Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory
Celebrate 70 Years of RVing... Canada
Woodall's Campground Directory
There’s nothing quite like a road trip through Canada. Where else can you explore regions steeped in maritime history, visit cosmopolitan cities, explore the Rocky Mountains, and get lost in frontier land seemingly untouched by man? It’s all here in Canada, from the romantic lands of Newfoundland to the lush Pacific Coast of British Columbia. We’ve chosen a few select routes for you to explore in this wondrous region, from coast to coast.
The Trans-Canada Highway veers gently throughout Newfoundland beginning in the romantic seafaring town of St. John’s, on the island’s eastern coast. The city is one of North America’s oldest, where famed explorer John Cabot landed in 1497. For nearly five centuries St. John’s has thrived as a bustling seaport and the lives of its residents are closely bound to the sea. The town’s rich history can be discovered at several famed attractions. Begin your search at the easternmost point in North America at the Cape Spear National Historical Site. The site is home to a historic lighthouse, as well as one of the most scenic drives in Eastern Canada. The Anglican Church of St. John the Baptist is a remarkable edifice and homage to the city’s namesake. This centuries-old cathedral is now a national historic site. Nearby is Newfoundland’s oldest church, the diminutive St. Thomas’ Anglican Church. Built in 1836, it is a unique attraction known mainly for it’s famous black tower. If you’re lucky enough to be in St. John’s in August, don’t miss the Royal St. John’s Regatta, a major annual event started in 1825 and the oldest continuous sporting event in North America, on land or sea.
Most folks know that RVs and auto racing goes together like peanut butter and jelly, but would you believe you could find authentic road racing here in northeast Canada? It’s true. During the summer weekends, outside of Clarenville, look up the town’s namesake dragway. Here, all sorts of pumped-up racing machines and the people who love them congregate to match wits and mechanical muscle, on the former airstrip.
At the town of Gander, learn about Newfoundland’s contribution to aviation. The town’s airport played an integral role during WWII as a busy refueling stop. Today, the North Atlantic Aviation Museum celebrates the area’s aviation history with displays, exhibits, and several preserved relics of retired aircraft. In late July, don’t miss Gander’s Festival of Flight, an aviation-themed fair with rides, games, cook-offs, and a demolition derby.
The U.S. is populated with oversized roadside attractions, so why should Canada be any different? Get your first taste of Canadian roadside oddities in Deer Lake, where you can see a ten-foot tall strawberry and an enormous moose. The real highlight of this sleepy town is no doubt the unique Newfoundland Insectarium and its impressive butterfly pavilion, an ideal way to get up close to these beautiful winged critters of the six- and eight-legged variety.
As TCH-1 heads southwest and approaches its end in Newfoundland, make a stop in Stephenville. The town is home to an extremely popular and award-winning summer theater festival. Continuing your drive south takes you towards Channel-Port Aux Basques, a seaside town that actually has a pair of sandy beaches – something of a rarity in this corner of the world.
From Channel-Port Aux Basques, hop aboard the Marine Atlantic Ferry to carry you across the Cabot Strait to North Sydney in Nova Scotia. From there, the route heads west and turns into TCH-105 as it ventures southwest through this fantastic province. Your first stop is the town of Baddeck, a town that has been attracting visitors for more than 100 years. One of its most famous residents was Alexander Graham Bell. Today, Braddeck is home to the famous Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, one of Canada’s finest museums. Here, you can explore the world of one of history’s greatest minds through his notes, writings, and examples of some of his inventions. Bell and his wife fell in love with Baddeck and you just might too. Today, Baddeck is a favored vacation spot and is home to several pleasant inns, lodges, and loads of good shopping and restaurants.
Heading southwest as TCH-105 turns into TCH-104, get in touch with some Scottish traditions at the town of Antigonish, home of the longest-running Highland Games this side of the Atlantic. Held each year in mid-July, the games have been held each year since 1861 - a remarkable run!
Down the road in the town of Stellarton, park the RV and visit Atlantic Canada’s largest museum, the Museum of Industry. More than 37,000 artifacts are on display tracing the history of Nova Scotia’s industrial heritage.
TCH-104 then begins to head northwest towards New Brunswick. Before doing so, consider driving south on Highway 102 to the capital city of Halifax. This dazzling seaside metropolis is arguably the finest in the whole region. A city of nearly 400,000 residents, Halifax is a bustling hub of culture and history. Like other great historic cities, your best bet is to park the rig and explore Halifax by foot. Start in the historic downtown area located along scenic Halifax Harbor. Before you leave, stop by the storied Fairview Cemetery. There you’ll find the final resting place of 121 souls who perished on the Titanic.
