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Author Archives: Yrene Dee

  1. Exploring Nass Valley BC – Lava Fields and Nisga’a Villages

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    Nass Valley BC is a place to experience the wonders of remote northwestern British Columbia. The dramatic landscape together with the Nisga’a culture makes the Nass Valley a unique experience and an amazing road trip. Canada’s most recent lava flow transformed the region into a breathtaking landscape with lava fields, waterfalls, and hot springs.

    Backroad maps are the best for travelling in Canada’s backcountry.

    Before my first visit to the Nass Valley BC a couple of years ago I never heard of the existence of Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park. But the impressions and experience I was left with after this first trip, I decided to return this summer. Most times, a second visit to an area seems to be even more rewarding. Who would expect to find lava fields in northern British Columbia?

    Lava Lake Nass Valley
    Lava Lake at Nisga’a Lava Bed Park

    Nass Valley and Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park

    The Nass Valley BC is home to the self-governed Nisga’a Nation and is a side trip worth taking. Canada’s last volcanic eruption occurred in the Nass Valley over 266 years ago. The vast lava beds serve as a memorial to the 2,000 Nisga’a people who lost their lives and as a reminder of the importance of respect for the natural wonders and the wisdom of the elders.

    The park is jointly managed by Nisga’a Nation and BC Parks, the first of its kind in British Columbia.

    Nass Valley BC and Park Highlights

    • Walking across lava fields
    • Stopping at High Isgwit Hot Springs, located between Gitwinksihlkw and Laxgalts’ap
    • Visiting four unique Nisga’a villages – Gitlaxt’aamiks, Gitwinksihkw, Laxgalts’ap and Gingolx
    • Checking out exhibits at the Park Visitor Centre
    • Staying at the 16-site vehicle campground (first come first serve)
    Drowned forest Nass Valley
    Drowned Forest

    Tips before you go

    Stop by the Visitor Information Centre in Terrace and pick up an Auto Tour of the Nass Valley for a full list of stops and information about the sites to see along the way.

    The Terrace Visitor Information Center has a welcoming atmosphere with beautifully handcrafted souvenirs for sale.

    I inquired about the condition of the connector to Highway 37. This partly gravel road would take me through Nass Camp to Cranberry Junction on Highway 37, where I was heading after exploring the Nass Valley, and it would shorten my trip. It’s a forestry road and no one could tell me the condition of it.

    Bring good shoes for walking the rough terrain in the Lava Beds. The paths are maintained, but lava rock underfoot is crumbly so watch out.

    For day trips, fill up your gas tank fully and leave Terrace early to make the most of your visit. Bring your own food and bottled water. For overnight stays, you have the option of camping or otherwise, it’s advised to arrange lodging in advance.

    Services

    • There is a service gas bar and grocery outlet in Gitlaxt’aamiks.
    • RV Sani-dump only authorized location is at Nass Camp
    • Emergency RCMP 250 633 2222
    • Road Hazzard Emergency 1 800 6655051
    Longhouse Nisgaa Lava Park BC
    Longhouse

    How to get to Nass Valley BC

    The official Auto Tour through Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park starts 70 km, one hour from Terrace, BC.

    To get there, turn onto Nisga’a Highway 113 in Terrace. Trees line the highway and only further along the road, the view opens up to see the lakes and the magnificent landscape.

    The beautiful curvy Nisga’a Highway 113 takes you along Kitsamkalum Lake and the stunning Amsing Lake backed by snow-covered mountain peaks. This ancient transportation corridor between the two major river systems, the Skeena and Naas, was originally used by Indigenous people, and later by trappers, miners, loggers, homesteaders and telegraph linemen. A public road connected the Kitsumkalum and the Nisga’a territories in 1979.

    Further along the highway, you reach the small community of Rosswood with a population of 150. Visit Rosswood General Store for a local shopping experience.

    Rosswood General Store Nass Valley BC
    Rosswood General Store

    Exploring Nass Valley, BC – Lava Fields and Nisga’a Villages

    Nass Valley, BC is a place to experience the wonders of the northwest. The dramatic landscape together with the Nisga’a culture makes the Nass Valley a unique experience and an amazing road trip. Canada’s most recent lava flow transformed the region into a breathtaking landscape with lava fields, waterfalls, and hot springs.

    Before my first visit to the Nass Valley, BC a couple of years ago I never heard of the existence of Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park. But, because of the impressions and experience I was left with after this first trip, I decided to return this summer. Most times, a second visit to an area seems to be even more rewarding.

    Who would expect to find lava fields in northern British Columbia?

    Auto Route through the Nass Valley, BC

    70 km / 1 hr from Terrace to Stop 1 – Welcome

    The driving route through the Nisga’sa Memorial Lava Bed Park is called the Auto Tour Route / Point of Interest and starts at the park entrance. Follow the self-guided route through the park and the Nisga’a Nation. All points of interest are signposted with both Native and English names and numbered along the way with information signs. For simplicity, I only write the English names in this post.

    1 – Welcome

    25 km / 20 min to Park Visitor Centre

    Welcome to the Nisga’a Nation and Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park. This is the first provincial park jointly managed by a First Nation and BC Parks and it is included in the landmark treaty between the Canadian Government and the Nisga’a Nation.

    Wellcome to Lava Bed Park
    Welcome to the Nisga’a Nation

    2 – Lava Lake

    Lawa Lake is a good place to stop for a picnic and a swim in the lake. When I was there, a large group of locals were gathering at the beach and swimming in the lake. There is an outhouse near the parking lot.

    Lava Lake Nass Valley British Columbia
    Lava Lake, Nisga’a Provincial Park

    3 – Crater Creek

    Take the short, rocky trail from the info shelter to the lookout and appreciate the petrified landscape.

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Crater-Creek.jpg
    Crater Creek

    4 – Drowned Forest

    A short path at the next stop takes you down to the Tseax River which flows over the land during high water levels. You will notice the rock formation shaped like honeycomb, caused by the ebb and flow of the water.

    Downed Forest Nass Valley BC
    Dawned Forest at Nisga’a Lava Bed Park

    5 – Beaupro Falls

    A 5 minute walk along a forest trail takes you to a lookout with a great view of the falls. High trees are lining the path.

    Beaupro Falls, Nass Valley

    6 – Vetter Falls

    Vetter Falls are the most beautiful waterfalls at Nisga’a Lava Field Park. The water that flows over these falls into Vetter Creek is overflow from the Tseax River. The stream disappears back under the lava downstream and traps fish turning them into Phantom Fish, as the locals call them. Look out for deformed Steelhead in the ponds.

    Vetter Falls, Nass Valley BC
    Vetter Falls Nass Valley BC

    7 – Vetter Fall Lodge

    Vetter Fall Lodge is a beautiful log building surrounded by coastal temperate rainforest It is located near Vetter Falls and the village of Gitlax̱t’aamiks and close to Nisga’a Visitor Centre. The Lodge offers B&B-style accommodation and is owned by the Nisg̱a’a Nation.

    8 – Park Visitor Centre

    5 km / 7 min to Nisga’a Village of Gitlaxt’aamiks

    Built in the style of a traditional Nisga’a Longhouse the museum is a must-see inside as well. It offers interpretive displays about the Nisga’a people, the culture and history. This is also where you get information about the park, facilities, and villages. Purchase some local arts and crafts to remember the beautiful Nass Valley.

    Park Visitor Centre
    Park Visitor Centre, Nass Valley BC

    9 – Tseax River

    The Tseax River is the perfect place to observe salmon in their natural habitat. This is also a place, where grizzlies and black bears would hang around. Check fishing regulations if you’re an angler and throw fish entrails into fast flowing water.

    Tseax River, Nass Valley
    Tseax River, Nass Valley

    10 – Gitlaxt’aamiks / Nisga’a Village

    12 km to Nisga’a Village of Gitwinksihlkw

    Check out the four totem poles at the entrance to the Community Centre. A few old houses across the river are the remains of the original village. Read more

    11 – Boat Launch

    Park your vehicle in the designated lot only. and check fishing regulations if you’re planning to cast a line.

    12 – Tree Cast

    A 5 minute walk leads to a unique feature of tree cast, caused by lava during the eruption and the rotting or burning of trees after time went by. Stay on the designated trail and use the stairs.

    13 – Gitwinksihlkw / Nisga’a Village

    This is home to the famous totem poles and the old suspension bridge. Read More

    39 km / 40 min to Nisga’a Village of Laxgalts’ap

    Entrance to Gitwinksihlkw Village

    14 – Dedication Site

    The park was dedicated on April 30, 1992.

    15 – Hot Springs

    The sulphur smell of the hot springs is said to be the smell of the spirit. This is a culturally significant and designated heritage site. The hot springs were open to the public when I visited two years earlier. This time around they were closed to the public.

    16- Laxgalts’ap / Nasga’a Village

    28 km to Nisga’a Village of Gingolx

    The second Nasga’a Village on the driving tour is located in the Nass River Estuary, known as a worldclass fishing destination. The village of Laxgalts’ap is also home to the Nisga’a Museum. Read more

    17- Nisga’a Museum

    This beautiful museum boasts a stunning display related to Nisga’a culture and the treaty. Plan to spend enough time inside and learn about the treaties, traditions, and fishing culture of the Nisga’a people.

    Nisga'a Museum
    An impressive museum with cultural treasures

    18- Fishery Bay

    This is a main Nisga’a harvesting place for Oolichan, a small ocean smelt fish. Each year, tons of the fish return to Nass River to spawn. Harvested fish are made into precious oil,

    19- Gingolx / Nasga’a Village

    The last village in the Nass Valley is Gingolx, one of my favourites on this journey. This small fishing village is located at the mouth of the Nass River and the Pacific Ocean with a waterfront marked with beautiful mountain ranges and the ocean.

    Stop at the local coffee shop or look for the famous fish and chips restaurant in Gingolx. Read more

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Road-to-Gingox.jpg
    The road to Gingox

    Four Nass Valley BC Communities

    Just outside Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park are four small communities, all accessible by road from the park. Here you will find basic services like grocery stores, restaurants, gift shops, gas stations and health services.

    Village of Gitlaxt’aamiks (New Aiyansh)

    Gitlaxt’aamiks, population approximately 1,800, is the first community you will get to on the Auto Tour Route through the beautiful Nass Valley BC. Located at the edge of the Memorial Lava Bed Park Gitlaxt’aamiks it’s the perfect location for exploring Nisga’a Lands.

    Gitlaxt’aamiks is home to the Nisga’a House of Laws, the legislative assembly of the Nisga’a Lisms Government. The four totem poles (Eagle, Wolf, Raven and Killer Whale at the entrance of this beautiful community represent the four ethnic groups of the Nisga’a Nation. The few houses across the river are reminders of the original village.

    Gitlaxt’aamiks Highlights

    • Nisga’a Lisims Government Legislature, information and tours
    • Unity Pts’aan (60 ‘ totem pole, the first totem pole raised in the Nass Valley in a century
    • Village smokehouses
    • Holy Trinity Church
    • Hike up to a viewpoint along a nature trail

    Village of Gitwinksihlkw (Canyon City)

    39 to Nisca’a village of Laxcalts’Ap

    Gitwinksihlkw is known as “place of the lizards” and has a population of approximately 207 residents. I remembered the Nisga’a village of Gitwinksihlkw well from my first visit to its suspension bridge across the Nass River. On the north bank of the Nass River Gitwinksihlkw is situated in one of British Columbia’s most dramatic settings. For years, the village was accessible only by the suspension footbridge.

    Today, a modern vehicle bridge with four totem poles (Eagle, Wolf, Raven and Killer Whale gives easy access to this beautiful community.

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Suspension-Bridge.jpg
    Old Suspension Bridge at Gitwinksihlkw

    Girwinksihlkw Highlights

    • Stop at the village entrance bridge for the four impressive totem poles
    • Walk across Ukws-Ts’agat, the old suspension footbridge
    • Stop in at the Village Government Office for info and tours
    • Visit the Salvation Army Church
    • Check out the fish wheels
    • Hike up to a viewpoint

    Village of Laxgalts’ap (Greenville)

    28 km to Nisca’a Village of Gincolx

    Laxgalts’ap, with a population of approximately 248, means “village on village”. It was built on a series of Nisga’a communities that occupied this site for millennia. Today, the population is approximately

    Located in the Nass River Estuary, a world-class fishing destination Laxgalts’ap is home to the Nisga’a Museum. Here you will find one of the finest collections of cultural treasures and Northwest Coast aboriginal art. The museum’s architecture was inspired by traditional Nisga’a longhouses, feast dishes and canoes.

    Laxgalts’ap Highlights

    • Stop in at the Village Government office for info and tours.
    • Spend time at the beautiful Nisga’a Museum
    • Check out a first-class carving shed and observe local carvers
    • Visit St. Andrews Anglican Church
    • Go for a hike and follow a natural trail in this remote part of British Columbia.

    Village of Gingolx (Kincolith) Northern British Columbia

    170 km / 2.5 hours to Terrace

    The village, with a population of approximately 400 is referred to as the “place of sculls”. Gingolx left a memorable impression when I visited the first time and it didn’t disappoint this time around either. The stunning coastline on the way to Gingolx and the little village is worth the drive.

    It is another 30-something km from the museum to the Gingolx community but it’s worth the extra time. The drive to Gingolx is astounding. The road takes you up and down steep grades curving along the edge of the lake with rock walls on the other side of the road.

    Gingolx is located in a dramatic coastal setting with friendly locals and is known as the seafood capital of the Nass. It is also a popular place for kayaking, boating and sport fishing.

    According to history, when invaders to the village first arrived, they were met by Nisga’s defenders determined to protect and preserve the land, resources and the traditional way of life.

    Ginglox waterfront Nass Valley
    Gingolx along the waterfront

    Gingolx Highlights

    • Stroll along the panoramic ocean and look out for eagles
    • Visit the cultural longhouse
    • Check out tribal smokehouses
    • Stop at the Village Government office for info and tours
    • Visit Cingolx Christ Church
    • Hike up to a viewpoint
    • Stop in for a meal at the seafood restaurant close to the waterfront

    End of the day

    I was pretty tired when I got back to Terrace. Earlier in the day I was planning to take the connector gravel road from Nass Camp in the Naas Valley Cranberry Junction to Highway 39. It’s a forestry road and no one could tell me in what condition it was. This would have shortened the trip. Therefore I decided to return to Terrace for another night as my gas gage was getting low and I hadn’t refilled the jerry cans yet.

    This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Nass-Valley-old-building.jpg
    Vacant nostalgia

    Related links

    Nisga’a Lava Bed Memorial ParkUltimate Road Trip Planner for the Wilderness
    Epic Road Trips in CanadaUltimate Camping Guide for Canada

    This website contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend products and companies I use and the income helps keep this website up. Thank you!


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    TourRadar, another trusted tour company specializes in multi-day trips.

    Need More Help Planning Your Trip?
    Jump over to the Travel Resource Page where I highlight all the great companies that I trust when I travel.

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    Check out Backcountry Store for the best companies.
  2. Vernon to Osoyoos – Okanagan road trip itinerary

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    The whole journey from Vernon to Osoyoos can be done in one day or however long you want it to be. Apart from enjoying the glorious views, you will find many special places to stop along the way.

    Take your time to enjoy the many beautiful Okanagan parks, sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Check the access points to the Rail Trail, perfect if you bring a bike, or plan to venture on some of the spectacular hiking trails I mention. You will find plenty of fruit stands along the highway and car turnouts to enjoy the view.

    Tips for the Vernon to Osoyoos Route

    Are you interested in exploring the backcountry? Bring along the Thompson Okanagan Mapbook and sign up for AllTrails to make the best out of your trip.

    And did I mention that the Okanagan Valley is recognized as a world-class wine region? At any of the wineries you visit, you will have an authentic wine experience. However long you choose to wind up on this adventure road trip, here’s how to make the most of the ride.

    Highway 97 Road Information

    The direct drive from Vernon to Osoyoos is 173 km, and you can drive it in  2 hrs 25 mins in normal traffic according to Google Maps. Although it’s highway driving, the lake views on this route are spectacular.

    Scenic Westside Road

    Westside Road is an alternative route between Vernon and West Kelowna. If you travel from Vernon to Osoyoos and back to Vernon, you might want to take Westside Road one way.

    How to get to Vernon, the starting point

    FLY INThe Kelowna International Airport (YLW) is 30 minutes south of Vernon and provides national and international flights daily. Several airlines fly in and out of the Kelowna International Airport, which serves all the communities within the Okanagan Valley.

    CRUSE THE HIGHWAY – Getting to Vernon by car, RV or bike is easy. Vernon is located in the heart of North Okanagan. Highways 97 and 6 intersect at Vernon and Highway 1 (Trans Canada) is 45 minutes north. Vernon is located 441 km from Vancouver, BC, 556 km from Calgary, AB, and 184 km from the US/Canada border.

    RENTING OR BUYING A VEHICLE:

    18 Best Stops between Vernon and Osoyoos

    1. Start in Vernon – Vernon to Osoyoos Road Trip

    In Vernon, you won’t find the Okanagan glamour you will find in Kelowna. Maybe it has to do with the weather. Winters are harsher here in the North Okanagan and wineries are few. Still, Vernon has its own charm and is surrounded by three lakes, Kalamalka, Okanagan, and Swan.

    There is lots to see and do in Vernon. Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park is great for swimming and fishing with beautiful beaches and hiking trails. Visit Davison Orchard where you get a great view of Vernon. Next door is Planet Bee where you get a free tour of a working honey farm.

    Vernon is your getaway to Silver Star Mountain Resort, don’t miss the 20-minute drive to the resort. Detour up to the Aberdeen plateau for some good fishing lakes and solitude.

    Step back in time and visit the historic O’Keefe Ranch, just a short way north of Vernon.

    Read More about how to have a great time in Vernon:

    Vernon BC start point Vernon to Osoyoos trip
    Downtown Vernon Muriel

    2. Kekuli Bay

    Kekuli Bay Provincial Park is located off Highway 97, 11 km south of Vernon, my first stop on the Vernon to Osoyoos road trip. This may be the first stop on your way south. Next to a beautiful bay on the west side of Kalamalka Lake, it is a perfect destination for waterskiing and boating.

    A day-use and picnic facility is located just off the boat launch parking area.

    Even if you’re not staying at the campground, use the 2.6 km of gravel walking trails which take you through the grassland around the campground. From Kekuli Bay you also get access to the Okanagan Rail Trail.

    On the opposite side of the Highway, you have Commonage Road, which leads to Predator Ridge, the famous golfing resort, that also offers hiking, swimming and more.

    A bit further on is Sparkling Hills Resort, the luxury getaway with European-inspired saunas and dining.

    3. Oyama and Gatzke’s Farm Market

    If your time permits for a little detour, exit Highway 97 approximately 15.7 km from Kekuly Bay and take Pelmewasch Parkway to Oyama to get to Gatzke’s Farm Market. Oyama is in the Lake Country District.

    Before 2013, the road along Wood Lake used to be the official Highway and I used to stop at Gatzke Orchard’s every time I drove from Vernon to Kelowna. This bustling over 90-year-old Farm Market attracts locals as well as visitors from around the world.

    It’s open from May to September offering farmers’ market shopping. Try out Grandma Gatzke’s Vintage Recipe for a superb pie or just have delicious ice cream on the patio.

    There is a Coffee shop, Pizzeria and e-bike rentals, located on-site.

    While in Oyama, drive out to Kaloya Regional Park on Trask Road (off Oyama Road) on the southern shore of Kalamalka Lake. The park has a swimming area, covered picnic area, walking trails, lily pond, playground, and boat beach.

    After exploring Oyama, continue on Pelmewash Parkway along Wood Lake to Lake Country where the road joins up again with Highway 97 at the south end of Wood Lake.

    If you’re up for a hike, stop at Spion Kopp Trail Head along Pelmewash Parkway before heading back onto Highway 97.

    South Okanagan vineyards - Okanagan to Osoyoos road trip
    South Okanagan vineyards

    Spion Kopp Trail:

    There are many trails to explore on Spion Kop Hill. The Trailhead starts 3.8 km from Oyama south on Pelmewash Parkway. Park in the Pullout on the east side of Pelmewash Parkway alongside Wood Lake. This is a beautiful trail with lots of ups and downs and a steady incline to the top where an astonishing view is waiting for you. From the summit, you will be able to see Okanagan Lake, Ellison Lake, Wood Lake, and a bit of Kal Lake.

    Download AllTrail App for Free and get directions for this trail and other trails in the area.

    4. Winfield

    Beaver Lake Mountain Resort
    Beaver Lake Mountain Resort early morning

    Continue to Windfield, the largest community and the commercial centre of the Lake Country area. Lake Country calls itself the Apple Capital of Canada, producing a large percentage of all apples grown in Canada. It’s also known as the Banana Belt of the Okanagan.

    Winfield is a good place to stop if you’re looking for a bite to eat because of its various restaurant options.

    Winfield is the getaway into the backcountry and the Dee Lakes area. It is quite a long side trip on the Vernon to Kelowna Route. Shortly after Winfield, you will come to the Beaver Lake Road turnoff. Driving 16 km into the hills will take you to Beaver Lake Resort where you can camp for the night. Further on there are many small fishing lakes and Recreation Sites. This is pure wilderness country. Therefore, be prepared well if you choose to head out that way.

    5. The Jammery

    I remember stopping at the Jammery during a bad snowstorm to get off the treacherous highway during a Vernon to Osoyoos trip but mostly I just stop there for a break and to browse through the cute store. The world’s first and only Jammery is located on Highway 97, approximately 13 km from Oyama, or 2.5 km from Winfield.

    Many products are made right at the Jammery, and the gift shop offers a variety of local food products and unique gift items. 

    Breakfast and lunch all day and lunch are offered at the restaurant. Enjoy the air-conditioned restaurant or the enclosed sunroom during the Okanagan heat wave.

    A few minutes after leaving The Jammery you will be passing Kelowna’s International Airport on the left. It’s a hub for connecting domestic flights and direct flights from Seattle.

    6. Kelowna

    Kelowna British Columbia - harbour - Vernon to Osoyoos
    Kelowna harbour

    A 21 km drive after leaving the Jamery will take you to Kelowna’s downtown marina.

    Kelowna is the largest city on the Vernon to Kelowna Route. Located approximately 600 km from Calgary and 400 km from Vancouver it makes it a good halfway stop.

    The city has a beautiful waterfront and an attractive downtown. If you are not able to avoid all the big cities on the way to the backcountry, Kelowna is worth a stopover.

    Kelowna has more to offer than fine wines, good food, and sandy beaches. Visit Myra Canyon trestles and tunnels while you’re here. The scenic portion of the Kettle Valley Runway (KVR) runs along impressive steep-walled canyons. The railway was built by hand at the turn of the last century and today you can hike it or bike it.

    Read more: Kelowna Itinerary – how to spend 6-days in Kelowna, BC

    7. West Kelowna – Westbank First Nation

    To continue your Vernon to Osoyoos road trip south from Kelowna, drive across Kelowna’s famous floating bridge, the only floating bridge in Canada. This will take you to Westside, as the locals like to call it. You can sip your way along the Westside Wine Trail where you will find winery tasting rooms, restaurants, spectacular views, outdoor music concerts, art showings and wine education events.

    • Drive the Westside Farm Loop for an agricultural experience.
    • Walk along the sandy shores of Willow Beach or zipline into the sparkling waters of Lake Okanagan down at the Gellatly Bay Waterfront. The pathway goes from the Gellatly Nut Farm Regional Park to Rotary Beach.
    • Hike The Boucherie Rush trail on Mt. Boucherie, a 60 million-year-old dormant volcano.
    • Just blocks from downtown West Kelowna you can get to a beautiful waterfall in Glen Canyon Regional Park (South).
    • Take a drive along Scenic Westside Road and stop for a stroll at Bear Creek and Fintry Provincial Parks.

