Take the Nisga’a Highway and explore Nass Valley

See one of Canada’s most recent lava flows in the Nass Valley and take in the rich aboriginal culture of the Nisga’a people

Follow the Nisga’a Highway north from the turnoff on Hwy 16 West, and you’ll pass Kalum Lake and the community of Rosswood before entering the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park. (Click here to see photos of a ride along the Nisga’a Highway.)The volcano that spawned it all, Wil Ksi Baxhl Mihl or “where the fire ran out”, is a small cinder cone only 250 years old. The eruption buried two Nisga’a villages, killed 2,000 aboriginal people, and pushed the Nass River from one side of the valley to the other. The road forks in the midst of the 23-kilometre-long lava flow. The road east goes to New Aiyansh – the capital of the Nisga’a Nation and seat of Nisga’a self-government since the signing of their historic treaty in 2000. The scenic road west takes you past the villages of Gitwinksihlkw (Canyon City), which features a foot-passenger suspension bridge over the Nass River. Beyond Gitwinksihlkw is Lakalzap (Greenville) and after that, you’ll reach the oceanside village of Gingolx, or “Place of the Scalps”. The last leg of road to Gingolx, also called Kincolith, was completed in 2003, ending the community’s isolation. Gingolx hosts Crab Fest each July long weekend – details at www.crabfest.ca. Tom Cochrane is the scheduled headliner this year. Nisga’a villages are liberally dotted with totem poles and you may get the chance to see carvers at work. Fish wheels or fish counting areas may also be in operation. Get out of your vehicle and make friends. A self-guided auto tour brochure for the lava beds park is available from the Terrace visitor info centre. The Nisga’a Commercial Group has created three new tours of the area this year, a botanical tour, a fish wheel tour, and a lava bed cone tour. For more information, drop by the Aboriginal info centre at the Kwinitsa House in Terrace (page 8), call 250-633-5150 or visit www.ncgtourism.ca.The centre in the Kwinitsa House or the visitor info in New Aiyansh will also have more information about cone tours.

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