SBS Mag Destination Guide: Western Canada

SBS Mag Destination Guide: Western Canada

Wildlife reigns supreme in Western Canada. Felix Billington sings the area’s praises as your next potential motorcycle holiday destination…

Why would I go there?
Canada is a beautiful country to ride in. Armed with soaring mountain ranges, large emerald lakes, glaciers like you’ve never seen before, an unlimited amount of wildlife and some of the most enjoyable biking roads to be found anywhere, it’s a paradise for motorcyclists looking for adventure.

Every day puts you in an untamed wilderness, riding alongside bears, moose, bison, wolves and birds of prey. This beautiful land affords more than great scenery and epic wildlife spots though, it’s adventure in its truest form.

Hours pass riding through isolated wilderness and you gain a real appreciation for what it means to live and survive in an area this harsh and vast. The isolation will astound you, the scenery will entrance you and the wildlife will enrapture you.

Canada will take you in for a journey the likes of which you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.

Where is it?
North of the USA, Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean.

What is there to do?
The Yukon and Alcan Highway is approximately 1387 miles long and is one of the most well known road trips in North America. Like the M1 in the UK, it’s integral for getting from one end of the country to the other. Unlike the M1, the Alcan has little to no traffic, beautiful mountain ranges, serene lakes and some sections are in the middle of the Yukon wilderness.

The Cassiar Highway, also known as Highway 37, is even more desolate than the Alcan and is simply stunning. Peeling away from the Alcan at Watson Lake you get onto Highway 37 on narrow, undulating roads with steep climbs and even steeper drops through miles and miles of never ending trees to reach the tiny town of Jade City, where the coffee is free and the temperatures near Baltic! Further down the Cassiar the chances of seeing black bears on the road are incredibly high.

Straddling the Canada/Alaska border are the quaint towns of Hyder and Stewart – and a wildlife centre, where you can stop on the boardwalk with a viewing platform to spot bears, wolves and bald eagles catching dinner down by the lake. Adventurous souls can carry on down the narrow road, where the tarmac disappears and the gravel begins for a 16-mile off-road ride to Salmon Glacier, an area of unparalleled scenery.

Icefield Parkway, hailed as one of the most scenic drives in the world, offers snow-capped mountains, lush green forests, clear emerald lakes, surging waterfalls, wide valleys and epic glaciers. Linking Lake Louise, Jasper and Banff National Parks, this 144-mile stretch of road takes in stunning sights like the Canadian Rockies, Columbia Glacier and skywalk, Sunwapta Falls, Bow Lake and Pytow Lake.

Best time to go?
It depends on where you are; the Yukon is very cold and wet for most of the time. As you go further down into British Columbia the riding season extends from May through to October with a bit of luck on your side.

Top Tips…
1. If you get a chance go and visit some first nation heritage sites including Duncan, B.C. – the town with the most Totem Poles
2. In Canada it’s kilometres per hour not miles per hour; don’t get too excited when you see the speed signs, in fact the speed limits are very low across the country.
3. Before you go, make sure your sat-nav is loaded with Canada maps; some with North America packages may only include the continental United States.
4. If you’re travelling solo, the Milepost roadbook is a great resource for planning a trip and gives mile-by-mile details of gas stations and possible sights to see that you may otherwise miss.

Key info…
Felix Billington runs Magellan Motorcycle Tours, who offer guided and self-guided tours through the west of Canada. Click here for more info.