North to Alaska…Hells Gate, British Columbia

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July 11, 2008

Hells Gate Tram descending toward the Fraser River in British Columbia.One of the special pleasures of driving north from Seattle en route to Alaska is driving through the Fraser River Canyon along Canada Highway 1. This is one of the places you miss in your route if you approach Dawson Creek, BC, the start of the Alaska Highway, from the southeast.

This river is one of the major watersheds in British Columbia, and for about 40 miles north of Hope, it is compressed into a narrow canyon. The scenery is spectacular; the drive along Canada 1 will numb your senses. To really appreciate it, though, you must get out of your car, and the best place to do this is at Hells Gate where an aerial tram will carry you down to and across this raging river. At the bottom, the river is 110 feet wide, and the day we were there it was running…roaring…157 feet deep. If you’re too cheap to spend the $16 for the tram ride ($13 for seniors), you can walk down, but the climb back up is strenuous, to say the least.

Hells Gate is about 130 miles from Vancouver, BC, most of it on a multi-lane highway. Take the marked exit for Hope on Canada 1 and continue north. You’ll drive right into the canyon.

This picture shows the tram descending toward the river from its roadside base.

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