Native Land Campground
~Saturday, June 25, 2022~
Day 741 (Travel Day)
Day 5 of Alaska Trip
As soon as the laundry room opened at 9:00, I made a B-line for it, to pick up the rest of our stuff before someone else needed the dryer. And in trying to feel good for the long drive ahead, we hit the showers before breaking down our site, which sort of delayed us a bit. Wendy came by to see if we needed anything (maybe that was her polite way of making sure we were headed out since we were about 30 minutes behind schedule). We will definitely be back. With laundry facilities, a community garden and 40 sites to choose from (anywhere from no service to 30 amp service), there’s quite a selection, not to mention their adorable quaint little cabin, recently completed.
And anything you need, Wendy is on it! You can tell there’s a lot of love and hard work that goes into running such a nice campground. Wendy told me on our first day, if there was anything they could improve on, to let her know. I couldn’t find anything to complain about other than not having a site map, but even that wasn’t an accurate request. It just so happened that on that particular weekend, Wendy was having the map redone and printed. And lucky us, we were privy to seeing the new one before our departure. Nice!! We had a lot of choices for camping in Prince George but are so glad we chose West Lake. With laundry all paid up and a guide to the dump station, we were soon ready to hit the road.
Because Prince George has every store under the sun (well, almost), we stocked up on a few things at Wal-Mart to get us through the next week, before heading over to Napa Auto Parts (yes, they have that too) for a box of DEF and a new bulb for Hank’s burned out brake light. Good to get these things dialed in before we’re soon in no-man’s land in a few days on our upcoming drive along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. Stay tuned for that exciting portion!
Now isn’t that nice. Nothing is over 100 kilometers an hour (60 mph) in Canada, which is just our speed when towing the trailer. So now we don’t have to envy all the drivers that go whizzing by us.
Today’s 240-mile drive will put us in Smithers, B.C. in the heart of a Witsuwit’en village in the heart of northwest British Columbia. And it’s pretty cool that we don’t have to worry about getting to our campground before dark, because we will. We are starting to get used to the very long days and getting a little sampling of what’s to come….everything on a much bigger scale and more miles between. It will be interesting to see how we adjust to the vastness, and isolation though I think heading south towards home will be a lot harder with more cars, more people, more everything. So far we’ve been driving in sort of an arc, but in a few days, it will all be more linear, due north, where we’ll eventually see midnight as sunset; “chasing the sun” as they call it.
Another late afternoon arrival, and no one in sight (at first) at Witset Kyah RV Campground/Museum. We had a reserved site #5 in the books which was gorgeous, but didn’t know where to fill up our water. So I asked a fellow camper where we might find some, which in hindsight was a stupid question with the many vacant sites that had full hookups. We could just pull into one of those and call it a day. We were going to back into the site right next to ours to fill up, but Jeff found an easier one to back into just a few sites down, while I finally met and chatted with camphost Brenda.
Very welcoming as most Canadians are, she offered a few alternative sites with full service as opposed to our electric only site. Wow!! What an offer. Without hesitation, Jeff requested his new favorites….site #26 or #28, even though there really is not a bad site to be had. What sold him was the spacing between sites in this section, not to mention the amazing sounds of the Wetzin Kwah (also known as the Bulkley River) that we couldn’t see, but could certainly hear. Brenda also invited us to sign up for a museum tour which she conducts herself, to further educate people about the Witsuwit’en culture. The village is home to approximately 661 on-reserve members, 1,129 off-reserve members with a total population of 1,790 people. Sounds interesting and hope we can fit it into our 1 remaining day.
Once we settled in, we just couldn’t believe how awesome this place is. For $23/night (U.S.) we had access to laundry, free firewood (again), a full hookup site for the same price as an electric only site with an amazing cedar picnic table and fire-ring, bathrooms/shower rooms, free Wi-fi and stunning scenery. The campground is set between two sets of snow-capped mountains…the Hudson Bay Mountain to the south and the Hazelton Mountains to the north overlooking the beautiful Widzin Kwah Canyon and convenient to Highway 16 en route to Alaska. They completed a major $1.3 million redevelopment of the campground back in 2018. You can check out their story at https://www.interior-news.com/home/witsets-kyah-rv-park-and-campground-ready-for-visitors/
While I made tacos for this evening’s dinner, Jeff dialed in gas stations, dump stations and lodging for our upcoming 900-mile Cassiar Highway trek, coming up in the next few days. This will be our big push towards Alaska where after that, things will get a lot easier. Our plan is NOT to take this highway on our return leg with the risk of having many things closed that late in the season. We’ve read horror stories about people taking the Cassiar Highway too late in the season with the thinking it will be business as usual, only to find out their last stitch effort to find gas is unavailable. Not sure what they do in those situations, but we’d prefer to just not go there. Instead we’ll be taking the Alaska Highway back to the lower 48, which is very well traveled and open year ‘round.
Aahhh. So nice to enjoy a wonderful campfire with twilight all around us at 10:15 at night, and the birds still chirping.