The four major routes that circle Northern British Columbia provide a sweeping view of all of the majestic scenery from the Rockies to the Pacific. Our annual starting point is Prince George, accessed via the Yellowhead Highway from Jasper, 235 miles to the east. We enjoy driving the Icefields Parkway through Banff and Jasper National Parks every year, and every year is different. Many first-time travelers to the north opt to cross the prairies, passing through Edmonton and arriving at Dawson Creek. We calculate that this route (which we used on our first trip) saves about a hundred miles. It does save some time, because there is little to stop to see.
From Jasper to Prince George, the highway leaves the central Rockies and moves towards and through lesser ranges. It is mountain driving all the way, but the Yellowhead is a major east-west route through Canada and is well-engineered, all blacktop, and subject to little construction. We usually drive this route in the evening or early morning, and always see large animals (moose, elk, deer, caribou, black bear). Note that two rest stops along this stretch allow eight hour parking, an exception to the rule for Canadian rest areas. The Yellowhead follows the Fraser River to Prince George. From there the John Hart Highway carries you another scenic 250 miles north to Mile "0" of the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek. Along the way you will cross the Rockies from west to east at Pine Pass, the lowest pass through the range.
Use the buttons at left to visit each of the highways. Most people opt to take the Alaska Highway for the trip up, and follow the Cassiar/Yellowhead route home. Read our descriptions of both of these routes before you decide. We generally advise people to plan according to where they expect to be after mid July. That's when the bears come to Hyder to feed on chum, and late enough for the road to Salmon Glacier to be thawed out. People in a blind rush to get to Alaska go up on the Cassiar because they've been told it's shorter, then discover along the way what they would have seen had they come back that way.
When returning to the Lower 48 from Prince George, there are several interesting options, including the fruit growing Okanagan Valley and the canyons of the Fraser River. These routes are beyond the scope of this site, but we will be glad to give specific information about all of the approach routes by E-mail.
In British Columbia and the Yukon, camping and overnight parking are not permitted at rest areas and turnouts, unless otherwise posted. Some people choose to flaunt this law, and enforcement is becoming more frequent. As you will see from these pages, there is no shortage of camping facilities anywhere, and the prices vary from reasonable to cheap. Campground operators must do all of their year's business in a short season, and deserve your support.
In 1999 British Columbia began to charge for camping at BC Campsites. These are small user maintained sites, not to be confused with the larger Provincial Parks and Campgrounds. Campsites are often signed with one brown sign, set parallel to the road, so they are easy to miss. You must purchase a coupon in advance of going to the site and leave it in the collection box. BC has also started to add a 50% surcharge for parties with a nonrecreational towed vehicle, meaning a small car or van, not trailers or fifth wheels. For many travelers this means going on to an RV park with full hookups for just a few dollars more. As of February, 2002 we have it from a Parks Canada source that this surcharge will apply to second vehicles driven in to a space, but not to tows of any kind. The Yukon also uses a coupon scheme for all of it's government campgrounds. In 2002 the BC parks camping fee went up to $15CN, although there are still some that are cheaper. Yukon Campgrounds cost $12CN.
Finally, please respect private property. Even though you may think you are miles from civilization, people own much of the land you will pass through. Would you want someone to pull in and set up camp on your front lawn, then walk their dog? First Nation lands in Canada and Native Corporation lands in Alaska require permission for use, and sometimes a fee.
Return to top of page and start from either the John Hart Highway or Yellowhead.