Stewart-Cassiar Travel Guide
The scenic route along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway (Highway 37) lets you discover Northern British Columbia’s vast wilderness, First Nations culture, and pioneering history.
The Stewart-Cassiar is a 724 km long road and an excellent alternative to the much busier Alaska Highway to travel to or from the Yukon. The Cassiar is also known as Highway 37, the Dease Lake Highway, and the Stikine Highway as well as the Terrace-Kitimat Highway from Kitimat to Terrace.
I take every opportunity to get away from busy highway traffic and like the stretches of lonely roads and secluded places. So if you’re like me, I highly suggest that you drive the Stewart-Cassiar Highway one way on your journey north. Maybe it’s not for the faint-hearted, but you won’t regret it.
Originally, the Cassiar was a combination of logging and haul roads for mines. The highway has been improved, but be aware that some sections might be under construction. The road is suitable for campers and motorhomes.
Some sections of the highway are narrow and rough with very limited traffic and no cell service. The Stewart-Cassiar highway passes through remote areas of British Columbia.
Not all services are open all year round. Make sure you fill up your gasoline tank at each opportunity and you will be fine.
Watch out for wildlife at all times.
In the north, the Stewart-Cassiar Highway starts at Junction 37 at km 1002 on the Alaska Highway just west of Watson Lake. Gas, restaurant, motel, and campground are available at Junction 37. In the south, the Cassiar ends at Kitimat, BC.
I started my journey at KM 0 in the south at the junction of Highway 16 and Highway 37, Stewart-Cassiar Highway where you find the Gitxsan village of Kitwanga. Just east of Kitwanga is the Hazelton area, (New Hazelton, Hazelton, and South Hazelton), the centre of some interesting Aboriginal sites.
You reach the Meziadin Junction about 155 km north of Kitwanga. Meziadin Junction is the turnoff to Stewart and Hyder. This dramatic side trip through Highway 37A to Stewart, BC, and Hyder, Alaska is well worth the time.
Before heading west, you can camp at Meziadin Lake Provincial Park, an ideal place for boating and fishing.
The community of Bell II
Bell 2 is located 96 km north of Meziadin and was named because it’s the second bridge across the Bell Irving River. Bell II Lodge is a modern all-service lodge for travellers heading north or south. Here you find four-star accommodation, an excellent restaurant, campsites for RV’s and tents, as well as a gas station with a coffee shop.
In the winter month, Bell II Lodge is home to Last Frontier Heliskiing.
Tatogga Lake and Iskut
A 148 km drive north of Bell II takes you to Tatogga Lake Resort. Visitor services here are fuel, a restaurant, accommodation, boat rentals, flight-seeing tours, and minor car repairs. Camping is also available at the beautiful nearby Kinaskan Lake.
A further 8 km takes you to the tiny Tahltan village of Iskut which has a post office, gas station, and grocery store. You can rent cabins or camp at the Mountain Shadow RV Park.
Both places are getaways to the spectacular wilderness parks of Mount Edziza and Spatsizi Plateau.
About 83 km north of Iskut you arrive at the community of Dease Lake (population 302). It is the centre of services for Highway 37 communities. Here you find gas stations, motels, stores, a Post office, and a laundromat.
Camping is available at Dease Lake RV, south of town at Dease Lake Lions Tanzilla River Campground, and north of town at Water’s Edge Campground.
At Dease Lake is the turnoff to Telegraph Creek Road, a scenic adventure, but not recommended for everyone.
Side Trip to Telegraph Creek
The 113 km gravel road from Dease Lake to Telegraph Creek passes several First Nations fishing camps. The view of the lower Grand Canyon of the Stikine is sensational. Telegraph Creek at the end of the road has many turn-of-the-century buildings from the gold rush days.
Telegraph Creek Road is narrow and steep with sharp switchbacks. Drive carefully and carry a spare tire.
NOTE: This road is not recommended for trailers or large RVs. Allow a minimum of 2 hours of driving time in good conditions.
Check road conditions at the highway maintenance camp or RCMP office in Dease Lake before you start the trip to Telegraph Creek. Fill up with gasoline at Dease Lake.
Jade city with a population of 20 is an attraction you don’t want to miss, located 71 km north of Dease Lake. Named after large jade deposits in the area, it offers an insight into mining this beautiful stone. The owners of the Cassiar Mountain Jade Store are experts in the Jade mining business.
Jade City has overnight RV parking, accommodation, a restaurant, a jade gallery, mining exhibits, and a native art shop.
The little church across from the Cassiar Mountain Jade store opens during the summer months sometimes to offer Sunday service.
A 10 km drive west of the highway takes you to the ghost town of Cassiar. The asbestos mining town ended its mining operation in 1992. Today, abandoned cabins and equipment let you imagine the early times of miners and settlers in the area. The abandoned site is now closed to visitors.
To Junction Highway 37 and Alaska Highway
The next 120 km drive takes you to Good Hope Lake (population 75). The road gets narrow and windy. Once you leave the Cassiar Mountains, you are entering the Yukon Plateau, northbound. Some of these mountains are the oldest in northern British Columbia.
On this stretch of road, you can see the evidence of the 2010 burn. The forest fire started by lightning and burned more than 30,000 hectares and closed this section of the Cassiar Highway to traffic for several days.
Fill up your gas when you reach the junction at the Alaska Highway.
From here, Watson Lake 21 km southeast is the nearest major community. Nugget City (gas, lodging, restaurant, gift shop, mechanic, camping) is located just over a km west of here on the Alaska Highway.
Three provincial parks are located along Highway 37. They are open for camping during the summer and provide opportunities for hiking, fishing, and sightseeing.
- Boya Lake Provincial Pak – 150 km north of Dease Lake
- Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park – 364 km north of Kitwanga
- Meziadin Lake Provincial Park -150 km north of Kitwanga
Check out the BC Parks website for details and dates of operation.