Guide to Exploring the Northern Rockies

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Northern Rockies Lodge in Muncho Lake Provincial Park on the Alaska Highway

Rich in history, majestic in nature, the northern stretch of the Alaska Highway through the Northern Rockies offers sprawling vistas of rugged peaks, glacier-fed rivers, and crystal clear lakes. Often described as the “Serengeti of the North,” this remote wilderness makes a veritable theatre for nature and wildlife viewing and is not to be missed.

Leave the crowds behind and hit the open road this summer—BC’s Northern Rockies are calling.

Fort Nelson Heritage Museum | Northern BC Tourism/Gabriel Munhoz

Fort Nelson

Start your Northern Rockies adventure at Historic Mile 300 in Fort Nelson. Take a step back in time at the Fort Nelson Historical Museum to learn about the construction of the highway more than 70 years ago and view a remarkable antique car collection. The Fort Nelson Visitor Centre staff will ensure you do not miss a thing on your adventure in both Fort Nelson and on your way onward into the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Grab a coffee and lunch at Down to Earth Health Shop before hitting the accessible Community Trail network, exploring the Demonstration Forest, or the Parker Lake Ecological Reserve. Stretch the legs with a round at Poplar Hills Golf and Country Club and take in stunning panoramic views of the mountains. After a day of exploration, cool down at the water spray park in Art Fraser Memorial Park. Shop for unique gifts and souvenirs at the Trapper’s Den Wildlife Emporium.

For RV travellers and car campers, Triple G Hideaway, a full service campground, restaurant and general store, is the perfect place to spend a couple nights while exploring the area, as is the Blue Bell Inn and RV Park, which also has affordable rooms in town.

If you’re looking for the ultimate in relaxation, fly in to the remote Elisi Spa & Wilderness Resort and enjoy a variety of activities including fishing, hiking, horseback riding, photo safaris, wildlife viewing and spa treatments.

Nonda Creek Valley | Andrew Strain
Wildlife Spotting on the Alaska Highway

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Steam Boat Mountain & Tetsa River

As you head into the Rocky Mountains from Fort Nelson, the Steam Boat Mountain pullout (large enough for an RV) offers the first spectacular vistas, as well as a kiosk of information about the Muskwa Kechika Management Area. Note that this is also the last cellular service until you reach the Yukon.

Muskwa-Kechika Adventures offers multi-day guided horseback expeditions through some of the most remote and untouched land in the province.

The Tetsa River Regional Campground offers campsites near the popular fishing spot. And be sure to stop at the Tetsa River Lodge for their famous cinnamon buns and artisan meats, (where you can also stay at a cabin or in their serviced campground).

Summit Peak Trail | Northern BC Tourism/Andrew Strain

Toad River

As you enter Stone Mountain Provincial Park, watch for Stone’s sheep, caribou, bears, and other unique wildlife native to the region. Summit Lake Provincial Campground—the highest point on the Alaska Highway—is the starting point for a long list of hiking trails, like the Summit Peak Trail (pictured), you can enjoy throughout the area.

Stay in Toad River at the Toad River Lodge or the Stone Mountain Safaris Lodge. Book a motorized adventure tour with Chischa River Adventures for panoramic mountain views and a chance to see elk, moose, caribou, and sheep in their natural habitat. Or, experience a guided backcountry hike to mountain valleys decorated with alpine meadows and lakes with Northern Rockies Fitness.

Muncho Lake | Andrew Strain

Muncho Lake

Known for its jade green colour, glacier-fed Muncho Lake offers a 12-kilometre-long stretch for paddling and fishing. Hike along its edges and take in the vista, viewing wildlife from shore.

Book a stay with Northern Rockies Lodge where you can experience a flight seeing tour through the mountains or to Virginia Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with Liard Tours. Northern Rockies Lodge also offers canoe and boat rentals, and stunning lakeside lodging. Be sure to gas up, grab a meal or a loaf of homemade bread at Double G Services, even if you’re not staying there.

Once you leave Muncho Lake, watch for Wood Bison as they are often enjoying a snack or taking a snooze on the sides of the highway.

Liard Valley along the Alaska Highway | Emanuel Smedbol

Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park

Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park provides ample opportunity for wildlife viewing—especially moose, which are year-round residents. In summer months, bulls, cows and calves can also be observed feeding on aquatic vegetation in the swamps.

The park also offers excellent campsites in the lush boreal forest. Before you go, do take note of any closures in place to protect the unique natural ecosystem during the COVID-19 crisis. You can also stay at the Liard Hot Springs River Lodge, an Indigenous-owned and -operated lodge and and full-service campground and restaurant.

