The North Coast-Nechako is in a region in British Columbia, Canada. It stretches from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific coast and Alaska Panhandle.
- 1 Prince George — the largest city in the northern BC, and its business and government centre, but not one of its tourist centres
- 2 Fort St. James — one of British Columbia's oldest permanent European settlements and the site of a national historic site consisting of a reconstructed fur trading post
- 3 Smithers — a charming alpine town that is a good base for exploring the surrounding wilderness
- 4 Vanderhoof — a farming, ranching, forestry and mining community in the geographic centre of British Columbia
- 5 Prince Rupert — a coastal city with ferry and rail links
- 6 Terrace — the regional retail and service hub for the northwestern portion of British Columbia
- 7 Kitimat — a town that was built in the 1950s to support an aluminum industry
- 8 Kitwanga — small indigenous village and southern terminus of Stewart-Cassiar Highway
- 9 New Hazelton — small village with a blend of wilderness scenery, ancient culture, and frontier history
- 10 Atlin — a destination for fishing, hiking and heliskiing that is only accessible by vehicle if you first head up to the Yukon
- 11 Dease Lake — a wilderness and hunting destination on the Stewart–Cassiar Highway, an alternate route that connects to the Alaska Highway.
- 12 Stewart — a village on the Alaska border, opposite Hyder, AK, surrounded by breathtaking mountains, an emerald rainforest, clean fresh air and pure drinking water
- 1 Chilkoot Trail - a historic first nations and Klondike Gold Rush trail between Alaska and British Columbia operated by the United States' and Canada's national park agencies
- 2 Shames Mountain Ski Area — a ski resort that is relatively unknown, despite the huge amounts of fresh powder it receives, located 35 km west of Terrace (see Terrace article)
- 3 Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park — a vast area of untouched wilderness
- 4 Stikine River Provincial Park — a linear park that follows the river; ideal for a week-long canoe and camping trip
- 5 Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park — a wilderness area and UNESCO World Heritage Site in the province's far northwest corner
- 6 Williston Lake — the largest man-made lake in British Columbia
The most developed part of this region is along the Yellowhead Highway. Once you venture off the highway or along the coast, you will find vast expanses of untouched wilderness and very few people. This is an area where first-growth rainforest meets rugged snowcapped peaks, framed by labyrinthine ocean inlets that rival the fjords of Norway.
The climate is temperate near coastal regions, becoming colder as you travel east and north from the Pacific Ocean.
The official language is English, though you will hear indigenous languages if you are in villages inhabited by the First Nations People.
The main highways into the North Coast-Nechako are Highways 16 and 97, where they intersect in Prince George.
- Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) connects the region with Alberta, where it continues east to Jasper and Edmonton.
- Highway 37 (Stewart-Cassiar Highway) an alternative route from Alaska, and splits from the Alaska Highway in the Yukon just west of Watson Lake. It joins the Yellowhead Highway in Kitwanga.
- Highway 97 connects to the rest British Columbia to the south, it also heads northeast to Dawson Creek where it becomes the Alaska Highway and continues to the Yukon and Alaska.
Airports within this region with scheduled commercial flights:
- Prince George Airport (YXS IATA) has flights departing multiple times daily from Vancouver and more limited departures from Calgary. This is the busiest airport in the region.
- Prince Rupert has a small airport (YPR IATA) with daily flights from Vancouver
- Terrace has Northwest Regional Airport (YXT IATA) with daily flights from Vancouver.
- Ebus, toll-free: +1-877-769-3287. Bus service three days per week per direction between Kamloops and Prince George with stops in Savona, Cache Creek, Clinton, 70 Mile House, 100 Mile House, Lac La Hache, Williams Lake, Quesnel, and Hixon.
- BC Bus North, ☏ +1-844-564-7494. Provides twice per week bus service on the following routes:
- Between Prince George and Fort St. John with stops in Mackenzie, Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, and Taylor.
- Between Prince George and Valemount with a stops in McBride and Tete Jaune Cache.
- VIA Rail Canada, toll-free: +1-888-842-7245. Operates a route between Jasper and Prince Rupert with stops in McBride, Prince George, Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, Houston, Smithers, New Hazelton, Kitwanga, and Terrace. The train travels during the daytime, taking two days in each direction. There is an overnight stop in Prince George, where passengers will need to book sleeping accommodations. The route is sometimes referred to by its old name, The Skeena. The train makes three departures per direction per week and is more of a scenic excursion than a cost-effective means of transportation.
- White Pass and Yukon Route, ☏ +1-800-343-7373, firstname.lastname@example.org. Operates out of Skagway, Alaska, and stops in Northern British Columbia on its way to Carcross, Yukon. Service operates from May to early October. The train is the means of getting to the Canadian trailhead of the Chilkoot Trail located in Bennett City, British Columbia.
