Aiyansh is the largest of the communities of the Nisga'a First Nation.
It is situated near the Nass River, just north of Terrace.
Other communities that make up the Nass Valley and the Nisga'a territory
are Greenville, Canyon City, Kincolith and Nass Camp.
In accordance with a BC Government policy that recognizes First
Nation history, certain names have been changed and may be present
when you travel the Nisga'a Highway to New Aiyansh. Look for these
changes at the highway sign when you leave Hwy 16 and Terrace.
For Kincolith, the name is now Gingolx; for Greenville, it has been
changed to Laxgalts'ap; for Canyon City, Gitwinksihlkw and, for
New Aiyansh, Wii Lax Kap. The Nass River will be known in the Nisga'a
Nation as K'alii Aksim Lisims.
Driving north from Terrace the Nisga'a Highway passes the eastern
side of beautiful Kitsumkalum Lake. On the north end of the lake
is the very small community of Rosswood.
Leaving here you pass over the Cedar River, eventually coming to
Lava Lake and the Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park.
Memorial Lava Bed Park
This is the site of BC's last volcanic action approximately 250
years ago. Make sure you take the time to visit the lava beds. The
creeks and rivers that come off the rock formations have an aqua
green colour, making the scenery absolutely beautiful.
Another route to New Aiyansh and the lava beds involves taking the
West Kitsumkalum Forest Service Road that goes on the western side
of Kitsumkalum Lake. Access to this road is just past Fisherman's
Memorial Park where the bridge crosses Kitsumkalum River on Hwy
16 going towards Prince Rupert.
Service Recreation Sites
There are two really nice Forest Service Recreation sites on this
side of the lake. One is called Redsand Beach, the other Hart Farm.
Both have real nice sandy beaches, offer wilderness camping plus
access to the lake. There are several trails around if you like
walking with great scenic views.
Once at New Aiyansh, visit the brand new Nisga'a Administration
Building, the Lisims Centre. The Nisga'a now has managing powers
over a large landscape covering the Nass River valley.
This historic document was negotiated by a team of hereditary elders
including Chief Joe Gosnell. Joe Gosnell was instrumental in obtaining
the landmark Nisga'a First Nation Treaty and at one time recommended
to be the next Governor General for Canada.
Once leaving New Aiyansh, the road passes Nass Camp logging camp
facilities that use to house the various loggers that logged the
Nass Valley through the years. Nass Camp has a lodging facility
called the Bil-Nor Tillicum Lodge.
Here you can find a restaurant, motel, pub, general store, RV Park,
wilderness campground, showers, laundry, sani-dump and gas sales.
There is also a small landing strip available for airplanes. Please
check with the lodge for any restrictions or closures for using
the airplane facility.
After Nass Camp, the restricted road travels north east to a major
junction where you can either go towards the ghost town of Alice
Arm and Kitsault or to Cranberry
Junction located at Hwy 37. If you go towards Cranberry Junction,
the restricted road will eventually lead to Hwy 37.
Alice Arm was a silver mining town during the 1920's and '30's but
was eventually closed down. Across the bay from Alice Arm the molybdenum
mining town of Kitsault was built, only to be abandoned in 1980.
Kitsault was later sold in 2005 as a private town. These two areas
can only be accessed by boat or seaplane.
During the fall season this area is full of mushroom pickers who
come from all over the country to pick the valuable pine mushrooms
where in Japan it is needed for ceremonial purpose.
At Cranberry Junction the area turns into a type of shanty town,
reminiscent of the Gold Rush Era complete with buyers and sellers
of mushrooms. Nicknamed the 'Zoo' the area is abuzz with tales of
fortunes being made from the lucrative trade of picking pine mushrooms.
Once at Hwy 37, you can head north to Meziadin
Junction and Alaska, or go south to Kitwancool
(Gitanyow) and the junction at Kitwanga
(Gitwangak) on Hwy 16.
Just remember if you are enjoying the provincial parks and the countryside
around British Columbia, please remember this is bear country. Try
to avoid the rivers during heavy salmon spawning times unless you
feel comfortable with bears around and take the usual precautions.
There is also the possibilities of encounters with wolves or cougars
so please play it safe.