Top things to see and do in Vanderhoof

by Breanne Massey
— Photo courtesy Vanderhoof Chamber of Commerce

Vanderhoof is a small town with a population of roughly 4,000 people who are heavily involved in industry and trades. However, the location of the town is unique to northern B.C. The area is noted for being a small region that is geographically flat, one of few between the coastal Mountains of B.C. and the Rocky Mountain range.

Major industries in the town are farming and logging, but there are also many other dimensions worth exploring inside of Vanderhoof. There is a community museum, local artisans and a variety of wilderness lodges, but the best of Vanderhoof can be found outdoors.

1) The Nechako River

The Nechako River is home to the largest freshwater fish in Canada and a migratory bird sanctuary, but in the summer locals prefer to use the river for swimming.

The best time to visit the Nechako River, and Riverside Park, is in the fall or spring so that the Canada geese are easy to see during the migration period. Locals frequently use the river for swimming during the warm summer months, and they often take tubes with them to go floating down the river. The river can be entered at any point, but some people prefer to relax at Riverside Park.

Other highlights of the Nechako River include local conservation efforts. The Nechako white sturgeon has been declared an endangered species. According to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada the white sturgeon population has decreased from 5000 to less than 600 in the last 50 years. Officials fear that the rare species is near extinction, and they are promoting awareness about the issue. Fishing for white sturgeon is illegal. More information about conservation efforts for the fish can be found at or in the local visitor’s centre.

2) The Migratory bird sanctuary

Canada geese are regulars on the Nechako River during the spring and fall migration period. Locals suggest that the best time to see the geese is during the months of April, May and September. Although the geese don’t spend more than a few weeks at a time on the Nechako, the people of Vanderhoof were so impressed by the sight of the migration that they built an observatory tower a few blocks from downtown.

Other kinds of birds can also be spotted at the migration sanctuary throughout the year. Riverside Park is a popular place to start birdwatching in Vanderhoof.

3) The Vanderhoof Community Trail Network

During the summer the trail network can be used to ride an ATV, to go for a hike or to ride bicycles. The winter alters how the trail network is used by locals and travellers. Both groups often prefer to go snowmobiling or cross-country skiing at that time.

Some of the notable trails that are available to everybody are the Nechako Valley Sporting Assocation trails, Omineca Trail, Telegraph Trail, Sinkut Mountain, Waterlily Nature Trails, Vanderhoof Community Loop Trail, Riverside Park and Stoney Creek footbridge.

The level of the trails range from easy to difficult, and they are available to be used for a variety of purposes. For more information about trails, accessibility and level of difficulty please visit the trail guide online or contact the Chamber of Commerce.

4) Kenny Dam and Cheslatta Falls

Two landmarks a short distance from the Nechako River offer fascinating sites that make the short drive worthwhile. The Nechako Plateau is home to the largest earth dam in the world, the Kenny Dam, which was built in the 1950s. It is still used to generate electricity for the surrounding communities today.

Another appealing aspect of the Nechako Plateau is going to the nearby waterfall known as Cheslatta Falls. The view is spectacular and the site is well maintained. There is a short hiking trail and picnic area nearby that offers an excellent view on sunny days.

5) The Community Museum

A publicist named Herbert Vanderhoof dreamt of a home for artists and writers in central British Columbia. The Community Museum of Vanderhoof pays homage to a dream that never materialized. Long story short, after the cost of land was significantly lowered, ranchers were the only people who appeared in the area.

The major industries of Vanderhoof became logging and ranching, but today there are some other lifestyles in the community. The knowledgeable staff at the museum can help teach visitors about the developments in the area. With extensive use of photographs and displays the organization helps visitors to learn about the history of the community.

The Nechako Valley Historical Society meets on a regular basis to keep their resources updated, to plan tours and to plan new projects to promote the historical aspect of the area.

For more information please visit

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