Here, where the Nechako and the mighty Fraser Rivers converge, and less than 100 km from the province’s geographical centre, sits Prince George, British Columbia’s “Northern Capital”.
The area around Prince George is the traditional territory of the Carrier Sekani First Nations people, who made their livelihood off the bountiful rivers, lakes and forests of the region.
In 1793, the great explorer Alexander Mackenzie explored the area on his first crossing of the North American continent. However, it wasn’t until 1807 that European explorer Simon Fraser wintered over here, and before long, a trading post turned into a town. Originally called Fort George, after King George lll, the town flourished as a trading post, and was officially incorporated as a town in 1915.
For visitors today, Prince George is the fourth largest city in BC, and a gateway to the great North by Northwest. For the urban folks, there are all the cafés, art galleries, boutiques and museums that a modern city can offer.
For those who get their thrills under the open sky, Prince George is a paradise. Several parks and heritage trails are close by, as are 18-hole golf courses, and a salmon camp. Literally thousands of lakes and rivers beckon you and your rod, canoe, boat and backpack.
Over a dozen flights daily to and from the city make connections with all major regional, national and international centres easy. Regularly scheduled flights to smaller centres in the north leave Prince George daily.
Prince George is the first stop on VIA Rail’s spectacular Skeena route that takes visitors from Prince Rupert on the west coast through the middle of BCs backyard to Jasper in the Canadian Rockies, with connections to VIA’s national network of routes.
Visit Prince George on your way to Alaska, and stay a while, you’ll like what you see!
Location: Prince George is located at the junction of Alaska Highway 97 and the Yellowhead Highway 16, 76 miles (123 km) north of Quesnel, 200 km (120 miles) south of Mackenzie, 451 miles (722 km) east of Prince Rupert, and 487 miles (780 km) north of Vancouver.
Highway 97 runs south to Vancouver and north to Dawson Creek, where it joins up with the Alaska Highway. Highway 16, or the Trans Canada Yellowhead Highway, extends from Prince Rupert through Prince George to the Rockies, and on to its conclusion in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
View map of the area
Take a peak into the past at the Prince George Railway and Forest Industry Museum, located within Cottonwood Island Nature Park. The museum grew from the efforts of six local residents who undertook to restore a wooden 1903 Russell Snowplow that belonged to the Northwood Pulp and Timber Ltd. Exhibits include the 1914 Grand Trunk Penny Station, the 1913 First Class Nechako railcar and a restored turn-of-the-century bunkhouse. A great place to get lost!
The Fraser-Fort George Regional Museum is an active and vibrant mirror of the surrounding community, offering a brief overview of the area’s First Nation’s history. Situated on the banks of the Fraser River in Fort George Park, the museum stands on the site of the original Hudson’s Bay Trading Post.
Stimulate your brain at Exploration Place Science Centre and Museum, located in Fort George Park.
Walk the portage trail and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the countryside at the 1912 Huble Homestead and Giscome Portage Trail. Located 40 km north of Prince George, in the beautiful setting of Giscome Portage Regional Park, this historic site features the Huble Homestead and other carefully reconstructed farm buildings, as well as the 8.5km long historic Giscome Portage Trail passing over the Arctic Divide.
View the Grand Trunk Pacific Bridge, built in 1918 of steel girder construction, this railway bridge was designed to be raised to allow sternwheelers passage along the Fraser River. Auto traffic is now carried on the Yellowhead Bridge, built in 1988.
Forestry Tours: Want to learn more about the forests of Northern British Columbia? Spend a day getting a closer look at the woodlands operations, from planting and harvesting to moving the logs to the mill. Self-guided driving forestry tours allow you to learn about the forests at your own pace. Details available at the Visitor Centre.
Photographers should take a wander along the relaxing pathways at Connaught Hill Park, a popular park with beautiful flower gardens and inspiring vistas of the city, the University of Northern British Columbia and the famous cutbanks bordering the Nechako River.
VIA Rail Canada runs from Vancouver to Jasper, Alberta, in the BC Rockies, and back to the Pacific Coast at Prince Rupert, with an overnight stop in Prince George. VIA Rail Canada connects at several cross-border crossings with Amtrak, for continuing rail travel through North America. Today’s VIA Rail network and services offer outstanding travel options, whatever your budget or destination. Whether you’re on a coast-to-coast adventure or on an Inter-city hop, VIA Rail’s trains will take you there in comfort and style.
Prince George is also home to several art galleries, including the Prince George Native Art Gallery on 3rd Avenue, which has unique displays of cedarwood carvings, bead work, and birch-bark biting, an ancient form once commonly practiced by northern Woodlands woman. The Two Rivers Gallery in Civic Plaza is a vital centre for visual art in Prince George and the Central Interior of BC, offering art exhibits, tours, lessons, and discussions.
At the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers, Cottonwood Island Park is a nature lover’s delight at any time of the year. The setting for the park is so perfect; you will think you are in the countryside, instead of only a few blocks from downtown Prince George. Follow the Heritage River Trail to Fort George Park.