- 1 Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) (Alaska Ferry), 2000 Park Ave, Prince Rupert, ☏ +1 907-465-3941 (main number), +1 250-627-1744 (Prince Rupert Terminal), toll-free: +1-800-642-0066. Connects Prince Rupert to Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Kake, Sitka, Juneau, Haines, Skagway in the southeast panhandle of Alaska. Crossing time between Ketchikan and Prince Rupert is 6.25 to 7.5 hours.
- BC Ferries, toll-free: +1-888-223-3779. Operates ferries connecting coastal communities. Ferry terminals:
- 2 Prince Rupert ferry terminal is served by the following routes:
- Along the Inside Passage route from Port Hardy in North Vancouver Island via Bella Bella on the Central Coast and/or Klemtu. Crossing time between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert is 16.25 hours to 22 hours, depending on stops along the way.
- From Graham Island (Skidgegate) in Haida Gwaii to Prince Rupert. Crossing time is 7 to 8 hours
- 3 Klemtu ferry terminal is served by the following routes:
- Along the Inside Passage route between Port Hardy in North Vancouver Island and Prince Rupert via Bella Bella on the Central Coast and/or Klemtu.
- 2 Prince Rupert ferry terminal is served by the following routes:
You will want to travel by car to cover the vast distances. Vehicle rentals are available in Prince Rupert and Prince George.
BC Bus North, ☏ +1-844-564-7494. Provides twice per week bus service between Prince George and Prince Rupert with stops in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Burns Lake, Houston, Smithers, New Hazelton, Kitwanga, and Terrace, and Port Edward.
By public transit
BC Transit operates bus routes within communities such as Prince George, Prince Rupert, Smithers, and Terrace. Bus services also connect cities several days per week between the following communities:
- Terrace and New Hazelton (Hazeltons Transit System)
- New Hazelton and Smithers (Hazeltons Transit System)
- Smithers and Burns Lake (Bulkley-Nechako Transit System)
- Burns Lake and Prince George via Vanderhoof (Bulkley-Nechako Transit System)
Inland Ferries. Operated under contract for British Columbia's Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, inland ferries are vehicle ferries that connect roads across rivers and lakes. Routes operate throughout the year, but some river ferries may not operate during parts of the Spring due to river conditions. Free. A couple of ferry routes operate in this region, enabling travel to rural communities. Ferries in this region:
- 4 Francois Lake Ferry. Daily first departures: 5:30 AM / 5:55 AM (Southside / Northside); Daily last departures: 10:30 PM / 11:00 PM (Southside / Northside). The ferry is located at Francois Lake, which is about 26 km south of the village of Burns Lake. 15 minutes crossing. Departures from a given side of the lake are every 50-60 minutes.
- 5 Usk Reaction Ferry. Daily 6:45 AM - 10AM, 11:00 AM - 2:45 PM, 3:15 PM - 7:00 pm, and 8:00 PM - 11:15 PM. Located just north of Highway 16, about 16 km east of Terrace. Crosses the Skeena River between South and North Usk. 5 to 7 minutes crossing. Operates on demand.
The rugged beauty of the region is its main attraction.
- Totem poles can be found throughout the region. They are important cultural monuments for the region's First Nations peoples.
- Prince Rupert hosts sites that tell the history of BC's North Coast. The Museum of Northern British Columbia explores the 10,000-year history of the Haida, Tsimishian, Tlingit, and Nisga First Nations. The North Pacific Cannery, a National Historic Site, is the oldest, most completely preserved cannery remaining of two hundred-or-so that once dotted BC's North Coast. The Sunken Gardens in Prince Rupert are heritage gardens with a spectacular display of colourful, lush flowers, shrubs and trees.
- The Kitselas Canyon National Historic Site (near Terrace) encompasses approximately 5000 years of First Nations history and is a place of major significance to the Tsimshian people.
- The Salmon Glacier, near Stewart, is an impressive glacier viewpoint that is car-accessible, but access is only via Hyder, Alaska, so bring your passport. You can also view Bear Glacier from the highway near Stewart. Speaking of bears, there are bear watching opportunities around Stewart, especially during the salmon run.
Prince Rupert and Terrace are famous for fishing expeditions, mostly for salmon and halibut, with potential catches over a hundred pounds. There are many charter companies operating. Haida Gwaii also offers excellent sport fishing.
Hudson Bay Mountain near Smithers has first-class ski slopes.
Most towns have trails for hiking, horse-riding, cross-country skiing, mountain biking and/or snowmobiling, including the Fort Nelson Demonstration Forest, Twin Falls and Glacier Gulch Trails near Smithers, and Waterlily Lake Trails near Vanderhoof.
There are numerous provincial parks scattered through the region that offer opportunities for camping, fishing, more hiking, canoeing, wildlife and bird watching, and being along in the wilderness.
See Dangerous animals#Bears for information on safety in bear country.
- Head across to Haida Gwaii via BC Ferries.
- Head down to Vancouver Island via BC Ferries stunning Inside Passage.
- Cross over and visit Alaska.