Getting wild in Smithers
The wilderness is readily accessible in Smithers, B.C.
Smithers is an ideal destination for any aficionado of the outdoors. Located in northwestern British Columbia, this friendly town is surrounded by mountains, rivers and lakes.
“We’re situated in the middle of a lovely outdoor playground,” said Gladys Atrill, marketing director for Tourism Smithers. “Hudson Bay Mountain rises up from the foot of Main Street, really right at the edge of town . . . So in terms of access to the outdoors I think Smithers is ideally situated. You can do anything within 10 or 20 minutes.”
With the wilderness so readily accessible, visitors will be tempted by impressive natural areas and the opportunity to spot wildlife in its home. Atrill suggests starting at the visitor centre where RVers can get the lowdown on recent sightings, places to start and suggestions on what they can look for based on the season. The area surrounding Smithers features all the animal variety one might expect from an alpine location, from deer and bears to birds, mountain goats and elusive fur bearers such as lynx, marten and wolverine.
“There is never a guaranteed wildlife sighting,” said Atrill, “but we are in a small community surrounded by wild land, so the opportunity is usually pretty good.”
Hudson Bay Mountain is a good place to start. It’s very accessible with a paved road leading to a ski resort at the top. During the summer this is a great point for hiking and alpine views. Even for those who don’t want to hit the trail, an open area that the locals call The Prairie is easy to reach—it’s a wide plateau with wildflowers and fantastic fresh air.
More adventurous travellers may then want to head to Twin Falls. This road is steep, so long trailers should unhitch at the visitor centre before heading up. Anyone with a smaller unit can plan to enjoy the small campsite at the top. The falls are close to town, just west of Lake Kathlyn. The destination is worth the trip, with forest surroundings and waterfalls plunging down from a glacier. The atmosphere feels just a little bit magical.
There is no end to the wonderful spots to explore while spending time around Smithers. Fishing enthusiasts will certainly want to try out the world-class steelhead fishing—those who arrive later in the summer can go see the steelhead run up the Babine River.
Those who don’t get a chance to view the local wildlife can head to the airport. Yes, the Smithers Regional Airport. Just off the highway north of town, the airport holds a beautiful mount of the large and notorious “phantom” grizzly bear. A plaque explaining the story of the bear’s capture is attached to the display. There are also other local nature and culture displays.
So whether Smithers is a destination, or a stop along the way, travellers will want to take the opportunity to discover the area and take advantage of fantastic camping and good amenities.