Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky and Hart Ranges, on a plateau above the confluence of three rivers, Tumbler Ridge is a wonderful wilderness haven and the gateway to Monkman Provincial Park. A little over twenty years ago, the townsite of Tumbler Ridge was still the home of grizzly and black bears, deer, elk and moose, and the only buildings were trapper’s cabins.
Tumbler Ridge was built in the early 1980s to service the Northeast Coal Project, which was expected to supply 100 million tons of metallurgical coal to Japan in its first 15 years.
After the recent closure of one of its coal mines, Tumbler Ridge is set to emerge even stronger. The people of Tumbler Ridge have warmly welcomed new neighbours to their friendly community – from all over Canada, the U.S. and even Europe.
With modern facilities of every kind, Tumbler Ridge is a great town for gathering supplies, directions and advice before heading off into adventure. Hiking, fishing, canoeing, alpine meadows and numerous waterfalls in remote locations will fill your day in the great Canadian outdoors.
Location: Tumbler Ridge is located in Northern British Columbia, located approximately 438 Miles (700 km) northeast of Vancouver – as the crow flies – and is 75 miles (120 km) southwest of Dawson Creek, and 63 miles (100 km) southeast of Chetwynd.
Well worth a visit are the scenic Sukunka Falls, located along the Sukunka River, northwest of Tumbler Ridge. There is a viewsite and a trail to the base of the falls. The smaller Babcock Falls, on Babcock Creek, have a certain mystery about them, with super pools for a refreshing swim.
Taller than Niagara Falls, the 60-metre high Kinuseo Falls on the Murray River offer a breathtaking site, and can be viewed from the lookout platforms or from the river. Located in Monkman Provincial Park, the Kinuseo Falls Campground offers 42 campsites tailored to all campers, including river campers and tenters.
Tumbler Ridge is home to the now-closed Quintette Mine, one of the largest open pit coal mines in the world. Quintette closed in August 2000 due to high production costs and declining coal prices on the international coal markets. Quintette Mine and Bullmoose Mine, when operating together, produced a combined 5 million tons of metallurgical coal annually for export to Japan.
The Bullmoose Mine was an open-pit coal mine located 40 km from Tumbler Ridge. A shovel and loader were used to mine the five gently-dipping seams that vary in thickness from 1 to 5 metres (combined seam thickness 12.4 metres). Clean coal was truck-hauled 35 km to two 11,000-tonne silos for loading into 102-car trains. The coal was railed via Prince George on the 900-km journey to the ship loading facility on Ridley Island, near Prince Rupert, for delivery to Japan. The last shift at Bullmoose ended in April 2003, after yielding 34 million tonnes of coal. Today, Western Coal and Peace River Coal in Tumbler Ridge still market some of the world’s premier metallurgical coal to Asia, Europe and South America.
Visit nearby Quality Creek Falls, where natural beauty surrounds you, as well-maintained trails meander through the woods leading down to the falls. A lookout is situated at the top of the falls and a trail winds down to the bottom of the falls, both sites offering beautiful views.
Tumbler Ridge has become famous for the numerous dinosaur bones and footprints discovered in the area. The region boasts BC’s longest, accessible dinosaur trackway as well as one of the largest collections of dinosaur footprints. Guided, interpretive, dinosaur trackway tours are offered daily during the summer months by the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation.
Hiking: Hike to the summit of Mount Spieker, where hiking trails provide easy access to alpine areas, unspoiled wilderness and inspiring mountain scenery. Top hikes in Monkman Provincial Park are to the Murray River Crossing, 14 km return, and the two-day hike to the south end of Monkman Lake. Don’t rush, however, as Monkman is a place of stillness and beauty that should be savoured.