    Sign up for AllTrails for FREE to get information and directions for all West Kelowna Trails.

    8. Peachland

    Historic Peachland sign on Vernon to Osoyoos route
    Welcome to Peachland in early spring

    Peachland, the small town 25 km from Kelowna is surrounded by sloping hills, colourful orchards, picturesque vineyards, and large ponderosa pines. Stroll along the lakeshore and have a good break after getting through the traffic nightmare of West Kelowna.

    What is there to see and do around Peachland? Soar high above Deep Creek Gorge on Canada’s highest freestyle zipline at ZipZone Adventure Park.

    A visit to Hardy Falls is a great adventure any time of year. The trailhead is located on Hwy 97 South at Hardy Street. Turn off Highway 97 onto Hardy Street and follow it to the parking lot.

    From the parking lot, it’s a beautiful, easy walk through the forest, over bridges and along the creek ending with the view of the waterfall. It’s a great place to watch the salmon spawning in the fall. Sign up for Free for AllTrail to get directions and info about Hardy Falls.

    9. Summerland

    View of Summerland while hiking during Vernon to Osoyoos trip
    View of Summerland from Giant’s Head trail

    Summerland is a small, but vibrant town next to sun-drenched hills, vineyards and orchards and beautiful beaches along the shores of Okanagan Lake. Having a dear friend living in Summerland gave me the opportunity to explore the town and its surroundings. If you feel like getting away from busy Osoyoos, staying at Dogwood Bed and Breakfast in Summerland might be a good choice for you.

    The large library is worth a visit and offers an excellent Internet connection. Stop in at the indoor flea markets and find some treasures, check out Granny’s Bakery and the Beanery Coffee Shop before heading out for a walk on the nearby Trans Canada Trail.

    10. Sun-Oka Beach Park

    Sun-Oka Beach near Summerland, Okanagan road trip
    Near Summerland at Sun-Oka Beach on a cloudy day in late September

    Sun-Oka Beach Park is one of a string of four provincial parks located between Summerland and Penticton and has one of the most beautiful beaches in South Okanagan. All four parks, Sun-Oka, Pyramid, Soorimpt and Kickininee are open to public access year-round.

    Sun-Oka is the shortened version of “Sunny Okanagan.”

    Apart from the stunning beach, the park is suitable for water activities, is perfect for a picnic and offers fantastic views down Okanagan Lake. Here you will find old-growth cottonwood trees and trails along Trout Creek that take you to the edges of the old-growth.

    So many times I passed by here on the Vernon to Osoyoos trip without stopping. This time I did, also it was late in the season and it was a cloudy day. But, having the beach for myself I enjoyed a break and a walk in the sand.

    Off-season travel has its advantages if you like solitude, and don’t mind cooler temperatures.

    11. Pyramide Provincial Park

    Pyramid Provincial Park South Okanagan
    Pyramid Provincial Park

    You will recognize Pyramid Day-Use Park by the mound of clay seen from the highway. The picnic area in the park includes a good selection of picnic tables, some in the shade of Cottonwood Trees. It provides an excellent place to stop and have a rest, go swimming or have a picnic. It features some little sandy beach areas with great swimming spots.

    There are not many amenities in the park, but you can freely use the picnic tables and public washrooms.

    12. Soorimpt Provincial Park

    South Okanagan Parks and beaches along Vernon to Osoyoos  drive
    South Okanagan parks and beaches

    Soorimpt Provincial Park is another popular rest stop located shortly after you leave Pyramid Park. The park features public washrooms, picnic areas, as well as beautiful coves with beaches perfect for swimming.

    It is day-use only and is a great place to stop and stretch after a long road trip through the scenic Okanagan Valley, BC.

    You can easily launch your kayaks or paddleboards from here to head out and explore the area via water.

    The park is named after Chief Sorimpt, who was an indigenous Okanagan tribal leader who battled against the Europeans who arrived to colonize the area.

    13. Kickininee Provincial Park

    South Okanagan beaches road trip stops Kickininee Provincial Park on Vernon to Osoyoos route
    On of the top parks between Vernon and Osoyoos is Kickininee Provincial Park

    Kickininee Provincial Park is the last of the four parks between Summerland and Penticton and is my favourite. The Kickininee Day Use Park includes three grassy areas at different elevations. The upper part is next to the large parking lot, is shaded and includes a few picnic tables with great views. A short paved path leads down to the middle space where you get to more picnic tables. From there, take the short path down to the pebbled beach area.

    The beach includes a roped-off swimming area. What an incredible place just off Highway 97!

    14. Penticton

    Penticton, stop along Vernon to Osoyoos road trip
    Exploring Pentiction for Treasures

    Penticton is not as hectic as Kelowna but has much to offer to visitors. From beaches and lakes and the channel float, markets and orchards, and an incredible culinary scene, to arts and culture, family fun, cycling and mountain biking, and limitless outdoor recreation opportunities. It also has craft breweries, distilleries and cideries.

    Summers here are long, hot, and sunny, and the winters are mild. Skaha Lake Park is a wonderful lakefront park and is one of Penticton’s main attractions.

    On the south end of Penticton’s waterfront, you will find the SS Sicamous Museum, a perfectly preserved steam sternwheeler from 1914. Here you will get a taste of what luxurious ship travel used to be.

    Head up to Munson Mountain, which can easily be seen from town. It is where you will see the giant letters spelling out Penticton on the hillside. From this public park, you will get expansive views over the Okanagan Valley, the city, and the lake below. The park is free to enter and offers a variety of walking trails.

    Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park is the place to go rock climbing. The park attracts climbers from all over the world.

    15. Kaleden

    Kaleden is a small, picturesque town 13 km south of Penticton, on the western shore of Skaha Lake. With stunning views of Skaha Lake, you have the opportunity to visit the town’s vineyards and orchards in beautiful surroundings. With fine beaches and the Kettle Valley Rail Trail close by, this is a historic town you don’t want to miss on your Vernon to Osoyoos Okanagan road trip.

    The town is home to two historic buildings, the General Store, and the famous Hotel Kaleden. Although the hotel resembles a skeleton of a building that has been burned down, this is not the case. The hotel was closed around the time of World War One because of financial problems. It was subsequently salvaged of all reusable material, leaving only a concrete, eerie-looking shell.

    16. Okanagan Falls

    Okanagan Falls, Vernon to Osoyoos road trip
    Strolling along the lake at Okanagan Falls on a cloudy day

    You will arrive at Okanagan Falls, also known as OK Falls, 11 km further south on the southern tip of Skaha Lake.

    The biggest attraction in this small town is an ice cream parlour called Tickleberries. It’s a family-owned business that started back in 1990. Stop for the best ice cream far and wide. If ice cream isn’t your thing, Tickleberry makes its own chocolates, fudge, candies and much more.

    Afterwards, park near the lakefront at Christie Memorial Provincial Park on 7th Avenue on the south shore of Skaha Lake. There is a well maintained beach, plenty of benches, picnic tables and washrooms.

    Next to Christi Park is the OK Falls KVR (Kettle Valley Railway) Bridge. It connects to the Kettle Valley Railway Trail on the North end, which runs along the West shore of Skaha Lake. It’s a great place for a walk and a chance to see plenty of waterfowl and wildlife.

    There are many wineries to stop in around Okanagan Falls, like See Ya Later Ranch, Blue Mountain Vineyard and others.

    Okanagan Falls Provincial Park is a place to camp. You’ll also see signage for sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ, which is the name for Okanagan Falls in the local indigenous Sylix language. The park is operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band.

    Notice Indian Head’s ragged cliffs to the southwest of Okanagan Falls, some of the most unusual rock formations in the Okanagan. Check out the hiking trails.

    From Okanagan Falls, you have the option to take Green Lake Road to Oliver, past the Provincial Park and See Ya Later Ranch, a spectacular drive. Read more: Oliver BC – Outdoor Travel Guide

    17. Vaseaux Lake

    Vaseaux Lake ner Oliver BC
    Vaseaux Lake near Oliver, South Okanagan BC

    10 km before you arrive in Oliver, stop at the Vaseux Wildlife Centre. Hike to the Bighorn National Wildlife Area and the Vaseux Lake National Migratory Bird Sanctuary to view tons of birds, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and some of the 14 species of bat. Even the lake itself is a gem, framed by granite cliffs.

    If you’re not in a hurry, explore the small roads on the east side of Skaha Lake between Okanagan Falls and Penticton and visit wineries and enjoy great views.

    18. Oliver

    On the
    Okanagan Rail Trail Vernon to Osoyoos road trip

    From Vaseaux Lake it is 14 km to Oliver, a town full of character with many historic buildings, restaurants, coffee shops and all basic services.

    The Oliver area is perfect for touring local wineries and sampling Okanagan wines in the tasting rooms. While wine is certainly the “name of the game” in Oliver BC, there’s also a great option for beer lovers as well. Check out the basement of the Old Fire Hall, a special landmark in Oliver.

    Fruit stands are lining the highway all through Oliver and you’re close to many biking and hiking trails along the Okanagan River and into the hills to idyllic fishing lakes.

    For a backroad drive, take the stunning Black Sage Road which joins Hwy 97 via Road 22 just north of Osoyoos.

    Read more: Oliver BC – Outdoor Travel Guide

    19. Osoyoos

    Vernon to Osoyoos, hidden spot on north side of Osoyoos Lake
    A hidden spot on the north side of Osoyoos Lake

    Over the 20 km drive between Oliver and Osoyoos, on Hwy 97 you drive through orchard after orchard, earning it the name “The Golden Mile”. You see plenty of roadside stands and many places will let you pick your own fruit.

    Osoyoos is close to the USA border and the dry, desert-like landscape makes you feel like being in the Caribbean somewhere. Osoyoos Lake is one of the warmest lakes in Canada. That, together with the sandy beaches makes it ideal for water sports. Osoyoos is known for extremely hot summer temperatures and a dry climate. Many campgrounds and motels rent out kayaks, canoes, and small boats. Osoyoos offers all the services expected from a resort town.

    There is a lot to see and do in Osoyoos. Make sure you visit the Osoyoos Desert Centre and consider taking a guided tour, it’s fully worth it.

    Just about 3 km from Osoyoos east on Hwy 3, look for Spotted Lake, a weird natural phenomenon. In the heat of the summer, the lake’s water begins to evaporate. This causes its high mineral content to crystallize and leave white-rimmed circles of green on the water.

    After spending time in Osoyoos, what’s next?

    Continue Hwy 3 West and it will take you through the rugged Similkameen Valley to the cute town of Keremeos, surrounded by orchards. About 30 km west of Keremeos is Cathedral Provincial Park, a place for great backcountry adventures and backcountry camping.

    If you decide to return to Vernon from here, take the Scenic Westside Road Route from West Kelowna back to Vernon for another epic road trip experience.

    What about a horseback adventure and some cowboying after your road trip from Vernon to Kelowna and Osoyoos, BC?

    Check out tours offered in Kelowna and around the Okanagan.


    🔗 LINK YOUR TRIP ➔ Scenic Westside Road Vernon to Kelowna, BC


    Other links you may like

    25 Best small towns in BC to VisitHiking suggestions for the Okanagan
    12 Top Things to Do in the Okanagan ValleyUltimate Canada Camping Guide
    Guided Tours in Canada – All you need to knowBackcountry Destination Guide

    This website contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend products and companies I use and the income helps keep this website up. Thank you!


    TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES
    Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources?

    Book Your Flight
    Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Kiwi.com. This is one of my top choices for booking flights. Kiwi is reliable, fair, trustworthy, fast, easy to use, and offers the Kiwi guarantee! Try it out next time you’re looking for a flight.

    Book Your Accommodation
    Book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you are planning to stay at other accommodation, use Booking.com as it offers the cheapest prices for guesthouses and hotels.

    Travel Insurance
    Don’t forget Travel Insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It gives you protection in case anything goes wrong. My favourite company that offers the best service and value is Safety Wing.

    Get Your Travel Visas
    Get your Travel Visa hassle-free with iVisa. Apply directly online with their simplified application process and personal assistance. They also offer a passport renewal service.

    Top Tour Companies for Best Tours
    Get the best out of your vacation and check out GetYour Guide and Viator for the top tours available at your destination. Booking in advance for a unique and hassle-free journey.
    TourRadar, another trusted tour company specializes in multi-day trips.

    Need More Help Planning Your Trip?
    Jump over to the Travel Resource Page where I highlight all the great companies that I trust when I travel.

    Need New Camping or Travel Gear, Maps, or Outdoor Clothes?
    Check out Backcountry Store for the best companies.
  3. Scenic Westside Road Vernon to Kelowna

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    Westside Road is a scenic, alternative route running from Highway 97 near the north end of Okanagan Lake to Highway 97 in West Kelowna. This stretch of road is about 67 km in length with narrow, curvy and hilly sections.



    Westside Road



    Come and enjoy Westside Road, a hidden gem in the Okanagan, British Columbia. Explore the Tail of the Ogopogo, which is the unofficial name of the road. Get ready for some sharp twists and turns, so drive carefully and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife.

    Vernon to Kelowna Route via Westside Road

    Westside Road is an epic drive with spectacular Okanagan scenery, popular by bikers as well as speedy cars. It is a curvy road, climbing up and down the hills, winding along Okanagan lake with many amazing places to stop along the route. Look out for black bears, deer, and California Bighorn Sheep on the road, as well as osprey and eagle soaring up in the sky.

    Westside Road is a great alternative route to travel between Vernon and Kelowna if you’re looking for an adventure. Try to spend at least a day exploring the parks and some of the first-class hiking trails, taking you to impressive waterfalls and grand viewpoints. There are many amazing places to stop along the way to experience Okanagan at its best.

    The whole trip from Vernon to Kelowna via Westside Road is about 83 km.

    Westside Road Information

    • Distance Westside Road turnoff at Highway 97 to Westside approximately 67 km
    • Road condition: a paved, narrow, winding two-way road
    • Westside Road driving time: 1-hour minimum
    • Westside Road has a speed limit of 60 km/hr for the first part, and 70 km/hr further up the road.
    • This is a curvy, narrow road winding along the edge of Okanagan Lake. I wouldn’t recommend it for big rigs.
    • Be aware of wildlife, especially Bighorn Sheep. Although recognize the fact, that this is free range country, meaning, that there might be cows or horses on the road.
    Scenery driving Westside Road
    Typical scenery on Westside Road

    Westside Road – a brief history

    The west side of Okanagan Lake between Kelowna and Vernon was part of the Hudson’s Bay Fur Brigade trail until the late 1800s. The lake was used for transporting goods until 1935 when the railroad was built on the other side of the lake between Kelowna and Vernon. Portions of Westside Road were started in the early 1900s, and it was a slow process to get it to today’s stage. Read about the road’s history here.

    How to get to Westside Road – Starting point Vernon

    Westside Road begins at Highway 97 near the north end of Okanagan Lake near Vernon, BC, and ends at Highway 97 in the south in West Kelowna, BC.

    To get to Westside Road from Vernon, take Hwy 97A North, take the exit to Kamloops and follow Okanagan Hwy 97 to the Westside Road turnoff (Vernon to Westside Road turnoff is approximately 13 km).

    On this stretch of Highway, you will pass Historic O’Keefe Ranch, a good place to stop.

    Vernon, BC

    Early spring on A & L Road in Vernon, BC

    I started the road trip in Vernon, BC, the largest city in North Okanagan. Vernon is much smaller than Kelowna, less touristy and fairly easy to get around. It has all the services and large stores, great restaurants, parks and nearby attractions worth visiting. There is plenty to see and do in and around Vernon and you won’t get bored, I promise. Vernon is also a good base for exploring the Okanagan Valley.

    Interesting Fact – Cannabis in British Columbia

    One of the Cannabis Stores on Westside Road
    One of the Cannabis Stores on Westside Road

    I don’t use the stuff myself, but if you do, you’re in luck here in British Columbia. Although there is talk about food shortage in Canada, there is definitely no shortage in cannabis production. On the first 20 km of Westside road, known as the “Green Belt” there are twelve cannabis stores, according to a local I talked to.

    Evely Recreation Site

    Evely Recreation Site Westside Road
    Evely Recreation Site Trail

    From the turnoff to Westside Road, it’s about 23 km to Evely Recreation Site. You don’t have to camp here to enjoy the place. During my winter on Westside Road, this was my little getaway heaven.

    During the off-season, Evely is a gem on Westside Road and worth stopping by. If the park gate is closed, park your vehicle and walk down to the lakeshore along beautiful trails.

    During summer holidays and especially weekends, this place might be super busy and lose its charm.

    The campground has 50 campsites but is not suitable for big rigs. I suggest that you check it out first before driving down with a larger RV.
    There is no potable water. Outhouses only and a boat launch. Almost every site has a tiny private beach.

    Sugar Loaf Mountain – side trip

    This is a place where mainly locals go. Not many tourists know about the Sugarloaf Mountain Hike. The trail takes you to an overlook of Okanagan Lake and the beautiful valley below. I bet that you won’t encounter many people on this trail.

    Directions: Just opposite Evely Recreation Site entrance, turn right up the road and continue along this road, past gravel pits. You should see a sign for Sugarloaf Trailhead 3.7 km into Westside Road.

    The duration of the hike is 1.5-2.5 hours, Distance is 4.8 km. This route has a steady, steep ascent and is perfect to get your heart rate up. It’s easy to navigate your way to the top.

    When you reach the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain, you’ll follow a little loop, stopping at a collection of different viewpoints before turning around and following the path before the mini circuit back to the parking lot.

    Download AllTrail App and it will take you there.

    Fintry Park

    Fintry Falls Westside Road
    Fintry Falls

    About 11 km from Evely Recreation Site is the turnoff to Fintry on the shores of Okanagan Lake. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours at the park.

    Follow Fintry Delta Road, the windy road down to the Fintry Park parking lot on the left. Fintry Park includes part of the former Fintry Estate, a heritage site with a colourful history. 

    The set of trails begins near the parking lot. To hike up to Fintry Falls, take the wooden staircase through the forested canyon to spectacular views of its three waterfalls and deep pools. You can do a loop to get back to the car.

    A trail across the field takes you to Fintry Campground and the almost 2 km waterfront with a beautiful sandy beach. I was there during the off-season and I had the whole place for myself. Fintry is ideal for swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and wildlife viewing.

    The campground has 158 vehicle-accessible campsites for both tents and RVs, with a playground, picnic tables, flush toilets, showers, and two sani-stations. Some sites are more forested, while others are sunnier, but all are within a short walk of the lakeshore. The campground opens on March 31.

    Download AllTrail App for trail details and directions.

    La Casa Market and Restaurant

    La Casa Market and Restaurant

    From Fintry, it’s about 4 km to get to La Casa Market offering groceries liquor, beer and wine. It also has an authentic Italian Eatery with delicious food.

    The store is well stocked with a variety of your favourite fresh produce and a large selection of groceries, premade ready-to-go food, and even gluten-free bread. You also find household items, snacks, medications, pet food, etc.

    Extremely nice staff and owners and they offer delicious food. If you’re going through the area it’s a MUST stop location!

    Prices are on the high side, but being out in the middle of nowhere and on a fancy resort it has to be expected.

    La Casa Market is open Sunday to Monday from 11 am – 8 pm

    Bear Creek Provincial Park

    Bear Creek Canyon Trail Head

    Continue about 23 km on Westside Road after stopping at La Casa Market and you will arrive at beautiful Bear Creek Provincial Park. The Park is open to the public all year round, but the official camping season starts at the end of March and closes middle of October.

    Here you find lakeside camping, a long sandy beach, and 5 km of hiking trails in the canyon. Book camping at Bear Creek Provincial Park.

    If you’re not planning to camp at the park, stop anyway and spend time walking along the lakefront. They have excellent bathroom facilities.

    Hiking Trails at Bear Creek

    Canyon Rim Trail at Bear Creek, Westside Road
    Canyon Rim Trail at Bear Creek, Wetside Road

    For getting on the hiking trails, park your vehicle at the parking lot across the road from the provincial park entrance. The Canyon Trail is pretty popular, therefore I suggest getting here early during weekends and school holidays to make sure you get a parking spot.

    There are three well-marked hiking loops that all begin at the same trailhead. The routes range from a 15-minute loop trail to the 1.4 km Mid Canyon Trail and the longest is the Canyon Rim Trail at 2.5 km.

    Try Ice Climbing here during the winter months!

    The longest hiking trail is the 2.5 km Canyon Rim Trail and that’s the one I recommend. The trail takes you up wooden stairs, across footbridges, and up steep terrain to waterfalls and lookout points with stunning views. Okanagan Lake is shimmering below you, and Kelowna’s famous floating bridge can be seen in the far distance. Be aware of wildlife, such as rattlesnakes, bears and coyotes.

    Sign up at AllTrails for directions and information about the hiking trails at Bear Creek Provincial Park.

    Kelowna

    View from Bear Creek Canyon trail

    Once you leave Bear Creek, it’s just over 6 km to the southern end of Westside Road. From here you can continue south to West Kelowna/Westbank, or turn east on Hwy 97 and head across the famous floating bridge, which takes you to the east side of Okanagan Lake to Kelowna.

    Kelowna has a beautiful harbour and lakefront with a park and a sandy beach. Here you will find all facilities, restaurants, shopping centers, hotels, motels, golf courses, beaches and municipal and regional parks along with many wineries.

    Wildlife on Westside Road

    Wildlife on the road

    Slow down and try to keep the speed limit. Unfortunately, there are many racers on this road. Move over if you can and let them pass. Keep an eye out for wildlife at all times to prevent hazards to you and the animals.

    If you see an animal on the side of the road, slow down – there may be more coming. Driving slow means that you will be more likely to react in time to prevent a wildlife collision. Read more: Canadian Wildlife


    🔗 LINK YOUR TRIP ➔ Vernon to Osoyoos Road Trip


    Related Links

    Ultimate Canada Camping GuideDestination Travel Guide
    TOP 16 Canadian Camping AppsRoad Trips British Columbia
    Things to do in British ColumbiaBest Canada Topo Maps

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    TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES
    Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources?

    Book Your Flight
    Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Kiwi.com. This is one of my top choices for booking flights. Kiwi is reliable, fair, trustworthy, fast, easy to use, and offers the Kiwi guarantee! Try it out next time you’re looking for a flight.

    Book Your Accommodation
    Book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you are planning to stay at other accommodation, use Booking.com as it offers the cheapest prices for guesthouses and hotels.

    Travel Insurance
    Don’t forget Travel Insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It gives you protection in case anything goes wrong. My favourite company that offers the best service and value is Safety Wing.

    Get Your Travel Visas
    Get your Travel Visa hassle-free with iVisa. Apply directly online with their simplified application process and personal assistance. They also offer a passport renewal service.

    Top Tour Companies for Best Tours
    Get the best out of your vacation and check out GetYour Guide and Viator for the top tours available at your destination. Booking in advance for a unique and hassle-free journey.
    TourRadar, another trusted tour company specializes in multi-day trips.

    Need More Help Planning Your Trip?
    Jump over to the Travel Resource Page where I highlight all the great companies that I trust when I travel.

    Need New Camping or Travel Gear, Maps, or Outdoor Clothes?
    Check out Backcountry Store for the best companies.

  4. 19 Best Alberta Towns to visit

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    When you travel across Alberta’s varied landscapes of mountains, prairies, barren badlands and vast coniferous forests, make sure to stop at the small Alberta towns along the way.

    Meeting locals is the best part of road-tripping and a way to find out firsthand what the province of Alberta is all about. You most likely will spend time in the major cities, but it’s the small towns and the country people you meet that make travel so special.

    My selection of best Alberta towns is not complete and towns will be added after my next upcoming Alberta road trip.

    Unique Alberta towns



    Facts about Alberta towns

    Alberta is scattered with historic towns telling stories of times gone by, stories about the old Wild West, and the oil boom.

