Craft breweries across Northern British Columbia are being welcomed by thirsty locals and travellers alike.
British Columbia is bigger than many countries, extending more than 2,000 km north of the United States border. Most of BC’s residents live “down south” within a few hours of the border, yet the vast interior of the province is dotted with smaller communities that are connected by a well maintained highway system. With majestic scenery and abundant natural beauty, exploring this beautiful region is perfectly suited for those who enjoy epic road trips—especially when the reward at the end of a long day of driving is a craft brewery serving up delicious beer.
From Prince Rupert on the west coast, which is connected to Vancouver Island by the BC Ferries Inside Passage route, across to Valemount near Jasper on the Alberta border, there are eight craft breweries to visit on the Northern BC Ale Trail, each one celebrating local history, geography and culture in its own unique way.
The nautically themed Wheelhouse Brewing embraces Prince Rupert’s connection to the ocean. In nearby Terrace, Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse’s patio is always packed with folks enjoying that inland community’s abundance of sunshine. Smithers, a few hours east, has two craft breweries, Bulkley Valley Brewery and Smithers Brewing, both of which embrace the region’s many outdoor activities: skiing, hiking, mountain biking and fishing.
Prince George, the largest city in Northern BC, has two local craft breweries: Crossroads Brewing & Distillery and Trench Brewing & Distilling. And from there it’s a short trip to Valemount, home of Three Ranges Brewing, a pioneer that helped bring awareness of craft beer to the North and has been slaking the thirst of local residents for several years already.
Be sure to plan a side trip on the Gold Rush Trail to visit Barkerville Brewing in Quesnel — the brewery is named for the historic town nearby where you can see what life was like during the Gold Rush. All we can say is it’s definitely better with craft beer!
Another great adventure involves visiting Ursa Minor Brewing on Ootsa Lake, south of the town of Burns Lake.
Before visiting, we recommend that you check directly with the businesses you are hoping to visit to get the latest on-the-ground information. Some businesses are seasonal, and some may have experienced closures due to COVID-19.
Ferry from Vancouver Island (full day ferry)
BC Ferries Inside Passage Route (Great Northern Circle Route Only sails on odd days)
VIA Rail: meet up with the train in a particular city
Home of the ‘Yawn Begone’! A unique coffee shop in the heart of Prince Rupert with great coffee, world famous muffins and delicious lunch.
Whale watching trips and grizzly bear viewing June-October in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, the largest grizzly sanctuary in North America.
At the edge of the world, this craft beer outpost has earned a devoted following thanks to its inventive brews, often made with local ingredients.
The first 100% ‘Ocean Wise’ sushi restaurant in BC, all local seafood, locally made furniture, locally served craft beer, wine and sake.
Explore historic boardwalks, industrial buildings, residences and wilderness surroundings. Join a tour or explore on your own—experience 125 years of history. Open May to September.
Drive to Terrace (1.5 hours)
Nestled among snow-capped peaks and raging rivers, Sherwood Mountain is bringing German-style lagers to Northern B.C.
If you fancy getting some footwork in, Butze Rapids Park and Trail is a popular spot accessed by a 5 kilometre, easy going trail that leads to a viewing platform overlooking the rapids.
Staying longer in Prince Rupert? Check in at Crest Hotel—it overlooks the town harbour and is within walking distance from Rotary Waterfront Park and the Museum of Northern BC. For more hotel inspiration visit Tourism Prince Rupert.
A fantastic little cafe just south of the city centre with a sunny patio to enjoy. Coffee, tea and a variety of baked goods for morning fare—and tasty bistro style offerings for lunch.
Book at tee time to play at the foot of the majestic Thornhill Mountain just outside of Terrace.
A cozy neighbourhood pub with friendly service, great food, and of course, local pints on tap.
Drive to Hazelton (1.5 hours)
A boutique off-grid hop farm specializing in fresh aroma hops (and sheep and llamas). Call ahead to arrange a tour to touch, smell and taste a variety of hops while they're on the vine.
