Category: Things to Do: All

Things to Do in the Area—Festivals & Events

New Hazelton has several large annual events in addition to various small community celebrations. Individual communities host each event, but usually residents from throughout the entire area attend.

Kispiox Valley Music Festival

The Kispiox Valley Music Festival takes place every year on the last weekend of July. It’s a 3-day weekend full of live music, entertainment, fabulous food, vendors, and workshops. Hundreds gather to camp on the grounds and enjoy performances from local and international stars.

Kispiox Valley Rodeo

The Kispiox Valley Rodeo, ‘the biggest little rodeo in the west’, happens in the first week of June. It’s one of the last old-fashioned rodeos around. Both contestants and fans arrive early on Friday to kick off the rodeo with a dance. The next day a number of contests including bull riding, barrel racing, bareback riding, and team roping take place. The rodeo has had a history of famous competitors, some who have gone on to win the worlds.

Gitanmaax Cultural Days

Gitanmaax Cultural Days, which takes place at ‘Ksan Historical Village, bring together local and regional First Nations and non-First Nations. The event includes many dance performances and various light-hearted competitions such as soapberry ice cream making. This event takes place the third weekend in August.

Gospel Mountain Music Fest

The open, outdoor Gospel Mountain Music Fest also brings people from all over together. Annually in July, performers gather for a weekend to sing and praise at the Community Gospel Chapel in New Hazelton.

Winterfest

Winterfest in New Hazelton held in the beginning of December at Allen Park. Winterfest celebrates the cold and community. Around Christmas, Old Hazelton also has carolers, a bonfire and dog sled races one evening of the month.

Several smaller local celebrations include New Hazelton’s Canada Day in Allen Park, and Hazelton Village’s Spring Fling in April and Pioneer Days in August.

Stop by the New Hazelton Visitor Centre for more information about festivals in the area.

Photo and Information: Courtesy HelloBC

Things to Do—Fishing

With four major salmon rivers nearby – Kispiox, Skeena, Bulkley and Suskwa – New Hazelton and the surrounding area is a prime spot for fishing.

Summer to early fall is the busy season for catching various types of salmon, while October is the time to target steelhead. Most fishing in the area is done from the banks of the rivers and while wading in the water.

Fishing:

Kispiox River

The Kispiox River is especially well known throughout the province for the number and size of its fish. Tie a fly on the line, stand on the banks of the river and enjoy the scenery and curious wildlife in the area. Wave to the kayakers and rafters as they float by.

The calm lakes nearby also make good angling destinations for trout and other freshwater fish. Ice fishing is possible in the winter.

Fishing Guides

Choose between exploring the riverbanks and waters with or without a guide a guide. The Kispiox Valley has several private guides that also run bed and breakfasts, which makes a package deal an easy way to go. Skeena Eco-expeditions, a local eco-tourism company, also has fishing guides for hire and offers other tours of the area.

Practical Points

  • To learn more about the restoration and monitoring of fish habitat, visit the Kispiox fish hatchery in Kispiox Village. It’s open year-round and offers free tours.
  • The best fishing spots depend on the time of year, the target catch, and various other factors. Ask at the New Hazelton Visitor Centre for tips.
  • Note that all fishers 16-years-old and over, residents and non-residents, require a license to fish. Licenses are available on the BC government website.

Photo and Information Courtesy of HelloBC

Things to Do in the Area—the Hazeltons

Totem pole at 'Ksan Historical Village and Museum (Totem pole at 'Ksan Historical Village and Museum (Tom Ryan photo)

Totem pole at ‘Ksan Historical Village and Museum (Totem pole at ‘Ksan Historical Village and Museum (Tom Ryan photo)

New Hazelton and the surrounding communities that make up the Hazeltons are a hidden gem in Northern British Columbia.

Unbeknownst to travellers who fail to turn off Highway 16 to explore, the land and communities here are marked by a very much alive First Nations culture, a warm spirit, and serene natural beauty teeming with diverse wildlife.

Various activities including boating, hiking and heli-skiing. Fishing on the many steelhead and salmon rivers in the area is hugely popular here. Aboriginal and cultural sites, such as world renowned ‘Ksan Historical Village and Museum, the impressive Hagwilget Bridge and Canyon, as well as major local events such as the Kispiox Valley Rodeo and Music Festival also draw many visitors to the area. Spend a few days driving and exploring the communities and attractions to appreciate the unique charm of each.

