The Hazelton area is comprised of two municipalities (the Village of Hazelton and District of New Hazelton), three unincorporated settlements (South Hazelton, Two Mile, and the Kispiox Valley), and four First Nations' Villages (Gitanmaax, Hagwilget, Glen Vowell and Kispiox).
For centuries, the Hazelton area has been home to the Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en people. Since the 1860s, bustling pioneer communities have also risen around the confluence of the Skeena and Bulkley Rivers. This unique sharing of an unequalled wilderness setting has made the Hazeltons the historic heartland of Northwest BC.
Named after the hazel bushes that paint river-carved terraces, the Hazeltons are situated in a majestic setting dominated by the 3000' walls of the rugged Roche de Boule Range. A 'must see' for those traveling Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert.
The frontier spirit lives on in Hazelton. "Old Town's" restored heritage buildings serve as a reminder of the days when Hazelton was the commercial centre of the Northwest wilderness. From 1886 to 1913, Hazelton was the upriver terminus for a fleet of sternwheelers that plied the wild rapids of the Skeena. People and supplies reaching Hazelton were then dispersed inland to mines, farms, and far-flung settlements. During this boisterous time, the area was home to heroic outlaws, mysterious anarchist bank robbers, daring riverboat captains, and a score of legendary wilderness eccentrics. Hazelton maintains a friendly pioneer town atmosphere, making it easy to imagine the sound of riverboat whistles blowing, signaling the arrival of supplies, settlers, and long nights of revelry.
In 1914, a transcontinental rail line was pushed down the Skeena Valley, bringing hundreds of construction workers and homesteaders. It was at this time that, in anticipation of a boon from the railroad, New Hazelton and South Hazelton were established.
The Hazeltons are located 290 km (180 mi) northeast of Prince Rupert and 60 km (45 mi) west of Smithers on the Yellowhead Highway 16. Hazelton, also known as 'Old Hazelton', is located on the banks of the Skeena River about 7 km (4 mi) off Highway 16.
Regular daily flights to and from Vancouver are available at Smithers and Terrace. Passenger train service on Via Rail is available at New Hazelton, as is the twice-daily Greyhound Bus service. Connections with the B.C. and Alaska State Ferry systems are made at Prince Rupert.
At Kitwanga, 50 km (31 mi) west of New Hazelton, the Stewart-Cassiar Highway 37 heads northward to the Yukon and Alaska.
'Ksan Historical Village and Museum ('Ksan) is located near the ancient village of Gitanmaax, at the confluence of the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers in the community of Hazelton, British Columbia.
The 'Ksan village illustrates many features of a Gitxsan village from the distant past. For example, like its predecessors, 'Ksan's houses form a single line with each building facing the river. From this position, the large decorated house fronts and totem poles of the village are visible from the water.
'Ksan's museum collection consists of approximately 600 items. Comprised of both ceremonial and utilitarian materials, this collection illustrates the great diversity within the material culture of the Gitxsan. Items include bent boxes, ceremonial masks, button blankets, shaman's regalia, fishing gear, hunting utensils, and assorted lithic artifacts housed in a proper museum facility with environmental controls.
Housed within the Hazelton District Public Library, the Pioneer Museum and Archives tells Hazelton's history through archival photographs and displays.
Head down the road from the Visitor Info Centre in New Hazelton to drive or walk over the Hagwilget suspension bridge, one of the highest suspension bridges in North America. The bridge looms 81 metres (265 feet) over the scenic waters of the Bulkley River. You can also hike down to the river's edge for a closer look at the water.
The Hazelton area contains over 50 standing totem poles located in eight scenic Native villages.
The self-guided Hands of History tour follows a 113-kilometre route that loops between Hazelton and Kitwanga. Experience the culture and the history of the Northwest wildnerness.
Designated a trophy river by the province, the Kispiox River is known for its world-class steelhead trout. The river also contains an abundance of coho salmon, dolly varden, cutthroat and rainbow trout. Just 30 minutes away is excellent fishing on the Babine, Bear, Bulkley, and Sceena Rivers.
The Hazeltons appeal to hikers of all experience levels. Trails range from easy family hikes to high alpine adventures for more experienced hikers. Stroll the boardwalk in New Hazelton. Blue Mountain Trail and Sidina Mountain Trail are longer stretches, reaching into alpine terrain. For a long day's trek, or overnight backpacking, set out for Moonlit Trail (also called the Kispiox Mountain Trail) on a steady climb through old-growth forest leading to an alpine ridge. A small campsite is set near the top of the ridge.
The Kispiox Valley Rodeo is an annually anticipated event that draws spectators and performers from all across the country for one weekend a year. The rodeo and campgrounds are located right along the banks of the Kispiox River, with the Rodeo arena within minutes of the campsite.
At the end of July, enjoy three days of dazzling music performed by international musicians.
With the majestic 10,000 ft high Stekyodenax (Roche de Boule) Mountain as the backdrop, 'Ksan Dancers perform the "Chiefs Competitive Dance" at Gitxsan Cultural Days. Gitxsan and Wet'suset'en people have inhabited the Upper Skeena region for thousands of years and evidence of their cultures surround the community.
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia