Route: Highway 16
Prince George > Vanderhoof > Burns Lake > Smithers (alt stop at Telkwa)
Drive Quality: 10/10
Road quality: 10/10 – Road seems recently newly paved. No remarkable issues to speak of
Gas Stations: Plentiful
Wildlife spotted: Female deer, large black bear (ran across the road just leaving Prince George!)
We got a late start, pulling out of Prince George just after 2pm after Ron opted to change his rear tire. We had known it was getting worn, but the added weight of our gear had smoothed it to the point of baldness. The guys at Cycle North were incredibly accommodating and squeezed us in for a same day tire-change. If you need work done on your route, we highly recommend this place!
This views on this drive crescendo throughout the day, which each hour getting better.
From Prince George, farmland and wildflower fields line the highway, which is surrounded by small, more rolling mountains. We stopped in Vanderhoof for a quick gas-up and continued on (Prince George > Vanderhoof 1 hour).
From here, the highway runs alongside a series of lakes and rivers, which grow more plentiful with the passing kilometer. Hideaway cabins and small resorts pop up often, and trucks towing boats line the roadway. Fraser or Burns Lake make excellent stopping points, with gas stations, restaurants, or motels in either (Vanderhoof > Burns Lake 1.5 hours).
The highlight of the day comes in the final hour and a half, when the mountains begin to rise again in the distance. The road is winding; gorgeous turns run along valley floors, views sprawl, and river glimpses are abundant. The clouds lifted for us, and the sun shone through in streams, lighting up the rising mountains in the distance. The road finally passes through Telkwa, which is a small picturesque town with food trucks and an active community, just 20 minutes outside of Smithers.
We continued on to Smithers, a ski town which sits at the base of the stunning, sky-high Hudson Bay Mountain. The tall, jaded, snow-topped mountains stretch on just behind it, and the town is lively but quaint. We ate enchiladas and queso fundido at Trackside Cantina (absolutely recommended) and stopped at Smithers Brewing Co. for one before tucking in at a local motel; this drive and subsequent night a highlight of the trip so far. (Burns Lake > Smithers 1.5 hours).