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Hazelton BC A Journey Through Time

A Journey Through Time- Hazelton is one of the most interesting places in Northern British Columbia, with an interesting history and a large First Nation community and culture.

Historic Old Town of Hazelton, BC
Historic Old Town of Hazelton, BC

The first time I heard about Hazelton in northern British Columbia was during a birch sapping workshop in Quesnel where one of the participants was from Hazelton. Since then I always intended to go and visit the area. Finally, I had the opportunity on my drive down from the Yukon.

The Hazeltons officially consist of several communities, a mixture of municipalities, unincorporated settlements and First Nation villages.

The area is known as the historic heartland of northwest British Columbia and has been the home of the Gitksan and Wet’suwet’en people for centuries.

Pioneer settlement started in the 1860s and made Hazeltons into bustling communities. Today, you get an insight into the rich Native culture and history of the Northwest Coast when you take a drive to the communities in the Upper Skeena region.

Hazelton Bridge
Impressive Hagwilget Bridge – Make sure to park your vehicle and walk across the bridge for great views

Getting There

The Hazeltons are located 290 km east of Prince Rupert and 60 km northwest of Smithers on the paved Yellowhead Trans Canada Highway 16. At Kitwanga, 50 km west of New Hazelton, The Stewart-Cassiar Highway 37 heads northward to the Yukon and Alaska.

Start your culture journey at Hazeltons Visitor Centre on Highway 16 in New Hazelton

Pick up brochures and maps of the area and the Hazelton Tour Guide flyer. From the visitor centre start your self-guided driving tour through the Upper Skeena region. The entire tour covers 240 km but can be shortened to fit your schedule and interests. The tour will take 4 to 8 hours. The route has two segments, each starting at the Visitor Centre.

The first segment of your trip takes you across Hagwilget Canyon Bridge, to the riverfront, to the pioneer community of Hazelton, to Ksan Historical Village and Museum and into Kispiox Village and its display of totem poles.

The second part of the tour follows the Skeena River westward, and takes you to the totems of Gitanyow and Gitwangak, past historic churches and to Kitwanga Fort National Historic Site. There are many scenic places to stop along the route and enjoy new adventure. You will not be disappointed.

Most of the communities have a few small stores and businesses, but the District of New Hazelton is the service hub, with greater accommodation and dining options.

What To See And Do

Drive around the Totem Pole Capital of the World. More than 50 authentic, amazing totem poles can be seen in the Hazeltons and surrounding villages. Spend a few days exploring the unique communities to fully appreciate the magic of the place. Visit aboriginal cultural sites such as world renowned Ksan Historical Village and Museum.

Impressive Hagwilget Bridge

Park your car and walk across the Hagwilget Bridge. It’s one of the highest suspension bridges in North America, hanging over the scenic waters of the Bulkley River.

Ksan Historical Village and Museum

Tour the First Nations heritage site. Learn about Gitxsan history and culture and see carvers at work. Within walking distance are Ksan campground and RV park.

Old Town Hazelton

Explore one of the oldest pioneer communities in Northwest BC. Visit the Hazelton Pioneer Museum in the library building. Stroll past restored buildings in the downtown area.

The Anglican Church dates back to the 1880s. Walk along the riverfront and join a free walking tour at the tourist information kiosk just upstream from the replica riverboat.

Hazelton - bell
Walk around Old Town of Hazelton

Glen Vowell Village

Visit the small community alongside the Skeena River with a Victorian-style Band administration building and the Salvation Army Church, a heritage building that reminds us of the missionary era.


Stop at this large community with 600 residents known for its master carvers, totems, and scenic setting. Take a walk on the Kispiox Rodeo Grounds and to the river. The annual Kispiox Valley Rodeo is held the first weekend in June and the annual Kispiox Valley Music Festival is the last weekend in July.

Gitanyow Totems

Enjoy the magic of the totems with the sound of the Kitwancool River in the background. More than twenty towering sculptures display images of another world.

Kitwanga and Gitanyow

Admire authentic totem poles (about 11 in Kitwanga and more than 15 in Gitanyow. Visit Gitwangak Battle Hill National Historic Site to see the remains of the five cedar plank longhouses that were occupied for at least 100 years. Panels along the trail tell the story.

Gitwangak Totems

8 to 10 excellent examples of the carver’s art. St. Paul’s Anglican Church is another distinctive church is another reminder of the missionary past.

View of Hazelton Mountain Ranges on a cloudy day
A view of the Hazelton Mountain Range from Anderson Flats on a cloudy day

There are lots more attractions to see and explore The Hazeltons. The longer you stay the more of the rich history, attractions and recreations you will discover.

Various outdoor activities like hiking, boating, fishing, and heliskiing are popular in the area.

Provincial Parks Near Hazelton

Famous Locals

Hazelton residents are a tough bunch and they feel a connection with the land and rivers. Famous locals include 2008 Olympic gold medal winner wrestler Carol Huynh, and local legend Simon Gunanoot, a prosperous Gitxsan merchant who was charged with the murder of two white men in the early 1900s.

According to the tale, Gunanoot feared an unfair trial. Therefore he and his family hid in the Hazelton wilderness for more than 13 years before he was pardoned.

Tourist Information Centre

Hazeltons Visitor Centre and Museum are located on Highway 16 in New Hazelton. The Visitor Centre is open from June to September www.hazeltonstourism.ca.

Large selection of  Totems in the Hazelton area.
A large collection of totem poles in the Hazelton area
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