Continue your tour of maritime Canada in the town of Amherst, your last stop along TCH-104 in Nova Scotia. Amherst is the geographic center of the region and the apparent crossroads where history and innovation meet, creating a charming seaside experience for its visitors.
Prince Edward Island
At the town of Pictou, Nova Scotia, hop aboard a ferry to Prince Edward Island, a unique land not often visited by RVs. When you disembark on the southern shore you’ll be surrounded by the fantastic Northumberland Provincial Park and Wood Islands Provincial Park. Both offer delightful seaside vistas and opportunities to explore the natural features of the island. TCH-1 begins there and heads northwest into the interior of the island.
A fine next stop is a visit to the Orwell Corner Historic Village. This re-created 1895 village brings to light the unique life and times of the Scots and Irish that founded the region in the 19th-century. Nearby you can explore the great outdoors at the Prince Edward Island National Park. Within the park, the town of Cavendish is the home of one of Canada’s best-known fictional characters, the namesake to Anne of Green Gables. Today, the Green Gables House draws thousands of visitors each year who explore the country house of the novel’s author, L.M. Montgomery.
Heading northwest on TCH-1 you’ll find yourself in the PEI capital city of Charlottetown, the “Birthplace of the Confederation.” Like the many other charming maritime cities, Charlottetown welcomes pedestrians to take in the town’s pleasant architecture, historical finds, restaurant and shopping. A favorite pastime of visitors is spending a day at the Charlottetown Driving Park, a charming facility devoted to harness racing during the summer months. For a unique dining experience, try out the Culinary Institute of Canada, where students prepare meals under the guidance of world-class chefs. To ponder a more down-home menu, try out the venerable Pilot House, which dishes up traditional pub fare in a cozy atmosphere.
TCH-2 leaves Amherst, Nova Scotia and enters Sackville, New Brunswick, before traversing the westernmost maritime province westward to Grand Falls. The lovely little town of Moncton should be your first stop, home to the splendid 1922 Capitol Theatre. Today it continues its legacy as a top venue and one of only a small handful of historic theaters left in Canada. Just outside of town you’ll find one of Canada’s most unique tourist attractions, Magnetic Hill. This supernatural marvel was discovered in the late 19th-century when horses strained to pull carts downhill. However, when going uphill, the carts seemed to bunch up behind the horse. Today, the hill has the same effect and seems to pull autos uphill. Start at the bottom, put your vehicle in neutral gear and let this oddity pull you skywards. And you’ll have to try it yourself to believe that this phenomenon really occurs. For some more pastoral wonders, stop by the banks of the Petitcodiac River which displays stunning tidal movements courtesy of the quixotic Bay of Fundy, located just a few miles south.
TCH-2 then heads west cutting through New Brunswick’s rolling central lands until you reach the provincial capital of Fredericton, situated along the banks of the beautiful St. John’s River. Be sure to visit Officer’s Square, which was part of a larger military compound from 1785 to 1914. Today it holds numerous cultural events throughout the summer. A quaint stop in Fredericton is a visit to King’s Landing Historical Settlement, a living history museum that Attractions Canada dubbed “Canada’s top international attraction.” This open-air facility offers 10 working buildings that capture rural 19th-century New Brunswick life. Duffers won’t want to miss shooting a quick 18 holes at Kingswood, recently named one of the country’s top new courses.
Stay with TCH-2 and drive north to the town of Woodstock, the province’s first town, founded in 1856. Woodstock is one of those unique old-fashioned towns where time seems to have stopped long ago. It also has a nice central downtown area with plenty of historic architecture to make for a perfect walking tour.
Further north you’ll come to the town of Hartland, best known for its fabulous 100 year-old covered bridge. In fact, it’s also the longest covered bridge in the world, stretching out at 1,282 feet. If you’re looking for more examples, two other historic bridges can be found within a few miles of Hartland.
The final stop along TCH-2 in New Brunswick may be at the scenic town of Grand Falls, where the St. John’s River gains momentum and drops more than 75 feet to create impressive falls. Legends say that a Maliseet princess led a marauding band of Mohawk warriors to their death by plunging over the falls. Whether or not the story is true is debatable, but what evidence remains is one of the largest waterfalls this side of Niagara Falls – and it’s located almost downtown in Grand Falls. If you’re passing through here in late June, don’t miss the region’s unique Potato Festival, a rip-roaring good time and homage to the region’s agriculture industry.
