Laird Hot Springs > Muncho Provincial Park > Tetsa River Lodge > Fort Nelson > Fort St. John
Drive Quality: 10/10 until Fort Nelson
Road Quality: 8/10
Route: Alaska Highway
Wildlife Spotted: Baby moose, sheep herds, black bear
The day was again beautiful, and we rose energized. The first few hours of this drive were without large towns, but filled with pullovers, campgrounds, and cascading views. The mountains here are summoning giants. The peaks pluck through the clouds, interrupting their casual float across the sky. The cols droop, the sides fall and turn to scree and plunge down directly to the road or into the river. The road weaves, snaking creek-like through the valleys. You feel attached to everything. You can reach out and touch any of it, so close you are to it all.
There are many pullovers throughout this drive, but I recommend stopping at Muncho Provincial Park or at Summit Lake Campground, which, as the name suggests, is a small beach-campground directly on the lake. It was packed when we drove by, so reserve ahead.
We stopped at Tetsa River Lodge, which was an absolute pleasure; yet another place I would recommend stopping or staying in. The log cabin has a professional bakery inside, and they make their own sausage and pepperoni sticks. We ordered soup and a (yet another) face-sized cinnamon bun, fresh from the oven. We sat on the grassy lawn and admired the small cabins that decorate the property as we drank in the sun.
From here, the road eventually turns more highway, but the views are still stunning. One portion of road runs directly atop a mountain ridge, and blue mountains and their sister plateaus spill out on every side. Flying along the highest peak, edges tumbling down below you, it feels like flying as you ride the curves.
We pulled into Fort Nelson to fill up. From here there are 176 kilometers with no services. The road flattens out into rolling farmland, still lush and beautiful, though the surrounding views appear more desert-like. After 176k, you come upon Bucking Horse River, a pipeline camp with a restaurant and gas. The roads here have flattened, and you can see many miles in the distance. We made the final push to Fort St. John, where the quiet of the North is squashed by giant trucks, semis, farm equipment, and perhaps a few inflated egos. Fort St. John has everything in terms of services, though I wouldn’t recommend it as a ‘must-stop’ unless you require significant services like we did. We stopped to do an oil change, stock up on groceries and have a shower, the dirt from our few days of camping bubbling off of us in gritty streams.