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August 26, 2016

The Cassiar Highway

The awesome Cassiar Highway!  It does have a bit of everything, which can be divided into 3 sections.  For simplicity I’ll call The junction with the Alaska Highway to Meziadin Junction NORTH.  Meziadin Junction to Stewart/Hyder CENTRAL and the section from Meziadin Junction to the Yellowhead Highway SOUTH.

Note the only cell service is in Stewart, BC. 

NORTH Cassiar:

We are taking the Cassiar north to south and filled up the gas at Nugget City, or get gas at Junction 37 at the Alaska Highway which also has gas and a small RV park.
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This is indeed what I’d call a good road, possibly the best we’ve been on.  BUT! It is very narrow, much of it is unmarked, with crushed sharp lava rocks just on the shoulder off the paved surface.  Are you towing?  Just be sure to keep the tires on the pavement and know your gas stops.

We passed 6 disabled units in the first 200 km, but none after.  Two trailers with flat passenger side tires – keep those tires on the pavement!  Two units with unknown issues that were being worked on and two out of gas – including an RV in the southbound lane.  I’ll repeat there is no shoulder, very few turnouts and no cell service.  But it is a beautiful, Beautiful drive!

Boya Lake Provincial Park is an ideal stop for dry camping for most units, but larger units may be more comfortable at the rest area 10 km north.  But we scored a waterfront site!
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The view out the dinette window after a brief rain.
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The Artesian Well provides great water for the morning coffee.
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and a little extra for the water bottles.  Our site is near the lake shore trail.  This is a short 1.5 km ‘lollipop’, we took the loop at the end counter-clockwise.   We mentioned to the neighbors that clockwise would be more easier.

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And they were back in just a few minutes.  Apparently we disturbed a bear, who we did not see, but they did!  It would have been a more interesting hike with a bear, but it was still a very nice morning walk in the woods.

Jade City is one of the larger jade cutters in BC.  It is currently being filmed by the Discovery Channel for a series titled ‘Jade Fever’.
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Jade City also offers FREE parking for self contained units …, but no campfires!

There are not near enough viewpoints along this great section, however we had the Gnat Lake pullout to ourselves for a lunch break.
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The Milepost calls these little lakes and swamps “Moose Ponds”, but we’ve only seen Goose, Duck, Beaver and Frog Ponds.  And beautiful lake views.
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We need to fill up again at Bell 2 Lodge.  A nice resort for the rich-and-famous!  Diesel is a bit more, dinning room is out of the question, but a FHU site is a reasonable $37.  The showers are unmetered!, their WiFi is pay-per-use at $20/hr (we did not use it), but I like that concept to provide something that works and charge for use.
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CENTRAL Cassiar:
This is the 37A spur to Stewart BC and Hyder, AK.  Finally some road markings, Sweet! and wood surfaced bridges ... quaint!
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The beauty of this road rivals that of the approach to Valdez.  WOW-some!, with bears ..
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Well, this is Bear Glacier and we are following the Bear River, makes sense there would be a bear ...
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Stewart is a small town doing what it can to serve the US residents of Hyder and visitors from all over the world.  An interesting challenge to perform in a beautiful location.  The estuary is crossed with a boardwalk, but we saw no birds and blessed with no mosquitoes on our walk.

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I did not want to drive the RV up to the Salmon Glacier and Stewart had the perfect solution.  The combination Video, Ice Cream, Sears, Hertz store was happy to rent us a Subaru Forester for the trip.
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Hyder is famous for fish/bear viewing platform.  We saw lots of salmon, but no bears.  There is a bear sighting chart at the ranger station, no bears were seen in the previous 3 days either.  Although this is a heavily advertised stop, I think the bears are not near as common as the hype would indicate.  Still a nice stop for fish viewing, and with our Senior Pass (free!), else $5.
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The drive up to Salmon Glacier is more WOW-some!  Glaciers in the mountains, white silt rivers and turquoise pools below.
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The destination for the little Subaru rental is finally in sight.
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I’ll also like to put in a plug for our night at the Rainy Creek Campground in Stewart.  This is a city park tucked deep into the trees along Rainy Creek.  It’s a short walk to town, has water and electric sites, provides metered showers and lame WiFi, but the location and price are hard to beat.  We did not use the hookups nor the city dump station, which allowed us to be tucked deep into the wooded sites, with a perfect tree for some tennis practice.
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Speaking of tennis there are courts (no backboard) just out side the park.  A Nature Trail starts at the courts, but we were talked out of following it due to the recent bear activity.

SOUTH Cassiar:
Except for the single lane bridge at the Nass River there is not much of tourist interest along this stretch.  It’s over 150 km of good road with no services and couple rest stops through farmlands.

Next up the Yellowhead Highway …
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