When traveling through this enormous province, try Highway 117. The highway officially begins at Ste. Agathe des Monts, but let’s cheat a little bit and begin our Quebec adventure in the bustling metropolis of Montreal, Canada’s most cosmopolitan city. Few big cities in North America can be as warm, inviting, and entertaining as this one, and if you’re into architecture, the rewarding views await you. Montreal is rich with ornate facades throughout, many of which can be observed during leisurely walking tours. Some highlights are the impressive Basilica Cathedral of Marie-Reine-du-Monde and the Vieux Port. Another clever way to enjoy this city’s architecture is by boarding one of the many cruise ships that circle the city. Experience the Parc Olympique, an enormous sports complex built especially for the 1976 Olympics. Today the park regularly hosts world-class sporting events. The nearby Biodome de Montreal, originally part of the Olympic complex, is now a unique environmental museum and one of the city’s most popular attractions. Nearby are the eclectic Chinese Gardens and the Japanese Gardens, both of which showcase the meditative gardening talents of folks from these Asian countries.
From Montreal take Highway 15 north until you reach Highway 117, which continues northwest deep into the heart of Quebec. If you’re lucky (and daring) enough to be traversing these environs during the winter months, be sure to stop at Mont Tremblant Village, located high in the scenic Laurentian Mountains. This is a world-class winter sports region, where you can strap on skis or a snowboard or take in one of the other many winter activities that are popular here such as dogsledding, ice climbing, or a sleigh ride. If that sounds like an ambitious agenda, be advised that the village is also renowned for its fabulous spas. After a day spent hitting the slopes, head around the lake to the Hotel Club Tremblant, a 1930’s log structure that once served as a private retreat for a wealthy American. Today, it’s home to an outstanding hotel, spa, and French restaurant.
Stay on Hwy. 17 and past Mont Tremblant you’ll soon find yourself entering the vast expanse known as Reserve Faunique La Verendrye. This is a major destination for hiking and wildlife enthusiasts, the Reserve protects the wild northern lands of Canada. You can explore it all through miles of hiking trails and more than a dozen campgrounds. If you happened to have your canoe along on this trip, you’ve brought it to the right place. The reserve is also home to a large array of connecting waterways where it seems you can row forever.
With a little time on your hands, consider a trip west and north from Montreal on Rte 148 and 321 to the charming pioneer town of St-Andre-Avellin. First settled in 1841, the town has remained a cultural and outdoor center of this region for more than 100 years. A walking tour of the numerous heritage properties is recommended, and in August, the sounds of Musique’en nous offer a pleasurable pastime.
The city of Val-d’ Or provides travelers with their first look at Canada’s illustrious Gold Rush history. During the 1930’s, this village was the largest gold-mining town in the world, and the precious metal is still being extracted there today. You can explore gold rush history at the La Cite de l’Or, which gives tours more than 200 feet below ground in an active gold mine. Also in town is the Village Minier de Bourlamaque, a restored mining village with more than 80 log buildings.
More mining fun can be explored at your last stop in Quebec at the town of Rouyn-Noranda, “Canada’s copper capital.” Eight mines still operate here and help create one of the most interesting towns in Quebec. British and American industrialists settled Noranda and opened several successful mines. To the south, the French settled Rouyn and opened brothels, bars, and hotels. In the mid-20th century these two towns joined together to become one, but the two sides are still very evident in this strange and uniquely Canadian neck of the woods.
Your trip through the marvelous and mammoth province of Ontario can take two different routes. TCH-17 begins in the capital city of Ottawa and heads northwards along the shoreline of Lake Huron before ending at Saul St. Marie near the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The other storied route is TCH-7, which carries you southward and ends near London, Ontario.
Let’s start in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. Without a doubt, it’s one of the finest cities in Canada, surrounding visitors in stunning neo-gothic architecture. Interestingly enough, many of these structures serve as the offices of government buildings. It’s a great walking city, too, as many of the best attractions are within an easy stroll of one another. Start with a tour of the grand capital. The Parliament Buildings house Canada’s Senate and House of Commons. Out front you can also witness the ceremonial changing of the guard, commencing each morning at 10 a.m. Afterwards, take a break at the historic ByWard Market, where Ottawa’s cosmopolitan heart comes to life. The various ethnic populations have made this part of Ottawa a multi-cultural area with food from all over the world.
