If you’ve never been to Canada, the raw beauty and feeling of freedom is hard to describe. As a visitor from Europe, you don’t grasp the size of the country until you get in your car and try to cover some ground.
And that we did….
What better vehicle to explore the Canadian Back Country with than a 2019 Jeep Wrangler with just 46km on the clock?
Even with British Columbia’s gas prices, or petrol as we say on this side of the pond, this machine wasn’t the cheapest vehicle to run. When you don’t know if you’ll have a road surface though it makes you glad you didn’t rent a Clio.
Range anxiety is real. If I have one tip for you when driving in the Canadian Back Country, it’s never to leave your fuel tank go below 50%. The next gas station could be 300km away and with no cellphone coverage to speak of outside of towns, you don’t want to get stranded.
Located near the famous Lake Louise is the much lesser known, but in my opinion superior Moraine Lake. If you prefer being able to take a photo without 20 people jumping into your frame then this is the place to go instead.
Wanting to experience a real adventure, we decided to rent a tent. I’ve always wanted to pack a tent into a 4×4 and camp in the North American wilderness. Now we just had to make sure that we didn’t get eaten by a Bear or a Mountain Lion.
Armed with Bear spray every time we left the tent, we made the woods our home. There’s nothing quite like truly being in the middle of nowhere.
Seemingly Jasper wasn’t remote enough for us, so we headed further West…
Located five hours west of Williams Lake is the beautiful Bella Coola Valley. To give you an idea of how remote this area is, it’s a 14 hour drive from Vancouver.
The only way to get there by road is via Heckman Pass. It’s also known as the Freedom Road and it’s not hard to understand why. The Canadian Government didn’t build it, the people of the Bella Coola Valley did. This made Bella Coola accessible by road where as before you could only get there by sea.
Don’t expect tarmac surfacing, or a safety barrier. This road is not for the faint hearted. Rumour has it that many tourists drive down there every year and choose to take the ferry back as they refuse to drive back via this road. We did, but we made sure not to look down while close to the edge…
Once you’ve made your way down the seemingly endless road, you’ll be rewarded by truly spectacular views. The Bella Coola Valley is located in the Great Bear Rain Forest, home to many types of wildlife including the enigmatic Kermode Bear.
We came across a wonderful local tour guide organisation called Copper Sun Tours. One of the guides, himself a native Nuxalk person, was kind enough to welcome us to the site of one of the many ancient Petroglyphs in the Bella Coola Valley.
Our guide treated us to a story telling extravaganza that we will never forget.
This remote community, 450 KM west of Williams Lake on Highway 2o gained a special place in our hearts. To say that it was memorable just doesn’t do it justice. If you ever get the opportunity to make this difficult trip, please do, you won’t regret it.