The Hazeltons

The Hazeltons officially consist of eight communities in Northwest BC, on or near Highway 16. The communities – a mixture of municipalities, unincorporated settlements and First Nation villages – are flanked by Terrace in the north and Smithers in the south.

The communities include New Hazelton (population: 729), Hazelton Village (also referred to as Old Hazelton; population: 362), South Hazelton (population: 300), Kispiox Village (population: 300), Glen Vowell (population: 234), Gitanmaax (population: 838), Hagwilget (population: 239) and Two Mile (population: 650). Some are close together, and others are more rural. Several First Nations communities further north along Highway 16 can also be grouped with the Hazeltons. These include Gitsegukla (population: 479), Giwangak (population: 549), Kitwanga (population: 200), and Gitanyow (population: 422).

Most of the communities have a few small stores and businesses, but New Hazelton is the service hub, with greater accommodation and dining options.

About the Community

A large part of the population throughout the New Hazelton area is First Nations, mostly Gitxsan, though Wet’suwet’en also live in the area. The majority of the Hazeltons is Gitxsan territory, which consists of approximately 28,000sq km/10,810sq mi.

Hazelton residents are resilient, with many living and working closely and feeling a connection with the land and rivers. Famous locals include 2008 Olympic gold medal winner wrestler Carol Huynh, and local legend Simon Gunanoot. Gunanoot was a prosperous Gitxsan merchant who was charged with the murder of two white men in the early 1900s. Fearing an unfair trial, he and his family hid in the Hazelton wilderness for more than 13 years before he was pardoned.

Where to Begin

The best places to go for information are the New Hazelton Visitor Centre on Highway 16, the small tourist kiosk on the river in Hazelton Village, and the Kispiox Information and Cultural Centre. To navigate and understand how communities are laid out together and individually in the New Hazelton area, pick up the comprehensive tear-away map provided by the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine.

Photo: Linda Bradley; Information Courtesy of HelloBC

Things to Do in the Area—River Rafting

River Rafting

Glaciers, grizzlies, eagles, salmon, totem poles – river rafting through Northern BC is a spectacular journey through untouched wilderness settings, old growth forests, and pristine rivers.

Rafting trips can be a single day float down a gently moving river, or a multi-day whitewater wilderness expedition into some of the most remote and beautiful places settings in North America. The Babine-Bulkley, Tatsenshini-Alsek, and Gataga-Kechika rivers are some whitewater rafting highlight areas in this region.

Whether you’re looking for thrilling whitewater adventure or a slow, scenic trip for the whole family on an iceberg-filled lake, rafting in Northern British Columbia offers something for everyone. Safe, professionally guided trips will present Northern BC in its very best light.

Rafting in Northern BC

Many rivers in Northern BC host a variety of salmon runs, which attract grizzly and black bears, as well as bald eagles, moose, wolverine and lynx. Whitewater thrills aren’t the only reason for rafting here – wildlife viewing and photography are an essential part of this area’s rafting experience.

The Babine River is also known as the “River of Grizzlies” and cuts through a remote section of the Coast Mountain Range. Suitable for beginner paddlers, you can expect to see a migratory population of grizzly bears fishing for salmon from July to late September. Spectacular totems and First Nations cultural artefacts are also on display as the river winds through Gitksan villages.

Highlights—Babine River and Bulkley River

Your rafting adventure along the 150-km/93-mi Babine River (in the Smithers area) during salmon-spawning season takes you into an isolated wilderness filled with thrilling rapids and narrow canyons, and gives one of the finest grizzly bear-viewing opportunities in the province.

Descend the famous whitewater known as “Grizzly Drop,” where even the salmon struggle through the swift current as they fight their way through the paws of the mighty grizzly bears. At the end of the journey, you are greeted by the magnificent totem poles of Kispiox Village.

The Bulkley River boasts over 30 rapids and is one of the most exciting and scenic whitewater day-rafting trips in BC. It ends near ‘Ksan Historical Village in Hazelton, where the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers meet.

