This is Part II of the road trip from Kelowna, BC to Prince Rupert.
On our way north from Kelowna we stopped ‘half way’ in the city of Prince George (see the blog post “Northern BC, Canada – Part I”. After spending one night in “PG” we continued our trip on Highway 16 towards the end of the rainbow, our final destination: Prince Rupert.
The first populated area we passed through was the district of Vanderhoof, located in the geographical centre of British Columbia. The forest industry is the main economic driver in Vanderhoof. Although the photo above may not be esthetically pleasing to look at, this is a symbol of employment and financial opportunity for people living in this community. A familiar site when driving in northern British Columbia, Canada (both the above photo and below. Trucks with timber. And long empty highways…)
We continued to pass by small towns and areas with some buildings up and running, other buildings abandoned and/or for sale. Although some creative souls were trying to tempt me to stop and check out the local museums, it unfortunately did not succeed. We kept on driving through one area to the next. I will admit we were not good supporters of local businesses – our stops were done at fast food chains when we saw them (sorry locals!). We passed areas such as Fraser Lake, Burns Lake, Topley, Houston and Telkwa. By the time we arrived Smithers – half way between Prince George and Prince Rupert – the sky had cleared up and I decided it was time to get my camera out and explore the town up close. Smithers is located at the foot of the Hudson Bay Mountain and has great opportunities for anything related to snow (or outdoor type of activities regardless of season). According to Wikipedia a town bylaw requires businesses in the downtown area of Smithers to construct their buildings in an alpine style. If you ask me, it definitely creates a much more cozy atmosphere than other towns we passed through along the way. The statue of a man blowing an alpine horn, knows asThe Alpenman or Alpine Al, is located at the entrance to the main street and has become the town symbol. After a stop testing out the local hot chocolate and getting some pictures we continued on the open road towards Terrace. I always feel the scenery changes for the better after passing Smithers (no disrespect to the rest of the northern interior of BC… I will let the pictures speak for themselves…). Terrace is a city on the Skeena River in British Columbia, Canada. The Kitselas people, a tribe of the Tsimshian Nation, have lived in the Terrace area for thousands of years. The flat mountain ranges surrounding the city of Terrace are traditionally called Ganeeks Laxha, which in the Tsimshian language means the “Stairway to Heaven” (Wikipedia). Instead of heading north on the Nisga’a Highway, we continued straight – going west -towards the coast and Prince Rupert. The road between Terrace and Prince Rupert, along the Skeena river is one of the most beautiful scenic routes I have ever seen. (It is on my “Top 3 most beautiful places list” competing against Rwanda and Norwegian fjord landscape). The way the clouds float above the land and the way the light hits the surroundings is so amazingly beautiful. Not sure my photos capture the true beauty, and it was a challenge due to the time of day we passed this area (dusk) – but I tried.
A train route from Jasper, Alberta to Prince Rupert, BC is also operated by Via Rail – with an overnight connection in Prince George. This route travels in daylight so that passengers can enjoy the scenic views. For more info, go to: http://www.viarail.ca/
The Via Rail travel info brochure says that “Wildlife such as bear, moose, elk, deer, wolves, coyotes, eagles, hawks and seals may be seen during the trip, depending on season and chance”. Although I have never been able to get a good photo as proof, I have seen moose, eagles and black bears on this route (oh my!)