From Queen Charlotte City , Graham Island’s main road follows the eastern coastline past the ferry terminal and Haida Gwaii Museum to the Haida community of Skidegate Village, from where it’s a pleasant 65-kilometer (40-mile) coastal drive to the logging town of Port Clements and then 40 kilometers (25 miles) to Masset .
While totem poles and other ancient Haida art can be seen in various places around the islands, the Haida Heritage Centre (250/559-4643, daily 10 a.m.–6 p.m. in summer, Tues.–Sat. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. the rest of the year, adult $12, child $5), on the north side of the Skidegate Landing ferry terminal, allows visitors the opportunity to see a variety of such art in one place.
Each of the five traditional longhouses has a theme—the Greeting House, comprising the reception area and a gift shop; the Eating House, a café serving traditional food, the Performing House, which hosts special performances, and two longhouses filled with displays of striking Haida wood and argillite carvings, pioneer artifacts, a beautiful woven blanket, jewelry, historic black-and-white photos, stunning prints by Haida artist Robert Davidson, ancient totems from Tanu and Skedans dating to 1878, the skull of a humpback whale, shells galore, and a collection of stuffed birds.
In the Bill Reid Teaching Centre, the fantastic 15-meter-long canoe Loo Taas (which means “Wave Eater”) takes center stage. The striking red-and-black vessel was commissioned for Expo86 in Vancouver , after which it was paddled to the Queen Charlottes .
Between late April and early June, migrating gray whales rest and feed on shallow gravel bars of Skidegate Inlet in front of the museum on their annual 15,000-kilometer (9,300-mile) odyssey between Mexico and Alaska. Behind the museum a wooden deck overlooking the water is a great vantage point for watching these magnificent creatures, or continue a few hundred yards farther around the bay and search them out from the roadside.
Continuing north from Haida Heritage Centre you’ll soon come to Skidegate Village, a Haida reserve of 700 residents. A weathered totem pole, over 100 years old, still stands here, as well as six newer ones. Facing the beach is a traditional longhouse where local artisans fashion miniature totem poles, argillite ornaments, and jewelry in traditional designs.
From Skidegate, the road follows the shoreline of Hecate Strait, past driftwood-strewn beaches, an attractive old graveyard, and Balance Rock, one kilometer (0.6 miles) north of Skidegate Village. A highway sign and turnout mark the start of a short trail down to the rock. Continuing north, the scenery becomes rural, as the road skirts land cleared by early settlers for cattle-grazing; watch for black-tailed deer in this area. Near Lawn Hill look for tree stumps that have been carved into the shapes of animals and birds.
Just north of Tlell is the southern tip of Naikoon Provincial Park. While the park’s main entrance  is farther north out of Masset , visitors exploring the Tlell area will find interesting things to see and do here in the park’s south end as well. The main attraction down here is the wreck of the Pesuta, a wooden log barge that ran aground in 1928.
To get there, park at the picnic area on the north side of the Tlell River and follow the river to its mouth, then walk north along the beach. It’s about six kilometers (3.7 miles) each way. Keen hikers may want to attempt the East Beach Hike, a 94-kilometer (58-mile) trail that leads all the way north from the Tlell River to Tow Hill via Rose Spit.
Misty Meadows Campground, immediately north of park headquarters, is uncrowded and costs only $15 per site for one of 30 scenic campsites. Facilities include a picnic area and pit toilets.