial Recreation area, and not far away is Manning
Provincial Park, with more lakes and hiking trails. The local joke here is
that no matter which way you are going, the rest of B.C. is "beyond Hope".
After a hectic day of sightseeing, relax and rejuvenate the soul in Harrison
Hot Springs. Called the "Spa of Canada", Harrison Hot Springs is a resort
town with recreation and health at the forefront.
Complete your circle
tour with a stop at Chilliwack, Cultus Lake, Abbotsford,
Langley and Fort Langley.
Towns on or near this Route
Click on a town name to learn more about that town (Clockwise order).