Sunday, August 14, 2016

Stewart_Cassiar Highway Overview

 cabackroads--Stewart_Cassiar Highway Overview, British Columbia

The Stewart-Cassiar Highway was completed in 1972. As a graduate student at the University of British Columbia in1973 I was directed to rewrite the field notes of the highway for publication. I tried to get permission to drive up the highway to view it before doing the rewrite of the field notes. My request was denied.

So in the summer of 2016 I finally got to see the highway that I only experienced second hand through field notes. It was nothing like the notes.

The highway is 543 miles long. All of it without cell service. Internet service at the small villages was sometimes available. Diesel was available, but you never wanted to go past a station selling it without topping the tank. The grocery stores were a treasure hunt. Some were great for small stores while others had little selection. We actually went back to a grocery store that was selling outdated potatoe chips for twenty-five cents a bag. Truly, a treasure find.

For half its length there is no center line. A comfortable traveling speed is about 45 miles an hour. Traffic is minimal. Just be courteous and pull over if someone comes up behind you.

A friend traveled the route in early spring and has memories of wildlife and mosquitoes. I decided to pass on the mosquitoes by leaving in early July. That meant, however, that I also gave a pass to the wildlife. In early spring, the higher elevations are covered in snow forcing all the bears and moose down to the river valley along the highway. In July, a fox in a campground and one along the road. Stone sheep along the highway were the only wildlife of note.

There is a spur off Highway 37 to Stewart, BC and Hyder, Alaska. It is worth taking. The views are better than what we saw off the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.

Stewart, BC also had the advantage of good cell and data service. There was a good grocery store and a couple of decent looking restaurants. It is very close to the bear watching area in Hyder, Alaska.

Most people chose to stay at Meziadin Provincial Park and do the day trip to Stewart. In hindsite, I think I would chose to stay in either Stewart or Hyder for a couple of nights. Particularly, Hyder since then you can watch the bears feast on salmon early and late in the day.

The remainder of the trip was a choice between the Provincial Parks or boondocking along the road. The best scenery is in the Provincial Parks so we chose to do that.

The highway is never that far from the coast. The totem poles at the start of the trip was the first clue.

The cloudy, rainy weather for the second clue for the remainder of the trip.It is a grand trip. Even Snowpatch spent much of the trip gazing out the window.

Just before the highway ends in the Yukon there was a lake with cell service, if the phone amplifier, was connected and a beautiful dispersed camping spot.

The end of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway is in the Yukon. Off the Alaska Highway there is just a small sign identifying the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. Not even a left turn lane off the Alcan.

When you reach the Alaska Highway there is culture shock as you encounter "civilization" again.

1 comment:

Sondra said...

Thanks for the tips on Canadian travel. I have had to delay my trip for a couple weeks due to one of dogs ended up needing surgery! This highway sounds like the perfect place to really get away from it all!