    Alberta country folks are tough, down-to-earth and freedom-loving people shaped by small-town living, tough winters and harsh climates.

    19 Unique Alberta Towns you should visit

    1. Calgary (Cowtown)

    Calgary Stampede and rodeo time Alberta Towns
    Calgary Stampede

    Of course, Calgary is a city, but with its nickname “Cowtown” it has to be included in the Alberta Towns list. Calgary is best known as the home of the Calgary Stampede, which takes place over ten days every July. It inspires you to indulge in a boots- and cowboy hat image that is still a way of life in the region.

    Calgary is an energetic place with an art scene, excellent restaurants and coffee shops, beautiful parks and some lively neighbourhoods to check out. You can easily spend a few days here and you won’t get bored.

    Bucket List Calgary:

    • Visit Fort Calgary and trace Calgary’s history.
    • Spend time at the Heritage Park Historical Village and learn about the Wild West.
    • Check out some of the city’s top craft breweries.
    • Load up on some fresh food at one of Calgary’s Farmer’s Markets.
    • Have lunch at a rotating restaurant at the top of Calgary Tower.
    • Spend an evening in historic Inglewood, Calgary’s oldest neighbourhood and home to an eclectic mix of boutiques, pubs, live music and fine dining.
    • Don’t miss the famous Calgary Stampede in July if you’re in the area.
    • Book a 3-hour tour through Calgary and gain an understanding of the city. Hear the interesting stories that helped shape Calgary into the city it is today.

    2. Longview

    Fairview Alberta towns collection
    Colourful buildings in Fairview, one of the unique Alberta towns

    There are plenty of reasons to visit Longview, located in the middle of cattle country. I ended up staying for a couple of nights and used it as a base to explore the surrounding Alberta towns. Longview is nestled in the foothills, near the Highwood River, along the Cowboy Trail. It’s known for the annual Longstock Music and Arts Festival and its rodeo various rodeo events.

    The Twin Cities Hotel is a good place to spend an evening. If you’re lucky there will be live music and an axe-throwing competition while you’re there. This cowboy town of around 320 residents has lots to offer, as well as good country food and an excellent campground.

    From Longview, you can start your adventure road trip to the west into Kananaskis country or south to the Bar U Historical Ranch and Chain Lakes.

    Longview Bucketlist:

    • Stop in at the famous Longview Jerky Shop and pick up nutritious snacks for the road.
    • Spend an evening at the historic Twin Creek Hotel and Saloon.
    • Visit the Longstock Music and Arts Festival in August.

    3. Lunbreck

    Lundbreck, Alberta towns
    Lundbreck Alberta

    Lundbreck owes its economic origins to both the ranching & coal mining industries and later became a commercial centre for area ranchers & coal mines. The Lundbreck Trading Co. was established as a general store in the early 1900s.

    Park your car and stroll around the old prairie town. Two blocks east of the hotel on Breckenridge Avenue, the main street, you come across Lundbreck’s one-block town centre dominated by a couple of elderly two-storey buildings proudly proclaiming themselves to be “Oldest in the West”. After that, you’ve pretty much seen Lundbreck. It’s a peaceful place There is no local museum or anything else.

    Still, I love places like Lunbreck and I’m glad I stopped.

    From Lundbreck head out to Lundbreck Falls Provincial Recreation area to watch the rushing Crowsnest River plunge into a deep pool in the canyon below. Watch the powerful Lundbreck Falls from the observation platform and then walk down into the limestone gorge for a closer look.

    Spend a night at the scenic campground at Lundbreck Falls Provincial Recreation Area offering unserviced, powered and walk-in tenting sites along the Crowsnest River.

    Bucket List Lundbreck:

    • Park your car and stroll around the small community of Lundbreck,
    • Head out to Lundbreck Falls located just a few minutes down the road.
    • Camp at Lundbreck Falls Recreation site for a night.

    4. Belleview – Crowsnest Pass

    Belleview Crowsnest Pass Alberta
    Bellevue Main Street

    Crowsnest Pass, or “The Pass” as the locals call it, is a collective of five historic mining towns — Bellevue, Hillcrest, Frank, Blairmore, and Coleman that make up the Crowsnest municipality, located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Probably the best known is the community of Frank for the Frank Slide disaster of 1903, Canada’s deadliest rockslide to date. Read more: Explore Southern Alberta

    This Crowsnest mining town of Bellevue was built in 1905 on the flat land above the Bellevue mine. Bellevue is full of quaint miners’ homes from the last century. Key heritage buildings are identified on the self-guided Heritage Driving Tour and Historical Walking Tour. The Bellevue Underground Mine Tour gives an ‘in-depth’ experience of historic coal mining in Crowsnest Pass.

    From town, you get a great view of Frank Slide.

    Just across the highway is Hillcrest, where another mining disaster took place in 1914. The death of 189 men made this the worst mining tragedy in Canadian history.

    Bellevue Highlights:

    • Take the underground tour and learn about the disastrous explosion in 1910 that took the lives of 31 miners.
    • Make sure to visit Leitch Collieries Provincial Historic Site on your way east, where the former coal processing plant operated between 1907 and 1915.

    5. Frank – Crowsnest Pass

    The Frank slide, deadliest rock slide in history, Alberta Canada
    The Frank Slide, the deadliest rock slide in history

    The Frank Slide of 1903 was Canada’s deadliest rock slide in history. The tragedy, when Turtle Mountain collapsed onto the mining town of Frank, is displayed at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre. Many residents were killed when over 82 million tonnes of limestone came down the mountain, partially burying the town below. Many bodies were never recovered below the massive amount of rock.

    The Interpretive Centre uses engaging storytelling techniques to set the scene and educate visitors and also covers the mining history of the region, even talking a bit about Crowsnest Pass.

    Bucket List Frank:

    • Visit the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre to learn about this compelling story.
    • When visiting Frank, take a self-guided Historical Walking Tour.

    6. Blairmore – Crowsnest Pass

    Blairmore Alberta town
    Blairmore Alberta when it rains

    Blairmore’s heritage houses along Main Street remind of the town’s early days. Originally a Canadian Pacific Railway stop Blairmore served as an industry focal point for the region’s growing coal mining and lumber industries.

    Blairmore was also home to an illegally operating alcohol import business which brought in alcohol from British Columbia during Alberta’s short-lived Prohibition phase.

    Today, Blairmore is home to more than 2,000 people and has various services, shops and coffee shops in town.

    Bucket List Blairmore:

    • Enjoy the self-guided Historical Walking Tour
    • Many buildings are identified on the Heritage Driving Route map.

    7. Coleman – Crowsnest Pass

    Canadian wildlife crossing the road
    Canadian Wildlife

    In 2002, Coleman’s mine site, commercial area, and streets lined with miner’s cottages were designated a National Historic Site by Parks Canada. Its many historic buildings, some dating back to 1904, reflect the boom-and-bust nature of the coal industry. While walking down its historic streets, you can read the many interpretive signs and building plaques, see the ruins of its coal plant and coke ovens, and visit a regional museum. Many of these sites are identified on the Heritage Driving Tour map.

    Bucket List Coleman:

    • Pick up the Coleman National Historic Site booklet, available at the Crowsnest Museum in Coleman.
    • Discover this historic community on a self-guided walking or driving tour.
    • The museum can also provide a guided tour of Coleman by advance arrangement

    8. Nanton

    Bomber Command Museum, Nanton Alberta
    Bomber Command Museum, Nanton Alberta

    Settled in the late 1800s, Nanton is the southern gateway to the foothills. With the surrounding prairies to the east and picturesque rolling foothills to the west, Nanton is an interesting little town where history is still alive.

    Home to museums, famous rodeos, antiques and boutiques, great dining, and a sweet candy shop, Nanton’s interesting shops and artists make this destination a great place to come to. Stop here for a while and find out what this authentic Alberta town has to offer.

    The Bomber Command Museum of Canada is home to one of the only Lancaster bombers in the world with a working engine which makes this place special. At the museum you get to enjoy virtual reality experiences, flight simulators to make you fly a Lancaster bomber plane, airplane tours, engine runs, and so much more.

    Bucket List Nanton:

    • Walk along historic Main Street and check out antique and art stores.
    • Take a tour through the Bomber Command Museum.
    • Check out Nanton Nite Rodeo on a Friday night, one of Canada’s longest running night rodeos.
    • Canadian Grain Elevator Discovery Centre 
    • While in Town stop by the Candy store, family owned and operated since 2004.

    9. Fort Macleod

    Lumdbreck Falls, Crowsnest Highway

    This beautifully restored boomtown, located in Southern Alberta about an hour east of the Canadian Rockies is home to the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) museum and 100-year-old theatre, still in use. Take a guided tour of the historic main street, and learn about the rich history of the NWMP and First Nations.

    In 1982 a government grant assisted Fort Macleod in restoring the original buildings of the 1910-1920s.  An amazing collection of architecture resulted, which is still on display today.  Many films have been shot using MacLeod Main Street as the background.  Walking tour maps explain the original uses of the buildings.

    Fort Macleod Highlights:

    • Visit the Fort Museum and catch the famous Musical Ride.
    • Take a walking tour along Historic Main Street.
    • Stop at the Empress Theatre and look for Eddy, the resident ghost.

    10. Black Diamond

    Black Diamond, Alberta Towns
    Black Diamond, an old coal mining town

    Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Canadian Rockies just 30 minutes from Calgary is the quaint little town of Black Diamond. Black Diamonds takes its name from coal discovered in the area in the late 1800s. The original mine site is still visible to the west of the highway approaching the Black Diamond Bridge.

    Ranchers settled in the area in the 1880s and ranching and farming remain the primary industry in Black Diamond.

    The period from 1914 to 1947 was called the Boomtown Era in Black Diamond and Turner Valley as the oilfields formed the heart of Alberta’s growing oil industry. Many old buildings remain from this era and have partly been restored to preserve both their history and functionality.

    Black Diamond is part of the Cowboy Trail along Highway 22.

    Bucket List Black Diamond:

    • Check out the boomtown-style business fronts and welcoming banners while taking a Historic Walking Tour around town.
    • Visit the Bluerock Gallery and shop to experience high-quality fine art and craft.
    • To cool off during the heat of summer, float down the Sheep River.
    • Stop in at Black Diamond Bar and Hotel if you are looking for a watering hole or good food.
    • Visit Black Diamon Elk Ranch for locally raised elk products.
    • Don’t miss live music and award-winning brews at Hard Knox Brewery.

    11. Turner Valley

    Turner Valley, Alberta Distillery
    Turner Valley, the birthplace of Alberta’s wealth

    Turner Valley, known as the birthplace of Alberta’s petroleum industry, offers a variety of exciting adventures and outdoor activities, as well as specialty shopping, great dining and cultural events. During the second world World War, the Turner Valley oilfield produced more than 95 % of all the oil in Canada. A drive along Cowboy Trail through the Turner Valley oilfield still reveals hints of the oil booms in the past.

    Turner Valley is known for some of the world’s top spirits and beer products. Brauerei Fahr continues to win awards for its innovative and premium products. Its patio is open for those willing to sample.

    The town is a gateway to Kananaskis and is known to inspire artists from around the world to paint the rolling foothills, bubbling streams and majestic mountains.

    Bucket List Turner Valley:

    • Check out the extensive hiking and biking trails. Download AllTrails app for maps.
    • Visit the Eau Claire Distillery.
    • Stop in at the microbrewery Brauerei Fahr patio on Kennedy Drive.
    • Book a horseback ride at a local outfitter.

    12. Canmore

    Canmore Alberta
    Canmore, Alberta

    The majestic peaks of the Three Sisters stand over the town of Canmore, an outdoor adventure hub only minutes from Banff National Park. A stroll down busy Main Street takes you past art galleries, unique stores and a fine dining scene. Canmore hosts many festivals throughout the year.

    Download the Canmore Downtown Sightseeing Smartphone Audio Walking Tour to find all the attractions. Visit as many sights and attractions as you like and at your own pace.

    Read more: Alberta Rocky Mountains

    Bucket List Canmore:

    •  Stroll Down 8th Street busy Main Street takes you past art galleries, unique stores and a fine dining scene.
    • Walk the 3.9 km Policeman’s Creek Trail, one of the best walking trails in Canmore.
    • Ski or Bike at Nordic Center, Canada’s first class cross country and mountain biking center.
    • Hike to Grassi Lakes and get rewarded with fantastic views out over the lakes with Canmore off in the distance.
    • Step back in time and visit the North West Mounted Police Barracks.
    • Explore the Canmore museum
    • Go Underground at the Rat’s Nest Cave – this is cave exploring at its best. You’ll get a bit dirty, but by the end of the day, you may be hooked by the experience and craving for more.
    • Go to Get Your Guide for the best activity tours in Canmore Alberta.

    13. Bragg Creek

    Western Alberta town of Bragg Creek
    The western town of Bragg Creek

    Bragg Creek is a fantastic place to visit, located 45 km from downtown Calgary along the Cowboy Trail, with unique stores and a special vibe. The rich history of the early settlers who first called the area home in the 1880s is still on display all over town. Oel was discovered in the area around 1913 and later gas was found.

    The area later became popular as a weekend and retirement destination. In 1933, North America’s first youth hostel was established in Bragg Creek, first as a simple tent but soon a permanent structure was built. Unfortunately, after the hostel burned down it was never rebuilt. If you’re looking for a wilderness hostel nearby, try HI Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel.

    Just across the river from Bragg Creek Shopping Centre lies the trailhead of the Great Canadian Trail, which connects to a trail system that spans the entire country of Canada.

    Read more: Explore Southern Alberta

    Bucket list Bragg Creek:

    • Stop in at Bragg Creek Trading Post, constructed in 1927.
    • Check out the large collection of trails; and parks for biking and hiking.
    • Cool off at Elbow Falls located west of Bragg Creek, a small waterfall along the Elbow River and venture on a hike. Download Maps and trail information at AllTrails

    14. Drumheller

    Royal Tyrrell Museum Drumheller Alberta
    In the mouth of T-Rex in Drumheller

    The small town of Drumheller is set in mids the dramatic badlands and is part of the famous Dinosaur Trail. Its Jurassic heritage shows at every street corner with its stegosauruses on display.

    The first stop is Drumheller’s Visitor Centre. You can’t miss it. It’s the base of the world’s largest dinosaur. Climb up inside the T-Rex for fantastic views of the surrounding badlands through its large jaws and shoot some superb pictures to your dino photo collection.

    Read more: Explore Southern Alberta

    Bucket List Drumheller:

    • Spend time at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, one of the world’s finest dinosaur museums, located nearby.
    • Climb up inside the T-Rex for a fantastic view.
    • Drive The Dinosaur Trail from Drumheller, a beautiful loop with great views.

    15. Banff

    Banff National Park and train
    Banff National Park, Alberta scenery

    Banff is a resort town located within Banff National Park with souvenir shops, nightclubs, fancy restaurants and luxurious château-style hotels. This is not exactly what nature lovers and outdoor seekers would be looking for.

    At least this was my first impression when I first arrived in town. But, give it some time and you will quickly discover that Banff is not an ordinary town. It is the service centre for the park that surrounds it. But you only have to wander five minutes in either direction and you will be in wild country where you will encounter Canada’s wildlife.

    Read more: Alberta Rocky Mountains

    16. Jasper

    Scenery near Jasper
    Scenery near Jasper

    No list of Alberta small towns is complete without including the popular town of Jasper. Jasper is situated in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and is the gateway to some of the most incredible outdoor attractions in Canada.

    The world-famous town caters to all types of travellers. In summer venture on a hiking tour into the mountains up to pristine glacial lakes and watch Canadian wildlife in the wild. In winter, bring your skis or snowboard and head out to some of the best slopes Canada has to offer.

    There is nothing quite like a stay in Jasper, but make sure you book in advance. Accommodation in town is limited and fills up pretty fast.

    Read more: Alberta Rocky Mountains

    17. Historic Nordegg

    Historic Nordegg, Alberta welcome sign
    Historic Nordegg, Alberta

    Nordegg is located in the North Saskatchewan River Valley at the foothills of the beautiful Canadian Rockies, along the David Thompson Highway about 3 hours from Jasper.

    Nordegg began as a coal mining operation nearly 110 years ago. It’s now the Brazeau Collieries Mine National Heritage Site that offers guided tours of the industrial coal mine site during the summer months. Significant restoration has been completed at the Nordegg mine site to keep the historic building in place. It is Canada’s largest industrial heritage site and has been abandoned since the mid-1950s.

    The plan is to develop Nordegg into Alberta’s next mountain resort community. Stop in at the popular Miners Coffee Shop located near Nordegg’s gas station. Have a look at the restored church and the restored original bank building. Read more: Canadian Rocky Mountains

    Bucket List Historic Nordegg:

    • Don’t miss the amazing view from the impressive 220-metre Taunton Bridge west of Saunders.
    • Take a tour of the Brazeau Collieries Mine if available.
    • Check on the Rail Trail, a project in process.

    18. Hinton

    William A. Switzer Provincial Park, view of the lake.
    William A. Switzer Provincial Park

    Hinton is known as the Gateway to the Rocky Mountains and is located just 15 minutes from the northern entrance to Jasper National Park. That makes it an excellent base for alpine adventures.

    21 km northeast of Hinton is William A. Switzer Provincial Park a wilderness pure. A Visitor Information Centre is operating during the summer months where you can pick up information about the park. Hike to the Athabasca Lookout for a stunning view over the mountains or rent a canoe and paddle the chain of five small lakes within the park.

    Watch out for wildlife. The park is home to wolves, bears, cougars, moose, deer and elk. Read more: Alberta Rocky Mountains

    Hinton Highlights:

    • Explore the Beaver Boardwalk, one of Canada’s longest freshwater boardwalks and watch beavers at work. Download the AllTrail app for maps and directions.
    • Spend time at the world-class facility at the Hinton Nordic Centre for some outdoor sports.
    • Visit William A. Switzer Provincial Park,, an undisturbed wildland where adventure awaits.

    19. Grand Cache

    Grand Central Station Alberta
    Grand Central Station, time to gas up

    Grande Cache was originally on the fur trade route of the early 1800s. Today, it’s on the tourist trail and has lots to offer. It’s a bit out of the way, situated on the famous Alberta Highway 40 approximately 145 kilometres northwest of Hinton and 435 kilometres west of Edmonton.

    Staying in Grande Cache will give you access to many special places including the Sulphur Gates Provincial Recreation Area, Grande Cache Lakes Beach, the Crack of Doom (a huge crack in a rock left over from the last ice age), and a great Historical Drive Tour.

    Pick up a brochure and directions for a Historical Drive Tour you don’t want to miss. It starts at the Tourist Information Center and it takes you along the nine stops on this historic and natural sites route.

    Grand Cache region is an excellent place for outdoor fun and hiking with many trails to choose from. It is also the jump-off point for Wilmore Wilderness Park. Download the AllTrail app for maps and directions.

    Read more: Alberta Rocky Mountains

    Bucket List Grande Cache:

    • Stop in at the Visitor Centre for a brochure and head on the Historical Drive Tour.
    • Visit Grande Cache Lake recreation area just 5 km out of town for a picnic on the beach.
    • Sulphur Gates Provincial Recreation Area,12 km southwest of Grande Cache is another place that calls for wilderness adventures and offers camping.
    • Venture out to Twin Falls, a 3 km round trip.
    • Head out to Crack of Coom, the unique split rock which is a huge erratic leftover from the glacial period.
    • Hike to Muskeg Falls, a fairly short walk to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the region.

    Related Links

    Alberta Trip Planner and Travel GuideRoadtrip Planner for the wilderness
    Canada Destination GuideRAV4 Camper conversion for minimalists
    Best Canada Maps for the backcountryUltimate Canada Camping Guide

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    TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES
    Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources?

    Book Your Flight
    Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on KAJAK or Momondo. Save money on airfare by searching for cheap flight tickets with these two search engines.

    Book Your Accommodation
    Book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you are planning to stay at other accommodation, use Booking.com as it offers the cheapest prices for guesthouses and hotels.

    Travel Insurance
    Don’t forget Travel Insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It gives you protection in case anything goes wrong. My favourite company that offers the best service and value is Safety Wing.

    Get Your Travel Visas
    Get your Travel Visa hassle-free with iVisa. Apply directly online with their simplified application process and personal assistance. They also offer a passport renewal service.

    Need More Help Planning Your Trip?
    Jump over to Travel Resource Page where I highlight all the great companies that I trust when I travel.

    Need New Camping or Travel Gear, Maps, or Outdoor Clothes?
    Check out Backcountry Store for the best companies.

  5. Best Horseback Adventures in 2024

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    Why not combine your Canadian vacation with an hour or day-long horseback adventure? Heading out on a guided trail ride with a well-established outfitter and exploring the surrounding wilderness followed by a Cowboy Cookout will be a special experience you won’t forget.

    Authentic multi-day wilderness ranch vacations and horse pack wilderness trips are not for everyone. Therefore, choosing a trail ride lasting for an hour to all day, with an added cookout or a helicopter tour if you like, might be an alternative.

    Horseback Adventures – 1-hour to Full-day tours

    About the tours



    Most of the Horseback Adventures are suitable for all riders, others are for experienced riders only. Check the descriptions of the various packages before you book. Have a peek at the Canadian Rockies Combo which includes a helicopter tour, a hike and a horseback ride.

    Important information:

    • Free cancellation for most tours – Cancel up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund
    • Reserve now and pay later to book your spot and pay nothing today
    • Small groups, limited to six participants
    • Not suitable for children under 8 years old and pregnant women
    • Alberta Rides: Not suitable for people over 230 lbs (104 kg)
    • British Columbia Rides: Not suitable for people over 300 lbs (136 kg)
    • Bring insect repellent and long pants
    • Not allowed are backpacks, open-toed shoes, unaccompanied minors

    Horseback Riding in Alberta

    Alberta is ranching and cowboy country and a great place to go on a horseback ride through the famous Rocky Mountains.

    Banff National Park: 1-Hour Bow River Horseback Ride

    Saddle up for a 1-hour guided horseback ride past some of the most awe-evoking scenery in Banff National Park. Ride your horse by the historic Cave and Basin area and along Banff’s tranquil Bow River as you look out over the soaring mountain peaks. This area is home to wildlife amongst the thick marshes and grassy meadows. Enjoy unspoiled views of the magnificent Rocky Mountains along the way.

    READ MORE


    Banff National Park: 1-Hour Spray River Horseback Ride

    Enjoy a 1-hour horseback ride with beautiful views of the Bow Falls. Pass by the famous Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course and cross the Spray River for a unique experience. There is a horse for any rider and a basic lesson is included.

    READ MORE


    Banff National Park: 2-Hour Sundance Loop Horseback Ride

    Take a horseback ride along the tranquil Bow River on this tour in the Banff National Park. Ride through marshes and grassy meadows as you climb Sulphur Mountain to reach the Windy Knoll viewpoint.

    READ MORE


    Banff: 4-Hour Sulphur Mountain Intermediate Horseback Ride

    This tour is for experienced riders only!

    This ride is packed with Rocky Mountain scenery in the beautiful Spray Valley area, with views of the Spray River, Rundle Mountain, the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course, and the beautiful Bow Falls.

    READ MORE


    1-Hour and 2-Hour Horseback Trail Rides in Kananaskis

    Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by riding into the serene Alberta backcountry. This small-group horseback riding adventure will have you exploring forests and traversing a mountain ridge for excellent views of the entire Kananaskis Valley. The tour is suitable for all, from novice to experienced riders.



    Covered Wagon Ride in Banff with Western Cookout

    This is an event for the whole family. Saddle up for a ride along the Bow River in Banff and a Western-style cookout. Choose from riding on horseback or in a covered wagon through the beautiful Rocky Mountain terrain. Riders have to be over 8 years old. Try some roping skills or relax with a game of horseshoes before the Cowboy BBQ cookout.