Monkman gets all the hiking glory in the area, but there are some excellent hiking trails nearby that are less lauded, but equally pleasing. Multi-use trails surround the townsite. There is a clearing on the ridge that buttresses Tumbler Ridge’s east side, which looks for all the world like a bald patch. No wonder it’s known locally as the Bald Spot. It’s a mighty steep scramble up the ridge to the viewpoint, but the views west over the town, and to the Rocky Mountains beyond, are worth it. A little further from town is the Wapiti Onion Trail.
Monkman Provincial Park: A great stop on any visit to Tumbler Ridge is Monkman Provincial Park, a wilderness jewel for those who appreciate the rugged beauty of nature. Up until a few years ago, just getting to Monkman was as big an adventure as exploring the park itself. It’s a popular spot for camping and hiking, and keep your camera handy, as the park is teeming with wildlife, including elk, deer, moose, mountain goats, stone’s sheep, caribou, grizzly and black bear. Follow the trails to the spectacular Kinuseo Falls, one of the most outstanding features in the park.
Gwillim Lake Provincial Park is a scenic wilderness park, midway between Chetwynd and Tumbler Ridge, on Highway 29, with 53 campsites offering all the normal facilities and outdoor activities. Dolly Varden, mountain whitefish, arctic grayling and northern pike await the angler on the deep, blue, and cold Gwillim Lake. People with high metabolisms will find a dip in the lake refreshing; others will find it bone-chilling. More adventurous types can follow the maintained hiking trails that lead around the lake, and deeper into the park, either as a day hike or as a short backpacking trek.
Spend a quiet day canoeing or fishing on Moose Lake, 27 km northwest of Tumbler Ridge. There are camping and picnic sites, each with a fire pit, picnic table and a beautiful view of the lake.
Birdwatchers will appreciate the wildlife at Tumbler Ridge Bird Sanctuary. This is a fascinating area for birders, where eastern and western range species of the Northern Rockies converge. A checklist of 231 bird species has been identified and is available at the Visitor Centre, along with information about the forest and wetland sites.
Golf: Tumbler Ridge Golf and Country Club provides a challenging 9-hole par 36 public golf course. The golf course closes over the winter and is used by the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society for cross-country skiing.
Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
Paddling: Ready for a paddling adventure? The Murray River Canoe Route encompasses over 50 km of canoeing, and offers a fantastic experience. For a shorter trip suitable for novice canoeists, the Murray River from Kinuseo Falls to Tumbler Ridge can be canoed in a few hours or a few days, depending on where you put in and how fast you paddle. You will need someone to drop you off and pick you up, or leave a vehicle at the end. Another popular put-in point is at East Pine Provincial Park, where the East Pine River flows into the Murray 25 km east of Chetwynd.
Held on the August long weekend, GRIZFEST brings you music from traditional to the edge of experimental. Focusing on Canadian talent the festival is a blend of various musical styles for your listening pleasure.
Indoor Activities: Rainy days are best at the beautiful Aquatic Centre, which features a full sized pool, a tots pool, sauna, hot tub, steam room and squash courts.
Winter Activities: Spectacular scenery and unexplored terrain make Tumbler Ridge a fantastic snowmobiling and cross-country skiing destination in winter, and a superb mountain biking area in summer. Mountain biking is relatively unknown in this area, and thousands of miles of logging roads, both used and unused, stretch out before the flat tires that may be the first to leave an imprint here. Ski and snowmobile trails are plentiful, and see little action in the summer. Very few trails have restrictions, so a hiking trail like Baldy Mountain or the trail to Monkman Lake can be turned into a mountain biking trek, with no one to say otherwise. Some of the more popular trails start off Bergeron Crescent in Tumbler Ridge. For the extreme biker, these trails will be a walk in the park; enjoy the views over Flatbed Creek and the Murray River as you pedal along.
Outdoor Adventure: This is truly a magnificent area for outdoor recreation, and the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society displays over 100 photos of the backcountry around Tumbler Ridge, grouped into activities like dayhikes, backpacking, skiing (cross country and mountain touring), paddling, and mountain biking. Enjoy, and spread the word!
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.