Travel restrictions mean staying in the country, but being bored is optional. If you can afford a bit of summer travel, there are plenty of opportunities in all directions from Prince George.
When my family decided on a campout in Valemount, I was a bit disappointed, as I love Jasper. Having only ever travelled through Valemount on our way home from the Okanogan, I thought it was not much more than a gas station, so I packed my Prius full of groceries, or at least as many as I could, considering we were travelling with four adults.
In case I am not the last person to have this misconception, let me tell you I was pleasantly surprised. Like many towns in B.C., once you turn off the highway, a beautiful town with unexplored treasures reveals itself.
Placed between the Rocky, Monashee, and Caribou Ranges, Valemount is in a spectacular setting. A walk on the main street has great views of the mountains on either side of the town, so it feels very similar to Jasper without the park fee and with many more available activities.
My time there was fairly low-key, with it raining nearly all weekend, but we still got to enjoy some of what Valemount has to offer. We drove up Swift Mountain to check out the view and stumbled onto their mountain bike trails, so the next day our young people got to ride the well-developed trail system. Then we tackled the Berg Lake hiking trail to Kinney Lake, at the base of Mount Robson. Wow! If you park at the trailhead by taking the road to the left of the Visitor Centre, the hike to the south end of Kinney Lake is only 4.5 km. The trail is nearly smooth enough for a golf cart, so even at 4.5 km to the south end of Kinney Lake, it is accessible for nearly everyone. The trail was a little washed out in places or I would have said a good scooter could manage the trail. The trail is along the rushing waters of Robson River, which is a sparkling, rushing, tumble of rock-flour blue. Walk past the south end of Kinney Lake for another few kilometres brings you to the campground, with great photo opportunities.
Valemount’s wide main street (turn east at the A&W) is dotted with handsome storefronts, everything from the familiar Home Hardware, IGA, and IDA selling essentials, (so I hadn’t needed to bother with groceries) to a craft beer store, pubs, unique eateries, and a bakery.
Campgrounds and a number of reasonably priced-hotels and resorts, round out the accommodations. Fishing, boating, (Kimbasket Lake for one) ATV trails, snowmobiling and heli-skiing, and numerous hiking trails, all serve to make Valemount a great weekend destination, only a little over three hours away.
Probably the single most impressive factor were the ATV trails, snowmobiling and heli-skiing, as well as the obvious pride Valemount residents take in their town. The main street is not fancy, but very well kept (no potholes!) Each storefront is tidy and unique. Even the mountain bike trail signs were nice. When the Valemount Glacier Ski Resort is built, Valemount will be ready to welcome the world.
The best international tourists are those that know their local area. Take the pandemic restrictions of summer of 2020 to become a better tourist, by checking out the fabulous little places close to P.G.