highway in British Columbia and Yukon, Canada
Itineraries > North America itineraries > Stewart-Cassiar Highway

Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar Highway, also known as the Dease Lake Highway and the Stikine Highway, is a road mostly in northwestern British Columbia, Canada. It runs from Kitwanga, British Columbia to Watson Lake, Yukon and serves as an alternate access to Alaska.

UnderstandEdit

 
The highway in British Columbia near Good Hope Lake

The Stewart-Cassiar Highway, signed as Highway 37, is a 725 km (450 mi) long road that runs from British Columbia Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) at Kitwanga, British Columbia to Yukon Highway 1 (Alaska Highway) near Watson Lake, Yukon. Taking this route as opposed to the entire Alaska Highway can save about 210 km (130 mi) for travellers coming from southern British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest of the contiguous United States. Almost all of the route is in British Columbia, with exception of the northernmost 3.4 km (2.1 mi) which is located in the Yukon. Highway 37 continues southwest from Kitwanga to Terrace and Kitimat.

The Cassiar Highway was completed in 1972, and is asphalt-surfaced with the exception of a short gravel break through the Stikine River valley. The highway passes through hilly and mountainous, mostly wooded wilderness region where services are found in sparsely populated communities that are far from each other.

PrepareEdit

See also: Alaska Highway#Prepare, Winter driving

This is a northern route which leads through isolated communities in northwestern British Columbia. Road conditions may be treacherous in winter: be sure that your vehicle is in top mechanical condition. Do not set out on this route in winter without snow tires and emergency equipment for winter driving. As this highway is used as an alternate route to connect with the Alaska Highway, similar preparations should take place as part of the larger journey.

Get inEdit

See also: Driving between the contiguous United States and the Alaska Highway#West Access Route

This route may be taken from either endpoint (Kitwanga or Watson Lake) or incorporated as part of a larger Yukon or Alaska trip, this itinerary describes a trip from south to north. To access it from southern British Columbia or Washington state, drive to Prince George and then follow the Yellowhead Highway west for 480 km (300 mi) to Kitwanga.

DriveEdit

 
Map of Stewart-Cassiar Highway
  • 1 Kitwanga — population 430, southern terminus of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.    
    • 2 Terrace — population 12,500, it's the regional retail and service hub for the northwestern portion of British Columbia; located 93 km (58 mi) southwest of Kitwanga.      
    • 3 New Hazelton — population 580, it's the last community before Highway 37 when approaching from the east and south; located and 49 km (30 mi) east of Kitwanga.      
 
Kitwanga
  • 4 Meziadin Lake Provincial Park    
  • 5 Meziadin Junction   — junction Highway 37A.  
    • 6 Stewart — population 495, offers glacier and bear viewing opportunities; 60 km (37 mi) west of Meziadin Junction on Hwy 37A.      
    • 7 Hyder — isolated Alaskan settlement just west of Stewart; no road connections to the rest of Alaska.      
  • 8 Bell II   — name derived from being located at the second crossing of the Bell-Irving River junction and now a major heliskiing destination.      
  • 9 Bob Quinn Lake    
  • 10 Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park    
  • 11 Tatogga         (seasonal)
  • 12 Iskut      
  • 13 Dease Lake — population 300, a wilderness and hunting destination.      
  • 14 Jade City   — population 30, named after an area jade mine which is considered one of the largest in the world.  
    • 15 Cassiar  ghost town and former asbestos mining town; located 14 km (9 mi) west of Jade City.
  • 16 Good Hope Lake   — population 40.  
  • 17 Boya Lake Provincial Park    
  • 18 Alaska Highway — northern terminus of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.     (seasonal)
  • 19 Watson Lake — population 790, nearest major community to the Stewart-Cassiar Highway; located 22 km (14 mi) east of Hwy 37.      

SeeEdit

The area has plenty of quite scenic mountains and some rather pretty lakes, but basically it is boreal forest terrain with nothing to see except trees.

 
Young grizzly bear along the highway

Grizzly and black bear, caribou, moose, fox and many other species of wildlife can be found on and along the highway. In the late spring and early summer, adults and their young may be crossing the road to find new habitat. Note that the big herbivores are at least as dangerous as the predators; in particular, moose kill more people than bears and wolves combined.

When viewing wildlife, please park your vehicle in a safe location and make certain you are not blocking other traffic. The best course may be to admire wildlife from the safety of your vehicle. If you do get out of the car, stay close enough that you can retreat to it if necessary, and keep your distance from the beasts.

See also: Wildlife photography, Dangerous animals

BuyEdit

 
Cassiar Mountain/Jade City Jade Store
  • Cassiar Mountain/Jade City Jade Store (just west of Jade City, on the highway), +1 250-239-5233. Daily 7AM-10PM. A huge family-run store packed with home decor, carvings, jewellery and raw stone manufactured in Jade City. Free coffee (by donation).

Stay safeEdit

Highway conditionsEdit

The Cassiar Highway is very isolated, with a few, small populated areas along the highway so plan your stops for fuel, food and breaks before the start of your trip. The highway is asphalt-surfaced with the exception of a few short gravel breaks and is generally narrower than most 2-lane highways, with little or no shoulder, and the centerline and edge line markings may be missing along some northern sections of the highway; most bridges are a single lane. Drive with your headlights on at all times. Also watch for logging and freight trucks that travel the route 24 hours a day.

The weather can be extreme in winter. Snow can occur also during late spring and early fall. Information on current road conditions is available on DriveBC.

CommunicationEdit

Internet access is available in Kitwanga, Stewart, Dease Lake and Watson Lake. Almost none of the highway has any mobile wireless service coverage. There is mobile wireless coverage in Kitwanga and Watson Lake, and in between, the only location with wireless is Stewart. However, Stewart it is not actually on Highway 37 (Stewart-Cassiar Highway), but 60 km away from the highway.

Go nextEdit

Continue north to Whitehorse and points beyond along the Alaska Highway.

Alternatively, you could drive up to Dawson City and start driving along the Dempster Highway (YT-5), eventually towards Inuvik and eventually Tuktoyaktuk.



 
Stewart–Cassiar Highway
This itinerary to Stewart-Cassiar Highway is a usable article. It explains how to get there and touches on all the major points along the way. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.