Canada // The North //

The Skeena Valley

The Skeena River carves a beautiful valley through the Coast Mountains, an important trade route for aboriginal peoples and stern-wheelers before the coming of the railway in 1912. For a couple of hours the road and railway run past an imposing backdrop of snow-capped peaks half-reflected in the mist-wreathed estuary. Out on the water there’s a good chance of seeing the ripples of seals, as well as bald eagles perched on the river’s immense logjams. Dark valleys peel off the main river’s majestic course and delicate threads of waterfalls are repeatedly visible though the trees.

Shortly after Hwy-16 meets the river crashing down from the north near Hazelton and New Hazelton, a couple of minor roads strike off to four nearby villages, where something of the culture of the indigenous Gitxsan peoples has been preserved, along with new examples of totem carving and other crafts. The Gitxsan traditionally lived off fish and game rather than agriculture, and were consummate artists and carvers. You should also spend a few minutes looking round the evocative old Victorian streets of old Hazelton, 6km to the northwest on Hwy-62.