© Northern BC Tourism/Andrew Strain, and Ryan Dickie
Slow down and enjoy the ride in Canada’s Rockies
The section of highway between Fort Nelson, B.C., and Watson Lake, AB, plays host to a world of adventure. Known as the Serengeti of the North, part of the Northern Rockies’ attraction is the wildlife viewing possibilities—the quantity of species living in the region makes this region a nature enthusiast’s dream destination.
Located within the Aurora Oval, this region gets spectacular views of the northern lights, a bucket list experience for travellers worldwide. As well, the Alaska Highway has always been one of the great wild corridors of North America. You’re almost guaranteed to come across wildlife during your travels in this region, from wood bison to caribou, elk, bears, and stone sheep, among a host of other mammals and birds. Though majestic and awe-inspiring, travellers must keep a few tips in mind during their adventures through the backcountry.
Into the Wild
The Alaska Highway is animal territory, a natural northern wilderness where we are the guests. The animals, of course, have the right of way—creatures like the wood bison, the largest animals in North America, can weigh up to 2,000 pounds!—but in general, be sure to keep a safe distance between yourself and the wildlife you come across on your adventures.
Adventurers seeking wildlife will have the best luck in the mornings and evenings when the day is at its coolest. Local nature photographer Ryan Dickie shares that wildlife spotting can be a game of chance, as animals move to the beat of their own drum. If you’re looking to capture candid photography of wildlife on the move, have your camera ready—the perfect photo moment is often fleeting!
There are also countless areas to watch wildlife while indulging in some of nature’s most rejuvenating experiences, like The Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park, accessible year-round. The spring’s unique ecosystem attracts hundreds of species, including birds, mammals, and fish.
The region is also home to the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area (M-KMA), one of the largest tracts of wilderness in B.C., roughly the size of Ireland, that works to protect the natural environment and wilderness. Here, the focus is on maintaining the diversity, quality, and abundance of wildlife. Enjoy the protected area as you drive through the northern portion on the Alaska Highway or adventure deeper into nature on a hike, float plane, off-road route or horse.
The Highway to History
The Alaska Highway, one of the world’s most iconic roadways, was built to support the efforts of World War II and connect mainland U.S.A. to Alaska. Constructed in just eight months, building this highway was no easy feat, with soldiers and crew enduring extreme weather and working conditions.
Spanning 2,237 kilometres, every part of this Highway is steeped in beauty and history. Local Indigenous communities provided surveyors and construction crews with invaluable knowledge and experience to make this construction feat possible.
A must-see pit stop on your trip includes a tour of the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum. While visiting Fort Nelson and the Northern Rockies, immerse yourself in the history of the local Indigenous communities who have occupied the lands of northeast British Columbia for tens of thousands of years.
Leave plenty of time to stop, wander, and take in the view—there’s much to see in the northern wild.
The allure of the Northern Rockies will have you dreaming of your next trip. There are plenty of ways to keep you inspired and planning for an escape to this spectacular area in Northern BC.