Route de la Baie James


What to do


There's a few places you can explore by car up in this region. But maybe you figure you've driven enough just getting up here!

  • Go exploring, drive side roads and see what's there. Drive to a campsite and see if there's a good view of a lake.
  • Drive to James Bay at Chisasibi or Longe Pointe
  • Take a drive out to one of the Cree communities on James Bay (Waskaganish, Eastmain, Wemindji, Chisasibi)
  • Take a self-driving tour of the hydro-electric facilities and dam at Radisson (LG2).
  • Drive to the garbage dump south of Radisson to look at the bears.
  • Drive the Opinaca Access road, at km 396 of the James Bay Road. The sign says no unauthorized vehicles allowed. But even though the sign says no access, there is no patrol of any kind. It is possible to drive to the Opinaca réservoir and La Sarcelle.Rough road. Click here for a map.
Activities for Families & Children
  • This is not a "Family & Children" destination. There's nothing specifically geared towards children up here.
  • Older children may be interested in the hydro generating station tours (see Radisson & Chisasibi).
  • The native communities of the region may have something to offer that would interest children (for example, a night in a teepee). But I have no specific info about this.
  • Robert Bourassa power station and dam tour. English-speaking tours are available on special request. You may have to wait a day or two for a tour, so it's best to book ahead (say, from the Km 6 checkpoint on the James Bay Road or earlier). (819) 638-8486, 1-800-291-8486. For more info, see the Hydro-Quebec Project page.

  • Self-drive tour. You may explore most of the roads in the vicinity of the dam. If you are birdwatcher, check out the La Grande River where the water exits from the power station. Fish get sucked into the intakes for the power station and are often mangled (ie, injured or killed) during their passage through the generators. The gulls and terns love it! Not so great for the fish, though.

  • Boat tours of the Robert Bourassa Reservoir.

  • Robert A. Boyd Historical Site - a reconstruction of the first exploration camp. Across the La Grande River. (819) 638-6673.

  • There are some walking trails in the area. Ask at the Tourist Info building.

  • Visit Chisasibi, the LG1 hydro-electric station, and James Bay about 90 km to the west. See below.

  • Drive to the garbage dump south of Radisson to look at bears (km 579 of the James Bay Road)


  • Drive to the very end of the Chisasibi Road, which ends at the La Grande River.

  • Drive to James Bay - see the maps and guide below for details. James Bay is a very flat place - all you can see out there are low islands. Most of the islands have no trees, and there are large areas of bare rock. Its beauty is in its remoteness. James Bay is part of the Arctic Ocean. Yet the water is only faintly salty here, because of the number of large rivers that drain into it. There are noticeable tides.

  • Tour the LG-1 power station and dam. Phone (819) 638-8486 or 1-800-291-8486. You must reserve ahead of time. English-speaking tours may be available (?). For more info, see the Hydro-Quebec Project page.

  • Drive to James Bay via LG-1, taking the road to Longue Pointe (unpaved) - see the maps and guide below for details.




