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Yellowhead Highway Itinerary: Smithers to Burns Lake

What to See and do Smithers to Burns Lake

Experience the stunning natural beauty of northern British Columbia, its interior mountains and the forests and the wildlife.  Enjoy the many outdoor recreation opportunities, like hiking, fishing, skiing and snowboarding. Take in the vibrant indigenous heritage and culture of the region.

Yellowhead Highway Overview: Smithers to Burns Lake

The 145 km (1:40 hrs) section of the Yellowhead Highway between Smithers and Burns Lake showcases the rugged interior mountains of northern British Columbia with stunning natural beauty.

The Yellowhead Highway #16 heads east from Smithers, which is located in the heart of the Bulkley Valley. Smithers is known for its stunning mountain scenery, and the town is surrounded by the Hudson Bay Mountain and the Babine Mountain ranges.

Just 15 km east of Smithers is Telkwa, nestled where the Bulkley River is joined by the Telkwa River. This pretty village is adjacent to Tyhee Lake Provincial Park, wehre you can see snow-capped mountain ranges and a number of lakes and streams.

Houston-hiking he China Knows Peak-Northern BC Tourism-Abby Cooper

Houston-hiking he China Knows Peak-Northern BC Tourism-Abby Cooper

Continuing eastward, the highway passes through the community of Houston, which is situated in the Bulkley Valley and about 60 km west of Smithers. Houston offers visitors a range of amenities, including accommodations, restaurants, and outdoor recreation. The route then passes through the small community of Topley (110 km east of Smithers), which is surrounded by stunning mountain vistas.

Along the route you pass Francois Lake Provincial Park, which is a popular recreation area for fishing, swimming, and camping. Located on the shores of Francois Lake, which is the second-largest natural lake in British Columbia, surrounded by lush forests.

The Yellowhead Highway #16 continues eastward through a mixture of rural landscapes, small communities, and densely forested mountainous landscapes, and passing several small picturesque lakes, before arriving at Burns Lake.

Houston-hiking the China Knows peak-Northern BC Tourism-Abby Cooper

Houston-hiking the China Knows peak-Northern BC Tourism-Abby Cooper

History of the Yellowhead Highway: Smithers to Burns Lake

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 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.

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.

Route Elevation Chart

Yellowhead Highway Elevation Chart -BC: Smithers to Houston to Burns Lake
Yellowhead Highway Elevation Chart -BC: Smithers to Houston to Burns Lake

Map of Yellowhead Highway from Smithers to Burns Lake


Route Itinerary Details

Coming soon…