As a Canadian, I take pride in having been to almost all parts of this vast country. But one glaring omission for me is the west coast. For whatever reason, in my 35 years of existence, i’ve never been out there. So I figured it was just about time I do something about that.
So here's the plan - fly in to Vancouver and drive north to Whitehorse, Yukon, then turn around and come back again... in 8 days. I figured it would be tight with long days of driving, but it had been a while since i’d done a proper road trip and I was super excited to do this.
The entire trip turned out to be 5637km of driving through gorgeous BC and Yukon. Here is the entire journey in chronological order. I hope you enjoy the trip!
Heading out from Vancouver my first real stop was at Seton Lake. The turquoise tones in this body of water are incredible.
One of the things that surprised me was how quickly the landscape changes after heading out from the wet, lush coast. After passing through the mountains you end up in Lillooet. A hot and dry, almost arid small town of 2322 people.
From Lillooet, I headed straight north up highway 97 through the city of Prince George - known as the ‘Gateway to the North.’ This is northern BC’s largest city with a population of 88,043.
At this point I hop onto the TransCanada highway and head west. Getting back towards the coast, the landscape changes again and becomes more lush with thick dense forests.
I stopped in New Hazelton and did a bit of hiking. Being there in early May with the smell of the spring growth was amazing. Everything was so fresh and green as if the whole forest had just sprung to life within the past couple weeks. I'll never forget the smell of that dense, lush forest.
Terrace to Prince Rupert
Next up is the 143km drive from Terrace to Prince Rupert. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. The road winds along the Skeena River through the mountains all the way out to Prince Rupert on the coast.
Highway 37 - The Mountains
Heading north up highway 37 is where you start to get a true sense of the glory and grandeur of northern BC. It is so vast and unbelievably beautiful with snow covered mountains everywhere you look. Towns are spread out several hours apart so you really have to pay attention to your gas gauge or you could be in serious trouble.
I came across a lot of these - non actively burning - but several sites where there had been seemingly recent burns. It’s quite an odd feeling to stand in these charred forests and to hear absolute silence. It’s definitely something I’ll remember for a long time.
Yukon and the Alaska Highway
The drive from the Yukon border to Whitehorse is unbelievable. Majestic mountains and pristine wilderness the whole way through.
Whitehorse and Long Days
On day five I made it to Whitehorse. After driving through such incredible landscape, no disrespect to Whitehorse, but I have to agree with the saying “It is better to travel than to arrive."
Because of how much driving I had to do I didn’t have to much time to explore the city of Whitehorse. It seems like a nice enough small city - it’s actually the capital and largest city of Yukon with a population of 27,889.
At the time of year that I was there, May, it didn’t get dark until 10 o’clock with the sun rising at 4:30am. Shooting from sunrise to sunset made for some very, very long days.
Time to turn around and head back to Vancouver.
Where the Buffalo Roam
Heading back down south after crossing back into northern BC and hopping onto highway 97, I ran through a few areas that had lots of wild bison. They are such remarkably stoic beasts.
Doing the road trip in May and being as far north as I was, many of the lakes were still frozen solid.
Heading South and Warming Up
As I continued to head further south, things started to warm up and the lakes thawed out.
The Fraser Valley
As I drove all the down the valley, I was amazed at the scale of the Fraser Canyon, it’s just massive. Looking down into the canyon, the trees and railroad tracks are so tiny.This is a beautiful drive from Lillooet to Hope. The road follows the Fraser River down and down and down. When I drove it the temperature continued to rise the further down I got, it must have been at least 6 or 7 degrees warmer at the bottom of canyon in Hope compared to Lillooet.
On the final day I pulled into Chilliwack a short drive from Vancouver where I would catch my flight home to Toronto the next morning.
This road trip was such an incredible experience. The vastness and beauty of BC and Yukon were breathtaking. I tried my best to capture some of that but often the challenge with something so massive is that when you try to put a frame on it, it disappears.
The thing about travelling like this is, it just makes you want to see and experience more and more. I’m already thinking about my next trip - perhaps a continuation of this journey….Whitehorse to Yellowknife? Whitehorse to Anchorage? Who knows, but it’s certainly fun to think of what’s next :)