Hart-Peace River Highway
John Hart-Peace River HighwayPrince George-Fort St John/Dawson CreekThe John Hart-Peace River Highway (Hwy 97) is the northern continuation of the Cariboo Highway. It starts at Prince George on the Yellowhead Highway (Hwy 16), the northernmost of Canada's three east-west routes across the Rockies. The highway then runs north for 412 km / 256 mi through timberland to join the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek.There is an alternative route to the west on Highway 29 which follows the Peace River for 465 km / 289 mi to Fort St John and the Alaska Highway.At Summit Lake, a few kilometers beyond Prince George, the road almost imperceptibly crosses the Great Divide, the continental watershed, which is quite flat here.
Carp Lake Provincial Park
After 143 km (90 mi.), at MacLeod Lake, a narrow, winding paved road branches off westwards to Carp Lake Provincial Park on the Nechako Plateau (32 km (20 mi.)). The lake, full of islands, is very popular with anglers and open-air enthusiasts. In the days of Simon Fraser and the North West Company, the major route connecting Fort St James and Fort MacLeod passed through what is now Carp Lake Provincial Park, and parts of this have been retained at the northern and western ends of the lake. As yet unrestored ruins of the historic Fort MacLeod (Fort MacLeod Provincial Historic Park), in 1805 the first of Simon Fraser's trading posts west of the Rockies, are near the present-day settlement of McLeod Lake, but can only be reached on foot.
Gwillim Lake Provincial Park
Highway 23 leads southwards to Gwillim Lake Provincial Park (56 km (35 mi.)), a beautiful, deep-blue lake in largely untouched surroundings (splendid view of the bare mountain ridges to the northwest of the lake), and to Tumbler Ridge (105 km (65 mi.)), a new mining town, part of the Northeast Coal Project, and currently home to about 2000 workers and their families. There are sightseeing tours from mid-June to mid-September round the mining areas, and the enormous computerized conveyor systems of Quintette Coal Ltd., plus excursions to Monkman Provincial Park with the impressive 70 m (230 ft) Kinuseo Falls (accessible only on foot or by hydroplane).Gwillim Lake Provincial Park offers visitors a variety of water sports and a campground.
Highway 39 branches off to Mackenzie (30 km / 19 mi; 701 m / 2300 ft) at the south end of Lake Williston, an artificial lake which has scarcely been opened up to tourism. Until 1965 the area around the northern Rocky Mountain Trench was still just a wilderness. Since then the town of Mackenzie has grown up, its population here to work in the sawmills and paper factories of the local economic mainstay, the timber industry, although ore deposits have now also been found in the vicinity. At the entrance to the town stands the huge "tree crusher", an enormous, 175-tonne machine, which, when Lake Williston was created, was used to crush the trees which were of no commercial value. Morfee Lake, a nearby resort, has a hydroplane base and swimming, water sports and fishing.
Chetwynd (pop. 3100, 615 m (2018 ft)), already in the foothills of the Rockies, is another young settlement on the northern frontier, on the edge of the untamed wilderness.Chetwynd is a great base from which to explore the surrounding areas and the starting point for wilderness tours (hiking, canoeing, hunting, and fishing trips). It is also considered the gateway to the Peace River.Within the town of Chetwynd there are also some recreational opportunities such as the recreation complex with a wave pool.
The beautifully scenic Highway 29 branches off at Chetwynd (310 km / 193 mi) and follows Peace River to Fort St John.Some of the attractions along Highway 29 include Tumbler Ridge, with access to Sukunka Falls Provincial Park and Gwillim Lake Provincial Park. Also along here are Moberly Lake, Hudson's Hope, WAC Bennett Dam, and the Peace Canyon Dam. The Peace Canyon Visitor Centre offers information on the area.
Highway 97 crosses Pine Pass, at 935 m (3069 ft), the lowest pass in the Canadian Rockies. Not far from the pass there is Powder King Ski Village, a popular ski resort (640 m (2100 ft) descent, and the Bijoux Falls (about 40 m (131 ft)-high waterfall).