Drive to Smithers (45 minutes)
Smithers’ favourite après destination is the perfect place to park it after a long day on the slopes.
With broad menu options and a long line up of craft beers, this downtown bistro is located in the heart of Smithers.
Looking for a local rental shop in Smithers with expertise in fishing, biking and more? McBike and Sport will make sure you’re set up for success.
As you travel from Terrace through Hazelton, drive across the Hagwilget Canyon Bridge—and if you’re not scared of heights, pull over safely and take in the astonishing view. When you’re on route to Smithers, be sure to stop and take in the energy of the Bulkley River being squeezed through the Moricetown Canyon.
For more Smithers hotel inspiration visit Tourism Smithers.
Get up early and fuel up for a big day of big experiences. Start out with Two Sisters, a sustainability-minded cafe supports local farmers, growers, artisan bakers and more with it's diverse and fresh daily menu.
The mountain offers four trails for different activity levels and destinations. Wildflowers, waterfalls, or a glacier view—take your pick! Check the website for trail maps and wildlife preparedness.
Internationally inspired comfort food, local craft beers and more—the Roadhouse is for relaxing, socializing, and celebrating.
Smithers’ newest brewery offers creative beers in a stunning setting.
Home to spring salmon, coho, sockeye, pink salmon, and steelhead, the Bulkley River offers great fishing. Stop by a tackle shop or grab a guide from Frontier Farwest Lodge cast away an afternoon.
Established in 2019, Post & Row is Dawson Creek's local spot for good food, drink, and conversation
Drive to Prince George (4.5 hours)
Between Smithers and Prince George, consider visiting Ursa Minor Brewing, a unique farm-based brewery in BC’s Lakes District. Getting to Ursa Minor is part of the adventure — it involves a free public ferry that crosses François Lake and some dirt roads so be sure to plan ahead and check the brewery’s hours. It’s a great day trip from Burns Lake or perhaps stay overnight at the nearby Takysie Lake Resort and explore the Ootsa-François Lake Circle Tour.
A lovely unique little cafe located inside of Books & Company in downtown Prince George.
A fairly extensive trail network, Pidherny offers a range of trail options. Many of these mountain biking trails have structures and jumps to try out.
Enjoy a hand-made meal sourced fresh from the Northern Lights' garden and beyond. Their brunch menu is paired with a view of the Nechako River—a treat for all the senses.
Explore the winding trails along the Nechako River—keep your eyes peeled for the unique carved faces in the Cottonwood trees.
CrossRoads Brewing & Distillery is revitalizing Prince George’s downtown with its hip patio, wood-fired pizzas and stellar beer lineup.
Drive to Valemount (3 hours)
Stop by the Valemount Visitor Center/Municipal Office at 785 Cranberry Lake Road, we are open year-round for you to stop by and get help finding accommodation. Open Monday to Friday, 8:30 am–4:30 pm (closed for lunch 12:30 pm–1:30 pm). Closed weekends and statutory holidays.
The Gathering Tree Eatery and Gift Shop is a conversation piece for locals and visitors alike. After breakfast, take time to browse the eclectic gift shop.
A guest ranch in the Canadian Rockies offering horse holidays, trail rides, cabins, lessons and more.
Open 9 months of the year, the iconic Valemount Swiss Bakery offers 60+ artisan bread varieties. Try their Stollen, made with original spices and ingredients from Europe.
This brewery in the middle of nowhere proves that good beer (and hard work) conquers all.
The Caribou Grill is an authentic log building with western decor which serves Canadian Cuisine including steak, prime rib, game, wild salmon, pasta and seafood.
Drive to Prince George (3 hours)
Prince George’s newest craft brewery is also the city’s first craft distillery.
Valemount gets an average base of 1,400 centimetres (46 feet) at 1,800 metres, for some of the best winter sports terrain in all of Canada. Explore Valemount Winter Activities.