Hiking the Northern Rockies | Andrew Strain

North to the Yukon border

On this last stretch of the Alaska Highway to the Yukon border, visit Smith River Falls, visible from the small parking area (it’s about 2.6 kilometres off the highway). This road is gravel and not recommended for large RVs and trailers. You can also take a short 500-metre hike down from the parking area to the base of the falls. Be careful as the path can be quite steep in places.

Once at the bottom, you will find a beautiful view of the two-tiered waterfall and fantastic Arctic Grayling fishing in the pool at the bottom of the falls. Fly fishing is recommended here in late summer.

Make sure to stop for a bison burger at Coal River Lodge & RV Park (the last place for supplies and gas before the Yukon), then head 10 kilometres up the highway to Whirlpool Canyon where there are unserviced, no-frills camping opportunities. In another 50 kilometres, stop at Allen’s Lookout for spectacular views of the Liard River.

After enjoying the unspoiled natural beauty of the Northern Rockies, enjoy your travels in the Yukon and complete the Great Northern Circle Route by heading down the Stewart-Cassiar Highway. Or, turn around and see the mountains from a whole new perspective on your drive back.

Feature Image: Northern Rockies Lodge. Photo: Megan McLellan

Mentioned in this story

Fishing, Sightseeing, Wildlife Tours, Cabins & Cottages, Hotels

Northern Rockies Lodge

Often referred to as the best place to stay on the Alaska Highway, the Northern Rockies Lodge is the newest and most impressive hotel in the Liard...

Phone: (250) 776-3481

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites

Fort Nelson Heritage Museum

The Fort Nelson Heritage Museum is situated just West of the historic Mile 300 milepost on the World Famous Alaska Highway. The museum is located...

Phone: (250) 774-3536

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Tetsa River Regional Park

Located 96 kms north of Fort Nelson, Tetsa River Regional Park offers 25 private, unserviced forested camp sites, day use area with picnic shelter...

Phone: (250) 774-7544

View Listing

Visitor Centres, Accessibility

Fort Nelson Visitor Information Centre

The Fort Nelson Visitor Information Centre is located at Mile 300 on the famous Alaska Highway. Stop in to get information, ask questions, use the...

Phone: (250) 774-2596

View Listing

Campgrounds & RV Parks

Triple "G" Hideaway Campground & Restaurant

Phone: (250) 774-2340

View Listing

Cabins & Cottages, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Tetsa River Lodge

Phone: (250) 774-1005

View Listing

Fishing, Hiking, Bed & Breakfasts

Stone Mountain Safaris Lodge

While staying at the lodge enjoy wildlife art, big game trophies, wildlife viewing, fishing, quiet evenings, snowmobile tours, big screen...

Phone: (250) 232-5469

View Listing

Campgrounds & RV Parks, Hotels

Coal River Lodge & RV

Phone: (250) 776-7306

View Listing

Fishing, Sightseeing, Wildlife Tours, Cabins & Cottages, Hotels

Northern Rockies Lodge

Often referred to as the best place to stay on the Alaska Highway, the Northern Rockies Lodge is the newest and most impressive hotel in the Liard...

Phone: (250) 776-3481

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites

Fort Nelson Heritage Museum

The Fort Nelson Heritage Museum is situated just West of the historic Mile 300 milepost on the World Famous Alaska Highway. The museum is located...

Phone: (250) 774-3536

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Tetsa River Regional Park

Located 96 kms north of Fort Nelson, Tetsa River Regional Park offers 25 private, unserviced forested camp sites, day use area with picnic shelter...

Phone: (250) 774-7544

View Listing

Visitor Centres, Accessibility

Fort Nelson Visitor Information Centre

The Fort Nelson Visitor Information Centre is located at Mile 300 on the famous Alaska Highway. Stop in to get information, ask questions, use the...

Phone: (250) 774-2596

View Listing

Campgrounds & RV Parks

Triple "G" Hideaway Campground & Restaurant

Phone: (250) 774-2340

View Listing

Cabins & Cottages, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Tetsa River Lodge

Phone: (250) 774-1005

View Listing

Fishing, Hiking, Bed & Breakfasts

Stone Mountain Safaris Lodge

While staying at the lodge enjoy wildlife art, big game trophies, wildlife viewing, fishing, quiet evenings, snowmobile tours, big screen...

Phone: (250) 232-5469

View Listing

Campgrounds & RV Parks, Hotels

Coal River Lodge & RV

Phone: (250) 776-7306

View Listing

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Brian Peech from Northern BC Tourism
WRITTEN BY: Brian Peech

Brian Peech is a content creator and producer at Northern BC Tourism. He spends his time exploring the wilds of BC’s north and getting to know its colourful characters. He enjoys camping, fishing, snowboarding, float planes and Bonnie’s famous buttered crab plate in Gingolx.