If you’re curious and still have energy to burn, head on over to the Sparks Street Market, conveniently located just a block from Parliament Hill. Boaters won’t want to miss an expedition on the historic Rideau Canal. This National Historic Site is a series of waterways that carve a 300-mile route from Ottawa to Kingston. Renting vessels in and around Ottawa is fairly easy, but if you prefer to stay behind the wheel of the RV, paralleling the canal to the west offers a terrific scenic drive though old Canada.
Still on Hwy. 17, northwest of Ottawa, the town of Pembroke, founded in 1828 as a lumber town, still holds much of the character of its rough-and-tumble beginnings. A series of Heritage Murals located around town depict its rich history. Strategically located along the scenic Ottawa River, Pembroke also hosts a variety of whitewater rafting outfitters. Another favorite local destination is the Champlain Trail Museum, which boasts a working smokehouse and bake oven, and a one-room schoolhouse.
Your next stop on Hwy. 17 is the town of North Bay, the “Gateway to the North.” Head to the North Bay Waterfront located along scenic Lake Nipissing. If you want to take a load off, board the Heritage Railway Company’s Mini-Train that rumbles nearly four miles along the waterfront. North Bay experienced one of the most unique events of the 20th century. The odds were 57 million-to-one against it occurring, but on May 28, 1934, long before fertility drugs were available, the Dionne Quintuplets were born. Their combined weight was just over 13 pounds! Today, a museum in North Bay celebrates this world-famous, post-depression-era event.
In the town of Sudbury, Canada’s largest producer of copper, is also the world’s nickel capital and they’ve got the roadside attraction to make sure no one forgets it. “Big Nickel” stands on a hillside overlooking the town. This 30-foot tall replica is touted as the largest nickel in the world and once you’ve seen it, you’ll have to agree.
Your final stop along TCH-17 in Ontario should be at the town of Sault Ste. Marie. This is a terrific town to get off the road for a couple of days and relax. Enjoy a stay in this quaint tourist village, only steps away from the remote Canadian wilderness. A great way to explore the region while letting someone else do the driving is to climb aboard the Agawa Canyon Tour Train, which rambles 114 miles north to scenic Agawa Canyon. Passengers enjoy a two-hour layover at the mid-point to explore before embarking on the trip back to town. Sault Ste. Marie takes great pride in its waterways and they can be explored through several avenues around town. First, stop by the Roberta Bondar Park. It’s located along the waterfront and regularly hosts cultural events. Another great way to take in the sights is via walking tours along the Sault Ste. Marie Canal or the Waterfront Boardwalk on the St. Mary’s River, right from the downtown area.
The route of choice in Manitoba is TCH-1. It doesn’t take long before you leave the lake-laden landscapes of southern Ontario behind and head west into the prairie provinces of Canada. But let’s take first things first. Take the time to explore the splendid lakes and streams found throughout the town of Falcon Lake. Start at Whiteshall Provincial Park. With more than 200 lakes and streams, it’s the perfect venue for waterborne adventures such as canoeing, kayaking, and fishing.
Jump off TCH-1 and head southwest to the town of Steinbach. The authentic replica of an 1877 windmill is the town’s marquee attraction.
Keep moving west and the provincial capital of Winnipeg soon comes into view. Situated at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, early Winnipeg benefited from several railways routed through the area. Winnipeg soon became a major trading center and a gateway to the west. Evidence of the town’s history can still be found in abundance around town. For example, the Hotel Fort Gary, a near 100-year-old institution, can be found downtown. Fort Gary Gate sits across the street, which once stood as the gateway for the Hudson Bay Company’s fort in Winnipeg. But the heart of Winnipeg lies at The Forks, a restored gathering place and park situated at the fork of the city’s two rivers. After more than a decade of restoration work, The Forks attracts visitors with its grand walkways, museums, and nightlife.
For something even more unique, step aboard the Prairie Dog Central, a vintage steam locomotive that regularly travels the 75-miles to Goose Isle. The steam train also makes other rail-borne jaunts including historical tours and “murder mystery” trips. If you find you’re still pining for Winnipeg’s by-gone days, treat yourself to a tour of the Living Prairie Museum with its spellbinding mix of prairie flowers that once dominated this terrain. Grant’s Old Mill, an 1829 replica of the original, is a fun stopover before leaving town.