    READ MORE


    Canadian Rockies Combo: Helicopter Tour and Horseback Ride

    Check out this amazing adventure package. You get to experience the Canadian Rockies from a helicopter ride, a hike, and a horseback ride.

    See glaciers, waterfalls, and 10,000-foot peaks during a thrilling 20-minute helicopter flight. Enjoy an easy hike through wild alpine woods and meadows to Twin Falls. Take in breathtaking views of the Rockies and Cline River on a horseback ride. Discover the spectacular beauty of Abraham Lake, Cline River Valley, and more.

    READ MORE


    Horseback Adventures and other Wilderness Adventures


    Related Links

    Authentic Wilderness Ranch VacationsBackcountry Destination Guide
    Horse Pack Trips AdventuresRV and Camper Rental Guide
    Top Companies for Guided Tours in CanadaBackcountry Camping

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  6. Winter Camping In BC, Ken’s Story and Tips

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    Kens, winter camp in the Nicola River Valley, British Columbia

    Winter camping in a tent is something I haven’t experienced yet. Therefore Camper Ken is going to share his winter camping story with us and a few tips for staying safe.



    Winter Camping in BC – Camper Ken’s Story

    Summer, Thanksgiving and Halloween are over. My days of trolling the lake for Rainbow are numbered. Temperatures are dropping and every morning there is more ice covering the lake. So why am I still here in a 9’ x 12’ canvas army tent while my winterized 4×4 truck and camper sit in a driveway on the Coast? Well …

    Arriving in camp

    I arrived in the Nicola River Valley for the first time outfitted for a long weekend in the middle of summer. I brought shorts, T-shirts, Cooler, Tent, a Fishing pole, and an Inflatable Boat, all the gear that fits inside a V6 short box truck. Betsy, the V8 gas-guzzling full-size camper was left at home to sulk.

    Well … I never went home! I spent the next five months, until Christmas, living off grid at five different lakes while my pension cheques covered expenses.

    Arriving at camp outfitted for summer
    Arriving at my first campsite of the season in the Nicola River Valley on July 15

    I fell in love with the area and contemplated calling it my new home. Ok … summers are fantastic but what about the winter? Asking locals about the winter weather, I didn’t get the same answer twice. Well, I’ll just have to experience it firsthand to know for sure.

    I’m a problem, no problem, solution kind of guy, a MacGyver of sorts. How to stay warm and dry in a canvas tent when it’s winter? How cold does it get anyways?

    The dreaded freezing temperatures

    During a cold snap in early December, my weather station at the top of the flag pole recorded -30°C, (-40°C with a 10 km wind chill). No problemo. It’s not like it’s never been done before. Gold prospectors in the early 1900s stayed in canvas tents and lived to tell about it … well at least most of them.

    Flag pole weather station readings
    Flag pole weather station readings – Orange – humidity % and temperature °C. Green – Outdoor. White – Calculated wind chill factor. December 2nd.

    Dry = Warm. With the dry snow of the Interior, I figured I had a fighting chance. Not like the “Pacific Cement” snow on the “Wet Coast”. The same principles as proper clothing apply. An insulation layer on the inside of the tent and a breathable, waterproof, windproof layer on the outside.



    Winterizing my tent

    While listening to the only FM radio station, Q101 Merritt, a commercial for the local Purity Feeds set my winterizing plan in motion.

    • Two $13, 40-pound bales of hay from Purity Feeds farm supply.
    • Two $12, 10’ x 20’ tarps from Fields Department Store (one of the few left in Canada).
    • A roll of 4’ wide 1/8” thick foil-bubble-bubble-foil insulation at $2.25/ft from Bryant at Home Hardware.

    The 3-4 inch sandwich of hay insulation between the two tarps over the frozen ground worked amazingly well. The oversized tarps sealed off the drafts where the tent wall meets the ground, a floorless tent.

    Xmas nativity scene – Moved into the barn to be closer to the animals, December 11

    How to keep warm

    At 100 square feet, no problem keeping the new insulated tent warm with a Mr. Heater Big Buddy propane heater on low (9,000 BTU). On high it puts out 30,000 BTU, typical of a mid-size backyard BBQ. I rarely need to use anything more than low. I never run the heater, just the pilot light, during sleep for safety reasons.

    On really cold nights I’ll sleep in four-hour shifts so I can bring the tent back up to temperature in between. The heater has a built-in oxygen sensor that will shut off if the air quality becomes unsafe. The canvas tent is much more breathable than a nylon tent and still blocks the wind.

    People think I’m absolutely crazy Winter Camping in a tent! No … I’m just properly outfitted. There’s a reason the Scout motto is “Be Prepared”.

    4″ wide 1/8″ thick “rFoil” bubble-bubble-foil insulation on the tent roof

    Camping tips for -12°C temperatures

    1. Wrapping toilet paper around your palms increases the R-valve of your favourite gloves and still leaves dexterity for your fingers.
    2. Include these items under the covers; lighter, phone, gloves, socks, and slippers. Bring some reading material as you’re likely to stay under the covers well after sunrise.
    3. You can make ice cream by pouring a bit of 18 % coffee cream in the bottom of a takeout cup the night before.
    4. Keep a 10″ spike handy to break the top layer of ice in the water bucket to brew your morning coffee. A spike makes an excellent stir stick when making ice cream. Preheat the spike with a lighter to get things started.
    5. Donuts make excellent hokey pucks if you need to practice your slapshot.
    6. You now qualify for a Scouting winter camping BC badge.
    Waterhole for winter camping
    It’s important to keep the waterhole open on the frozen lake for a freshwater supply.

    Survival Essentials

    1. Mindset /Attitude – This is the number one, and the most important factor for an extreme adventure like winter camping in BC.
    2. Clothing and Shelter – Being properly prepared with the proper clothing and shelter is dependent on the worst case weather. Bottom line, Dry = Warm. I pay special attention to my fingers and toes, if they’re warm, I’m warm. My favourite layer is a feather vest.
    3. Gear / Tools – The basics, lighter, knife and hatchet, tarp, rope, and cord. Disposable, non-adjustable “BIC” butane lighters are the most reliable. I can’t recommend the Gerber Backcountry Tool Kits enough (Essentials or Pro) nothing compares. Hand Axe (knife in handle), Machete, Folding Pocket Knife. The other most used tool in camp, a pair of 10″ slip joint pliers, uses are too many to list.
    4. Heat – I could write a book about it. It’s far more involved than I ever imagined to become a ninja-level master of the flame. You can’t beat free, dry heat, forest wood for fuel. The convenience of a set-and-forget propane heater/stove has its place. Barbeque coals/briquettes are a convenient fuel to bring in a dry bag.
    5. Fire starter – Next time you’re doing a load of cotton sheets or jeans in the dryer, collect the lint in a cardboard toilet paper tube. Mix Kerosene (Citronella lamp oil) and organic material like dried cow chips or tree bark in a tin can. Pulverize it with a stick, and let it soak overnight. A woodsman will scrape dried yellow Sap/Pitch/Amber from a wound on a tree trunk, it smells like fuel, it’s waterproof and you can light it with a match. Find strike-anywhere (not safety) wooden matches, dip the heads in candle wax, waterproof.
    6. Safety – The most common injuries in camp are cuts and burns. Know how to use an axe and split wood. The most dangerous things in camp are vaporized fuel, Propane, Butane, Gasoline, and Naphtha/White Gas (Colman Camp Fuel). These fuels mixed with air cause an explosion/burn of the vapour in the air. You’re looking for trouble (an explosion) if you use gasoline as a fire starter. Use Kerosene, a lot safer AND more effective. Kerosene does not evaporate into the air very quickly. It burns on the surface of the wood, where you want it. If you want something small and handy in your packsack, a small can of Yellow ABS solvent used to glue plastic plumbing pipe will evaporate very slowly and surface burn.
    7. First Aid Kit – The original bushman’s first aid kit, a roll of toilet paper and black vinyl electrical tape. It works better than any bandage I’ve tried.
    An evening walk at dusk across the frozen lake to the latest water hole.

    Winter Camping in BC, why it is worth it

    I have a multi-acre living room that comes with a jaw-dropping light show most evenings at dust, followed by the Milky Way, clearly visible without city light pollution.

    My fishing boat is 30 feet away ready to jump in when I see the fish start to surface. I’m a huge audio/music fan. Out here, I can blast my tunes as loud as I want whenever I want as I’m the only camper around. I sleep like a log, with fresh air, exercise, and dead silence. No traffic, police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, or reversing garbage trucks.

    Everything I do in camp is to improve my living conditions and independence from the machine called “normal” society. I work for me, myself and I, and have a great boss.

    I’m a lean muscle machine, constantly moving and exerting energy, no gym is required. Free, non polluting, solar/wind powered living off grid. No debt, no credit card, no worries. Surrounded by nature and wildlife I’m in total harmony with Mother Earth.

    About Ken

    Camper Ken is a retired industrial controls engineer from Vancouver, BC, Canada. He is an avid woodsman, fisherman, MacGyver, music lover, electronics geek, and all-around good guy.

    Contact: CamperKenBC at gmail.com


    Recommended Maps: Backcoad Maps for British Columbia

    Good places to buy your gear are MEC Mountain Equipment Company and Valhalla Pure

    Related Links

    Road Trip Planner for the wilderness25 Best Small Towns in BC to Visit
    Winter Checklist for CanadaRoad Trip Merritt to Kamloops Hwy 5A
    Backcountry Camping in the wildToyota RAV4 Camper Conversion for Minimalists
    BC Parks CampingBest Backroad Maps

    TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES
    Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources?

    Book Your Flight
    Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Kiwi.com. This is one of my top choices for booking flights. Kiwi is reliable, fair, trustworthy, fast, easy to use, and offers the Kiwi guarantee! Try it out next time you’re looking for a flight.

    Book Your Accommodation
    Book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you are planning to stay at other accommodation, use Booking.com as it offers the cheapest prices for guesthouses and hotels.

    Travel Insurance
    Don’t forget Travel Insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It gives you protection in case anything goes wrong. My favourite company that offers the best service and value is Safety Wing.

    Get Your Travel Visas
    Get your Travel Visa hassle-free with iVisa. Apply directly online with their simplified application process and personal assistance. They also offer a passport renewal service.

    Top Tour Companies for Best Tours
    Get the best out of your vacation and check out GetYour Guide and Viator for the top tours available at your destination. Booking in advance for a unique and hassle-free journey.
    TourRadar, another trusted tour company specializes in multi-day trips.

    Need More Help Planning Your Trip?
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  7. 16 Best Towns and Places in Yukon

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    Yukon Territory is a thinly populated wilderness, home to Canada’s tallest mountains and the world’s largest ice fields below the Arctic. It’s the place where animals outnumber humans. Tiny towns, villages, and unique places in Yukon are scattered across the land, but they are wide and far apart.





    Yukon residents have inhabited these regions for generations and many of Yukon’s communities have a majority of Aboriginal populations. Locals are welcoming to tourists and like to share their traditions.

    Best Towns and Places In Yukon To Visit

    Facts about towns and places in Yukon



    There are long distances between towns in Yukon Territory but most communities can be reached by road all year round. Many roads and highways are gravel. Therefore, make sure your car and tires are up to traversing the Yukon roads. Please do your research and be prepared before heading out. Read more: Road Trip Planner for the Wilderness

    Towns and places in Yukon are so different from the rest of Canada. I’m sure that it has to do with the Northern people that make visiting the Yukon towns and places so special.

    Old Crow is another tiny place in Yukon that should be included on this list. You need to fly or charter a boat to get to Old Crow during summer, so I have not visited it yet. Once I do, I will add Old Crow to this list.

    16 Best Towns and Places In Yukon To Visit

    1. Dawson City

    Dawson City Shops
    Dawson City Shops

    Dawson City just has to be on top of my list. If you haven’t been to Dawson yet then of course you have no idea what you have missed. When you first arrive it is like stepping into another world. A world that has gone by a long time ago. Still, in Dawson City, the Klondike theme is fully alive today.

    As you wander the dusty streets of Dawson, keep your eyes peeled.  You might run into your favourite Gold Rush star you watched on the Discovery Channel. Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush TV show is filmed in the Klondike.

    There is plenty to do and see in Dawson City and the surrounding area.

    Read more:

    Bucket List Dawson City:

    • Take a self-guided tour of Dawson and its historic sites.
    • Check out my Dawson City Travel Guide for more.

    Access: Via North Klondike Highway

    2. Tombstone Territorial Park

    Tombstone Territorial Park Yukon
    Tombstone Territorial Park on the Dempster Highway

    Tombstone Territorial Park is a magical wilderness wonderland of rugged peaks and Arctic Tundra. If you make the effort of getting there and do some hiking, this place will stick in your memory forever.

    When driving the Dempster, plan at least an overnight stop at the park. If you are skipping the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, take a drive to Tombstone when you’re in Dawson City. You not only will discover an amazing place, but you also will get a taste of driving the iconic Dempster.

    Read more:

    Bucket list Tombstone:

    • Pull into Tombstone Interpretive Center for maps, permits, and info.
    • Stay at the Tombstone Mountain Campground.
    • Enjoy the short hikes near the campground or head out for a longer trek in the area.

    Access: Via Dempster Highway

    3. Mayo

    On the Stewart River near Mayo
    We started in Mayo and spent the day on the Stewart River

    Mayo is a small town on the Silver Trail and Stewart River and is known as the coldest and hottest spot in Yukon.

    It’s a special place where I got to experience the local hospitality firsthand and got to spend a great day on River. During that trip, one of many highlights was the sight of a mother bear with two cubs swimming to shore. No good picture to brag about it, unfortunately.

    Definitely visit the Binet House and Interpretive Centre for information on local history.






    Read more: Silver Trail Travel Guide

    Bucket List Mayo:

    • Visit the Binet House Interpretive Centre.
    • Take a self-guided walking tour.
    • Spend time at Gelena Park at the riverfront and enjoy the view.
    • Check whether Mike’s Snack bar is open.

    Access: Via The Silver Trail

    4. Keno City

    Keno City best towns in Yukon to visit
    Keno City is one of the best old Frontier Towns in Yukon to visit

    You will reach Keno City, a weathered collection of wooden buildings at the remote end of The Silver Trail. Keno City is the smallest community in the Yukon but has one of the most colourful histories. I visited this magical place a few times already and I want to go back.

    Read more:

    Bucket List Keno City:

    • Visit the Mining Museum.
    • Meet Mike Mancini at Keno’s famed Snackbar.
    • Drive up to Keno Hill Signpost.
    • Hike up Sourdough Mountain.

    Access: Via The Silver Trail

    5. Pelly Crossing

    Big Johnathan House Pelly Crossing Yukon
    Big Johnathan House at Pelly Crossing

    Pelly Crossing became a settlement when the Klondike Highway was built in 1950. A ferry transported people and vehicles across the Pelly River, where the road eventually continued to Dawson City.

    The Heritage Center at Pelly Crossing is housed in a replica of Fort Selkirk’s Big Jonathan House. The Centre has a permanent exhibition of works by local artists, as well as locally made beaded clothing, birch bark baskets, traditional baby bunting bag, tools, and more.

    Pelly Crossing is a friendly Northern Community and the Selkirk First Nation people are happy to see tourists stopping by. They also have one of the best free campgrounds where I have stopped many times.

    Read more: Klondike Yukon Travel Guide

    Bucket List Pelly Crossing:

    • Stop at the Big Johnathan House next to the Selkirk Centre.
    • Spend a night at the Pelly River Crossing Campground
    • Enjoy the hospitality of this small community.

    Access: North Klondike Highway

    6. Carmacks

    Carmacks. list small towns Yukon
    Welcome to Carmacks

    The small village of Carmacks is the home of the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation. The river town is named for George Washington Carmack, credited with the Bonanza Creek strike that triggered the famous Klondike gold rush.

    Pick up a walking tour brochure at the Carmacks Visitor Centre, located at the Old Telegraph Office, or download here. The Telegraph Office also contains a mini-museum and a display of area geology.

    Read more: Klondike Yukon Travel Guide

    Bucket List Carmacks:

    • Stop in at the Tagé Cho Hudän Interpretive Centrer. 
    • Walk the boardwalk along the river and learn Klondike history by checking out the interpretive signs.

    Access: North Klondike Highway

    7. Faro

    Welcome to Faro, small town in Yukon to visit
    Welcome to Faro, Yukon

    Faro, on the Pelly River, is one of the two settlements along the Campbell Highway. You will find yourself deep into Yukon’s wild landscape on the way there. Faro once was the Yukon’s largest mining community.

    Today, Faro is a delightful friendly community that makes a genuine effort to make visitors feel welcome.

    Upon arrival, stop in at the beautiful Visitor and Interpretive Centre, meet the friendly staff and pick up information about the area.

    Read more: Robert Campbell Highway Route

    Bucket List:

    • Stop in at the visitor and Interpretive Centre, where you also have WiFi access.
    • Go and explore the great hiking trails.

    Access: Via Robert Campbell Highway 4

    8. Ross River

    Places in Yukon- Ross River Ferry
    Ferry access to North Canol Road and historic Suspension Bridge

    Ross River, where one of the Hudson’s Bay trading posts was established in the 1840s, is another small community on the Campbell Highway wilderness route.

    With the building of the Canol pipeline service road in WWII and the completion of the Robert Campbell in 1843 Ross River was linked to the rest of the Territory by road.

    It’s an interesting small town to explore. Definitely head down to Pelly River to walk across the longest Suspension Bridge in the Yukon (182 m) that takes you to North Canol Road.

    On the way to Ross River you will pass deepwater lakes, mountain views, and roadside streams full of Arctic grayling.

    Read more: Campbell Highway Route

    Bucket List Ross River:

    • Walk across Canol Road Suspension Bridge.
    • Wander around town to see old buildings and artifacts.

    Access: Via Robert Campbell Highway

    9. Watson Lake

    Watson Lake, famous for the Signpost Forest

    Watson Lake is a typical road town, long and narrow, spread out along the Alaska Highway. The town came into life as a staging area for the construction of the Alaska Highway in 1943.

    Wander around the famous Watson Lake Signpost Forest and search for a sign of home town or country. Watson Bay is also the perfect base for exploring the backcountry beyond the town. It’s also a good place to stock up on supplies before heading out on the Campbell Highway route.

    Read more:

    Bucker List Watson Lake:

    • Don’t miss a visit to the Northern Lights Centre.
    • Walk the trail at Wye Lake Park.
    • If you are in town in July, stay for the annual Watson Lake rodeo.

    Access: Via Alaska Highway

    10. Teslin

    Teslin, one of best towns in Yukon to visit
    Welcome to the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre

    The village of Teslin is the home to the Tlingit First Nation, one of the largest places in Yukon Territory. Many here still add to their livelihood by trapping, fishing, and hunting, as well as through woodworking crafts, such as canoes, snowshoes, and sleds.

    Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre features exhibits of Tlingit art, traditional demonstrations, and workshops.

    Stop in at the George Johnston Museum to learn about John Johnston, whom the museum was named after, and about the area’s history.

    Read more: Alaska Highway Travel Guide






    Bucket List Teslin:

    • Visit the George Johnston Museum.
    • Visit the Teslin Heritage Centre.
    • Stop at the Nisutlin Bay Bridge viewpoint for a great view.
    • Putter along the beautiful beach on a long hot summer evening.
    • Check with friendly villagers about boat rentals and guide services.

    Access: Via Alaska Highway

    11. Carcross

    Carcross Visitor Centre
    Carcross Visitor Centre

    This tiny town is a place you don’t want to miss. It’s a place full of First Nation and gold rush history taking you back in time.

    Check out the Railway Station built in 1910. The Cariboo Hotel is one of the oldest buildings in the Southern Lake Region. Stop in at the Matthew Watson General Store. There is so much to see and do in this unique small Yukon town.

    Read more:

    Bucket List Carcross:

    • Take a walking tour of the town.
    • Visit the old cemetery.
    • Ride the historic White Pass and Yukon Route Railway to Skagway, Alaska.
    • Plan to trek the famed Chilcoot Trail.

    Access: South on the Klondike Highway 2

    12. Carcross Sand Dunes

    Carcross Desert

    Carcross, Desert, known as the world’s smallest desert is a must-stop. Here you can climb sand dunes surrounded by majestic mountains. The sand dunes are leftovers from a glacial lake, but the climate is too humid for it to be an ‘official’ desert.

    Read more: Carcross and surrounding Area Guide

    Bucket List Carcross Sand Dunes:

    • Walk up the hill, enjoy walking through the fine sand and enjoy the amazing views.

    Access: South on the Klondike Highway 2

    13. Whitehorse

    SS-Klondike-Whitehorse-Yukon
    Taking a tour of SS-Klondike in Whitehorse

    Located on the shores of the Yukon River, Whitehorse was once a sleepy village of 500. Not anymore. Today, as Yukon’s capital city, it is a fascinating place with a mixture of modern and pioneer spirit. There is plenty to do here. Stay a few days in Whitehorse and get to know its unique northern character and appeal.

    Read more: Whitehorse Travel Guide

    Bucket List Whitehorse:

    14. Haines Junction

    Haines Junction church small towns Yukon
    At Haines Junction the churches are unique

    The highway community of Haines Junction is nestled at the base of the St. Elias Mountains, surrounded by breathtaking scenery and amazing landscapes. Home to approximately 800 residents, “the Junktion” offers a wilderness adventure playground right in its backyard.

    Here you find restaurants and accommodations, guides and a large selection of tours, and whatever other services you need. The huge Kluane Park Visitor Reception Centre is open all year round and its staff can supply you with heaps of information.

    Bucket List Haines Junction:

    • Stop in at the Kluane Park Visitor Centre.
    • Visit the uniquely designed Roman Catholic Church and Anglican Church made of logs. 
    • Visit the famous Bakery.
    • Take a day-trip hiking excursion.
    • Rafting, canoeing, glacier flights, hunting, and fishing, that’s the place to do it.

    15. Kluane National Park and Reserve

    Kluane National Park Yukon
    The magic of Kluane National Park and Reserve

    Kluane National Park and Reserve in the southwestern corner of the Yukon Territory contains Mt. Logan (5959 m/19,545 ft), Canada’s highest peak. Kluane is joined by Wrangell-St. Elias, Glacier Bay, and Tatshenshini, the parks that make up this World Heritage Site. Here you also find some of North America’s finest wildlife population.

    Hiking is Kluane’s most popular activity. Opportunities range from short strolls to multi-day route-finding adventures. Whether you get out for an hour, a day, or a week, there is much to explore in Kluane.

    Trailheads can be difficult to get to without a vehicle since there is no public transportation.

    Read more: Alaska Highway Travel Guide

    Bucket List Kluane Park:

    • Plan some hiking excursions.
    • Book a flightseeing tour for the best view.

    Access: Alaska Highway

    16. Burwash Landing

    Canadian Moose - Yukon Canada
    Yukon has an abundance of wildlife

    One of the oldest settlements in the Yukon, Burwash Landing is now home to the Kluane First Nation a Southern Tutchone people who have lived in the Kluane area for countless generations. Before the Jacquot brothers built a trading post in the early 1900s, the current site of Burwash Landing was a traditional summer camp location for the First Nation people.

    Following the construction of the Alaska Highway, Burwash became the administrative centre for the Kluane First Nation.

    Read more: Alaska Highway Travel Guide

    Bucket List Burwash Landing:

    • Take a self-guided walking tour.
    • Visit the Kluane Museum of Natural History.
    • Make use of the hiking trails in the area.

    Access: Alaska Highway


    Let me know in the comments what you think about my collection of the 16 best places in Yukon.

