Where the Wild Things Are: Your Guide to Exploring the Northern Rockies

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A Caribou cow with her calf along the Alaska Highway at Muncho Lake, in the Northern Rockies of B.C. © Andrew Strain

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. The Alaska Highway is one of the largest lasting impacts of World War II infrastructure in North America and is still one of the great wild corridors. 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. 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, which is accessible year-round. The spring’s unique ecosystem is home to birds, mammals, and fish, including those only found here.

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 maintain the globally significant wilderness, wildlife, ecosystems and cultures in perpetuity. Here, the focus is on supporting the diversity, quality, and abundance of wildlife. Enjoy the protected area as you traverse through the Northern Rockies. Stay on the highway or adventure deeper into nature on a hike, float plane, off-road route, horse or by paddle.

northern rockies
© Courtesy of Tourism Northern Rockies

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.

The Northern Rockies offers the kind of jaw-dropping scenery and storied history that will have you asking why you haven’t visited before. Tucked up in the northeastern corner of British Columbia, the Northern Rockies is waiting to be explored. Majestic mountains, jade-coloured lakes, amazing wildlife, and welcoming towns—it’s a travel experience guaranteed to be like none other. In any season, make sure to have appropriate equipment and safety plans for your adventures and check in at the Fort Nelson Visitor Centre for local information. Leave plenty of time to stop, wander, and take in the view—there’s much to see in the northern wild.

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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.

 

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