Pioneer life can be explored in the town of Portage La Prairie at the Fort La Reine Museum and Pioneer Village. This living history museum reveals the story of the 1738 outpost and what life was like at the prairie’s first fort. If you’re lucky enough to be here during July, don’t miss the National Strawberry Festival, one of central Canada’s premier annual events. If it can be made from strawberries, you’ll find it here. From Portage La Prairie, another great route is to take TCH-16 northwest and into Saskatchewan (more on that in a moment).
If you want to keep heading west on TCH-1, there’s one last stop in Manitoba to consider making. The town of Brandon is considered the agricultural capital of Manitoba. On that note, an interesting place to visit while here is the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Centre. This experimental farm facility tests land resource management techniques in Western Canada. Another favorite local attraction is the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, commemorating the time when Brandon served as a vital training facility for the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II.
TCH-1 soon leaves Manitoba behind and rolls into Saskatchewan to the west. Begin your education about Saskatchewan at the Western Development Museum in the town of Yorkton. Immerse yourself in life on the prairie through the eyes of the dozens of ethnic groups that once called Yorkton home.
Bird watchers will want to take a couple of days to explore the Quill Lake area, to the northwest. It’s composed of a trio of lakes and several streams that make up this “heaven on earth” for shore and wading birds. Take advantage of the several nature tours offered in town. It’s a great way to help you sort out the species, ranging from the many endangered species found in the area to the huge colony of white pelicans who summer here.
In the town of Muenster, just south of TCH-16, you’ll find a unique attraction at St. Peter’s Abbey. The abbey grounds include a farm, orchard, cemetery, and inside the cathedral you’ll find a display of 80 life-size portraits of the saints.
Heading west you’ll soon arrive in Saskatchewan’s provincial capital, Saskatoon. Like all good capitals, Saskatoon has plenty of charm and excellent, self-guided walking tours. Stop by Glady’s Doll House to view more than 1,000 dolls from around the world. The city is also home to two famous racetracks, if that’s your thing. Check out the Bridge City Speedway for short track fun on Friday nights while dragsters blister the quarter-mile at the Saskatchewan International Raceway. If you’ve come seeking more appreciation of fine art than burned rubber, the University of Saskatchewan hosts a variety of museums, art galleries, and theaters that make up the cultural center of the city.
Visit Saskatchewan’s longest bridge, built to connect the towns of Battleford and North Battleford across the North Saskatchewan River. North Battleford is known far and wide as being a great “base camp” for exploring the many lakes and rivers that dot the area, and there are numerous outfitters in the area who can equip you for it. Battleford was once the capital of the Northwest Territories, and some examples of that influence is still evident in the town’s architecture. One favorite stop in town is the Fort Battleford National Historic Site, dedicated to preserving the legacy of the North West Mounted Police and the critical role they played during the development of western Canada. The site now hosts four preserved buildings, a stable, and a reconstructed stockade.
TCH-16 crosses into Alberta from Saskatchewan, west of Lloydminster, the only town in Canada that straddles two provinces. In fact, the town’s Main Street makes up a portion of the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. A worthwhile tour can be had at the Barr Colony Heritage Center, where the history of Lloydminster comes alive. The town was founded in 1903 after 2,000 English colonists flocked to the area to start a utopian society.
Gasp in awe at the World’s Largest Easter Egg in the town of Vegreville. Measuring over 18 feet tall and weighing more than 5,000 pounds, this is not some run-of-the-mill roadside oddity erected out in the middle of the desert. The Pysanka (Ukranian for “Easter Egg”) was created to commemorate early Ukranian settlements in the area east of Edmonton. The computer-designed, aluminum-skinned egg is a mathematical, architectural and engineering marvel, using multiples of five distinct symbols across its complex surface. It’s mounted on an internal pole allowing it to act as a weathervane, rotating with the wind current.
Stay on Hwy. 16 and your next stop will be the provincial capital of Edmonton. Built as a Hudson Bay Company outpost in the late 18th century, Edmonton is today a thriving cosmopolitan city worth taking a few days to explore all its features. The Edmonton Corn Maze is one such experience, where you and your crew can test your navigational and memory skills (if those skills haven’t already been tested just getting here). Another family favorite is the Edmonton Science Center, a world-class exhibit dedicated to understanding the wonders of our natural world. Another educational destination in town is Fort Edmonton Park, where guides in period costumes take visitors through some of the nearly 70 historic buildings that make up Canada’s largest historic park.