    Related Links

    Yukon Travel GuideBest Maps for Canada Travel
    17 Best Towns in Northwest TerritoriesRoad trip Planner for the wilderness
    25 Best Small Towns in BC to visitRAV4 Camper Conversion for Minimalists

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  8. 17 Best Towns in Northwest Territories

    2 Comments

    You will connect with something much bigger than yourself when you make the journey to the Northwest Territories. It was an authentic, life-changing experience for me. Visiting the tiny towns in Northwest Territories teaches you awareness of the beauty as well as the struggles of people living up there.





    Getting to these small communities is half of the adventure. In summer, free ferries take drivers across unbridged rivers. A handful of the towns in Northwest Territories on my list are all-season road-accessible. Others can only be reached by ice road in winter, or year-round by air.

    During fall freeze-up and spring break up these ferries do not run preventing overland access. In winter, ice roads give you access to most of Northwest Territories’ small towns.

    I am planning to visit the small towns in Northwest Territories, the wonderful northern people, the vast land of waterfalls, and wild wonders again pretty soon.

    I was always the first one in line to witness the wonders of the North, and most times I was the only one on the road. It felt like having the whole world for myself.

    Read more: Road Trip Planner for the Wilderness

    Best towns in Northwest Territories



    Facts about small towns in Northwest Territories

    The Northwest Territories is home to a small population but a great many people, Dene, Metis, and Inuvialuit have lived here for thousands of years. The territory consists of a number of self-governing First Nations and more official languages than most countries have.

    Coral Falls Northwest Territories
    Coral Falls – Waterfalls Route NWT

    Northwest Territories is the land of the midnight sun with dense boreal forests and wild open Barrenlands. It’s where herds of bison belong to the landscape. It’s the land where ice roads connect communities during winter, and where wild, rushing rivers reach into every corner of the land.

    17 Best Towns In Northwest Territories to visit

    1. Tsiigehtchic

    Tsiigehtchic, small towns in Northwest Territories
    Tsiigehtchic – Dempster Highway route

    The name of this little town in Northwest Territory is translated to “Mouth of the Iron River” and has a population of just below 200.

    Located on top of a bluff at the confluence of the MacKenzie and Arctic Red Rivers, you can stroll this Gwich’in community’s river bank, and hike a network of local trails. It’s a great stopover for Dempster road-trippers.

    Read more: Dempster Highway – road trip to the Arctic





    Bucket List Tsiigehtchic:

    • Have a picnic at the community’s picturesque 80-year-old church and enjoy the sweeping river views.
    • Enjoy the adventure to get here.

    Access: Via the Dempster, with a ferry in summer and an ice bridge in winter

    2. Fort McPherson

    Dempster - Lost Patrol
    Fort McPherson’s and Lost Patrol – Dempster Highway route

    This friendly Gwich’in hamlet on the Peel River is the first you will encounter when driving up the Dempster.

    The town with a population of approximately 790 people is located in the Mackenzie Delta and is home to the Telit Gwich’in people.

    McPherson is famous for their Tent and Canvas Shop, a source of heavy-duty trapper’s tents. I ordered a trapper tent from them, long before I visited the small town in NWT and knew where this place was.

    Here you also find the graves of the four Mounties who died on the Lost Patrol from Fort McPherson to Dawson City in the winter of 1911.

    Read more: Dempster Highway – road trip to the Arctic






    Bucket List Fort McPherson:

    • Visit McPherson’s world-famous Tent and Canvas Shop.
    • Visit the graves of the tragic Lost Patrol of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police.
    • Check out the Midway Lake Music Festival in August.

    Read the true story about the Lost Patrol:

    Access: By road on the Dempster Highway

    3. Inuvik

    Inuvik - Igloo church - small towns NWT
    Igloo Church Our Lady of Victory in Inuvik, Dempster Highway route

    Inuvik is an Inuvialuktun word and means “place of man”. Built in the 1950s as an administrative centre in the Western Arctic, it is currently Canada’s largest town above the Arctic Circle, with a population of approximately 3,500.

    Today, Inuvik is the Western Arctic’s cosmopolitan hub with hotels, restaurants, galleries, and a variety of tour providers. The Igloo Church is the landmark of Inuvik and it’s definitely worth having a glimpse inside and looking at the paintings by local Inuvialuit artist Mona Thrasher.

    Behind the church is the Inuvik Community Greenhouse, the northernmost greenhouse in North America.

    Read more:

    Bucket List Inuvik:

    • Drop in at the friendly Western Arctic Visitor Centre.
    • Visit the famed Igloo Church.
    • Take a tour of the Community Greenhouse.

    Access: Via the Dempster or flights from Yellowknife or Whitehorse

    4. Tuktoyaktuk, one of the most unique towns in Northwest Territories

    Welcome to Tuktoyaktuk, unique towns in Northwest Territories
    Welcome to Tuktoyaktuk, the end of the road at the Arctic Ocean

    When you get here, you made it to the end of the road, to the end of the continent. Take a dip in the Arctic Ocean, you deserve it.

    With a population of approximately 980, Tuktoyaktuk is the biggest town in Northwest Territories above the treeline. “Tuk” overlooks the Arctic Ocean.

    Tuk has a long history as a traditional whaling town. Since ancient times, the Inuvialuit have lived on the shores of the Arctic Ocean and established the permanent settlement at Tuktoyaktuk in 1905.

    Over the years this small town in the NWT has served Inuvialuit as a base for caribou and beluga hunting. Tuk was also used as a DEW Line radar site and has been a centre for oil and gas exploration.

    Read more:





    Bucket List Tuktoyaktuk:

    • Take a tour of Ibyuk, the world’s second-largest pingo.
    • Check out Our Lady of Lourdes Schooner.
    • Take part in the Beluga Jamboree in April.
    • Stay for the Land of the Pingos music festival in July.

    Access: By road, year-round from Inuvik

    5. Fort Liard

    Fort Liard NWT
    The small community of Fort Liard- on the Liard Route

    Fort Liard is located off the Liard Trail, some 30 km north of the NWT-BC border, and is home to approximately 600 people. The local Dene have lived in the area for as long as 10,000 years, hunting, fishing, and trapping.

    This riverfront small town in Northwest Territories is known as the tropics of the North, enjoying a mild climate and great vegetation, and is visited regularly by herds of bison.

    Read more: Liard Highway Route

    Bucket List Fort Liard:

    • Browse the beautiful arts and crafts at the Acho Dene Native Craft store.
    • Camp at Hay Lakes campground for a night and walk around the lake.

    Access: By air and by road, just off Highway 7

    6. Nahanni Butt

    Nahanni Butt winter road in small towns in Northwest Territories
    Nahanni Butte, winter road only

    This small town in Northwest Territories is named for the impressive mountain guarding it. The Dene community of approximately 99 is situated where the Nahanni River joins the Liard.

    Nahanni Butte is a common stop for paddlers and offers awesome hiking to the top of the butte.

    Read more: Liard Highway Route

    Bucket List Nahanni Butte:

    • Visit the log church and the school.
    • Hike to the top of the butte.

    Access: By river taxi in summer (call ahead) or via winter ice road across the Liard.

    7. Fort Simpson

    Heritage Trail Mackenzie and Liard Rivers
    Heritage Trail at Fort Simpson

    This beautiful and historic Northwest Territories town with a population of approximately 1300 is located at the confluence of the massive Liard River and the even bigger Mackenzie. This area has been inhabited for nine thousand years by the Slavey peoples and their ancestors.

    Most of the town’s resources are on the main drag, 100th Street.

    There are riverside heritage sites to explore, like the old Hudson’s Bay Company post and an area known as the Flat or the Papal grounds.

    Fort Simpson is also the jump-off point for visitors to the Nahanni National Park and Reserve and the surrounding mountains.

    Read more: Heritage Route NWT

    Bucket List Port Simpson:

    • Walk the Heritage Trail. Inquire about walking tours at the Visitor Centre.
    • Book a flight with Simpson Air to Nahanni National Park.

    Access: Direct flights from Yellowknife. By road (except during break-up/freeze-up)

    8. Wrigley

    The road to Wrigley NWT town
    The road to Wrigley, one of the remote towns in NWT

    Driving all the way to Wrigley, the northernmost point of Mackenzie Highway will take you to the Dene community of approximately 200 people. This is a scenic two-hour drive north of Fort Simpson.

    The little town sits on a big bluff overlooking the Mackenzie River. In the distance, the Franklin Mountains are calling to the adventurous.

    Wrigley was relocated to its present spot in 1965 for easier access. The traditional Slavey lifestyle of trapping, hunting, and fishing is still practiced here.

    Read more: Heritage Route NWT

    Bucket List Wrigley:

    • Book a Mackenzie River canoe trip with one of the outfitters.
    • Hike in the Mackenzie Mountains.
    • Go on a northern lights tour.
    • Take a fishing excursion.

    Access: By road (except during break-up/freeze-up on the MacKenzie)

    9. Jean Marie River

    Along the Frontier Trails NWT
    Along the Frontier Trail

    Pull into this tiny community of approximately 90 people on the Mackenzie River’s south shore. Jean Marie River got its start in 1915 as a trading post, strategically located on the flats where Jean Marie meets Mackenzie.

    Read more: Heritage Route NWT

    Bucket List Jean Marie River:

    • Photograph the historic tugboat now retired on the shore.
    • Launch a kayak or canoe and paddle downriver to Fort Simpson.

    Access: By road, via a 27 km access road off Highway 1

    10. Fort Providence

    Small towns in NWT Fort Providence
    Fort Providence on the way to Yellowknife

    Fort Providence with a population of 719 is stretching along a high bank overlooking the Mackenzie River. This historic Dene community in Northwest Territories is an essential stop for road trippers, with a gas bar and lodging.

    Fort Providence has a beautiful quiet campground on the riverfront, top-notch fishing, and special crafts like porcupine quill work.

    Read more: Frontier Trail to Yellowknife






    Bucket List Fort Providence:

    • Look out for some hulking bison, which ramble the dusty streets and graze in local yards.
    • Take a walk along the shoreline.

    Access: By road

    11. Kakisa

    Kakisa Hamlet small town in Northwest Territories
    Kakisa on the waterfall route

    This small, traditional Dene settlement of log cabins between trees is nestled beside beautiful Kakisa Lake. The small village is just a short distance from Lady Evelyn Falls which is the place for camping, fishing, paddling, and sightseeing opportunities.

    Read more: Waterfall Route NWT

    Bucket List Kakisa:

    • Spend time at the beautiful Lady Evelynn Falls
    • Stop at the old Cemetary.
    • Come for the Arctic Grayling run in early spring, if you are an angler.

    Access: By road

    12. Hay River

    Hay River beach Northwest Territories Canada
    Hay River beach on Great Slave Lake

    Hay River, situated on the south shore of Great Slave Lake is NWT’s second-largest town with a population of approximately 3,820. The town is known as the “Hub” because it’s the terminus of Canada’s northernmost railway, a launch point for Actic-bound barges, and a key commercial fishing port.

    Here you can enjoy Northwest Territories’ best beaches 24 hours a day for weeks during the summer months.

    Hay River has a variety of accommodation options, restaurants, and shops as well as a Territorial Campground and a friendly Visitor Centre.



    Read more: Hay River NWT Travel Guide

    Bucket List Hay River:

    • Enjoy the best beaches in the NWT.
    • Spend time at Fisherman’s Wharf.
    • Visit Hay River’s Heritage Centre.
    • Watch out for Aurora Borealis dancing overhead when it gets dark.

    Access: By road, direct flights from Edmonton, Yellowknife

    13. Enterprise

    Louise Falls, Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park  NWT
    Louise Falls, Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park near Enterprise

    Enterprise is located along the Hay River Canyon at the junction of Highways 1 and 2, just an hour north of the Alberta border. This small town of approximately 110 people is within hiking distance of Louise and Alexandra Falls.

    Read more: Waterfall Route NWT

    Bucket List Enterprise:

    • Be sure to visit the art shop and studio.
    • Spend a day at the waterfalls at Twin Falls George Territorial Park.
    • Check the Enterprise Events calendar for Dogsled Races.

    Access: By road, year-round

    14. Fort Resolution

    Fort Res town in Northwest Territories
    Fort Resolution, a beautiful town in Northwest Territories

    Fort Resolution is a small town in Northwest Territories where the Slave River washes into Great Slave Lake and it has a population of approximately 570 people. This beautiful Chipewyan and Metis hamlet is the oldest in the Northwest Territories. It was founded when the Hudson Bay Company began trading furs here in the the1780s. Trapping remains a key local industry, along with commercial fishing and timber harvesting.

    A walk to Mission Island is a must. Fort Res is another one of the small towns in Northwest Territories where you find friendly locals who love sharing their stories.

    Read more: Fort Resolution Travel Guide

    Bucket List Fort Resolution:

    • Walk down to the shore of the big lake and enjoy a sunny summer day.
    • Take the boardwalk to Mission Island and learn about the history of the town.
    • Stay overnight at the Little Buffalo River Crossing Campground.
    • Make the trip out to the abandoned site of Pine Point, just 45 minutes west of town.

    Access: By road

    15. Fort Smith

    White pelicans Fort Smith NT
    White pelicans, Fort Smith NWT

    Fort Smith is another one of my favourite towns in the Northwest Territories I visited and have fond memories of. This frontier town once was one of the main entry point into the Northwest Territories. All the northbound river travellers passed through while portaging the Slave River Rapids.

    Today, travellers arrive by road to tour Wood Buffalo National Park, a heaven for outdoors enthusiasts. Paddle in the Slave’s foaming whitewater and walk or cycle the riverfront Thebacha Trail.

    Read More:

    Bucket List Fort Smith:

    • Visit the Northern Life Museum and Cultural Centre.
    • Watch the pelicans at the whitewater rapids near town.
    • Have a picnic at Fort Smith Mission Territorial Park.
    • Enjoy great coffee at Rusty Raven Coffee Shop.
    • Gateway to Wood Buffalo National Park.
    • Stay up for the Northern Lights.

    Access: By road, direct flights from Yellowknife, Edmonton

    16. Behchoko

    Bison along Frontier Trail
    Bison along Frontier Trail

    The territory’s largest Dene community on the way to Yellowknife with a population of approximately 2,150 occupies the two sites Edzo and Rae situated along Frank Channel. The town of Edzo was supposed to replace the more traditional community of Rae, on the shores of Marian Lake, but most residents refused to leave. The history of this is reason enough to add it to the list as one of the towns in Northwest Territories to visit.

    Behchoko is a gateway to Great Slave Lake’s many islands on the North Arm.

    Read more: Frontier Trail to Yellowknife

    Behchoko Bucket List:

    • Stop at the Tljcho Store to pick up an exquisite pair of moccasins.

    Access: By road

    17. Yellowknife

    Yellowknife old town Northwest Territories
    Yellowknife, old town

    Over half of the Northwest Territories population lives in Yellowknife, which is the territory’s capital city. Here you meet Yellowknife’s Dene, Metis, and Inuit from the High Arctic and a blend of people from the rest of the world.

    With droning bush planes and picturesque houseboats at Yellowknife’s Old Town, you will detect an old frontier spirit. It’s like being in a different world, far away from the rest, surrounded by wilderness.

    Like the rest of the northern country, Yellowknife has an interesting First Nation history and was part of the gold rush era.






    Read more:

    Bucket list Yellowknife:

    • Visit the Old Town with funky cabins, floating homes, and bush planes.
    • Book a free tour at the Legislative Assembly.
    • Visit the NWT Diamond Centre.
    • Hike one of Yellowknife’s beautiful trails.
    • Best place in the world to view northern lights.
    • Take a drive along the Ingrahm Trail and explore the Provincial Parks.
    • Hit the ice road and drive out to Dettah if you are visiting in winter.

    Access: Road, direct flights from Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Whitehorse.


    Let me know in the comments whether you have visited additional towns in Northwest Territories that should go on this list.

    Related Links

    Recommended Books to read:

    • Beyond the Trees: A journey alone across Canada’s Arctic by Adam Shoalts
    • Denison’s Ice Road by Edith Iglauer- A real story about driving the ice roads

    The Milepost Travel Planner

    The Milepost Travel Planner – Mile-By-Mile Highway Logs for Alaska, Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, and Northwest Territories


    This website contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend products and companies I use and the income helps keep this website up. Thank you!


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  9. 25 Best Small Towns In BC To Visit

    8 Comments

    How many times have you driven through small towns in BC on your way to ‘somewhere’, only to find out later that you missed something interesting or special? That sure can be disappointing, especially if you’re unlikely to visit that area again. Hopefully, my collection of small towns in BC will get you to stop next time you drive through one of the towns.





    I’m on the road a lot in my home province of British Columbia and I have visited many more small towns in BC than the ones mentioned here. This made it a real challenge to choose the most unique small towns in British Columbia to add to my list.

    Here you have it, my selection of 25 unique small towns in BC to visit with a short overview and reasons why you should visit them.

    Many other small towns in British Columbia are worth a visit. Some are located close to the ones I mentioned. Don’t miss out, stop at all places along the way and you will be surprised by what you will find.

    In this selection, I included mostly small towns in British Columbia that are not on the official tourist routes. Some of the places will be out of the way. Please do your research and be prepared before heading out. Read more: Road Trip Planner for the Wilderness

    Unique Small Towns In BC



    Facts About Small Towns In British Columbia

    British Columbia is the third largest and most westerly province in Canada. It is larger than France and Germany combined, or almost four times the size of Great Britain. The length of BC’s coastline is over 27,000 km. 

    That of course means that the 25 small towns to visit in BC can’t be achieved during a two-week vacation. Start with getting to know one region at a time and you will discover many unique towns you never knew existed.

    25 Unique Small Towns In BC To Visit

    1. Lumby BC

    Lumby, one of my favourite small towns   in BC to visit
    Lumby in the North Okanagan, displaying its logging history

    Lumby was my hometown for twenty-plus years and deserves to be the first one on my list. This unique small country town was a Canadian adventure destination for many, while I operated Silver Spur Trails Wilderness Guest Ranch in the Mabel Lake Valley.

    Lumby is the getaway to the Monashee and the region is a hiker’s paradise with over 100 nearby trails. The many lakes invite you to fish, swim and enjoy watersports. It is easy to spot wildlife in the surrounding backcountry.

    Don’t just rush through this unique BC town. A drive out to Mabel Lake Provincial Park and Echo Lake is a must to get a taste of what this special place is all about. What about wilderness camping at one of the forestry campgrounds for a night?

    Read more: Lumby BC, North Okanagan

    Lumby Bucket List:

    • Follow the Salmon Trail for a leisurely, scenic stroll through Lumby.
    • Venture to Monashee Provincial Park for serious hiking trails with awe-inspiring views and pristine lakes.
    • Chasing Waterfalls at Shuswap Falls, Brenda Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Cascade Falls.
    • Visit Mabel Lake Provincial Park for sandy beaches, watersports, hiking, and camping.
    • Head to Echo Lake Provincial Park, an idyllic small lake perfect for a canoe or kayak.

    2. Silverton

    Silverton, Kootenay small town in BC to visit
    The town of Silverton in the West-Kootenay

    Silverton, a tiny gem on the east shore of Slocan Lake, 5 km south of New Denver is a great small town in BC for a relaxing break. The area was first settled in 1892 by the arrival of lead and silver miners working the south face of Idaho Mountain.

    With a population of nearly 195 people, Silverton is British Columbia’s second smallest municipality. As you can guess it’s hard to get lost in this little town! Silverton has a lakeshore campground with a boat launch if you decide to spend a night.

    Read more: Backcountry Camping






    Bucket List Silverton:

    • Have a stroll around town and enjoy the beautiful heritage buildings.
    • Stop at Silverton Day Park overlooking the lake.
    • Camp for the night at the Lakeshore Campground.

    3. New Denver

    Denver West-Kootenay cool town to visit in BC
    The town of New Denver in West-Kootenay

    The small BC town of Denver, and other surrounding communities, are where hundreds of Canadians of Japanese heritage were brought during the Second World War. The Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre in New Denver is the only interpretive centre in Canada dedicated to the history of this tragic story.

    New Denver had a number of abandoned houses from the boom times, but many more small dwellings were built to house the 2,000 men, women, and children of Japanese origins. Some of these tiny houses still exist today.

    Read more: West-Kootenay Route

    Bucket List New Denver:

    • Visit the Silvery Slogan Museum.
    • Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, tells the sad story of over 22,000 Japanese Canadians.
    • Kohan Reflection Garden is a Japanese-type garden with a beautiful tea house.
    • Take a walk or cycle the 8 km Galena Trail, an old railway bed that extends from Rosebery to Three Forks.
    • Wilson Creek Falls, a short easy hike leading to a beautiful 100+ foot waterfall.

    4. Sandon

    Ghost Town of Sandon unique small town in British Columbia
    Old Ghost Town of Sandon, West-Kootenay

    Don’t miss out on a detour to Sandon, one of the best small towns to visit in BC.

    If you’re a history buff, interested in abandoned buildings and old artifacts, old the ghost town of Sandon in British Columbia has to be on your bucket list. There was a time when Sandon was a thriving mining community. But when the silver ran out, it quickly lost its fame. After a fire in the early 1900s and later followed by two major floods, much of the town was burned down and washed away.

    Today, less than a handful of people live permanently in Sandon. It’s free to walk around and visit the fire hall, the old abandoned busses, and abandoned buildings and tour the operational hydroelectric station.

    Meet Vida and Hal and get inspired by their story and how they fight and work hard to keep the town alive. Sanden is located a short drive from New Denver.

    Read more: West-Kootenay Route



    Bucket List Sandon:

    • Rent a campsite right on the river and stay for the night.
    • Experience the ghost town at night when the reflections of ghosts dance along the walls of the old City Hall.
    • In the morning have breakfast at 14th Mountain Bistro.
    • Drop in at Prospector’s Pick Gift Shop.
    • Take a tour of Silversmith Power Hydroelectric Power Station.
    • Check out the Canadian Brill Trolley National Collection.
    • Visit the museum, operated by the Sandon History Society.
    • Take a drive to Cody, another ghost town just up the road.

    5. Salmo

    Salmo BC special place to visit in British Columbia
    Drop in at the old Salmo Hotel in West-Kootenay

    Salmo, another beautiful small town in BC to visit was originally just a whistle-stop on the historic Nelson/Fort Shepherd Railway. At the turn of the last century, it became a centre for supplies and entertainment for prospectors, miners, and loggers.

    Today Salmo is a quaint town at the junction of two highways. Fishing and swimming holes are there to be discovered along the picturesque Salmo River. It’s a playground for outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, and BMXing at the ski hill. There is also the 48 km stretch of the old railway line that connects Nelson, Ymir, and Salmo.

    Read more: West-Kootenay Route






    Bucket List Salmo:

    • Visit the Salmo Museum for mining artifacts and historic information on the Dewdney Trail.
    • Take a stroll around town and look out for the rock murals.
    • Use the pedestrian bridge across Salmon River and head to Springboard Park.
    • Go on a strenuous 3 km hike to the Delaurentis Bluffs Lookout.
    • Take Sheep Creek Road 8 km south of town which takes you to the Sheep Creek Mines, an abandoned gold mining town.

    6. Greenwood

    Greenwood, romantic Canadian small town in BC to visit
    Greenwood, Boundary region, Canada’s smallest city

    If you dwell on the image of a romantic Canadian town, you should definitely visit Greenwood BC. Greenwood is a historic small town with approximately 675 residents and is located in the Boundary region of British Columbia. It is Canada’s official smallest city (and yes, there is Keno City in the Yukon, but that one is unofficial). Greenwood’s history goes back to 1891 with the discovery of gold, silver, and copper.

    Today, Greenwood is a great destination for history buffs. Greenwood is the gateway to the Great Trail and has a large trail network to offer for any skill level. A visit to the museum is a must. Pick up pamphlets and maps of the area.