  • There are very few places to hike in this region. There are only a few short trails, none long enough to justify backpacking. If you want to backpack you're pretty well stuck going off trail through the bush.
  • The best place for hiking is Mont Laurier, at km 10 of the James Bay Road.
  • Here is a list:
    • Matagami - There is a 3.5km hiking trail along the Bell River, with an observation tower.
    • Mont Laurier - This is a low mountain at km 10 of the James Bay Road, on the north side of the Road (the road runs east-west here). The top of the hill is at an altitude of 1550 ft (about 480 m), a climb of 565 ft (about 185 m). You can climb to the top via trails and enjoy a magnificent view of Matagami's surroundings. There is a network of trails surrounding the hill, and extending to km 18.  A straight hike up and back would take about 1.5-2 hours. For more info click here.
    • Km 162 of the James Bay Road - there's a nice trail (but short) to the top of a nearby ridge on the west side of the Road. The view from the top is well worth the short climb!
    • Broadback River - there's a short trail leading from the rest stop on the James Bay road, upstream about 1/4 mile. There are interpretive signs and an overlook of some rapids. A very nice short walk.
    • Rupert River - there's a trail along the north side of the river from the James Bay Road. It leads to a viewing platform overlooking the spectacular rapids. A must-see!
    • Radisson - there's a few short walking trails on the edge of town.
    • Opinaca River, at km 411 of the James Bay Road. Can't really hike much here, but get out of the car and look at the falls that are almost under the bridge. You can (carefully) climb down to beside the river.
  • If you strike out across country, please be VERY careful. The land here is generally undifferentiated, with few landmarks, and it is very easy to get lost. And since there's so little traffic, you can't rely on listening for traffic to find your way back to the road.
  • Other places to hike are along old roads that are not driveable. You'll see these snaking off into the bush here and there.
  • There's really nowhere to cycle that's worthwhile. Don't bother with your bicycles on this trip. Unless you are traveling by bicycle in this region of course!
Canoeing & boating
  • This is canoeing country. It's how the native people of this land got around for thousands of years. Some of the rivers are big, so plan ahead and be very aware of the rapids. Whitewater jocks take heed! The rapids of the Rupert River are not to be trifled with or approached with anything but caution and respect. Some of them will quickly kill you.
  • There are quite a few boat launching ramps along all the roads

North Road access:

  • km 77: From here you can reach the Rupert River & Mistassini Lake by canoe, and then paddle down the Great Rupert! Or stay on the "South branch", the Natastan River until Lac de La Passe, portage your way through the Marteen River waters and paddle back to the road at Km 177. Or keep going over the Natastan River until the end, paddle all Lac Mesgouez and come out at Km 221.
  • km 177: Marteen River. By paddling downstream from here, you can reach the Rupert River after a week or so of paddling.

Rupert River:

Bird watching
  • One of the best places to see birds is at the outlets from the huge dam and hydro station at Radisson. Find your way down to the river where the outlet is located and watch. Lots of gulls and terns. Fish get sucked into the intakes for the power station and are often mangled (ie, injured or killed) during their passage through the generators. The gulls and terns love it! Not so great for the fish, though.
  • Along the James Bay coast you may observe other sea, water, and shore birds.
  • You will of course observe various species of birds whenever you stop along the road. Some times of the year you will see grouse sitting along the gravel shoulders of the James Bay Road.
Wildlife (other than birds)
  • Drive to the garbage dump south of Radisson to look at bears (km 579 of the James Bay Road)
  • From time to time you may see an animal sprinting across the road you're driving on, particularly along the North Road or Trans-Taiga Road, as these roads are more remote than others. On one trip I saw young wolves playing on the road, a fisher running across the road, and a fox. Also a porcupine that behaved as if it had never seen a human before (which is quite possible).
Hunting & fishing
  • This is big hunting and fishing country. There are numerous outfitters in fly-in camps, and a few along the Trans-Taiga Road. There are many designated fishing spots along the James Bay Road. Unfortunately, I'm not a hunter or a fisher, so I can't tell you much more than this. Sorry!
  • There are quite a few boat launching ramps along all the roads
  • Licenses are required everywhere. Many parts of this region are under the control of Native organizations, so be sure to find out who you need to obtain a license from beforehand.
  • There's a number of interesting wildflowers along the trail at the Broadback River (see above Hiking section).
  • There are numerous interesting bogs and muskeg areas to check out along the roads.
  • You can also just simply stop along the road somewhere and go exploring.
  • Otherwise simply keep your eyes open.
  • But be careful of getting lost if you go off the road into the forest.


Matagami    Waskaganish    Nemaska    Eastmain    Wemindji    Chisasibi    Radisson

The material on this page is copyright © by the original author/artist/photographer. This website is created, maintained & copyright © by Walter Muma
Please respect this copyright and ask permission before using or saving any of the content of this page for any purpose

Thank you for visiting!