Heading west from Edmonton you’ll leave the rolling plains of central Canada and enter more mountainous terrain. This can only mean one thing: Famed Jasper National Park, a veritable wonderland, is coming up. Once there, climb out of your RV and into the soothing natural baths of Miette Hot Springs. In the park you’ll also find the charming town of Jasper Townsite, a wonderful place for walking or just enjoying the rustic scenery.
Another favorite Alberta route is TCH-1, which enters Alberta at Medicine Hat and runs northwest to Calgary and on to Jasper National Park. Hopefully, you’ll find yourself beginning this tour in mid-July. You do like rodeos, right? The Medicine Hat Stampede is one of the best around, hosting four days of professional rodeos, chuck wagon races, horse shows and just about any other activity that involves cowboy hats. Also in town is the World’s Largest Tee-Pee, which stands more than four stories tall, built for the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
When you reach the town of Brooks, you’ll know you’ve arrived in the Alberta Badlands. Check out the Dinosaur Provincial Park and learn about the earliest inhabitants of Alberta, thumping around long before humans showed up on the scene.
Continue westward, and before long Calgary, a vibrant and modern city of more than 800,000 people, comes into view. Once you’ve gotten acclimatized, visit the Calgary Tower, an excellent introduction to the city as it soars more than 600 feet into the sky. Afterwards, hoof it over to Olympic Plaza, a spacious open-air plaza specially built for the 1988 Olympics, and today a popular public gathering place. Other Calgary favorites include the Calgary Science Center and Fort Calgary Historic Park. If you’re looking for a little boot-scoot action, check out the Cowboys Dance Hall. Open Wednesday through Saturday, the masses turn out to this popular venue to “cut a rug” to country music, both classic and contemporary. While Calgary is a lively city replete with cosmopolitan flair, without a doubt the biggest attraction in the city is some good old-fashioned, down-home fun at the Calgary Stampede. This ten-day rodeo extravaganza in July is billed as the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth and few who’ve experienced it first-hand would argue.
Much like the American West, British Columbia is Canada’s final frontier. It is a wilderness paradise dotted with small towns and charming cities that hold something for everyone. TCH-1 enters British Columbia at the town of Banff, located in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies.
The town of Kamloops is a wonderful British Columbia interior city, ideal as a great starting point for exploring many of the area’s attractions. Be certain to visit the Great Train Robbery site just outside town, where Bill Miner, Canada’s version of Billy the Kid, held up a railway station for his final Canadian heist. After an arduous chase, Miner was finally caught and his illustrious career ended, but not before he won the hearts of Canadians and entered the nation’s folklore.
From Kamloops, TCH-1 heads southwest and on to Vancouver. In Vancouver, drive your RV onto one of the many ferries for a sojourn on Vancouver Island. With Victoria as your base, experience the colorful history of this lush island.
Victoria is a provincial capital and university town famous for it’s architectural heritage, afternoon teas and beautiful gardens.
Back on the mainland, if you’re looking for a road less traveled, consider driving north on Highway 97 and hooking up with TCH-16 at the town of Prince George. Known as the Yellowhead Highway, this roadway takes you west where the somewhat dry interior gives way to the green Pacific Coast region. Prince George is one of Canada’s fastest growing cities, offering its natives and visitors plenty to see and do. The city is known as “the capital of the north country” with numerous fine art galleries, a top university, and a professional theater company. Prince George also showcases its rich history and pioneer spirit in several museums.
Forgive the angler in your crew if they become more excitable upon entering the town of Houston, best known as the Steelhead Capital of Canada. No surprise here, but this is also the home of the World Largest Fly Rod, nearly 60 feet in length! While many of the lakes and rivers draw people into Houston, it is also well known for its hiking and Nordic ski trails that crisscross the region.
Another gem of a city in this neck of the woods is alpine-themed Smithers. Like Houston, the quality of the fishing in and around Smithers is second to none. For duffers, the town happens to be home to a pair of top-notch golf courses, available during the months of fair weather. And while you’re here, you might as well check out Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park as well as the Igloo Wildlife Museum.
