Covering an area marginally smaller than Ireland, this northeastern B.C. territory is named for its two major rivers, both part of the Mackenzie River watershed. The Muskwa meanders 257 kilometres north, gathering along the way the waters of the Prophet, Tuchodi, Gatho and Tetsa. The 230-kilometre-long Kechika rises in the south-central portion of the territory and merges with the Gataga River wending its way north through the wide valleys of the Rocky Mountain Trench.
A few barely maintained resource roads penetrate the territory’s fringes, and only one highway, a 230-kilometre stretch of the Alaska Highway from Steamboat Mountain to Liard River Hot Springs, runs through it. As it should be, all other travel is by air, water or along the network of horse trails, many of which have been in use for well over a century.
Close to 2,000 grizzlies roam the 6.4 million hectares of the Muskwa-Kechika wilderness, and unlike bears living closer to civilization, they’re not addicted to garbage bins and town dumps. Then there are the 4,000 caribou, 7,000 Stone’s sheep, 15,000 elk, 22,000 moose and untold numbers of deer, both whitetails and mulies. For all of them, this protected wilderness tract is critical, providing sanctuary from the steady encroachment of humans.
Though this land where boreal forests meet the mountains is ancient, the framework that strives to keep it wild in the face of unrelenting pressure from ore, oil and gas exploration is less than two decades old. Forged out of the shared concern of hunters, anglers, outfi tters, guides, conservationists and First Nations leaders, the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area was sanctified by government decree in 1998.
And so the territory remains wonderfully wild, possibly in part because of its remoteness and the fact there are no serviced campgrounds, no maintained trails and no interpretation centres. Local outfitters provide services, lodging, guides and transport for a hefty fee, but the real adventure is to grab the reins yourself and head deep into the heart of this wilderness on horseback, following the old trails through high mountain passes, fording rivers and making camp where day’s end finds you.
To find out more about fishing and hunting opportunities in this wilderness area, contact the following organizations
Liard Air Service, Muncho Lake: 1-800-663-5269, (250) 776-3481; North Rockies Lodge
Jet Boat Shuttle on the Muskwa and Tuchodi Rivers
Riverjet Adventures: (604) 463-7224