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Ancient Haida poles, Haida Gwaii
(Daryl Benson/Masterfile photo)

Northern British Columbia

Regional Geography

The raw beauty of an untouched land.

The vast wilderness of Northern BC comprises more than half the province – approximately 500,000 sq km/193,051 sq mi – with a geography said to have every arc in the circle of life.

World-famous Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) has a vibrant arts community equally as unique as the land's diverse ecology. These rugged islands are filled with ancient old-growth forests and coastal rocky scarps coated with cedar and spruce.

Crossing Hecate Strait to the mainland, the mountainous coast is home to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, Canada's first grizzly bear reserve. To the southeast another important tract of land is the Kitlope Heritage Conservancy – the largest, intact, coastal temperate rainforest in the world.

In the region's rugged interior, nothing matches the vast wilderness of northeastern BC's Muskwa-Kechika Management Area. Almost the size of Ireland, this 64,000-sq-km/24,711-sq-mi conservation area protects one of the world's largest remaining intact predator/prey systems outside of Africa.

Along the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16) you'll not only be travelling the north's only major east-west vehicle route, but tracing some of the north's principal rivers, such as the upper Fraser as well as the Skeena and its tributaries.

From the coast to the mountains to the foothills, Northern BC's Peace River valley is one of Canada's most productive grain-growing regions and is where two enormous hydroelectric dams fuel the province's energy needs. In the farming town of Dawson Creek, you'll find Mile Zero of the 2,395km/1,488mi Alaska Highway.