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Yellowhead Highway Itinerary: Burns Lake to Prince George

What to See and do Burns Lake to Prince George

You are driving through BC’s Lake District which brags about “3000 miles of lakes”.  Enjoy the many outdoor recreation opportunities, like boating, fishing,  big game hunting, mountain biking, and in the winter: skiing and snowboarding. Take in the vibrant indigenous heritage and culture of the region.

Yellowhead Highway Overview: Burns Lake to Prince George portion

The 229 km (2:40 hrs) section of the Yellowhead Highway   between Burns Lake and Prince George takes you through the Lake District at the north end of the Interior Plateau. This segment of the Yellowhead showcases the rugged interior mountains of northern British Columbia with their stunning natural beauty.

The route starts at the small community of Burns Lake, which is located on the eastern end of 12 kilometer long Decker Lake and along the shore of  Burns Lake (which is a continuation of a wide Endako River). This community offers visitors a range of amenities, including gasoline, accommodations, restaurants, and outdoor recreation.

Continuing eastward, the highway passes through the community of Fraser Lake, on the west end of a lake of the same name, and at the east end of Fraser Lake is the town of Fort Fraser. From here, the route roughly follows the course of the Nechako River (which flows eastwards from Fraser Lake toward the Fraser River, which it joins at Prince George). Fraser Lake has several First Nations on its shores are very nearby

About midway on this stretch, just west of the town of Vanderhoof,  you can head north and drive about 70 km  on Highway 27 to the town of Fort St James on Stuart Lake.

The first major site along the route is the Purden Lake Provincial Park, which is a popular recreation area for fishing, swimming, and camping. The park is located in the heart of the northern British Columbia mountain wilderness and offers visitors the chance to experience the stunning beauty of the region.

As the highway approaches Prince George, the Yellowhead Highway #16 heads through a mixture of urban and rural landscapes. Prince George is the largest city in northern British Columbia and serves as a hub for industry and commerce in the region. The city offers a range of amenities, including gasoline, accommodations, restaurants, and cultural attractions.

From Prince George, travellers can head north on Highway 97 to Mackenzie (184 km), Chetwynd (303 km), Dawson Creek (404 km)  and then head up the  Alaska Highway

History of the Yellowhead Highway: Burns Lake to Prince George portion

Heading east from Hazelton, Highway 16 begins a course that follows along the course of the Bulkley River,  east to its junction with Highway 35, south of Burns Lake.

Originally, the route that the highway followed was nearer the CN Rail tracks a bit to the north of today’s highway. Highway 16 (so-numbered since 1941) originally ran from New Hazelton east to Prince George , and a bit further east to  Aleza Lake.

In 1969, Highway 16 was extended east from Prince George into the Yellowhead Pass and Jasper, Alberta. It was completed by 1968, though was raised to all-weather standards in 1969.

Prince George-northern lights-Northern BC Tourism-Kristopher Foot

Prince George-northern lights-Northern BC Tourism-Kristopher Foot

Highway 97 History

Highway 97 (the north-south route passing theough Prince George) began as the route of the original Cariboo Wagon Road, which was also known as the Queen’s Highway, built in the 1860s to connect New Westminster and the Lower Mainland with the various gold fields during the gold rushes. The wagon road extended from Cache Creek up to Quesnel, through storied communities like Clinton, 70 MIle House, 100 Mile House, 150 Mile House, and Williams Lake.

After World War II, the John Hart Highway, was built as a gravel road to join Prince George to the Peace River area by 1950. After an extensive 10-year reconstruction program, paving was completed on the 409-kilometre John Hart Highway between Prince George and Dawson Creek in 1976.

Highway 97 is BC’s longest highway, running from the Canada–United States border near Osoyoos in the south to the British Columbia–Yukon boundary in the north at Watson Lake, Yukon. This highway is 2,081 km (1,293 mi) long.

Route Elevation Chart

Yellowhead Highway Elevation Chart -BC: Burns Lake-Vanderhoof-Prince George
Yellowhead Highway Elevation Chart -BC: Burns Lake-Vanderhoof-Prince George

Map of Yellowhead Highway from Burns Lake to Prince George

Route Itinerary Details

Coming soon…