  • Rated: Babine I to IV; Bulkley III to IV (visit the BC Rafting page for information on rafting classes).
  • Approximate time required: 1 day for the Bulkley; 5-10 days for the Babine
  • Best time: July to September for the Bulkley

Related Website: British Columbia River Outfitters Association

Photo and Info Courtesy of HelloBC

Things to Do in the Area—Aboriginal Experiences

Aboriginal Experiences

With its many totem poles and significant Aboriginal sites, New Hazelton and the surrounding Hazeltons area is a fabulous place to view and learn about local First Nations culture.

The area’s people, including the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan, have made a huge effort and continue to preserve and honour their language, culture, arts, and traditional beliefs.

‘Ksan Museum and Historical Village

The ‘Ksan Museum and Historical Village, between Old Hazelton and Gitanmaax, is a replica of a former Gitxsan village from the 1800s. A visit to this world-class destination is both iconic and intimate. The site has a museum with an upstairs exhibition that changes periodically. There’s also a carving school, gift shop, totem poles, and several longhouses to explore. Take a tour in English, French, or German to learn about the Gitxsan history, governance, and ancient song and dance.

To get to ‘Ksan Village, turn off Hwy 16 to go to Hazelton Village. Within a few minutes, ‘Ksan will appear on the left. The best time to visit is during the summer as, in the winter, no tours are available and only the museum and gift shop are open.

Totem Poles

With its more than 50 standing totem poles, the Hazeltons has one of the most concentrated collection of poles in the world. The Kispiox Valley has about 24 hereditary poles, Kitwanga has approximately 11, and Gitanyow has more than 15. Each pole tells a story of its peoples’ history and land claims.

For a list and explanation of all of the totem poles in the area, ask for the comprehensive ‘Tour of the Totems’ from the New Hazelton Visitor Centre. The document includes the exact locations of the various totem poles, and provides an in-depth explanation of their significance to local First Nations. Visitors can spend a whole day driving from community to community appreciating these works of art.

Gitwangak National Historic Site

Another must see in this area is the Gitwangak National Historic Site. Read the information panels along the trail up to a steep mound, now named Battle Hill, to learn about the impressive fort and vicious battles once fought from this spot by the fierce warrior ‘Nekt. To reach the site, turn onto Hwy 37 from Hwy 16 at Kitwanga and follow the signs.

Tours

Skeena Eco-Expeditions offers half and full day cultural tours of the Kispiox Valley. The tourist kiosk in Hazelton Village also offers free walking tours of the town, which last about half an hour.

Photo and Information: Courtesy HelloBC

Things to Do in the Area—Hiking

The New Hazelton area has a plethora of multi-use, multi-level trails frequented by casual day-trippers and extreme alpinists. A few of the local routes are marked, but hundreds more are not.

The area’s serene, natural beauty creates the perfect environment for a short hike along a wilderness trail or a stroll along the many paths within and between the area’s communities.

Many of these trails are also frequented by ATVs, horseback riders, mountain bikers, and in the winter, snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers.

Eagle Down Path

A popular route for practical and recreational use is the paved Eagle Down path that runs from New Hazelton through Hagwilget, Two Mile, and Gitanmaax, all the way to Old Hazelton. The entire length of the path takes less than an hour to walk depending on the season and walker. The trail is a great way to take a closer look at some of the communities and to enjoy the surrounding mountain views.

Several signs along the trail feature stories about Hazelton’s history and the geological formations. The path also crosses the incredible Hagwilget Bridge, the highest bridge in Canada when it was built in 1931. Look down while walking across the bridge to see the rushing river and Hagwilget canyon 80m/262ft below.

The Hagwilget Canyon Trail is a short but steep jaunt that starts at the bridge in the pullout on the Hagwilget community side and leads to the bottom of the canyon. Cool off in the Bulkley river and hike back up.

Ross Lake Provincial Park

An easy and flat walking trail circles Ross Lake in Ross Lake Provincial Park, just a few minutes south of New Hazelton off Hwy 16. The trail starts at the boat launch and ends at the picnic area. Look for birds swimming in the lake.

More Hikes and Information

The New Hazelton area also has longer hikes, including several that can be made into overnight trips. Ask at the New Hazelton Visitor Centre for directions and information on these and any other trails. For those who’d prefer a guide, the local eco-tourism company Skeena Eco-expeditions offers half and full-day hikes to various destinations.

Photo: Linda Bradley; Information Courtesy of HelloBC