“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
Writer Henry Miller knew what he was talking about. When you step into the unknown, even the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The journey itself is an integral part of travel and however you find your way to Prince Rupert, it’s guaranteed to be an experience that will indelibly etch itself into your memory.
Prince Rupert is a port town and getting out on the ocean is a must. Arriving in the city by ferry is memorable, to say the least; this place is meant to be seen from the water. A great way to connect a visit to Prince Rupert with a wider itinerary is by sailing up the Inside Passage on BC Ferries. The Inside Passage connects Vancouver Island with the North Coast via a long series of inland channels, passing by the villages of Shearwater, Bella Bella, and Klemtu. The rest is virtually untouched coastal wilderness. For fifteen hours, as the boat slowly makes its way north, you’ll try—but fail—to keep your jaw from hitting the floor as you drink in the view of islands, inlets, channels, mountains, waterfalls, and forests. No guarantees of course, but it’s pretty likely you’ll see whales en route—humpback and orca are common and the captain typically announces a sighting over the loudspeaker. Add in stunning lighthouses, tiny historic settlements, and abandoned canneries slowly slipping into the sea, and you get one amazing sightseeing tour. Hopping on the ferry is also a way of relinquishing responsibility for a short time. Just kick back, relax, and watch the world go by.
There’s something inherently romantic about travelling by train. It’s a strange combination of freedom—trains offer the ability to move around while still inexorably drawing closer to your ultimate destination—and a resignation of freedom. On a train, you surrender control of your situation; from the time you clamber on board to the time you arrive, you are in the hands of the conductor. It’s a liberating feeling. Once settled in, you can move around and interact with fellow passengers, chat with knowledgeable staff, or lose yourself in your thoughts to the backdrop of ever-changing scenery. Chugging along on the tracks with Via Rail is a laid back way to get to Prince Rupert. A lot of people who have made the journey say it’s one of the world’s most scenic rail trips; given the world has plenty of options for epic train travel, that’s saying a lot. The route journeys west from the national park town of Jasper, through the Robson Valley, following the Fraser River into Prince George, veering north through Burns Lake, Smithers, and New Hazelton, before finally tracking west along the Skeena River through Terrace to Prince Rupert.