Head up Peace River—All the way to Fort St. John
Make Fort St. John, B.C., your next water-centric destination
Fort St. John, B.C., has many opportunities to get out on the water, or in it. What many think of as a simple stop along the Alaska Highway is really a great destination worth a trip of its own. There are several ways to enjoy the water in the area, and some sites that shouldn’t be missed.
Beatton Provincial Park is open year round, with opportunities to fish, hike, swim and boat during the summer. Ice fishing and cross-country skiing are available during the winter months.
At the convergence of the Peace and Beatton river is Beatton River Provincial Park. This is a great location for picnics, sunbathing or enjoying the area’s scenic views. The area also offers opportunities for hiking, canoeing, fishing, horseback riding and wildlife viewing. The only catch? This park is only accessible by river boat, heading down either of the rivers.
Located on 100th Street, next to the North Peace Arena, is the city’s leisure pool. Its amenities include: two water slides, a whirlpool, sauna, concession stand, zero beach, rapid channel, a small bubble pool for younger kids and a six-lane lap pool.
If staying out of the water is more your speed, drive one and a half hours west to visit the W.A.C. Bennett Dam. From there, you can see the Williston Reservoir, which is the largest in the province. The water is held back by one of the world’s largest earth-fill structures. The visitor centre has recently undergone renovations, and exhibits have been added. You can get an immersive experience of the dam’s construction, the area’s wildlife, the history of the area’s First Nations, and a rundown of how they convert water into electricity. You can also get a different view of the dam from the new observation deck at the Peace River Dam, 30 kilometres away.
A great, more local and natural feat of architecture, is Liard Hot Springs. This hot springs is the second largest in Canada. The area is known as the “Tropical Valley,” as there is boreal forest growth surrounding the hot springs (its growth is influenced by the warmth of the springs, which are usually between 42 and 52 degrees Celsius). The boardwalk leading up to the main pool goes through warm-water swamps and boreal forest. Moose are often seen from the path, as they enjoy feeding in the swamps. This destination also boasts year-round camping and picnic areas. Reservations for sites are allowed from May through September.
One location that is best for fishing and wildlife watching is Charlie Lake Provincial Park. The lake is not the best for swimming, but the hiking trails are superb. The camping spots are quiet and clean, despite the park’s proximity to the highway. The park also boasts a playground, and many beautiful picnic spots for small and large groups.
To learn more about Fort St. John and its many water features, visit the city’s website.