Gold Rush Ale Trail
Start your morning off with a delicious breakfast at this family owned and operated restaurant in the heart of downtown Quesnel.
Head up to Wonderland for a ride on their mountain biking trails. There’s a gorgeous view of Dragon Lake waiting for you on Angry Beaver.
Stop at the Quesnel & District Museum and Archives for a little history or pick up a gold pan and map next door at the Quesnel Visitor Centre and pan for gold on the Quesnel or Fraser rivers to experience it firsthand.
If you didn’t strike it rich on the river, you can get your fill of liquid gold from this award-winning gold rush-themed brewery. They serve pizza from a local pizzeria, Red Tomato Pies, to satisfy your taste buds and fill your hunger after a busy morning.
Test your trivia and problem solving skills and try to escape one of the themed game rooms at Cariboo Escape. This is a group activity and advanced booking is required.
If there’s still enough daylight, a pleasant 1 km hike along a well-maintained trail to the viewpoint of the 12 million year old Hoodoos and other rock formations.
Stay another day and visit Barkerville Historic Town & Park
If you have another day (and you’ll want a whole day), take the scenic 1-hour drive to Barkerville. With over 100 preserved historic buildings, this village is a representative of the Victorian gold rush era. Actors in period costumes bring the memory of the town to life. Be sure to check in before arriving as their programming is seasonal and changes throughout the year.
Staying overnight in Quesnel? Check out the Billy Barker Casino Hotel, and enjoy the character and charm of the unique historical decor and friendly staff.
Visiting Quesnel in winter? Here you’ll find a variety of activities like cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, snowmobiling and more! With endless parks and trails throughout the city and surrounding area and four lakes within 20kms, you won’t have to go far from town for a daily dose of sunshine and exercise. Full details here.
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Urban sophistication and spectacular wilderness live distinctively side by side in Prince George. We are the only community in northern BC that offers the amenities and benefits of a thriving city within mere minutes of beautiful, pristine forests. This land is the traditional home of the Lheidli T’enneh and Carrier Sekani First Nations people, Prince George is widely known as the capital of northern British Columbia.
A surprisingly cosmopolitan hub on British Columbia’s wild and beautiful Northwest Coast, Prince Rupert is a vibrant port town where nature, history, and personalities are larger than life.
Located in the central interior of B.C., Quesnel is where nature isn’t just a part of life, it’s our way of life. With tall trees, expansive landscapes, and all-season adventure, Quesnel is a place where you can stretch your legs and your lungs and one that welcomes you with open arms.
The Bulkley River borders Smithers and lends its name to the valley. Smithers is a mountain town, set against the backdrop of the Hudson Bay Mountain and with vistas of the Babine and Telkwa Mountain Ranges. Smithers offers outstanding outdoor recreational pursuits during all phases of the year. This includes fishing and hunting, downhill and cross-country skiing, golfing, snowmobiling, canoeing and kayaking and many more.
A vibrant and growing city, Terrace boasts year-round recreational opportunities for the whole family to enjoy. The choices are endless: world-class fishing on the Skeena River, hiking trips through the backcountry, cycling along city paths or mountain biking down steep terrain. Go golfing at the base of a majestic mountain, raft down a raging river, or ski exhilarating slopes or along peaceful Nordic trails. Enjoy the largest northern music festival in spring or 10 days of Riverboat festivities in August. Stop by Heritage Park Museum to partake in a local event or to better understand our history.
Crystal clear blue skies and our gorgeous snow-capped peaks form the backdrop for your epic and unforgettable vacation. In summer, reel in a rainbow trout, wind through our trails from the saddle of your ATV, or let a horse show you the way — however you decide to travel through our valley, you’re certain to create a memory around every turn.
Whether your ideal winter vacation involves launching yourself down a mountain in search of the freshest, deepest powder, or cutting figure eights into a frozen pond, we have it all right here in Valemount. So get out, let the mountains move you.