Earlier this month, I shared an amazing part of our trip to the Northwest Coast in exploring the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Beds. But if you get a chance to be out there, keep driving, because there is so much more to see and experience in the Nass Valley. While sparsely populated, this region is full of breathtaking landscapes, and a couple of neat things to do. I’m going to keep sharing those with you here today!
Before You Go
The Northwest Coast of BC is sparsely populated, and with few settlements, you will want to be prepared for an adventure before you leave Terrace. Don’t forget to fill your gas tank, pack snacks and drinks, and be ready to explore WITHOUT cell reception.
Stop by the Visitor Information Centre in Terrace and pick up an Auto Tour of the Nass Valley for a full list of stops, and brief informational blurbs about the sites to see along the way. This handy map is a must have the journey. Forgot it? There’s an informational centre past the lava fields at the junction of the Nass Valley.
Exploring with Toddlers
There are lots of stops to explore in the Nass Valley. Between the stops in the Lava Beds and the communities to visit, stopping at each one might ONLY be feasible without children. If travelling with kids in tow, take a look at the Auto Tour guide and choose whats important to you. Unbuckling and unloading children is exhausting and the less you have to play that game the more energy you’ll save for exploring.
I’ll say it again, the hardest part about travelling and exploring with toddlers is trying to coordinate a nap. Either you wait until nap and travel during the nap, or you go back during a nap.
There isn’t a right answer. I also find that travel days make everything wonky. We ended up just leaving in the morning, and he was awake for the drive there. We made it to the lava field, explored and then he was ready for a nap. However, we had only visited one of the many stops! So, now what? Well, its an hour drive from the Lava Beds to the coastal Nisga’a village of Kincolith. We drove and admired the scenery and potential stops along the way while the kids napped in the back seat.
Most of the stops along the auto tour would be suitable for adventurous toddlers as they involve getting out of the car and running around! I’ll walk you thru the stops we made.
The Nass Valley
The Nass Valley is a beautiful landscape in the Northwest Coast along the Nass River leading into the Pacific Ocean. Home to the Nisga’a Nation and now treaty lands, the Nass Valley has much to offer to the outdoor enthusiast.
Our recent visit to the Nass Valley started with our endeavour to see the Lava Fields. After a short hike, kids needed a nap, and we opted to have a car nap and explore this beautiful part o the Northwest Coast.
Gingolx: Seafood Capital of the Nass
The last village in the Nass Valley is Gingolx. This small fishing village is located at the mouth of the Nass River and the Pacific Ocean. The waterfront is marked with beautiful untouched mountain ranges and ocean.
Rumour has it there is a fish and chips restaurant in Gingolx. There was an expectation from my husband we would stop and savour his favourite food. This didn’t pan out. Our 2 pm arrival meant if it was open, it was now closed between meals. We opted to park and take a meander along the ocean in the rain. Gumboots and a raincoat kept everyone dry, and I thoroughly enjoyed the view and the fresh smell of the ocean. I wish I brought along a full lunch to enjoy at a picnic table!
There’s not much to see or do in this community, but the ocean is stunning. If you have recommendations for what to do in Gingolx drop a comment below.
Recently built, the Nisga’a Museum is AMAZING. Housed in a gorgeous building just outside the community of Laxgalts’ap. It boasts an incredible display related to Nisga’a culture and the treaty.
Inside you’ll find information about the treaties, traditions, and fishing culture of the Nisga’a. With children in tow, we weren’t able to take in much, but this is a must see when in the Nass Valley. It is very well done, and I left wishing I could have spent more time.
Because of the children, we ended up spending most of our time in the children zone and outside the front of the house letting them crawl around and play with the assortment of puppets. The Children’s corner has a variety of puppets (mostly representing animals in the region) as well as a collection of books and puzzles (including books related to North Coast culture). This was a great spot to help our toddler and baby unwind and enjoy. Check out dad playing with toddler in this post about visiting heritage sites with kids.
I would go back to the Nass Valley just to spend more time in this museum.
Gitwinksihlkw Suspension Bridge
Our last stop in the Nass Valley was to explore a suspension bridge to Gitwinksihlkw. While we don’t usually like to do quick shortstops with the children, the draw of a suspension bridge was too good to pass. We unloaded the children and loaded them up to check it out.
Until recently, the bridge was the only way to this community built after the volcano eruption. Now a vehicle bridge connects the community of Gitwinksihlkw. Cross over the community bridge and drive into the town. The suspension bridge is on the left. Use at your own risk, its a fun gander over the beautiful Nass river and a reflection in time to the hundreds of people who crossed this bridge as their only connection to the other side of the river.
I’m a little weary of suspension bridges, but my husband had a blast crossing over it. We did let the toddler out, and he wandered around on the bridge before we packed it all up and headed on our way back to Terrace for the night.
For Next Time
Traveling in the Nass Valley with kids in tow was an amazing adventure. Of all the things to do with kids in the Terrace and Prince Rupert region, this adventure was most definitely my favourite. It is worth the day long adventure and worth another visit. I can’t wait to return when the toddlers are more active and fiesty.
The Lava beds alone are enough reason to venture into the Nass Valley, but if searching for more, the rest of the Villages along the highway don’t fail to disappoint. They offer a unique glimpse into a different culture and time. If you are even in the Terrace region, you have to make the journey up and see it. If I were to go again, I would check out the other stops along the auto tour and return to the Nisga’a Museum. To listen to the stories and marvel at the beauty of this culture.