    Read more: Boundary Travel Guide

    Bucket List Greenwood:

    • Stop in at the Greenwood Museum.
    • Take a self-guided Heritage Walking Tour through the downtown core.
    • A guided tour of the Courthouse located at city hall is a must.
    • Visit the old Phoenix Cemetery on the road to Phoenix, about 7 km from Greenwood.

    7. Oliver

    Oliver, wine capital of Canada unique small town in BC
    Oliver, Wine Capital of Canada in South-Okanagan

    Oliver is another one of British Columbia’s hidden gems. The town is known as Canada’s Wine Capital and therefore is the place to go for wine tasting. On top of that, the town is rich in culture and has excellent cuisine. You can trust my word, as it was my home for a couple of years.

    Oliver is close to Osoyoos BC and less touristy. Here you are close to lakes and many hiking and biking trails.

    Read more: Oliver BC – Outdoor Travel Guide



    Bucket List Oliver:

    • Check out Oliver’s Movie Theatre on Main Street, the best little Theatre far and wide.
    • Visit the Museum and look into local history.
    • Walk or bike along the Okanagan River Canal.
    • Camp at one of the nearby Lakes.
    • Stop at the local wineries.
    • Stock up on fresh produce at the many fruit stands.
    • Visit Fairview Historic Site.

    8. Hedley

    Hedley, Most unique small town in British Columbia to visit
    The cool small town of Hedley, in Similkameen Valley

    Famous for gold since its first discovery in 1897, Headley was once a thriving mining boomtown during the 1900s.

    Numerous Historic Sites and buildings let you peek into the past. You can reach them by car or foot, including a 1904 miner’s cottage, a Historic Log Barn, the Blacksmith Shop, as well as the Mascot Mine buildings. Take a stroll through small town Hedley’s Historic Cemetery to get an idea of who lived in these buildings. Maps are available at the museum.

    Bucket List Headly:

    • Learn about the mining history at the Headley Museum.
    • Pan for gold at the Hedley Heritage Museum.
    • Check out Hedley’s Historic Sites.
    • Tour the historic Mascot Mine high above Hedley.

    9. Coalmont

    Coalmont BC, mining history and bucket list town to visit in BC
    Old Coalmont Hotel at Calmont, Similkameen Valley

    Coalmont was a coal mining town established in 1910 and the Historic Colemont Hotel still stands today. Driving into town is like stepping back in time. Old buildings from historic times are lining the main street. Nearby you will find the gold-mining ghost town of Granite City and the ghost town of Blakeburn. The Forestry Campground at Granite City is a great place to use as a base to explore this interesting place.

    Bucket List Coalmont and Granite Creek:

    • Stop at the entrance of the town and check out the unique welcome signs and town information.
    • Walk along the main street and admire the old buildings.
    • Drive to Granite Creek, known as Granite City by locals.
    • Camp at Granite Creek Recreation Site.
    • At Granite Creek, visit the old ghost town and follow the interpretive signs.
    • Walk up to the old cemetery on the hill.
    • Cool off in the Tulameen River.

    10. Tulameen

    Tulameen unique town in British Columbia
    The unique town of Tulameen in the Similkameen Valley

    Tulameen is a beautiful hidden gem to visit in British Columbia. Located on the southern end of Otter Lake on Coalmont Road past the village of Coalmont it is heaven for outdoor enthusiasts.

    You can access the Trans Canada Trail from here as well as several other trails with various levels of difficulty and terrain. There are more than forty good trout fishing lakes in the area, as well as the Similkameen and Tulameen rivers.

    Tulameen has an excellent public beachfront and boat launch.

    Otter Lake Provincial Park is 5 km north of Tulameen and is a great place to camp. The Cascade Mountain Range surrounds the park and includes awesome canyons and clear mountain streams.






    Bucket List Tulameen:

    • Cycle along the Great Trai (Trans Canada Trail.
    • Hike the many scenic trails in the area.
    • Camp at Otter Lake and enjoy the beach.
    • Try gold panning at the Tulameen River.
    • Hike the Rice Historic Trail, a 4 km return trip.
    • Visit Tulameen Falls, 30 km on the Tulameen FSR.

    11. Merritt

    Merritt BC, country music
    Merritt BC, Canadian Country singer Hall of Fame

    Before Merritt was known as the Country Music Capital of Canada, locals used to rave about the beautiful Nicola Valley with their slogan “a lake a day, as long as you stay”. Once you spend a day at one of the many lakes in Nicola Valley, you will know why the old slogan is still true.

    Merritt is rich with Country Music Legend Murals and Walk of Star handprints throughout town. Country music inspires the country lifestyle, and with the huge surrounding ranch land, you know that you’re in Cowboy Country.

    Once you start exploring the area around Merritt, you don’t want to leave.

    Read more: BC Road trip Merritt to Kamloops Highway 5A

    Bucket List Merritt:

    • Visit the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.
    • Walk the walk of Merritt Walk of Stars and the Country Legends Murals.
    • Spend time at Nicola Valley Museum and Archives.
    • Spend a day at Monck Provincial Park.
    • Camp at Lundbom Lake.
    • Kentucky Alleyne Provincial Park is another great place for overnight camping.

    12. Lillooet

    Lillooet British Columbia -  small towns in BC
    First Nations Fishing grounds along the mighty Fraser River in Lillooet

    Lillooet was founded as Mile 0 on the wagon road leading to the Cariboo and Barkerville gold fields and was the centre of the gold rush during the mid-1800s.

    Today, a cairn sits on Main Street marking “Mile 0” of the historic trail. Formerly known as Cayoosh Canyon, Lillooet is one of the oldest communities in British Columbia.

    This small BC town is surrounded by rugged mountain peaks with lakes, desert country, and the mighty Fraser River making this a unique place.

    Bridge of the Twenty-Three Camels is the official name of the highway bridge crossing the Fraser River. Camels were introduced to the area in 1862 as fright animals. Unfortunately, the camel era didn’t last long and today the bridge honours their memory.

    There is so much to see and do in this historic old town in BC. With all the camp and accommodation options you might as well stay for at least a couple of night.

    Read more: Guaranteed Rugged Rail Journey






    Lillooet Bucket List:

    • Visit the Lillooet Museum and Visitor Centre, situated in a former Anglican church.
    • Pick up a self-guided walking tour map for the Golden Miles History walking tour.
    • Walk the “Jade Walk” downtown showcasing an impressive variety of jade boulders.
    • Visit the Miyazaki Heritage House, known as the most beautiful house in Lillooet.
    • Book a tour to visit historical fishing grounds and learn how salmon was dried.
    • Stop in at the Fort Berens Estate Winery.
    • Hop on the Kaoham Shuttle, the train that runs between Lillooet and Seton Portage.

    13. Clinton

    Clinton is a charming small town on the Cariboo Highway with western-type heritage buildings, a beautiful little church, and antique shops to wander around in. Explore nearby provincial parks or stay at one of the guest ranches for a horseback riding adventure.

    Clinton and its surrounding area have a rich history full of stories and changes. Settlement occurred in the mid-1800s with the discovery of gold and the development of the Cariboo wagon road.

    Bucket List Clinton:

    • Visit the Clinton Museum.
    • Stroll around town and hunt for some treasures at one of the antique stores.
    • Detour to the famous Gang Ranch, 45 km north of Clinton, one of the largest ranches in North America for many years.
    • Stay at one of the nearby guest ranches and ride the range.
    • Visit Painted Chasm, 15 km north of Clinton.

    Read the books to learn about the Gang Ranch:

    • The incredible Gang Ranch by Dale Alsager
    • Gang Ranch The Real Story by Judy Alsager

    14. Likely

    Small towns BC to visit - Likely and Likely Hotel, BC
    The small town of Likely in the Cariboo

    Likely is a small rural community in the Cariboo Region, nestled in the foothills of the Cariboo Mountains. This area played an important role during the Cariboo Gold Rush of 1859. The region used to be so rich in gold that it was known as the Nugget Patch.

    Today Likely is a friendly small rural town with a population of around 350 people.

    In the surrounding areas of this small town in BC, you will find many crystal-clear lakes and rivers. It’s heaven for recreational activities and backcountry camping.

    Likely is the gateway to the Cariboo Mountains and a unique small town in BC you don’t want to miss. The “Backroad through Barkerville” is a wilderness scenic trip that allows you to travel through sub-alpine meadows and view thundering waterfalls.

    The small town of Likely is not on any tourist route and is a bit out of the way. Of course, this makes it even more appealing to visit and explore.

    Read more: Camping at the Ghost Town of Quesnel Forks



    Bucket List Likely:

    • Stop at the scenic Cedar Point Park. 
    • Check out the largest man-made bullion pit in North America
    • Take a side trip to Quesnel Forks.
    • Visit Horsefly Provincial Park and camp.
    • Drive the wilderness road through the Cariboo Mountains.

    15. Barkerville

    Barkerville the must visit of the small towns in British Columbia
    Historic Barkerville in the Cariboo

    Billy Barker’s legendary gold strike on Williams Creek in 1862 brought fortune seekers from around the world into the remote wilderness.

    Today Barkerville Historic Town is a Canadian National Historic Site and British Columbia’s best-known heritage destination. 125 restored buildings are on display with knowledgeable historic interpreters guiding you through Barkerville’s rich history. The town is full of activities, interactive lessons, storytelling, theatrical performances, gold panning, stagecoach rides, and more!

    Read more:

    Bucket List Barkerville:

    • Enjoy a show at Theatre Royal.
    • Take a horse-drawn stagecoach tour of the town.
    • Live a true Gold Rush experience, at the Eldorado Gold Panning.
    • Go for a walk on the historic Williams Creek Nature Trail.

    17. Wells

    Wells BC historic buildings - small towns British Columbia
    Cariboo at its best in Wells, BC

    The mountain town of Wells in British Columbia was built when the promise of more gold attracted new gold seekers in 1927 with the population reaching over 4000 people in the 1940s.

    With fewer than 300 year-round residents in Wells today, the small community of Wells has become the home for artists and outdoor enthusiasts. Many of the heritage buildings have been restored, including the Wells Hotel and the Sunset Theatre, where you can enjoy live music, live theatre, and concerts all through the summer.

    Read More:

    Bucket List Wells:

    • Visit the Wells Museum to take a step back to the glory days.
    • Explore the remains of the ghost town of Stanley 13 km west of Wells.
    • Jack O’ Clubs Lake is a great place to canoe, swim, sail, or fish.

    16. Fort St. James

    Fort St. James Historic Site

    Fort St. James is located on the shores of Stuart Lake, and it is the gateway to recreation in the great northern backcountry. Here you will find a welcoming community where you can relax on the beach, and enjoy some of the most beautiful sunsets around.

    Only at Fort St. James, British Columbia – a chicken race you can bet on. What a blast! And what a crowd! You heard right, Fort St. James has WORLD CLASS Chicken Racing – Place your bets and win Chicken Bucks! 






    Bucket List Fort St. James:

    • Enjoy Fort St. James National Historic Site.
    • Make a bet in a Chicken race.
    • This is the place to be if you’re a rock hound! Stoll the beach for semi-precious stones.
    • Check out Cottonwood Park.
    • Visit Our Lady of Good Hope Church.

    18. Bella Coola

    Welcome to Bella Coola
    The small town of Bella Coola at the end of the road

    Chilcotin Highway 20 from Williams Lake runs 465 km to Bella Coola, a small wilderness town in a fantastic setting. You will be in for a surprise when you leave the Chilcotin plateau and get to the bottom of the notorious Hill, a windy and steep stretch of gravel road.

    There is plenty to see and do in the Bella Coola. Bella Coola’s wildlife sights are some of the best in British Columbia. From Bear Viewing to Bird Watching, Bella Coola’s Wildlife will amaze you. It’s like a vast, wilderness viewing stage.

    The lush meadows, dense forests, and high mountain ranges are home to grizzly and black bears, blacktail deer, wolves, cougars, and mountain goats.

    Learn about Bella Coola Valley’s rich history while you’re in town and get a real feel for this spiritual place.

    Read more: The Road to Bella Coola



    Bucket List Bella Coola:

    • Learn about the varied history of the valley at the Bella Coola Museum.
    • Visit Clayton Falls.
    • Hire a guide to see the Petroglyphs.
    • Book a wildlife viewing tour.
    • Check out the Art House Gallery.
    • Visit the Norwegian Heritage House in Hagenborg.

    Small Towns To Visit in Northern British Columbia

    19. Hazelton

    Historic Hazelton BC- unique small towns in BC
    Hazelton, a pioneer community in Northwest BC

    The frontier spirit lives on in Hazelton. The restored heritage buildings of the “Old Town” serve as a reminder of the days when Hazelton was the commercial centre of the Northwest wilderness.

    From 1886 to 1913, Hazelton was the upriver terminus for a fleet of sternwheelers when the Skeena River was the transportation route for people and goods.

    Today, Old Hazelton is a reconstructed pioneer town complete with a Trading Post, Barber Shop, Cafe, and City Hall buildings plus a sternwheeler on display on the Skeena River. The region is a great destination for remote wilderness activities and camping and First Nation Culture.

    Read more: Hazelton BC – a journey through time

    Bucket List Hazelton:

    • Park your car and walk across Hagwilget Canyon Bridge
    • Spend time at Ksan Historical Village and Museum, walk through longhouses and learn the history.
    • Visit Ross Lake Provincial Park and take the trail around the lake.
    • Kitwanga, a side trip from Hazelton to see outstanding carved cedar poles and St. Paul’s Anglican Church, was built in 1893. It is also the site of Gitwangak Battle Hill National Historic Site of Canada.

    20. Prince Rupert

    Prince Rupert on the northwest Coast of BC

    Another end-of-the-road small town you don’t want to miss, is Prince Rupert, a colourful coastal town on British Columbia’s wild and beautiful Northwest Coast. Here is where you can board a ship to Alaska, Vancouver Island, or Haida Gwaii if you have a reservation or stick around for a few days.

    To stick around was my plan, but after two days of pouring rain, I gave up and left. On a sunny day, this harbour town would be a jewel to explore. Check the weather forecast before driving all this way.

    Plan your trip with The Milepost Road Planner






    Bucket List Prince Ruppert:

    • Take a stroll along the waterfront District of Cow Bay.
    • Watch out for the totem poles around town and murals.
    • Visit Sunken Gardens Park, a local treasure.
    • For an easy hike, head down Rushbrook Trail.
    • Butze Rapids Trail is a 4.5 km loop starting 3 km south of town.
    • Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary is home to more than 50 of the giants.
    • Spend some time in the Northern Museum of BC
    • Visit Historic North Pacific Cannery, located in Port Edward, just a short drive from Prince Rupert.

    21. Gitwinksihlkw

    Gitwinksihlkw  Suspension Bridge
    Gitwinksihlkw Suspension Bridge

    Gitwinksihlkw is one of the four villages on the Nisga’a Highway 113. From Terrace, BC Nisga’a Highway takes you through the Nass Valley on an amazing 170 km drive.
    This off-the-beaten-track highway is not mentioned in any of my travel books. You will pass First Nations settlements along rivers and mountains and through a volcanic landscape. I can’t even imagine!

    For years, the community of Gitwinksihlkw was accessible only by suspension footbridge. Today, a modern vehicle bridge provides direct access. Watch out for the four totem poles flanking the bridge.

    Bucket List Gitwinksihlkw:

    • Walk across Ukws-Ts’agat, the suspension footbridge.
    • Stop at the village entrance bridge to take a picture.
    • Inquire at the village office about hiking trails and viewpoints.
    • Visit the other three villages on Nisga’a Highway 13.

    22. Stewart

    Stewart Northern BC
    Stewart BC in Northwest British Columbia

    Stewart, this unique small BC town located at the head of the historic 90-mile-long Portland Canal is surrounded by rich forests and Cambria ice fields. On the way to Stewart, you will see glacier formations overlooking the highway and most probably encounter bears crossing the road.

    From Stewart, continue the short drive to Hyder Alaska, Stewart’s border town to see Salmon Glacier, the world’s largest road-accessible glacier.

    You can get there driving the Salmon Glacier Road from Hyder, Alaska. Navigating around the potholes will get you to the Summit Viewpoint and you will be rewarded with spectacular views.

    Read more: Stewart BC Hyder Alaska Travel Guide

    Bucket List Stewart:

    • Walk through the Estuary along the boardwalk to enjoy great views out to the bay.
    • Visit the local museum.
    • Take a short trip to Clements Lake for a dip or a picnic.
    • Visit the neighbouring border town of Hyder, Alaska.
    • Venture on the epic drive to Bear Glacier Provincial Park.
    • Spend some time at the Fish Creek Wildlife viewing platform (Hyder Alaska).

    23. Telegraph Creek

    Telegraph Creek BC
    Telegraph Creek, Northwest BC

    Telegraph Creek is a small town in BC with roughly 250 permanent residents offering only basic services.

    To get to the small town of Telegraph Creek in British Columbia you need to conquer 150 km of gravel driving, steep gradients (up to 20 percent), narrow passages along canyon walls, and sharply angled switchbacks. I was glad I had a 4WD and no motorhome or trailer to pull.

    The Stikine Valley is home to the Tahlthan First Nation. In summer families gather at traditional fish camps along the Stikine River to catch and put up salmon.

    The Stikine route was used to haul men and equipment to build the airport at Watson Lake during World War II with riverboats and trucks running to and from Dease Lake. The last riverboat made her final voyage in 1969.



    Read more: Stewart-Cassiar Hwy 37 Highway Travel Guide

    Bucket List Telegraph Creek:

    • Enjoy the epic drive to Telegraph Creek.
    • Stroll the streets of Telegraph Creek and imagine the sights of the paddle wheelers on the Stikine River during the gold rush era.
    • Take in the sight of deserted buildings as well as restored ones dating back a century or more. The original Hudson’s Bay Company Store has been turned into a cafe, general store, and lodge.
    • Go river boating on the Stikine River with an experienced river tour operator.

    24. Jade City/Cassiar

    Jade City on Stewart Cassiar Highway, uniqye small town to visit in BC
    Jade City on the Stewart Cassiar Highway, Northwest BC

    Jade City is named for the extensive jade deposits found nearby and offers a glimpse into jade mining. Not so much of a city, but a special “spot on the road” in the Cassiar Highlands of northwestern British Columbia, on Highway 37 near Yukon.

    With a population of approximately 20 people, the family-run jade mining operation is a stop of particular interest on the Stewart Cassiar Highway. The owners of the Cassiar Mountain Jade Store are experts in everything from prospecting to carving this beautiful stone.

    Enjoy free coffee, free camping, and free Internet.

    Read more: Stewart-Cassiar Hwy 37 Highway Travel Guide

    Bucket List Jade City

    • Spend time at the Cassiar Mountain Jade Store and learn about the area and jade mining. This is a great place to buy beautiful souvenirs.
    • Visit the ghost town of Cassiar, an old asbestos mining town 10 km west of the highway.
    • There are old mining trails into the mountains for the adventure seeker. Ask at the store.
    • Look out for Thinhorn mountain sheep, mountain goats, caribou, and moose in the area.

    25. Atlin

    Atlin BC Million Dollar View and a special small towns in BC to visit
    Atlin BC, Northwest British Columbia

    No wonder the remote community of Atlin on the eastern shore of Atlin Lake in the far northwestern tip of British Columbia is known as “Little Switzerland”. Atlin is a pretty unique small town in BC and worth a visit. By road, you only can get to this beautiful small British Columbia town from Yukon.

    While there, make sure to hike up to the top of Monarch Mountain, a spectacular 4-hour hike with a million-dollar view.

    Read more: Atlin BC Travel Guide

    Bucket List Atlin:

    • Try Gold panning on Pine Creek.
    • Enjoy bird watching at the lagoon at the end of First Street in Atlin.
    • Mountain biking at its best on old forestry roads and mining roads.
    • Motorboating, canoeing, and kayaking on the lakes around Atlin.
    • Try white water kayaking.
    • Check out glacier flights, boat charters, guided tours, and heliskiing.
    • Monarch Mountain is a 4-hour hike with spectacular views.

    Related Links

    British Columbia Travel GuideRoad trip planner for the wilderness
    17 Best Towns in Northwest TerritoriesUltimate Camping Guide for Canada
    19 Best Alberta Towns to VisitTop 12 Canadian Camping Apps
    19 Best Alberta Towns to visitHow to keep safe on Solo Road Trips

    This website contains affiliate links. At no cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend products and companies I use and the income helps keep this website up. Thank you!


    TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES
    Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources?

    Book Your Flight
    Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Kiwi.com. This is one of my top choices for booking flights. Kiwi is reliable, fair, trustworthy, fast, easy to use, and offers the Kiwi guarantee! Try it out next time you’re looking for a flight.

    Book Your Accommodation
    Book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you are planning to stay at other accommodation, use Booking.com as it offers the cheapest prices for guesthouses and hotels.

    Travel Insurance
    Don’t forget Travel Insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It gives you protection in case anything goes wrong. My favourite company that offers the best service and value is Safety Wing.

    Get Your Travel Visas
    Get your Travel Visa hassle-free with iVisa. Apply directly online with their simplified application process and personal assistance. They also offer a passport renewal service.

    Top Tour Companies for Best Tours
    Get the best out of your vacation and check out GetYour Guide and Viator for the top tours available at your destination. Booking in advance for a unique and hassle-free journey.
    TourRadar, another trusted tour company specializes in multi-day trips.

    Need More Help Planning Your Trip?
    Jump over to the Travel Resource Page where I highlight all the great companies that I trust when I travel.

    Need New Camping or Travel Gear, Maps, or Outdoor Clothes?
    Check out Backcountry Store for the best companies.

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  10. Mexico and Canada Now – Top differences you should know

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    Mexico and Canada are both North American countries, but they are so different.


    Introduction

    Canadians come to Mexico to escape the frozen north during the winter months. Mexico has been a popular destination for Canadian snowbirds for decades. Easy entry requirements, welcoming locals, an endless coastline, superb beaches, and cheap margaritas have been attractive to many sun-loving Canadians.

    Canada and Mexico are both North American countries, both neighbouring the United States of America. Although they are all geographically close, Mexico is simply a different country from its northern neighbours. Don’t assume that anything will be the same south of the border.

    Mexico is a Latin American nation with a large Spanish-speaking, Roman Catholic population. Canada is an Anglo-American country with a majority of English-speaking population and a more balanced mix of religions.

    The indigenous village of Chamula, Chapa Mexico on a weekend

    My Mexico experience as a Canadian

    My first trip to Mexico from Canada was in the spring of 2020 when I spent two months near a small pueblo close to the beautiful city of San Miguel de Allende, in the central Mexican highlands.

    The second trip followed in the spring of 2021, but this time with the intention to travel across the rest of this amazing country. For nearly six months I explored Mexico by bus, colectivos (mini-busses), airplanes, and by taking the famous La Chepe (Copper Canyon train) across northern Mexico. Travelling to historic cities, stopping at old mining towns, climbing aged pyramids, swimming in Mexicos’ famous cenotes, hiking to impressive waterfalls, and visiting old Mayan villages are only a small collection of my amazing journey.

    My third trip to Mexico was in October 2023, spending time on Isla Mujeres, off the Cancun coast before heading to the Amazonas, South America. After that adventure trip I flew from Suriname to Mexico City, took the bus to Cuernavaca and a week later continued on an overnight bus to Puerto Vallarta.

    I aquiered Mexican permenent residency in 2022 and can honestly say that I know Mexico pretty well.

    Cenotes Mexico
    Cenotes and wild beauty off-the-beaten-path

    Backcountry travel in Mexico

    Even in Mexico I much prefer exploring the backcountry instead of crowded cities and resorts. One of my highlights in Mexico was my trip from San Luis Potosi to the desert town of Estacion Wadley, famous for gold and silver and peyote cactus used by native cultures for thousands of years for ceremonial purposes.