Noah’s Ark Adventureland welcomes kids to meet the animals at the petting zoo – Llamas, ostriches, horses, sheep, pygmy goats, peacocks and many more. Have fun at the playground, duck pond, hay rides, pony rides, sleigh rides and the many other activities offered in country charm, warmth and hospitality.
Forests for the World: A wandering delight with lakes and beaver dams, located on Cranbrook Hill, one of Prince George’s hidden treasures. The many hiking trails lead to places like Shane Lake and a 20-foot high Forestry Lookout station. Experience the great outdoors without leaving the city!
Eskers Provincial Park: An esker is a long, narrow, steep-sided ridge of sand and gravel deposited by streams flowing between the icy walls of two glaciers, or through a meltwater tunnel inside a glacier. The glacial features dominate Eskers Provincial Park, 40 km northwest of Prince George on Chief Lake Road, near Ness Lake. There are 15 km of hiking trails wending their way around the many small lakes in the area, with the longest trail running almost 6 km to the tip of Kathy Lake. A series of tiny lakes linked by portages lets you experience a day or three of wilderness paddling in close proximity to Prince George. Simon Fraser himself paddled through this area nearly two hundred years ago. The park features Circle Lake and Pine Marsh, a great place for birdwatching. Moose and beavers also inhabit the park.
West Lake Provincial Park, 24 km southwest of Prince George on Blackwater Road, has picnic tables, a sandy beach for swimming, and a covered shelter that doubles as a warming hut in winter. The park is a favourite spot for snowshoeing and tobogganning, and hiking trails around the north end of the lake double as ungroomed cross-country trails in winter.
Backpacking Trips: Looking for something a little different? How about a wilderness backpack trip with a llama providing the back? Scheduled or custom llama adventure pack trips are available, suited to your group and the terrain you will be travelling through. Backcountry hiking or horseback trips are also available out of Prince George.
Paddling: The lakes and rivers also provide enjoyable canoeing and boating. The nearest canoeing opportunities can be found at Eskers Provincial Park, Dahl Lake or Crooked River Provincial Park, where powerboats are prohibited, ensuring that your canoeing experiences are relaxing and peaceful. Within two hours drive are the Nation Lakes and Bowron Lake Provincial Park, with its sought after wilderness Bowron Lakes Canoe Route.
Winter Activities: Whether you prefer Nordic skiing, heli-skiing from the area’s snow-capped mountain peaks, snowshoeing, snowboarding, snowmobiling or dogsledding – it’s all done around Prince George. Check out Tabor Mountain Ski Resort, a mere 15 minutes from town, or Purden Ski Village, a 45-minute drive from the city. Prince George has superb cross-country skiing, with trails in Cottonwood Island, the UNBC campus, Forests for the Wild, and Moore’s Meadow. There’s also cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Eskers Provincial Park.
Skiing: Nestled in the pristine wilderness of the Canadian Rockies, Powder King Mountain Resort offers the best of the great outdoors, from virgin snow and breathtaking drops, to the gentle groomed slopes of beginner runs – and some of the best powder skiing in the province! Most of the terrain favours intermediate-level skiers.
Skiing & Winter Activities in the North East.
Golf: Prince George offers a number of golfing options. The 18 holes of the Aberdeen Glen Golf Club are carved through the valleys and forest just north of Prince George city centre. Prince George Golf and Curling Club is a jewel of a golf course in the centre of town. The semi-private 18 hole facility is located in a park-like setting, one of north central BC’s favourite courses. Unfortunately the evergreen-lined fairways are now bordered mostly by dead pines, victims of the mountain pine beetle infestation. It’s estimated that three quarters of the 9,000 lodgepole pines on the property are dead. Aspen Grove Golf Course is a public 18 hole facility south of Prince George, and the Links of Maggie May is a beautiful 9-hole course with large greens located 15 minutes east of Prince George. Other golf courses in Prince George include the public 9-hole Yellowhead Grove Golf Course, and the Pine Valley Golf Centre, a public 18 hole facility located half a mile south of the bypass on Highway 16 West.
Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
Fishing: Fish to your heart’s content; the surrounding area’s lakes and streams are an angler’s paradise, but don’t forget your license! In the spring and summer, lakes and streams are heavy with rainbow and lake trout, dolly varden or burbot.
Circle Tours: See the best of Northern BC on one of the Circle Tours that capture the wonders of the north. The Circle Tour of Northern British Columbia incorporates the Alaska Highway through the Rocky Mountain foothills to Watson Lake in the Yukon, linking with the Stewart/Cassiar Highway and Yellowhead Highway 16 in the south. The Inside Passage Circle Tour and the Native Heritage Circle Tour follow the same route, from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island north by ferry to Prince Rupert. Catch another ferry to the Queen Charlotte Islands, or venture east on the Yellowhead Highway to Prince George, and south through the peaceful Cariboo to Vancouver along the historic Cariboo Wagon Road.
Circle Tours in British Columbia.