Winter photo of the Caledonia Nordic Ski Club in Prince George, BC, by Christine Alder.
Drivers traveling the West Access Route to the Alaska Highway have passed through Prince George, a city of about 75,000 near the center of British Columbia. It’s worth a stop no matter the time of year. In winter, visitors to Prince George can still enjoy the city’s excellent museum and art scene, then strap on a pair of skates or a set of skis for some outdoor recreation.
An old trading post was established in the area of Prince George during the 1800s, but it was really when the railroad was built that the modern community was established. Forestry drove the community’s economy for much of the 20th century, and Prince George is now the fourth largest city in the province.
Ice skating is guaranteed fun, even if a bit frustrating for beginners. There are numerous rinks for indoor skating in town, but take advantage of some of the community’s outdoor skating options. Do some laps at the Prince George Outdoor Ice Oval, which is just $2 per person and offers skate rentals.
Go for a walk! If it’s a sunny winter day, explore some of the city’s extensive trials. Prince George has 106 kilometers of trails. Or stay closer to coffee and food and walk through downtown. Visit the city’s website for an online walking tour that takes travelers to various interpretive signs about the community’s history.
Learn through history and art
There’s lots to keep you entertained and warm indoors during winter in Prince George. If you have kids, check out The Exploration Place, a museum with animal exhibits, indigenous artifacts, details of recent history, and kids programming. After being forced closed due to the pandemic, the museum seized the opportunity to undergo a renovation. The renovations included creating new space for highlighting indigenous communities, adding a geology section, adding indoor green space, and building space to house new animal ambassadors.
Visit Two Rivers Gallery, a contemporary art gallery featuring a permanent exhibition of art from around Canada, as well as rotating showcases from local and national artists.
Get a taste of the industries that built modern Prince George at the Central BC Railway and Forestry Museum. This property at the north end of town at the confluence of the two rivers holds locomotives, heritage railway buildings, and logging equipment used for harvesting and processing lumbar. It requires some walking around outside, but many of the buildings are open for visitors to explore. The museum is open year round Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Go skiing in Prince George
Prince George has a ski hill in city limits! The Hart Ski Hill a small ski area with about 22 skiable acres accessible by T-bar lifts. The hill also has a terrain park for freestyle riding. The hill is open until 9 p.m. on weekdays and is popular for night skiing.
If you prefer sliding across snow on level ground, head west from downtown to Caledonia Nordic Ski Club. The club maintains 55 kilometers of groomed trails, including lighted trails for night skiing, dog-friendly trails, and snowshoe tracks. The winter season typically starts in early December and ends in April. The trails are open for use in the winter starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 8 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. on weekends.
Travelers don’t need to stress about having their own Nordic ski equipment. The club rents full sets of Rossignol gear for full-day or half-day rentals.