Highway 40, and the road to Brûlé


Oh, that’s pretty tempting.  It’s the road trip that every road tripper dreams of taking: the drive to Alaska.  And just a few kilometers west of Hinton, Alberta, a road sign reminds you that you’re already pretty close.  If you turned off Highway 16 onto Highway 40, for the “Scenic Route to Alaska”, you’d have a 2,400 kilometer drive ahead of you (or if you prefer, 1,500 miles).  And that’s just to the US/Canadian border.  Anchorage would still be a few hundred miles further.

If you were going to Alaska from here, Highway 40 would take you up to Grand Prairie, then you’d take Highway 43 to Dawson Creek, BC, where the AlCan Highway begins.

I was certainly not prepared to venture out to Alaska.  But I did decide to detour off of Highway 16 for a little while, to explore the southernmost end of this route.

Highway 40 was, indeed, scenic.  But I ended up taking a detour off of the detour, on the side-road that runs to Brûlé, Alberta.

The road to Brûlé is paved, and it’s probably wide enough to be considered two-lanes, but there’s no stripe down the middle.  That’s not a cause for concern, because you probably won’t run into any traffic on this road.  It dead-ends at the hamlet of Brûlé, and there isn’t much more out there, aside from some incredible mountain scenery. 

I stopped by the side of the road, at the top of a surprisingly steep and long grade.  From here, you can look west towards the mountains in Jasper National Park, and the Rock Creek/Solomon Creek Wildland.  Mount Kephala is probably one of the mountains you can see in the distance (even though clouds were obscuring their peaks).

The drive out to Brûlé satisfied my curiosity, and my desire to take a scenic side-trip.  But the truth is, there isn’t much of a reason to drive out here.  Brûlé has a few houses, and I spotted one B&B, but there is no downtown, no stores, and no welcome center for visitors.  It’s simply a remote residential community.

When the road ended in Brûlé, I turned around, and headed back to Highway 40.  Then, I turned north, and followed 40 through William Switzer Provincial Park.  This area is rolling hills, not dramatic mountains, and almost every side-road is closed by snow during the winter.  As a result, I didn’t take any pictures, and when I got to the north end of the park, I turned around and backtracked to Highway 16.  So if you want to see what William Switzer Park looks like, you’ll need to watch the Drivelapse video — which includes the drive out to Brûlé, as well.

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