    From this off-the-beaten-track town, the adventure continued to Real de Catorce. As a passenger in the back of one of the famous old Willys (off-road vehicles, background of the Jeep) maneuvering across road gaps and along narrow rough roads, crossing semi-desert plains and high elevations made this trip a thrilling experience.

    The old ghost town of Real Catorce in the San Luis Potosi mountains was revived into an amazing tourist town (Pueblo Magico). Many abandoned buildings remain of times gone by. Hiking into the surrounding hills on old dusty trails takes you across aged ruins of old villages with plenty of donkeys and mules dotting the desert landscape.

    Real de Catorce Mexocp
    Ghost town Real de Catorce, an old mining town

    Visa requirements for Mexico

    Thanks to the generous Mexican immigration laws, many retired Canadians and Americans have spent half of the year residing in Mexico for years. A 180-day tourist visa was guaranteed by entering the country until early 2022. That is when the tourist visa rules changed.

    Since then. the 180 days were reduced to whatever the border official decides to give you when entering the country. It seems to be an attempt to attract more people to apply for permanent Mexican residency. Before booking an extended trip to Mexico, check out the government website for the newest entry requirements.

    Runins of an old town Mexico
    Aged ruins of an old town

    Covid travel restrictions

    The Mexican borders were open to tourists during the Covid era with no Covid entry requirements at all. A large percentage of the Mexican population was wearing masks, often under their nose.

    Apart from banks, supermarkets, and government buildings mask-wearing never got enforced. No wonder tourism in Mexico is doing well, and no wonder Canadians flock to Mexico in large numbers.

    Canada’s never-ending Covid restrictions were some of the toughest in the world. It’s no surprise that many Canadians escape to Mexico.

    Corona Mexico
    Corona is all over Mexico

    Local bus travel

    I love taking local buses in Mexico, especially in small towns. Often the front door of the bus is kept open for fresh air with blaring music coming through the loudspeakers.

    To be sure not to miss the bus stop where I want to get off I always try to get a front seat. There I can watch the bus driver texting on his cellphone while maneuvering along the bumpy cobblestone roads.

    Parts of Mexican life remind me of how life used to be in Canada not that long ago.

    Many local Mexican busses are decorated with personal effects and religious symbols like a cross, and a rosary, as well as religious pictures.

    I have my own vehicle In Canada and therefore I never take local buses and I don’t think many people in Canada do. This is unless you live in a large city of course.

    Mexican Local bus
    Local bus in Mexico

    Long-distance bus travel

    It might surprise you, but long-distance bus travel in Mexico is pretty comfortable if you use one of the major long-distance bus companies. It’s somehow like travelling business class on an airplane. Different companies operate different routes usually by region.

    With toilets onboard and personal entertainment centers, I prefer a long bus ride instead of dealing with the hassle of flying. There are many cheaper second-class long-distance busses available but with lots of stopping on the way, with less comfort and a rougher ride.

    Long-distance buses are used a lot by the Mexican population. Domestic flights in Mexico are fairly reasonably priced as well.

    Living in Canada without a car is pretty unthinkable. Even an average family in Canada owns one or multiple vehicles. It has to do with the long distances and remote areas and a pretty limited public transport system.

    Greyhound used to be Canada’s country-wide bus network before they permanently closed their service in Canada in 2021. New bus companies have sprung up offering different routes with a limited network.

    As a tourist in Canada, you are best off renting a car to see the country. Check here for other transportation options. Domestic flights in Canada are expensive.

    Cactus central highlands Mexico
    Central Highlands, Mexico, Cactus blooming

    Police presence in Mexico for tourists’ safety

    Especially in Mexico’s larger cities, you often see the municipal police conspicuously driving through the touristy areas fully geared up with armour and with big rifles posing in the back of a pickup truck.

    Canadians come to Mexico to escape winter and to enjoy the beautiful beaches and the good life. Unfortunately, because of the horrific media reports back home, many still have cartel shootouts and roadside horror stories in the back of their mind. Cops armed to the teeth are supposed to make tourists feel a bit safer. Many of us wonder whether a lot of it is a bit of a facade.

    In Canada, police presence is less noticeable and more discrete. The RCMP doesn’t drive around with pointed machine guns.

    Mexican Police
    Mexican Police is ready for action

    Hiking trails with a difference

    Hiking in Mexico is a totally different experience. You won’t find many marked hiking trails. Therefore, following an old mule or horse trail is often the only option if you’re in doubt about what direction to take. It is nearly impossible to find trail descriptions or hiking maps.

    Mexico’s varied landscape lacks the lakes and rivers we have in Canada. Instead, you can have a dip in the ocean or explore the many beautiful cenotes and hot springs all around Mexico.

    Central and northern Mexico have many desert-like landscapes with huge cactus plants, just as you see in some Western movies. When hiking in these areas, cactus spikes tear your shoes and clothes and scratch your legs. Using a pair of tweezers for picking out dorns from your skin is not unusual after a hike.

    On these trails, there is nowhere to hold on to when climbing up steep terrain through cactus forests. Cactus spikes are traitorous.

    Mexico has volcanos you can climb. Because of the extremely high altitude, climbing attempts are only suggested for physically fit hikers. Hiring a guide is recommended for these hikes.

    Horses, donkeys, mules, cows, and sheep along the trails are part of the Mexican landscape.

    Hiking is much more common in Canada.

    Nearly every town you come to in Canada has an extensive trail network. Provincial and National parks offer hikes for every fitness level. Most trails are safe without having to hire a guide.

    Canadian hiking books and maps are easily available. While in Mexico you can hike without worrying about wild animals, In Canada you have to be bear aware at all times.

    A diverse Mexican landscape
    Mexico has a diverse landscape – Guanajuato

    Exploring Mexican and Canadian cities on foot

    Mexican cities and towns seem to be pretty chaotic when you arrive first. Still, they seem to function pretty well.

    The busy car, bus, taxi, motorcycle, and ATV traffic maneuvers through narrow cobblestone oneway streets and alleys with ease.

    Walking on sidewalks in Mexican is a bit tricky and needs constant attention. While walking on the narrow, and raised concrete cobblestone sidewalk strips you better watch your steps. Open sewer shafts and other holes in the ground are a real hazard in many Mexican towns. Tripping and falling into a hole while looking around and marvelling at old Mexican architecture is not a good idea.

    Most Mexican cities have a historic centre with the main square, and the major attractions nearby. That makes sightseeing easy on foot.

    Keep your eyes open for surprises behind brick and stone walls, where you will find beautiful gardens, cafes, and restaurants.

    Most Canadian cities lack a distinctive downtown, are more spread out, and are not passenger-friendly. Blocked-off roads for pedestrians are not common.

    Population differences

    According to Wikipedia, Mexico is the 10th most populated country. One thing I noticed right away in Mexico was the high number of young families and a generally young population.

    Looking around me while strolling through Mexican towns I often notice to be one of the older ones in the crowd. That changes when visiting Mexican Expats heavens where the majority of people are retired.

    Canada has a much older population. It’s no secret that Canada’s population is rapidly aging as the baby boomers are retiring with predictable consequences. At the same time, Canadians are having fewer children than they did decades ago.

    Local businesses and markets

    In Mexico, you still can shop for all your needs at small local businesses and markets. Small food stands are located at every corner as well as small family restaurants. OXO shops spread out all over Mexico are similar to the Seveneleven’s in Canada. Only in larger towns, you will find Starbucks and American fast-food chains.

    Mexico is famous for its colourful markets. There you will find anything from clothes, and household articles to fresh meat and fruit and vegetables at incredibly low prices.

    In Canada, most stores and restaurants are franchise businesses. The majority of people shop in big box stores and online and small privately-owned shops are harder to find. If you’re lucky you will come across a privately owned coffee shop or restaurant.

    You will find many family-owned, seasonal shops in the fruit-growing areas in Canada where you can stock up for the long winter month. Canada has seasonal outdoor markets on a much smaller scale, but you probably won’t find any bargains there.

    Local Mexican market
    Mexican markets are colourful and diverse

    Different ways of building houses

    In Mexico, there are not many wood structures and nearly everything is concrete. Concrete blocks and poured cement is the basic makeup of buildings here.

    The most obvious reason for it is the climate, termites, and limited timbers. Typically, concrete walls, often looking like fortresses surround Mexican homes. Behind the wall facades are houses with courtyards and beautiful gardens. I haven‘t figured out yet whether the wall is for privacy or safety reasons or both.

    The stone keeps the houses cool during the hot times of the year, but also uncomfortably cold during the winter months as heating in Mexico is not common.

    For someone to have air conditioning in Mexico is pretty rare, apart from some beach resorts or extremely hot areas in the northern part of Mexico.

    Canada is the home of log homes, log cabins, and timber-framed houses. Instead of concrete, Canada uses wood for house construction. With Canada’s huge forests and mills and wood export industry, this is no surprise. Homes are cozy and warm and a good heating system is important. Wood stoves and wood heat are common. During the hot summers in the southern regions of Canada, air conditioning units are widespread.

    Desert town of Estacion Wadley
    Desert town of Estacion Wadley

    Climate and environment

    Since Mexico’s terrain is extremely varied, so is the weather. Mexico has dry deserts, tropical forests, fertile valleys, and snow-capped mountains

    The climate varies according to altitude. On the coast, the temperatures are generally warm all year round, with a dry and rainy season and little temperature fluctuation from season to season. Mexico City as well as the highlands can have chilly days, and nights that are actually frigid.

    Canada’s climate is also varied. Extreme differences in weather on any given day from one part of the country to another are normal.

    The southern two-thirds of Canada has very cold winters and short, cool summers. In the central-southern part of the interior plains, there are very cold winters, hot summers, and relatively sparse precipitation amounts.

    Sierra Gorda Mexico
    Hidden Treasures of Sierra Gorda, Mexico

    Cash is still king in Mexico

    Most of Mexico still relies on cash payments. According to CashEssentials, the country’s cash infrastructure has expanded during the pandemic. Despite sensational media coverage announcing the premature death of cash and the advent of cashless payments in Mexico.

    Cash is deeply rooted in Mexico’s culture and the mentality of the Mexican people.

    Therefore, make sure to always have a pocket full of cash when travelling in Mexico. Don’t expect to be able to pay your accommodation or restaurant bill with your credit card unless you’re at a resort or tourist place.

    Coins become handy to tip your bag carrier or to drop into a street musician’s hat. You also need coins to enter public washrooms and get your stack of toilet paper.

    In Canada, I often walk around with no cash at all. Some stores don’t even accept cash anymore. With your card, you can pay for everything from a coffee to your dollar item at a store.

    The differences in family culture

    Mexicans have huge, well-knit families. Typically, family members treat each other with love and respect. Family is first priority, with children sheltered and given lots of attention.

    The women are expected to fulfill the domestic roles. Mexican parents are super strict with their children and that continues even when they are grown up. Most Mexican children don’t even consider leaving their parent’s home before the late twenties to early thirties or until they get married.

    Not everyone owns a car in Mexico. Small motorbikes accommodating the whole family are common.

    In Canada, the family usually comes second to work. Both parents usually have to go to work to make ends meet. Children are independent at an early age. Generally, young people leave home early. Canadian family members live often in different provinces and territories and don’t see each other for long periods.

    Indigenous Mexico

    Mexico and Canada eating habits differences

    Mexicans usually eat breakfast around 9 am, lunch mid-afternoon, and dinner late from 8 to 9 pm. Meat, especially chicken, as well as homemade corn tortillas and chips, are a big part of most meals. Finding healthy food away from tourist towns can be a challenge.

    Head for the local markets where fresh produce and fruit are plentiful and cheap. Especially in the southern parts of Mexico markets are huge and open daily. Do not drink water from the tap in Mexico. Food poisoning is not uncommon.

    Canadians eat their meals earlier, especially dinner. Although generally big meat eaters, it is easier to find vegetarian meals and healthy food in stores. During summer most Canadian towns have a weekly outdoor market with fresh produce and local food.

    Canadians drink lots of milk, even with a meal, which doesn’t happen in Mexico. Tap water in Canada is generally safe to drink. Most city water is fluoridated and tastes and smells disgusting.

    Unless people have their own well and a filtering system, most Canadians buy their drinking water as well.

    Other differences between Canada and Mexico

    • In Canada, calling an elder by their first name is common, but that would not be polite in Mexico. There you talk to them in the third person.
    • Dress and grooming are status symbols in Mexico. In Canada, appearance is secondary to performance.
    • In Mexico, truth is often tempered by the need for diplomacy and keeping face. In Canada, Yes/No answers are expected and truth is an absolute value.
    • Mexico is a noisy country with fireworks, barking dogs, roosters and loud music possibly keeping you awake at night. In Canada, you would get charged with disturbance.
    Waterfall in Chapas, Mexico
    Waterfall in Chapas

    Related Articles

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  11. 10 Iconic Yukon Highways

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    Fast, wild, and beautiful – a road trip on Yukon’s iconic highways.

    The 10 Most Iconic Yukon Highways – Roads To Adventure

    Get behind the wheel and get ready for the road trip of a lifetime, driving the Yukon highways.

    There is no better feeling than driving the northern highways and having the roads to yourself. Forget about traffic jams, busy roads, and driving stress. Enjoy the fantastic scenery from desert and sand dunes to glaciated mountains and historic rivers. And finally, see wild animals in real time. Enjoy the midnight sun during summer when the days stretch to almost 24 hours.

    Facts about driving Yukon Highways

    When planning your trip, consider the fact that Yukon Highways are mostly taking you through wilderness areas. Service stations and services are far apart and often you won’t have cell phone reception. You most probably will come across road construction sights. It’s important to follow posted speed limits and directions. Always watch for wildlife on Yukon Highways.

    10 Iconic Yukon Highways

    1) Alaska Highway: Yukon Highway #1

    • Connects: Watson Lake to Beaver Creek
    • Distance: 885 km
    • Highway Condition: Paved
    • Driving time: Approximately 9 hours 30 minutes
    • Related link: British Columbia portion of Alaska Highway
    Kluane National Park Yukon
    Kluane National Park

    The Yukon portion of the Alaska Highway is winding in and winding out its way northwestward through wild river valleys and along tree-lined crystal clear lakes. The highway crosses many streams and rivers that are part of two great watersheds. The MacKenzie River drains to the Arctic Ocean and the Yukon River runs nearly 3,220 km to the Bering Sea.

    In the west, the Alaska Highway parallels Kluane National Park and St. Elias Range, Canada’s tallest mountains.

    Highlights Alaska Highway:

    • Add a sign to the signpost forest at Watson Lake
    • Experience the Teslin Tlingit Culture
    • Camp at Kluane Lake
    • Take a picture of Mount Logan, Canada’s highest mountain
    • Try to catch fresh fish dinner at a roadside stream

    2) Klondike Highway: Yukon Highway #2

    • Connects: Skagway, Alaska, and Dawson City
    • Distance: 717 km
    • Driving Time: Approximately 8 hours
    • Highway Condition: Asphalt surfaced in good condition
    • Related Link: Klondike Highway Travel Guide
    Teslin Bridge across Teslin River
    Teslin Bridge across Teslin River

    The Klondike Highway connects Skagway, Alaska and Dawson City, Yukon, the heart of the Klondike. From Skagway, Alaska the road climbs to the 1003 m summit near the Alaska/Canada border.

    Between Skagway and the border, the road roughly parallels the old White Pass Trail, an alternative to the Chilkoot Trail. The Chilcoot was the shorter route for the gold seekers and therefore the more popular one.

    The only community between Skagway and Whitehorse is the small hamlet of Carcross.

    Highlights Klondike Highway:

    • Get aboard the Scenic Railway of the World
    • Visit the world’s smallest desert
    • Pan for gold in Dawson City

    3) Haines Highway: Yukon Highway #3

    • Connects: Haines Junction, Yukon to Haines, Alaska
    • Distance: 235 km
    • Driving Time: Approximately 4 hours
    • Highway Condition: Paved, 2-line highway, open year-round
    Black bears along northern highways
    Frequent bear sighting opportunities

    Yukon Highway 3 takes you from Haines Junction, Yukon, a small community at km 1635 on the Alaska Highway to the coastal town of Heines, Alaska. Enjoy spectacular views of mountains and glaciers, changing to forests and alpine tundra along the way. The road climbs up to an elevation of 1,070 m at Chilkat Pass.

    Although the highway is maintained year-round if you plan on travelling the route between September 1st and June 1st be sure to check weather conditions.

    Check on the Canadian and US customs opening hours before the trip and bring your passport. Note the different time zones between Canada and the US.

    Highlights Haines Highway:

    • Birdwatching – gyrfalcons, snow buntings ptarmigan, red-throated loons, as well as other species
    • Venture on one of the many hikes
    • Fish for king salmon at Takhanne River in early June

    4) Robert Campbell Highway: Yukon Highway #4

    • Connects: Watson Lake to Carmacks
    • Distance: 582 km
    • Highway Condition: Both gravel and pavement, all-weather road, can be rough and slippery in winter
    • Driving time: Approximately 7 hours
    • Related Link: Robert Campbell Highway Travel Guide
    Robert Campbell Highway Yukon
    Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon

    The Robert Campbell highway connects Watson Lake (km 1022 on the Alaska Highway) with Carmacks (km 356 on the Klondike Highway). This is mostly a narrow, windy gravel road is an alternative route to Dawson City.

    At Ross River, you can choose to take the Canol Road 210 km which rejoins the Alaska Highway at km 1345 (Canol Road Junction). Make sure to check for road conditions on Canol Road, especially if you are driving a large vehicle.

    Highlights Robert Campbell Highway:

    • Travel slowly and camp along the way
    • Take a canoe trip down the Pelly River
    • Explore the First Nations town of Ross River
    • Spend time at the Campbell Region Interpretive Centre in the former mining town of Faro

    5) Dempster Highway: Yukon Highway #5

    • Connects: Klondike Highway to Inuvik, NWT
    • Distance: 736 km
    • Highway condition: gravel, open all year round, ferry service or ice bridge in winter
    • Driving time: Approximately 10 to 14 hours,
    • Related Link: Dempster Highway – a road trip to the Arctic
    Yukons iconic highway - Dempster Highway
    Iconic Dempster Highway

    The Dempster Highway (Yukon Route 5 / Northwest Territories Route 8) was completed in 1979. This is a gravel and crushed stone highway which extends to Inuvik, an Inuit village 325 km above the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories.

    This wilderness route takes you to extremely remote regions of the Yukon cutting through the rugged mountain ranges of the Ogilvie and Richardson Mountains.

    During rain, the road from Eagle Plains to Inuvik can be pretty treacherous.

    Highlights Dempster Highway:

    • Venture on a day or overnight hike in the Tombstone Mountains
    • Learn about permafrost and the tundra vegetation
    • Pick cloudberries for breakfast
    • Spend a night near the Arctic Circle
    • Look out for caribou, grizzlies, and other wildlife
    • Visit the gravesite of the Lost Patrol at Fort Pherson

    6) South Canal Road: Yukon Highway #6

    • Connects: Johnsons Crossing to Ross River
    • Distance: 220 km
    • Driving Time:
    • Road condition: gravel, rough, narrow winding road, one-way bridges, and sometimes road closure due to washouts, closed to traffic in winter
    • Related Link: 5 Epic Gravel Highways
    South Canol Road, Yukon Highway 6 to Ross River
    South Canol Road, Yukon Highway 6 to Ross River

    The Canol Road leaves the Alaska Highway at kilometre 1345 and cuts through the wilderness to Ross River, where it intersects with the Robert Campbell Highway.

    The seasonal road takes you above the treeline with scenic views of south-central Yukon’s wilderness. You will be travelling through the traditional territory of the Kaska and interior Tlingit First Nations.

    The South Canol Road turns into North Canol Road past Ross River across the river and ends at the border of the Northwest Territories.

    North Canol Road: Yukon Highway #6

    • Connects: Ross River to Macmillan Pass at the Northwest Territories border
    • Distance: 206 km
    • Road condition: Rough, summer road only
    North Canol Road Ross River Yukon Highways
    Start of the North Canol Road across the River at Ross River

    This north section of the Canol Highway is a summer road only but with no services or facilities beyond Ross River. It provides access to the wilderness of eastern central Yukon as well as the Canol Road Heritage Trail.

    The road parallels the famed and short-lived Canol, or Canadian Oil pipeline. Until the end of the war, it carried oil from Camp Canol near Norman Wells, Northwest Territories to Johnsons Crossing, Yukon.

    The North Canol Road is steep and narrow in places and can be extremely slippery when it rains.

    Highlights Canol Road:

    • Grayling fishing on Ross River and dinner in the wilderness
    • Driving one of the most challenging Yukon highways
    • Test your wilderness skills in real-time



    7) The Atlin Road: Highway #7

    • Connects: Atlin, British Columbia, with the Tagish Road and the Alaska Highway at Jake’s Corner
    • Distance: 94 km
    • Driving time: Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes
    • Road Condition: Narrow and windy at some sections but in good condition
    • Related Link: Atlin BC Travel Guide
    Yukon highways Atlin Road
    Floatplanes on Atlin Lake, BC

    The Atlin Road turns south from the Alaska Highway (Yukon Highway 1), at 1.6 km from the junction with the Alaska Highway at Jake’s Corner, km 1393. The road parallels the eastern shore of Atlin Lake, the largest natural lake in British Columbia.

    The road ends at the community of Atlin, located in the extreme northwest corner of British Columbia. Like other northern towns, Atlin was born during the great gold rush of 1898 when gold was discovered in nearby Pine Creek. Many historic buildings are still standing. To this day, there are active mining operations in the area.

    Highlights Atlin Road:

    • Discover the Gold Rush history
    • Plan a kayak trip to the southern shore of Atlin Lake and hike to Lewellin Glacier
    • Book a floatplane for a spectacular sightseeing adventure

    8) Top of the World Highway: Yukon Highway #9

    • Connects: Dawson City, Yukon to the Alaska-Yukon border, where it becomes the Taylor Highway (Alaska Route 5) and continues to Tetlin Junction, Alaska
    • Distance: 281 km
    • Travel Time: Minimum of 4 hours
    • Road Condition: Gravel and paved section, open from mid-May to mid-October, but possible to close earlier due to snow
    • Related Link: 5 Epic Travel Highways
    Top of the World Highway, Yukon
    Top of the World Highway, Yukon Highways at its best

    Top of the World is one of the Yukon Highways you don’t want to miss. As the name reveals, for most of the journey you drive along the peaks and crests of mountains and hills, leaving the valleys below. These mountains are rich with minerals and gold rush history and are the home to moose, caribou, and bears.

    This gravel highway is winding and narrow in many places. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. The road is maintained only during late spring to early fall, depending on the ferry service at Dawson City. Border crossings are only allowed when customs offices are open (9 am to 9 pm Pacific time).

    Highlights Top of the World Highway:

    • Take a detour to the historic town of Eagle, Alaska
    • Explore Chicken, Alaska, the frontier town with a special charm






    9) The Nahanni Range Road: Yukon Highway #10

    • Connects: 107.8 km on the Campbell Highway north of Watson Lake to Canada Tungsten Mine
    • Distance: 200 km
    • Road condition: Gravel, no services along this road
    Nahanni Road Map, Yukon
    Nahanni Road Map

    Shortly after leaving the Campbell Highway, the road winds through a pass between 2,100 m mountains, and then the road parallels the Hyland and Little Hyland rivers towards the Northwest Territories border at Km 188.

    The town of Tungsten (Cantung) is not accessible to the public and there are no services along the road. There are places to camp along the way as well as the small government campground at Km 84.

