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Yellowhead Highway Itinerary: Prince Rupert – Skeena – Terrace

What to See and do Prince Rupert to Terrace

Experience the stunning natural beauty of northern British Columbia, its coastal mountains and the forests and the wildlife.  Enjoy the many outdoor recreation opportunities, like hiking, fishing, skiing and snowboarding. See the vibrant port city of Prince Rupert, and the vibrant indigenous heritage and culture of the region..

Prince Rupert Harbourfront, at Cow Bay with crusie ship - Northtern BC Tourism, Marty Clemens
Prince Rupert Harbourfront, at Cow Bay with crusie ship - Northtern BC Tourism, Marty Clemens

Yellowhead Highway Overview: Prince Rupert – Terrace

The section of the Yellowhead Highway between Terrace and Prince Rupert showcases the rugged coastal mountains of northern British Columbia with stunning natural beauty.

Prince Rupert is a bustling port city on the edge of the Pacific Ocean at the western terminus of both the Yellowhead Highway and the Canadian National Railway line. It is Canada’s closest port to Asian markets, and handles cargo and passengers from around the world.

The highway navigates along the northeastern coast of  Kaien Island and continues eastward  across the Galloway Rapids Bridge. The highway passes through the smaller community of Port Edward, before passing through Prudhomme Lake Provincial Park and  climbs over a 164 m (about 500 ft) pass before descending to reach the Skeena River.

The route heads northeasterly following the path of the Skeena River on its way to the Pacific Ocean, passing through a mix of rural and mountainous landscapes. Travelers can experience stunning mountain vistas and views of the river.

Terrace-Kitselas Canyon -photo credit Vince Rajchel

Terrace-Kitselas Canyon -photo credit Vince Rajchel

You will pass a number of indigenous communities as well as the Kitselas Canyon National Historic Site, which is a significant cultural site for the First Nations people in the region. Visitors can explore the site and learn about the history and traditions of the area.

 

Terrace - Lakelse Lake Highway 37-photo credit Vince Rajchel

Terrace – Lakelse Lake Highway 37-photo credit Vince Rajchel

Terrace is the largest inland community on the Skeena River, and lies on its northern bank. To the east of town is a bridge that takes the Yellowhead Highway to the southern bank of the Skeena

History of the Yellowhead Highway: Prince Rupert to Terrace portion

The highway that hugs the river on one side and has a wall of mountains on the other, was officially opened as the Skeena River Highway in 1944.

The first maps planning the road were done in the 1920s. These first plans were to build the road on the south bank of the Skeena River. In the 1930s the first gravel road from the Prince Rupert harbour to Galloway Rapids was built.  Then a bridge was built over the Galloway Rapids to connect to Port Edward on the mainland. The project next continued up to Prudhomme Lake until construction was halted in 1939 by the start of WWII.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, the U.S. military began reinforcing Prince Rupert with fortifications in 1942 (along with towns along the coast of Alaska), when the threat of a Japanese invasion seemed imminent.

The road inland became a top priority, and the U.S. and Canadian military authorities planned to build a road from Prince Rupert to Hazelton in one year. The road construction necessitated filling in muskeg with rock for stability, several railway crossings, and building 45 prefab bridges in Vancouver and shipping them up. All done in the region’s legendary rainy weather.

In 1964, major reconstruction of Highway 16 began between Prince George and Prince Rupert. Of the total 728 kilometres of highway, most was reconstructed, and all of it was paved.

Terrace--Kitselas Canyon totems-photo credit Vince Rajchel

Terrace–Kitselas Canyon totems-photo credit Vince Rajchel

Nisga’a Highway

Since 1990, new construction and upgrades to the Nisga’a Highway #113 have been underway. The route heads north from Terrace and once into the Nass River Valley then travels west to Gingolx (Kincolith) for a total of 169 kilometres (105 mi).  The Nisga’a Highway connects with Highway 16 just west of Terrace then runs north to the Nass Valley. Work has included replacing old log stringer bridges with new concrete bridges, raising sections of the existing roadway to the 50-year flood elevation, various paving, widening and realigning.

Nisga’a Tourism

Nisga'a lava beds-photo credit Vince Rajchel
Nisga'a lava beds-photo credit Vince Rajchel

Route Elevation Chart

Yellowhead Elevation Chart for BC: Prince Rupert-Terrace
Yellowhead Elevation Chart for BC: Prince Rupert-Terrace

Map of Yellowhead Highway Prince Rupert to Terrace


Route Itinerary Details

Coming soon…