Picture a thick forest wilderness without roads, signs, landing strips, or buildings.
Historically, trails and rivers were the main transportation routes for First Nations in the Fort Nelson area, who hunted, fished, and gathered materials from the abundant wilderness surroundings. First Nations people also used materials at hand to make tools and built homes. Check out the Fort Nelson Museum to learn more.
Such a bountiful wilderness was bound to attract interest, and fur traders were the first European explorers drawn to the northeast corner of British Columbia. The Northwest Trading Company established the first fur trading post in the Fort Nelson area in 1805, using local rivers as main transportation routes. A series of five trading posts were built as earlier ones were burned or abandoned. In 1865, the Hudsons Bay Company built a fur trading post at Fort Nelson near the present day airport. Visitors can tour the original Hudson's Bay store, which was moved to the Fort Nelson Museum.
The north remained largely isolated from development in the early 1900's until the early 1940's. In 1942, the Second World War precipitated a need for a route from Northern British Columbia to Alaska. The US Army built the Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek to Alaska in just eight months. The Alaska Highway, first known as the Alcan Highway (for Alaska-Canada), changed life in the north forever. Today, the Alaska Highway is a living legacy of World War II. Travel along the Alaska Highway from Fort Nelson north to the Yukon border and watch for incredible wildlife.
Muskwa-Kechika Management Area
In the 1990s, industry, conservation organizations, governments, First Nations, and others worked together to plan for land use in the region. Fort Nelson was one of three planning regions that was identified as a key wilderness area, and agreed it needed sustainable management into the future.
In 1997, the BC government designated the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area (M-KMA) as a special wilderness area to be maintained forever. Just a small part of the M-KMA is accessible to vehicle travel. There are a number of routes designated for ATV travel, or travel along the Alaska Highway from Tetsa River to Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park.