Posted by: cherylyoung | February 17, 2011

In the 1700’s Canada last activ volcano erupted in B.C


Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park

Anhluut’ukwsim Laxmihl Angwinga’asanskwhl Nisga’a

Traveling some 70 kilometers north of Terrace along

the newly christened Highway 113 leads you to a

 provincial park unlike any other in all of Canada:

Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park.

Where else can you find emerald green waters, serene

 waterfalls, lush forests, towering snowcapped

mountains, a quiet campground an ocean view

AND an eerily moonlike landscape 10 kilometers long

 and 3 kilometers wide?

In the 1700’s Canada’s last active volcano erupted,

killing approximately 2,000 Nisga’a people.


Today all that remains is the pocked lava plain that

 serves as the headstones of these ancestors.


This park was created in memory of these people, and

in conjunction with the Nisga’a people today.


Not only can you experience all that the park has to

 offer, but you can learn about the nearby native

communities of New Aiyansh, Gitwinksihlkw

(Canyon City), Lakalzap (Greenville), Kincolith and

Nass Camp.


As you leave Terrace you soon realize this will not be

a normal trip.


The road, poorly maintained until you reach the park

itself, is a slow, laborious drive.


Though mostly paved, this road is rough, winding and

seemingly forever under construction.


You have to keep an eye out for wildlife.


You are almost guaranteed to see at least one bear en

route, without even leaving your car.

Deer and eagles are also plentiful.

 The views along the highway are mixed.


On one hand you have snowcapped mountains and

beautiful lakes.


On the other you have evidence of clear cut logging

 and dumpy Rosswood to pass through.

There’s a few nice houses right on the water, but

otherwise its for the transients.


Countless rusted out cars line one property.

An abandoned bus and tarps form the home of



I’m sure Rosswood is a homey little community, but

the trip would be some how more pleasant if you could

skip by most of it.

It’s quite amazing how consistently beautiful

everything is once you arrive at the Lava Bed Park’s

official entrance.

Maybe it’s because you are glad to have arrived.

The entrance sign does not welcome you nearly as

much as the adjacent lake-side picnic area.

(The likelihood of a bear joining you on your picnic

 is far less in the park than back in the Rosswood

 area, but do be aware).

The road magically becomes of higher quality

(except where a couple of stretches which are still

being worked on).

The clear cut logging no longer interrupts the beautiful


 As you drive in you will soon see the plains of lava

on each side of the road.


The main attraction begins at the emerald green

Tseax River.


The molten rock ended its original journey at this



The lava originally honeycombed, and where it

collapsed remains beautiful pools of pristine waters

 that make parks in the Rocky Mountains jealous.


Crater Creek is next.

The first thing you’ll notice is that there is no water.

 The creek was flowing with molten rock.

A short trail lets you look at the original path of



You will soon cross a one lane bridge and see the well

marked Vetter Falls pull off.


A short trail leads you on a 5 minute walk to one of

the prettiest waterfalls you’ll ever see.


You begin walking through the lava rock but quickly

duck into the lush forest.


Soon enough you will discover a viewing platform

 and picnic table right beside the small falls, a

 babbling brook and surprisingly calm pool of water.


Upon my first visit I instantly and finally

comprehended the term serenity.

Instead of continuing further into the park, you

can actually turn back 3 kilometers.


At this point you will cross another one-lane bridge

 and you should pull over on the right side



There is the tiniest of signs marking a trail to the

much more majestic Beaupre Falls.


Another short trail leads you to a viewing platform

that is perfect for snapping photos.


Usually I like to wander off out of bounds for a

more unique viewpoint, but the natural terrain

makes that hard to do here.

As a result this platform creates the wonderful

illusion of peaking through the forest to see the

magnificent 33 foot high falls.

 Heading back into the park you find the visitor

 center and campground.


The visitor center is interesting in that it is a native

longhouse that is traditional in every way except for

the attached solar panels.


This is where you book your guided tour to the

 volcano’s cone or pay your camping fees.


The campground is small and very basic.


Heading out to nearby Gitwinksihlkw you come across

an interesting log mould display.

A short walk from road leads you to the mould.


Many years ago hot lava formed around a fallen tree.


The lava cooled around the tree, which either slowly

 burned or rotted away.


As a result you can witness a perfect cylinder in the

lava remains.


A close inspection shows the imprints of the tree’s

 original bark.


Traveling along to Gitwinksihlkw you can witness a

native reserve.

 There’s not much here really, except for a walking

suspension bridge which was the only way across the

canyon until the vehicle bridge was built in 1995.


I understand it is traditional land, but why anyone in

this day and age would want to live on the wrong side

of the canyon is beyond me.


You can actually walk on suspension bridge, but the

 natives have found the entrepreneurial spirit and

now  charge $2 for an unguided “tour” across the



While hardly a city, New Aiyansh is a close as it gets

 until you return to Terrace.


There are some bed and breakfasts here, though I

 would rather return to the campground.


There’s a beautiful community hall, some totem poles

 and a local native art shop




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  1. Reblogged this on Cheryl Young's Blog.

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