    Highlights Nahanni Highway:

    • Fish for Arctic grayling
    • Paddle down the Hyland River
    • Camp under the midnight sun

    10) Silver Trail: Highway #11

    • Connects: Klondike Highway at Stewart Crossing to Kino City
    • Distance: 110 km
    • Travel Time: Approximately 1 hour 30 minutes
    • Road Condition: Asphalt-surfaced to Mayo and rough gravel to Keno, open year-round
    • Related Link: Silver Trail Travel Guide,
    Keno City at the end of the Silver Trail, Yukon's iconic highways
    Keno City at the end of the Silver Trail

    The Silver Trail to Mayo follows the Stewart River through an area that once was the richest silver-mining region in Canada. Pick up a Mayo Historical Buildings Walking Tour booklet at the Binnet House to have a peek into the history of the settlement.

    After Mayo, the road turns to gravel and therefore can be rough after a couple of days of rain. The road takes you to the old mining town of Elsa and ends at Keno City, the most unique frontier town in the Yukon.

    Highlights Silver Trail:

    • Visit the Binet House in Mayo
    • Learn about the mining history at Yukon’s largest mining museum
    • Hike up to Sourdough Hill
    • Drive up to Keno Hill Signpost for a million-dollar view
    • Stop in at Keno’s Snack Bar for the best pizza in the Yukon
    • Find out about mushroom hunting in the Yukon

    Yukon Resources and Related Links

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    TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES
    Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources?

    Book Your Flight
    Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Kiwi.com. This is one of my top choices for booking flights. Kiwi is reliable, fair, trustworthy, fast, easy to use, and offers the Kiwi guarantee! Try it out next time you’re looking for a flight.

    Book Your Accommodation
    Book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you are planning to stay at other accommodation, use Booking.com as it offers the cheapest prices for guesthouses and hotels.

    Travel Insurance
    Don’t forget Travel Insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It gives you protection in case anything goes wrong. My favourite company that offers the best service and value is Safety Wing.

    Get Your Travel Visas
    Get your Travel Visa hassle-free with iVisa. Apply directly online with their simplified application process and personal assistance. They also offer a passport renewal service.

    Top Tour Companies for Best Tours
    Get the best out of your vacation and check out GetYour Guide and Viator for the top tours available at your destination. Booking in advance for a unique and hassle-free journey.
    TourRadar, another trusted tour company specializes in multi-day trips.

    Need More Help Planning Your Trip?
    Jump over to the Travel Resource Page where I highlight all the great companies that I trust when I travel.

    Need New Camping or Travel Gear, Maps, or Outdoor Clothes?
    Check out Backcountry Store for the best companies.

  12. Keno City Yukon, the end of The Silver Trail

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    Back again, driving the Silver Trail gravel highway on the way to Keno City

    A small dot on Google Maps marks the existence of this tiny, nearly forgotten, old Gold Rush town in the mountains of central Yukon, northern Canada. Despite its name, Keno City is the smallest community in the Yukon, hidden far off the beaten track. Not many travellers venture this way.

    To get to this old historic mining town you have to take the Silver Trail (Yukon Highway 11) at Stewart Crossing and travel 110 kilometres (68 miles) to the end of the road.

    Silver Trail Highway to Keno City
    Silver Trail Highway to Keno City

    Why I missed Keno during my previous Yukon road trip

    Two years earlier I travelled on the Silver Trail with the destination of Keno City in mind. Unfortunately, I never made it past the village of Mayo, halfway down the Silver Trail. I stopped in front of the historic Binet House because I wanted to check out the interpretive information panels and the geology and mining display.

    When I reached for my purse leaving the car, it was gone. I quickly realized that I left it behind at the Pelly Crossing Selkirk Centre where I filled up my gas tank and used the washroom, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) down the road. In big shock and panic, I remembered my purse with all my IDs, bank cards and money hanging on a hook in the women’s washroom.

    Imagine me, all alone on a road trip in the middle of Yukon’s wilderness, nearly 3,000 kilometres (1,864 miles) from home without any ID and money.

    I turned around as quickly as I could speeding down the dusty Silver Trail and the North Klondike Highway back to Pelly Crossing. And there my purse was, waiting for me to be picked up at the counter.

    Paradise for waterfowls along the Silver Trails
    A paradise for waterfowls along the Silver Trails

    Believe me, I was a happy camper that night. But because of my purse, I never made it to Keno City during that trip and continued up to Dawson City instead. The lesson of the day is never to keep all your valuables in the same place when you travel.

    Two years later I’m heading for Keno City again

    Now, two years later, on this warm, sunny Yukon morning in late August, I am back on the Silver Trail heading for Keno City. The winding road from the Stewart River Bridge cuts through the traditional Territory of the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation.

    I stop for a short break at the Devil’s Elbow, a prime moose calving and protected habitat and hike the trail to the viewing lookout over the wetland.

    Start of the Silver Trail Highway
    Start of the Silver Trails Highway

    The town of Mayo

    Back at the Binet House in the small village of Mayo, I take a quick tour of their display and pick up information pamphlets about the area.

    Mayo holds the record for the extreme temperature range. Imagine living where temperatures are recorded in the range from +36 degrees Celcius (100℉) and -62 degrees Celcius (-80℉).

    From pavement to gravel

    Shortly after Mayo the pavement stops and the Silver Trail turns into a gravel road. Yukon’s gravel highways and their potholes and sagging shoulders are not new to me.

    I can easily imagine the condition of this road and the difficulty of keeping it maintained during extreme weather conditions.

    Continuing along the gravel highway I pass idyllic, crystal-clear lakes and large areas of marshland, home to an abundance of beautiful water birds.

    A breathtaking view of Mount Haldane only lets me guess what mountain hiking would be like in this lonely, wild land.

    Silver Trail after the rain
    The Silver Trail after the rain

    Ghost town Elsa

    Just a few kilometres before arriving in Keno City I pass the old silver mining town of Elsa. Elsa was the townsite for United Keno Hill Mines until it shut down in 1989. Along the hills, a few old buildings are scattered reminding us of times gone by. Elsa is closed to the public and can’t be entered.

    Arriving in Keno City

    Continuing down the dirt road I quickly approach Keno City which means that I have finally reached the end of the Silver Trail.

    Within a flash of an eye, I feel like being transferred into another world. I fell in love with this historic frontier town at first sight – it’s like no other place I’ve ever been to.

    Arriving in Keno City, Yukon
    Arriving in Keno City, Yukon

    For a short time, Keno was part of Yukon’s Gold Rush. Later, silver was discovered which transferred Keno into a booming mining town in the early 1900s.

    Keno City, Yukon experienced the boom and busts of a mining town for decades. When the Keno Hill mine closed in 1989, many residents left. The ones that stuck around are the ones that make Keno so special today.

    Yukon's biggest Mining Museum
    Yukon’s biggest mining museum

    The mining museum tells the stories of the people who mined in the Silver Trail region and is Keno City’s landmark. It is surrounded by a collection of colonial buildings along the dusty streets.

    Keno is home to a maximum of 20 residents, in summer that is. In winter there are only a few hard-core locals left.

    The old-timers that stay around don’t want to turn their backs on this unique lifestyle. No matter how hard life is and the many sacrifices they have to endure to stay here, Keno beats city life.

    Best pizza in the Yukon at Mike Mancini’s Snack Bar

    Mike’s Snacbar is a must-stop while you’re in Keno City and is known for its famous Italian pizzas and hearty breakfasts. Mike, the owner is one of the oldtimers who can fill you in about Keno’s interesting history and its surroundings. It’s also a popular gathering point for retired mineworkers
    revisiting the area. There are budget accommodations for travellers and prospectors in a range of rustic buildings and old buses.

    The rustic Sourdough Hotel is the only hotel and bar left for its tiny population after the historic Keno Hotel burned down on December 12, 2020. Stop in for a karaoke night when you’re in town.

    Right along Lightning Creek is Keno’s great community Campground with fireplaces, free firewood, picnic tables, outhouses and a large shelter.

    A drive up to Keno Hill.

    Summit of Keno Hill and signpost, Yukon
    The summit of Keno Hill and the signpost

    While exploring the town I notice the sign for Keno Hill, an 11-kilometre (6.8 miles) drive to the famous signpost on top of Keno Hill. How can I resist!

    Here I am off on another epic drive manoeuvring steep switchbacks around boulders and big rocks to get to the famous signpost on Keno Hill at 1849 metres (6,066 feet).

    I’m rewarded with a breathtaking panorama overlooking the mountain range and the mining ruins along the hillsides.

    On the way down to Keno City from the signpost
    On the way down to Keno City from the signpost

    I stayed at the Keno City campground beside Lightning Creek that night. When the sun finally set before 11 pm my traveller’s heart was content once again.

    On top of Sourdough Hill near Keno City
    On top of Sourdough Hill near Keno City

    Related Links

    Yukon Skies
    The incredible Yukon Skies

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  13. Memorable Morel Mushroom Hunt in Central Yukon

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    Morel mushrooms are a delicacy and a sought-after food in kitchens worldwide.

    My first introduction to morels

    I remember the time growing up in Switzerland when each spring my dad got on his old bicycle and went to some secret spot in the forest to harvest a bagful of morels.

    Morels mushroom hunt in the Yukon
    Morels come in different shades

    Centuries later I came across morels while hiking on my property in the Okanagan, Canada with a mushroom picker friend. For many years before the first morel discovery on my land, I walked around the same area, but I never looked down to the ground to see the delicious camouflage mushrooms.

    My interest in foraging wild food

    In recent years foraging wild food has become a hobby of mine. Still, I never connected morel mushroom picking with the Yukon.

    Before I came back to Yukon this year I searched for a book on foraging in the north and Arctic Plants but never got to purchase one. Instead, I took along the British Columbia “Edible and Medicinal Plants Canada” book and the “Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms” by David Arora just in case I needed a reference, and I’m glad I did.

    Lack of fresh food supply in the north

    I often wondered how people survive in the north with not having fresh food available as we do in the southern parts of Canada. Not all communities across Canada’s north have a grocery store. Gas stations sometimes offer juice, pop and packaged food. For many northerners, this means driving for hours and hundreds of kilometres to get a fresh food supply.

    Another problem with the northern food supply is that fruit and vegetables don’t stay fresh for long because of the long travel time. And on top of that, fruit and vegetable prices are shockingly high. Therefore, foraging wild food in the north makes sense.

    I know for sure, harvesting wild food would be a way of adding to my food supply for the long winter months if I would live in Yukon permanently.

    Of course, harvesting is limited to the short Yukon summer. But in the land of the midnight sun there are plenty of daylight hours to get out there into the wild to harvest wild food and freeze, can or dry it, and stock up for the long, dark winter months.

    How I found out about the precious morels in the Yukon

    Last year on my way to Keno City I watched the wildfires roar in a distance but I never imagined that I would be picking morels a year later in these burnt areas.

    During my long road trip north up the Stewart Cassiar Highway #37 this year, the last week of June, I met other travellers on their way to the Yukon. I quickly found out that morel mushroom harvesting in areas where wildfires burnt the year before was the reason for many to travel north. This, of course, sparked my interest.

    Morels growing in burnt Yukon forests
    An abundance of morels growing in burnt Yukon forests

    When I arrived at my Keno City destination I heard the locals talk about the abundance of morels and the areas where they could be found.

    I learned, that every spring, Yukoners venture to their favourite harvesting places, which are often closely kept secrets, to pick morels. For some, it’s to enjoy them as part of their diet, for others to sell and make some money.

    I feel privileged that Yukon locals shared their knowledge with me, told me where the burnt areas were and how to get there.

    What you need to know about mushroom picking in the Yukon

    • To commercially harvest morel mushrooms in the Yukon you will need a permit, which is free of charge.
    • If you are harvesting for your own use, you don’t need a permit.
    • Morels emerge in the spring following a forest fire. Check out last year’s wildfire maps to see potential picking areas
    • You can only harvest mushrooms on vacant public land.
    • Stay away from First Nations lands.
    • If you travel to rural Yukon communities, be respectful when you’re there.
    Morel Mushroom hunt - buying camps
    Morel mushroom buyer’s camp

    Identifying and eating wild mushrooms

    • Identify morels with up-to-date mushroom guides or better yet, go out with an experienced mushroom picker.
    • Morels are easily recognized by their hollow, honeycombed cap that is intergrown with the stalk along its full length.
    • All morels should be cooked for at least 5 minutes before eating. Don’t eat them raw.
    • Watch out for the “false morels” which are dangerously poisonous.

    Morel mushroom picking lesson

    A rough side road off The Silver Trail took me to the edge of one of the burnt areas of last year’s wildfires. I wasn’t there alone. A couple of mushroom buyers had set up their camps nearby.

    Burnt forests, a morel mushroom heaven

    Soon after I arrived, appeared from between the burned tree skeleton with a full basket of Morels. Mike introduced himself as a professional mushroom picker and buyer with years of mushroom picking experience. He can be hired for mushroom harvesting excursions.

    As soon as I shared the fact that I’m new to picking morels, he followed me between the blackened trees and gave me a short lesson, what to look for and which morels to pick. He assured me that my bucket would be full within an hour. And he was right, it didn’t take me long to fill up my metal pail.

    Harvesting the morels

    It was fantastic walking around the ghostly burned forest and harvesting absolutely delicious food, for free.

    Morel harvesting takes place at different Crown land locations each year, depending on the burn of the previous year.

    After filling my bucket I walked down to Mike’s secluded campsite next to the lake surrounded by burned forest. It somehow looked eery but beautiful. I noticed all the new plants emerge and begin to flourish all over the burnt forest and that is pretty special to see.



    A mushroom picker’s camp

    Camp during morel mushroom hunt
    Mike Boudreau summer camp

    Camping in a burned area might not sound like the most enjoyable experience, but Mike Boudreau looked quite content.

    Mike’s basic camp setup seemed to be self-sufficient and quite comfortable for a few weeks of outdoor life. He had various mushroom drying systems in use from wire racks, constructed in front of the log shack as well as in tents and in his car.

    It proves again that people with this kind of lifestyle need to be innovative and flexible to make things work.

    I fully enjoyed my day of mushroom hunting in the Yukon, walking around in the woods breathing the fresh air and taking home a pail of delicious wild food.

    For the serious mushroom hunters out there, this is a great way to stay fit and make some money on the side!

    Related links

  14. How to keep safe on solo road trips in Canada

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    Venturing on many epic solo road trips has taught me how to be safe travelling solo through Canada’s most remote places.

    I’m pretty much relaxed and I feel safe when I’m on the road. Of course, we never know what can happen during an extended solo road trip. Fortunately, after travelling solo on many of Canada’s wild highways I have the experience and the skills needed to deal with most situations.


    Solo road trips in Canada and safety

    I have travelled to many parts of the world. But, it is only been the last few years that I started to explore Canada’s big north and drive the lonely highways to the most off-the-beaten-path places. I always camp along the way.

    My first extended solo road trip was from Lumby, BC to Bella Coola, the wilderness town in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, on BC’s northwest coast. The road to Bella Coola with its famous Hill is known as one of BC’s most treacherous roads. It was already late in the season and not the best time for tenting along the way. I learned a few important lessons on that trip.

    Since then I have travelled solo through most of the Northwest Territories region that can be reached by car and ventured on two extended road trips to Yukon and Alaska.

    Most tourist areas are safe. Violent crime in Canada is low compared to other countries, but it does exist. Yes, there were a few situations during my trips when I was worried and scared, but it was never as bad as it seemed and I survived. In the end, it is up to us to decide how much risk we want to take and what we are comfortable with.

    You don’t have to spend a night on a road pullout along a lonely highway or boondock where there is no one around like I often do. Find out what your comfort level is and adapt your trip accordingly.

    Everyone advised me not to go north after three travellers were killed along the Stewart Cassier highway, the highway I wanted to take to the Yukon border. Once it was known who the killers were and that they were seen in a different province, I went anyway. I couldn’t see the risk anymore. The night I spent at the side of the road, close to where the murder happened, it was raining and cold. And yes, I was pretty restless all night.

    The most important advice I can give you is: Listen to your guts!

    My 12 Top Tips to keep safe on solo road trips in Canada

    1. Use a reliable vehicle

    Make sure that your vehicle is in excellent mechanical condition. Have a tune-up and inspection done by a trustworthy mechanic. Let the mechanic know what kind of driving you are planning to do. Invest in good tires and a full-size spare.

    You don’t want to get stuck on a lonely highway. Unless you’re in a town, cell phone reception in Canada is not guaranteed.

    Learn how to change a tire before heading out on a road trip.

    If you decide to rent a car for your adventure, let the rental company know what kind of driving you’re planning to do.

    The famous gravel highways in Canada

    2. Get a Roadside Assistance Membership

    I’ve been a member of BCAA for years and have never used them on any of my trips. Still, knowing that I can get help on the road when I need it gives me peace of mind. The Premier Membership covers 320 km for free, which is often the distance I travel between places. Depending on your travel plan, a cheaper membership might work for you.

    3. Plan your route and let someone know where you are going

    Know what kind of roads you will be driving. Will you need to bring extra gasoline?

    I plan my trips using google maps. When I adapt my travel route I try to send a message about my whereabouts to a family member or a friend whenever I have cell phone reception or Internet.

    Check how long the distances are between towns and gas stations. Is there camping along the way?

    Keep safe on a solo road trip - campground
    My mini camper between big campers

    4. Pack the right gear

    Check out my Road trip planner for the wilderness and adapt it as necessary. Do not overpack and keep your gear to a minimum. It is easier to get organized this way so that everything you take along is within easy reach. If you’re in Canada, MEC is a great store for travel gear.

    Store your valuables in different places. Don’t keep all credit cards and bank cards, plus all your cash in your wallet. Believe me, I know what I’m talking about.

    5. Know what the road rules are in Canada

    It’s important to know Canada’s road rules for keeping safe on Canadian roads.

    You will encounter fast and aggressive drivers wherever you go and especially on lonely highways. Drive slowly on gravel roads. Slow down for approaching trucks, it will save your windshield. Watch out for wildlife at all times. In Canada, every year many accidents happen because of wild animals.

    6. Use a navigation tool to keep on track

    Since I invested in a car GPS I feel much safer and I don’t get lost anymore. I always know where I am, what direction I’m heading, and how far it is to my destination. Make sure you update the software before you leave for your trip. Using your cell phone might be sufficient for shorter trips, but I trust my car’s GPS more than I trust my cell phone.

    I also carry all available paper maps for the area I’m going to and I use my cell phone navigation as a backup. There are also many free apps for your cell phone available and some work offline as well.



    7. Always check on road and weather conditions

    Roads and highways in Canada can be treacherous at any time of year. The further north you go, the bigger the chance that you encounter roads in bad condition. It only needs a couple of rainy days to change a gravel highway into a muddy disaster.

    To keep up with road conditions download the appropriate Highway Conditions app for the province or territory you’re travelling in.

    8. Don’t pick up strangers

    It’s kind of hard for me to suggest this, after my hitchhiking era in my twenties. But for my own safety, I don’t pick up anybody along the road. My RAV4 is converted into a mini camper and there is no room for a passenger, which makes it easy for me to decline any rides.

    9. Don’t drive at night

    Unless you have accommodation booked and you know where you will spend the night, don’t drive at night. This keeps you from stopping at a place for the night where you don’t want to be and you don’t feel safe.

    Also, collisions with wild animals are more common at night and can result in serious accidents. 

    Keep safe on a raod trip in Canada, watch out for wildlife
    Watch out for wildlife on the road

    10. Sleep in your vehicle

    During my first few solo road trips, I slept in a tent. That might be a good option if you stay at the official campgrounds. But, it could be pretty scary when you’re on your own in a wild place where bears, cougars, and other wild animals are a common sight.

    Since I converted my RAV4 into a mini camper, I enjoy travelling alone much better and feel safer.

    If you are not an experienced solo wilderness camper yet, you might want to stay at official campsites.

    My top tips for sleeping in a vehicle on solo road trips:

    • Lock all the vehicle doors at night;
    • Keep one window open a crack for oxygen and fresh air;
    • Hang the car key on a string within reach, just in case you need it quickly to drive off;
    • Keep bear spray and flashlight within reach.

    11. Protect your identity

    Be cautious when using the free Internet in public places for doing money transactions and keep safe from online identity theft.

    If you’re worried, you can invest in a VPN (Virtual Private Network), an app that’s added to your computer or phone to increase security. I don’t use an app, but I’m careful where I do my online banking.

    12. Get travel insurance

    I never leave home without travel insurance. As a BC resident, I need additional insurance whenever I travel to another province or Territory in Canada. Check with your insurance before leaving home.

    Safety Wing is a great Startup Travel Insurance company with excellent conditions and prices worth checking out.



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  15. Instead of going North, I’m stuck at home

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    The situation hit me this morning. A beep on my cell phone and my Google Calendar popped up with the message: Going North. This was a reminder of the timeline planning I did when I was in Mexico in February. I never heard of this new virus at the time. Now I’m stuck at home in my mini-home in Oliver BC.

    I’m grateful that I got to enjoy life in beautiful Mexico during the eight weeks I spent there. When the news about the coronavirus emerged, I knew I had to book a flight back to Canada pretty fast. I made it back just in time before things turned bad.




    What I learned during the Coronavirus Pandemic

    Social distancing during the Covid-9 pandemic
    One way to survive the coronavirus era

    Make Memories

    Don’t postpone your dreams. Do what you want to do and instead of dreams, you will have memories.

    There is not one day that I don’t think about my solo road trip to the Northwest Territories and the Yukon last summer.

    I might be stuck here for a while and not be able to travel far, but I can dwell on my memories. I am planning for my next adventures and will be ready once the time comes.

    Be Patient

    Usually, being patient is not my thing. Now I have no choice.

    I have to be flexible, adapt to the situation, and be open-minded. Staying positive and being patient are the keys to getting me through a difficult and crazy time.

    Look around you to see what’s available in the situation you’re in. Spend time and reflect on your present circumstances and then make a plan.

    Don’t listen to news broadcasts

    I keep listening to News broadcasts to a minimum to stay sane. I’m not a follower and I like to make up my own mind about what I believe.

    When I look behind the scenes at what is going on in this world, I realize that I have to let go of the craziness and instead concentrate on myself and my well-being.

    Mind searching

    What are my core values and beliefs? What makes me comfortable and content?

    What do I want to do when life gets back to more normal? How can I plan my next trip and be ready for it?

    What’s important in life

    Do a soul search and find out. For me, it’s health, freedom, adventure, exploring, healthy eating, nature, a healthy environment, animals, and of course, travel.

    Male Mallard doing social distancing
    Male Mallard doing social distancing

    Where do I want to be

    I’ve been living a nomadic lifestyle for a while now without a permanent home. When a situation like the coronavirus strikes, having a home becomes a priority. Having a base and being independent is important.

    The importance of family and friends

    In my case, I don’t have family nearby, I’m totally on my own. Reaching out to friends becomes an important factor in dealing with unseen situations.

    On top of that, it is a way of learning who your real friends are.

    What can I do NOW?

    What is it that I always wanted to do and never had time for?

    For all of us with a busy lifestyle, this is the time to catch up on postponed projects and educate ourselves about new topics we’re interested in.

    Being stuck gives me the opportunity to continue the online photography course I never finished.

    Even with social distancing in place I can go out for a wild food hunt and improve my foraging skills.

    Foraging eatable wild plants
    Foraging edible wild plants

    The value of connecting with old friends all over the globe

    Chatting, video calls, and phone calls are now more important than ever. Communicating with family and friends on a regular basis is a must during social restrictions.

    Reaching out to people I haven’t talked to forever brings back a new social feeling.

    The importance of freedom

    We don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone.

    Without freedom, life would be miserable. Like in many countries, we would live in fear and insecurity.

    Let this pandemic make us all stronger and wiser, but don’t let it take away our freedom.




    Why I want to keep travelling

    After having been out of the box for a while, it’s hard to go back in and adjust to a restricted lifestyle. Being stuck in one place is hard on me. While on the road, the days hold limitless potential and opportunities.

    I’m the happiest camper when I head out into my world with my mini-camper. There is this feeling of having ultimate flexibility, time, and freedom for real living.

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