Explore the awesome power of a well-engineered hydro dam
The Peace Canyon Dam is the smaller of two hydroelectric dams on this part of the mighty and beautiful Peace River in northern BC. It’s a few kilometres southwest of one of British Columbia’s oldest settlements, Hudson’s Hope, and 23 km downstream from the larger, more powerful W.A.C. Bennett Dam.
A short detour from your Alaska Highway “starting line” at Dawson Creek’s Mile “0”, it’s worth the trip for the hiking.
The canyon views juxtapose the modern, photogenic geometry of the dam with its rugged, natural surroundings.
Plus, there are various family-friendly attractions around here, including the Dam Visitor’s Centre!
You can see the Peace Canyon Dam from the bridge as you cross it, driving or riding into Hudson’s Hope from Chetwynd.
It’s a spectacular site, and of cultural significance. It represents the region’s wealth of (and reliance on) natural resources. It also symbolizes British Columbia’s commitment to solving engineering problems and delivering efficient power to the province and beyond.
One measure of its stature is that you can look it up on Wikipedia, which provides a good description, as follows:
The 50-metre (164-foot) high concrete dam, completed in 1980, impounds a 21 km (13 mile) long reservoir, called Dinosaur Lake. Together, the four generating units of the complex have a peak capacity of 700 (Megawatts), and typically produce over 3,500 (Gigawatthours) of electricity per year.
The Peace Canyon Dam Visitor’s Centre, featuring exhibits about the dam, hydroelectricity and the area’s natural and cultural history, is right next door to the dam. It’s open seasonally and admission is free for the entire family:
Exhibits reflect the area’s natural history, its pioneer past and the Peace Canyon Project. Highlights include a replica of the stern-wheeler SS Peace River, a large-scale model of a generating unit, displays about the damming of the Peace River, and mammoth tusks found during excavation. Visitors can view the project’s central control system, walk across the dam or visit the observation area on the main floor and a viewing deck. Guided tours of the visitor center are available. – Alberta Motor Association
During the late 1700s, traders rushed into this area chasing furs. Some settled here long enough to establish it as Hudson’s Hope, the third-oldest European settlement in BC. It’s built up right on the banks of the Peace River in the Rocky Mountain foothills, 90 kilometres west of Fort St. John and 66 kilometres north of Chetwynd on Highway 29.
In addition to the mammoth tusks you’ll see at the Dam Visitor’s Centre, be sure to check out the collections of fossils and dinosaur footprints at the Hudson’s Hope Museum. This entire area is a “gold mine” of Jurassic history, with many artifacts uncovered during trapping and mining activities, and many to see at the museum:
Hudson’s Hope Museum
9510 Beattie Drive, Hudson’s Hope
In a log building in Beattie Park, you’ll find the Hudson’s Hope Visitor Centre, where friendly staff can point you in the direction of the local must-sees. There’s a computer with free internet, public washrooms and tons of travel information for anyone from anywhere, and especially if you’re Alaska Highway-bound!
Hudson’s Hope Visitor Centre
9555 Beattie Drive, Hudson’s Hope
Off Season: 250-783-9901
Open daily, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm, May 1-September 30
Northern BC is well known for its abundance of freshwater lakes and rivers. The Hudson’s Hope area is no exception. Outdoor enthusiasts come here to fish, boat, waterski, canoe, kayak, swim and sail. There are also ATV trails, hunting, camping, hiking and wildlife viewing (you can see many bald eagles here) against a mixed backdrop of prairie farmland, sub-alpine forests, the powerful Peace River and the world famous Canadian Rocky Mountains.