THINGS TO DO:
As I ride across the Dunvegan Bridge spanning the Peace River, the valley opens up before me. The air is crisp, the grasses green. Among motorcyclists, this panorama is one of the most talked about in the province.
This trip’s been on my list because there's so much to see and do on the Wide Open Roads of the North ride. I'm into the second hour of a full day ride in northern Alberta's Peace River region, exploring with friends. Some call this the Hwy 43 loop, where Hwy 2 links to Hwy 43 and Hwy 49. The route has many variations – you can make it a one hour, a full seven hours or a multi-day excursion.
We started in Grande Prairie where we saw North America's Largest Sundial and poked around in the interpretive museum in Muskoseepi Park. Heading toward the village of Rycroft we passed yellow canola fields and saw “rural skyscrapers,” massive grain terminals rising into the sky.
Explore Unique Alberta Sights
After crossing the amazing Dunvegan Bridge, we came with helmets in hand to the motorcycle-rider friendly Dunvegan Inn in Fairview. You have to try their savoury turkey vegetable soup. Then we hit the open road again, heading toward Peace River.
Throughout Mighty Peace Country, there are quaint little towns and hamlets to explore. Get ready for some unusual sights. The hamlet of Brownvale is home to a 4.6 m (15 ft) mechanical bucking Brahma bull. In Berwyn you can see one of the few wooden water towers left in North America. In Grimshaw, Mile Zero of the Mackenzie Highway and part of an area rich in fur trading history, check out Mackenzie Hwy Park and the arboretum featuring boreal forest trees.
Plan to take the five minute Shaftesbury Tug Boat Ferry ride, one of the few ferries left in the province (and it’s free). The fully paved Shaftesbury Trail runs alongside the Peace River and we stopped along the way to picnic and stretch our legs. You can also learn about the explorer Sir Alexander Mackenzie whose name has been used so often in this area.
Enjoy Alberta Vistas
At the town of Peace River, we’re booked to stay overnight at the motorcycle rider friendly Sawridge Inn. There are two must-see spots that overlook the town: the 12 Foot Davis Memorial Site and Sagitawa Lookout. You’ll be treated to sweeping views of the valley where the Peace, Heart and Smoky rivers converge – quite spectacular seen in early evening light.
Coming Back for More
Check out the trip map on Wide Open Roads of the North. There are so many roads to explore. Next time, I'll go further and take in the Last Spike, the World's Largest Railroad Spike, at Hines Creek. In Manning, I'll see the World's Only Hoose, a moose with horse hooves. And I'll explore Alberta's oldest community, Fort Vermillion, east of High Level.