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Yellowhead Highway Itinerary: Terrace to Smithers

What to See and do Terrace to Smithers

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: Terrace – Smithers

The 205 km (2:15 hrs) section of the Yellowhead Highway between Terrace and Smithers showcases the rugged coastal mountains of northern British Columbia with stunning natural beauty.

Terrace is the largest inland community on the Skeena River, and lies on its northern bank.  Terrace is a major regional hub and offers visitors a range of amenities, including accommodations, restaurants, and cultural attractions. To the east of town is a bridge that takes the Yellowhead Highway to the southern bank of the Skeena.

The highway follows the banks of the Skeena River on its path to the coast, and is one of the most important salmon-producing rivers in British Columbia.  Highway 37 from the north merges onto Highway 16 at the Kitwanga junction.

Kitwanga - Nisga'A Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park - Vince Rajchel

Kitwanga – Nisga’A Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park – Vince Rajchel

At a major bend in the Yellowhead Highway, it now heads to the southeast along the course of the Bulckley River. Just to the east of  where the Bulckley flows into the Skeena River is  New Hazelton, which is known for its rich history and culture and is home to the Ksan Historical Village and Museum, which offers visitors the chance to learn about the traditions and history of the First Nations people in the region.

Hazelton view of Mount Glen-photo credit Vince Rajchel

Hazelton view of Mount Glen-photo credit Vince Rajchel

The Yellowhead Route continues east through the small communities of Usk and Thornhill before passing the Tyhee Lake Provincial Park, which is a popular recreation area for fishing, swimming, and camping. The park is located on the shores of Tyhee Lake and offers visitors the chance to experience the stunning beauty of the area.

The  Yellowhead Highway #16 heads through the beautiful Bulkley Valley as it approaches Smithers. travellers enjoy stunning mountain scenery with dense forests, and a mix of rural landscapes and small communities.

Smithers-shops along Main Stret-Northern BC Tourism-Abby Cooper

Smithers-shops along Main Stret-Northern BC Tourism-Abby Cooper

History of the Yellowhead Highway: Terrace to  Smithers portion

The highway that connected Prince Rupert to Hazelton highway, which is now part of Highway 16, opened in 1944 during the height of World War II.

Both the Canadian and American military consider the highway vital  to the military defence of North America during the Second World War. 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.

In those early days,  it would often take a whole day to travel between Hazelton and Terrace on what used to be a very narrow, windy and rough roadway.

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.

Nisga'a -Nass River-photo credit Vince Rajchel

Nisga’a -Nass River-photo credit Vince Rajchel

Nisga’a Highway

Since 1990, new construction and upgrades to the Nisga’a Highway #1163 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

Route Elevation Chart

Yellowhead Highway Elevation Chart -BC: Terrace to Hazelton to Smithers
Yellowhead Highway Elevation Chart -BC: Terrace to Hazelton to Smithers

Map of Yellowhead Highway from Terrace to Smithers

Route Itinerary Details

Coming soon…