Denman & Hornby Islands
The main Northern Gulf Islands, Denman and Hornby share laid-back attitudes, artistic flair and some tranquil outdoor activities. You'll arrive by ferry at Denman first from Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island, then hop from Denman across to Hornby. Stop at Denman Village, near the first ferry dock, and pick up a free map and attractions guide for both islands.
Nelson to Revelstoke
Heading north from Nelson, there are two options, both scenic, for reaching Revelstoke. Hwy 6 heads west for 16km before turning north at South Slocan. The road eventually runs alongside pretty Slocan Lake for about 30km before reaching New Denver. It's 97km between Nelson and New Denver. Going north and east from Nelson on Hwy 3A is the most interesting route.
Hop the 45-minute BC Ferries service from Port McNeil for one of the region's best days out. Located on Cormorant Island and radiating from the ferry dock along easily strolled waterfront boardwalks, Alert Bay's bright-painted shacks and houses-on-piles are highly photogenic – even the ones that are crumbling into the briny.
Penticton to Kelowna
A lakeside resort town 18km north of Penticton on Hwy 97, Summerland features some fine 19th-century heritage buildings on the hillside above the ever-widening and busy highway. The Kettle Valley Steam Railway is an operating 16km remnant of the famous tracks. Ride behind an old steam locomotive in open-air cars and enjoy orchard views.
Just off Hwy 101 via Roberts Creek Rd, the funky 'downtown' here looks like a little hobbit community, if hobbits had gone through a hippie phase. Poke around the wood-built, shack-like stores and eateries and then wander downhill to the beach, checking out the huge, ever-changing Community Mandala painted on the ground.
Much improved, the 700km Stewart-Cassiar Hwy (Hwy 37) is a viable and ever-more-popular route between BC and the Yukon and Alaska. But it's more than just a means to get from Hwy 16 (Meziadin Junction) in BC to the Alaska Hwy in the Yukon (7km west of Watson Lake), it's a window onto one of the largest remaining wild and woolly parts of the province.
Prince Rupert to Prince George
You can cover the 725km on Hwy 16 between BC's Princes in a day or a week. There's nothing that's an absolute must-see, but there's much to divert and cause you to pause if so inclined. Scenery along much of the road (with the notable exception of Skeena River) won't fill your memory card, but it is a pleasing mix of mountains and rivers.
After the last sawmill shut down in 1983, tiny Chemainus became the model for BC communities dealing with declining resource jobs. Instead of submitting to a slow death, town officials commissioned a giant wall mural depicting local history. More than 45 artworks were later added and a tourism industry was born.
Smithers, a largish town with a cute old downtown, is roughly halfway between the Princes. The visitors center can steer you to excellent mountain biking, white-water rafting and climbing. Great hiking is found at nearby Babine Mountains Provincial Park, a 324-sq-km park with trails to glacier-fed lakes and subalpine meadows. Stork Nest Inn is a good choice among many.