Sunday, August 19, 2012

Aug 18 – Grand Canyon of the Stikine River

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Another surprising day.

When I was planning the trip and reading other peoples blogs, it seemed that most people just blast down the Cassier to Stewart so that it what I had planned to do.

Last night while I was reading in my Lonely Planet books about the area, there was a mention in the kayaking section about these amazing rapids in a deep canyon that were too tough to run but that you could drive along them. There was no mention of how to get there. So I googled “Grand Canyon of the Stikine” and the Wikipedia page raved about the scenery. There was a quote from John Muir saying it was the “Yosemite of the North”. The article said to get there you take the road to Telegraph Creek. It turns out that the start of that road is about 100 km down the Cassier from where we were.

Now I had remembered reading in some of the blogs about going to Telegraph Creek so I went to try and find the entries again. It’s no wonder they didn’t pique my interest. One went on and on about the bears they saw and as an afterthought “Oh, here’s a picture the river valley we went by”

I decided we should check it out. Leave no stone unturned.

I’ll give away the story ending. WOW! Every guide book and tourist brochure should be screaming for people to go see this place.

It was kind of a grey day but the forecast called for sun in the early afternoon so we first moved the RV down through the mountains to the junction at the town of Dease Lake.


The highway gets kind of narrow and twisty as we drove beside long thin Dease Lake itself.

We filled up with gas at the junction and I asked the attendant if he thought it was worthwhile and he said definitely. So we planted the RV in a campground and headed off.

The road to Telegraph Creek is a 110 km long dirt road. It is listed as a BC highway so it was in very good shape. The speed limit is 80 kph and in most sections you can easily do that. You have to go about 70 km in before the scenery gets interesting. Before that it was just the usual tunnel of trees.

These horses were the only large animals we saw on the entire trip.



Then you drop into the valley of the Tanzilla River and I do mean drop. They don’t fool around with down hills on this road. Most of them from now on were in the 15 to 20% range with hairpin turns.  For good measure most were carved into the side of the hills with steep drops and no guard rails. Jennie spent a bunch of time staring at the dashboard. You will notice that she is not in any of the canyon pictures because she wouldn’t stand close to the edge.



At first we thought the yellow on the hills was from flowers but it was some low plant whose leaves have already turned. I would love to see this place later in the fall.




We then climbed back up and had lunch at this viewpoint.



The hill behind us had this strange patchy-ness to it.


We passed the outcropping of hard sand. I assume the holes were made by nesting birds.


Down and up to a spot where the Tuya River has worn down this massive lava flow.


This is where the Tuya and Stikine rivers come together. We are driving on a very narrow ridge that was part of the lava flow, with a river on either side. Below, you can see the road again dropping down to the valley floor at the end of the ridge.




Pictures just cannot capture the steepness.


Down at the bottom we walked out to where the two rivers join, underneath this huge basalt cliff that was all twisted up.



I guess something must have squished the basalt columns so that they all seem to radiate out like that. Normally they are straight up and down.


Jennie spent a lot of time collecting rocks. It was just a short carry back to the car.


You can see the muddy Stikine and the clearer Tuya joining.


There was a wedding being held here today. What a great place for it.


We assumed that this elder was officiating. I think the whole town of Telegraph Creek was here judging by the number of cars that poured in.



Here is a picture we took from above much later on our way home.


You can see the road we had to take to continue. It, like many other sections, was one way. You just waited at the top or bottom for cars going the other way.

Up for more great canyon views. I just can’t help but post a lot of these.



Jennie wanted to examine this vein of pink rock.


She didn’t care for sections of the road like these.


And more views… At some point (that we didn’t see) the canyon squeezes down to only 8 feet wide.





The bride and her entourage honked and waved as they went by.


The view from Telegraph Creek where we turned around.


We wandered around the cemetery.


One the way back, when we stopped to take the pictures high over the wedding, this eagle was sitting there taking everything in. They are scary big close up.


Another long day. We left Jade City at 9:30. We started out the road at 11:30 and got back at 5:30 but was it ever worth it.

The sun finally came out just as we got back to Dease Lake. I am sure it would have been even more incredible in the sun but we aren’t complaining.

I can’t believe we almost missed this and that everyone doesn’t make a big deal out of this place. It makes me wonder what we may have really missed elsewhere.


  1. Thank goodness you do such a great job of researching!! Maybe it's time for you to write a travel book!!! :-)

  2. Another great post.

    I lived on this road for 2 months near where you saw those horses.