Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia is a true gem of the North. I took a trip here recently to discover it for myself, and I wasn't disappointed. Small town living amongst the vast wilderness, there's something for everyone here, from beautiful waterfalls, to wildlife, to dinosaur fossil discoveries, its a great place for solo travellers, families or weekend getaways in the wilderness.
I spent just 36 hours here, but could have easily kept myself occupied for a month or more, despite being in a remote location, 7 hours from Edmonton, 10 hours from Calgary, 12 hours from Vancouver, there is so much to see and do. I was impressed by the abundance of wildlife, the stunning waterfalls and rolling hills on the edge of the Rocky Mountains and the small town charm.
The Welcome sign to Tumbler Ridge, BC
There are 3 main roads into Tumbler Ridge. Highway 52 coming from the south crossing over from Alberta after Grande Prairie (Warning - this is a gravel road for a good section, about 40km) Highway 52 coming in from the Northeast after Dawson Creek, or Highway 29 from the Northwest coming in from Chetwynd. The closest major town would be Dawson Creek about 120km to the Northeast.
Approximate location of Tumbler Ridge
Highway 52 heading West from Alberta, there is a lengthy gravel section
Whats in town?
Most amenities needed are in the town, despite a small population of about 2500 people, there is a Hospital, RCMP and Fire stations, 3 hotels (I highly recommend the Trend Mountain Hotel, my stay here was incredibly comfortable), several shops including a gas station, grocery store, pharmacy, dollar store and several restaurants, among others. I highly recommend your first stop to be the Visitor Information centre, where you can pick up some great trail maps and further build your itinerary and have some friendly chat with locals about happenings in the area.
The Tumbler Ridge Visitor Center
Tumbler Ridge Town hall
Mining and Forestry are the main industries here
The Trend Mountain Hotel, I highly recommend this place for accommodation
What to Do?
There are several excellent hikes in the area, some very close to town, with varying degrees of difficulty and lengths. Bergeron Falls, Quality Falls, Bullmoose Marshes, and Flatbed Creek are all quite close. Towards Chetwynd there is Moose Lake and Gwillim Lake Provincial Park, and if you enjoy dinosaur history there is a museum, palaeontology centre, and fossil discovery trail nearby. To the south lies one of the major attractions, Kinuseo Falls, which is higher than Niagara Falls in height and must be seen. It's located about 60km south of town in Monkman Provincial Park, though the last 50km are on a gravel forestry road that can be a bit rough in places. Monkman Provincial Park has it's own treasures with some great backcountry camping and hiking adventures to be had. Along that way there are also some other great waterfalls, Barbour and Nesbitt's Knee Falls. The Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark makes up a lot of the area and is a world heritage UNESCO site, more information can be found at the visitor information centre.
Kinuseo Falls, South of Tumbler Ridge. Kinuseo Falls
Lots of beautiful landscapes in the area
This mural depicts what Tumbler Ridge is all about, waterfalls and dinosaurs. A mural depicting what Tumbler Ridge is all about, Dinosaurs and Waterfalls
A creek in the forest on the way to Kinuseo Falls
Gwillim Lake in late day light. Gwillim Lake shows off the beauty of the area
I was really impressed with the amount of wildlife I saw in the area in just a short time. In the 36 hours I was there, I saw no less than 14 Grizzly Bears, several Black bears including some with cubs, lots of Moose and Deer too! Speaking to some locals, Wolves and Cougars are fairly commonly seen as well, and there are populations of Lynx and Wolverines in the area too. It's called the heart of Bear country though, there was even a grizzly wandering through the town while I was there and locals recommended having bear spray at all times, even doing day to day business within the town.
A black bear cub I spotted just west of town. A black bear cub just outside of town
Moose sightings were fairly common. Moose were a fairly common sighting
Grizzly bears were sighted frequently, this was one of the largest I'd ever seen
The Bullmoose Marshes The Bullmoose Marshes
I absolutely loved this area. If you were wanting to get away from the more touristy places in the mountains like Banff and Jasper and to a place with a much more remote feel, I'd highly recommend the extra time it takes to get here. At most places, I was the only one there, and you really get a sense of true wilderness. I can't wait to get back here, especially if I can time it during a northern lights event, I bet the aurora would be a brilliant display here with minimal light pollution and the northern latitude. I also want to have a chance to do some more waterfall hikes and explore even more of the area. There was so much to see and do that I felt overwhelmed trying to cram as much in as I could during my short time there. Consider this blog review part 1 of 2, as I definitely plan on going back here soon :)
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