Consider the western coastal city of Prince Rupert your final trip along TCH-16. Not only does the city enjoy its status as a major trade center, but also as the cultural capital of Northwest British Columbia. For a lovely dining experience, try out the popular Crest Hotel, which stands majestically on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. While Prince Rupert is full of unique restaurants and quality shopping like most other towns in Northern British Columbia, people really come here to explore the surrounding wilderness area for adventure, and for opportunities to see two of Mother Nature’s most amazing specimens, grizzly bears and whales – each of which inhabit this area for half the year.
Northwest Territories – MacKenzie Highway
Entering the Northwest Territories reveals the land of the Northern Lights, where the wilderness stretches out far before you and the towns are few and far between. A popular route through this wild and wonderful landscape is the MacKenzie Highway. You can get there by taking TCH-1 north through Alberta. Once in the Northwest Territories (NWT), pick up the MacKenzie Highway just north of Kakisa. From here, the MacKenzie heads west along what is called the “Waterfall Route,” due to its accessibility to several magnificent waterfalls along the way. You can also take the route eastward, which will bring you to the provincial capital town of Yellowknife.
In town, visit the Bush Pilot Monument, which honors the brave pilots who opened up the far north and still provide essential transportation services to people in remote communities. The monument towers over the city and offers panoramic views of the region. Late each March is when activities really heat up in Yellowknife. June hosts the Raven Mad Festival, which celebrates the longest day of the year with a gold tournament, live entertainment, and local food specialties. From September through April, Yellowknife is a favored place to gaze at the Aurora Borealis phenomenon that light up these northern skies. The Canadian Championship Dog Sled Races draws some of the best mushers in the world here.
Yellowknife is also considered “The Diamond Capital of North America”. A veritable metropolis for this neck of the woods, Yellowknife is still very much an authentic frontier town, but it also has several charming, old-world restaurants offering warm environs in which to dine. Check out L’Heritage Restaurant Francais, Bullock’s Bistro, and Le Frolic, for starters. We recommend ordering the hot roast caribou.
If you drive east, you’ll first encounter Fort Providence and the roaring MacKenzie River, which might serve you as a navigational guide since it snakes its way along much of the route. In town you can get to know the unique Slavey culture that has thrived in the region for hundreds of years.
The small hamlet of Fort Simpson can be a great starting point for you to explore the nearby Nahanni National Park Reserve. The town is also strategically located along the confluence of two major rivers, the MacKenzie and the Athabasca. If you have a little more time to spend in the area, visit Heritage Park and the historic MacPherson House, both of which offer views of the Papal Flats, where Pope John Paul II celebrated mass in 1987.
Yukon Territory – Klondike Highway
The Klondike Highway begins at the hamlet of Whitehorse and rumbles north into the remote wilderness before ending at the old boomtown of Dawson City. Whitehorse is a busy commercial center – and territorial capital – that has its roots in the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush. Make a stop at the Yukon Transportation Museum and discover how the region was tamed. The Yukon Beringia Interpretive Center captures the history of this land as a first stop along the prehistoric ice bridge that brought man and animal here from Siberia to eventually populate North America.
Around Whitehorse, you’ll find several impressive murals that depict the history of the region. Also in town, you should stop in to see the charming Old Log Church and consider a nostalgic voyage on the SS Klondike, a 1937-stern wheeler that takes regular trips to Dawson City along the Yukon River. Just south of downtown, put on your walking shoes and explore the abandoned settlement of Canyon City. Nearby, you’ll be amazed at the sight of the World’s Largest Weather Vane, a World War II-era Douglas C-47 aircraft that once brought passengers into the Whitehorse area. Today, it simply tells you which way the wind blows.
Further north, you’ll find the town of Carmacks, birthplace of the great Yukon gold rush. Here you can visit an authentic, restored 1903 roadhouse, a once-favorite stopping point for those traveling from Whitehorse to Dawson City.
Keep heading north and you’ll think you’ve driven into a time warp, back to the dawn of the 20th century, when some 30,000 fortune seekers flocked to Dawson City in search of gold. Today, this charming town is full of historic buildings that look about the way they did during its heyday. At that time the town was known as the “Paris of the North,” that is, until the gold deposits dried up and the citizens went searching for greener, err, golder pastures. Through it all, Dawson City managed to avoid becoming a ghost town. Today visitors continue to appreciate all the town offers. A working casino, Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall, is one of the highlights. Another worthwhile destination venue is the Jack London Interpretive Center, which explains the life and Yukon adventures of this legendary novelist.