British Columbia Circle Tours - Peace Liard Circle Tour

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British Columbia Circle Tours & Driving Tours

6 - 9 days

This unusual BC circle tour takes you through the heart of the Northwest, and traces the path of some of the West's most daring pioneers. Many of the towns along the way were first established by fur traders in the 1700's and 1800's. Although most of the roads are paved two-lane highways, this tour gives you a birds- eye view of the challenges that were ahead of early British Columbia inhabitants.

You begin your trek in Dawson Creek, "Mile 0" of the Alaska Highway. You can reach Dawson Creek by means of Highway 97, which traces the gold rush route from Cache Creek and Highway 1.

Visit Dawson Creek's Information Centre and museum (housed in an historic railway station), or Walter Wright Pioneer Village for a glance at the town's past before continuing north on Highway 97.

Peace River Valley, near Ft. St. John.
Photo Courtesy of Northern BC Tourism

Fort St. John (73 km/46 miles from Dawson Creek) is the oldest former fur trading post in this area, dating back to 1792. The Lookout on 100th Street captures a breathtaking view of the Peace River.

Fort Nelson (480 km/300 miles from Dawson Creek) was established as a trading post in 1805. 29 km/18 miles northwest you will take to BC Highway 77 north (watch for the signs). Although the quality of this gravel road can be variable during rainy weather, it is traversable by RVs. Be aware of pot holes due to rain.

The Liard Highway is famous for its beauty. Cross Country skiing, as well as canoeing, kyaking and wildlife viewing are popular here. A trail leads you west to Maxhamish Lake Provincial Park, situated less than 20 km/13 miles south of the BC/NWT border. There are no federal or provincial campgrounds within the last 80 km/50 miles of the Liard Highway.

Fort Liard (you are now on Highway 7) is the first town you will come to as you cross into the Northwest Territories and is known for its birchbark crafts. The Nahanni National Park Reserve, a World Heritage Site is nearby.

Near Fort Simpson (approximately 280 km/175 miles, just north of the Highway 7 and Highway 1 interchange) are several parks. The Kakisa Territorial Park and Sambaa Deh Territorial Park offer camping, fishing, and views of nearby waterfalls. Your route will then continue on Highway 1 east.

Often called "The Waterfalls Route" this highway parallels several stunning waterfalls. Twin Falls Gorge Territorial Park is outside of the community of Enterprise (393 km/246 miles), where you can visit Alexandra Falls and Louise Falls.

The Northwest Territories' border with BC and Alberta runs along the 60th parallel. The NWT Arctic Tourism Information Centre at the border of Alberta offers regional arts and craft displays, travel information and coffee. The road changes to Highway 35 at the border.

Cow Moose
Photo Courtesy of Wayne Sawchuk

The area of High Level, Alberta (191km/119 miles from the border) offers some interesting historical tours. Fort Vermilion, 80 km/50 miles east of Highway 35, was established by fur traders in 1788. The community of La Crete (just south of Fort Vermillion) was founded by Mennonites at the turn the 20th century. An annual Farmers' Day celebration in August includes traditional Mennonite dishes.

The area outside of the towns of Manning and Grimshaw (280km/175 miles from High Level) is rich farming country. Fishing opportunities abound at Notikewin Provincial Park, just north of Manning.

Lac Cardinal near Grimshaw hosts a pioneer village and museum. From Grimshaw your drive turns southwest and takes you along Highway 2 to Highway 49, which heads directly west to Dawson Creek (184 km/115 miles. The last leg of your journey back to BC is approximately 105 km/66 miles along a paved, secondary road.

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British Columbia Circle Tours - Peace Liard Circle Tour