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Horseback riders trot along a ridgeline with towering mountains in the backdrop, making them feel tiny in comparison.

Five Places in The Great Wilderness
That Make You Feel Small

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Muskwa-Kechika | Taylor Burk

 

From towering mountains to thundering waterfalls, rolling alpine plateaus to huge glacier-fed lakes, the sheer scale of The Great Wilderness is humbling. These natural wonders have a way of putting our lives into perspective and reminding us that everything is connected—a tenet of the Indigenous Peoples who have stewarded these vast lands for millennia.

There are few places in the world that remind you of your tiny place in the universe; where you can feel the lifeblood of the land coursing through you. In these magnificent moments, you feel as alive as the land itself.

Sloko Island in Áa Tlein Téix'i Provincial Park | Andrew Strain

Paddle The Biggest Natural Lake in BC

Áa Tlein Téix̱’i Park/Atlin

For the Taku River Tlingit, stewarding a territory that includes extraordinarily beautiful Atlin Lake and its encircling mountains is an essential part of their identity. While the town of Atlin rose to a brief period of fame when it saw an influx of roughly 10,000 gold-seekers during the Klondike Gold Rush, it’s glacier-fed Atlin Lake, one of the sources of the mighty Yukon River and the largest natural lake in BC, that’s the true treasure.

With its headwaters located in the T’akú Tlatsini Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area, the largest intact watershed on the Pacific coast of North America, Atlin Lake is legendary for its wilderness setting and for its wild weather. Experienced paddlers will find a dozen or so rustic campsites scattered among its islets and along the rugged shoreline, as well as views that include A X̲eegí Deiyí Shaa (Monarch Mountain), one of the mountains recently restored with its original Tlingit name. Boat-access hiking trails lead to expansive views of the Llewellyn Glacier—the second largest in the Juneau Icefield. And wildlife enthusiasts may spot grizzlies, moose, caribou, and even wolves.

Kinuseo Falls in Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark | Mike Seehagel

View Spectacular Kinuseo Falls

Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark

Whether frozen into a remarkable winter ice sculpture or plunging down 70 meters (230 feet) with a thunderous roar, Kinuseo Falls began captivating people long before tourists started detouring to the remote cascades in the 1930s. The Murray River cascades over 250 million-year-old marine siltstone and sandstone ledges to form the falls, taller than Niagara—a testament to the ancient mountain-building forces that shape the Tumbler Ridge UNESCO Global Geopark and make this region so remarkable.

Located in Monkman Provincial Park, a variety of trails—including one to an accessible platform—lead to Kinuseu Falls viewpoints. For those seeking an even more unique perspective, flightseeing and jet boat tours are available. With a name said to have been derived from a Cree word meaning “fish,” Kinuseo is just one of ten extraordinary waterfalls designated as park geosites. 

Muskwa-Kechika Adventures | Chris Gale

Journey Through the Largest Protected Area in North America

Muskwa-Kechika Management Area

Muskwa-Kechika offers the opportunity for guided horseback tours, canoeing, and hiking tours through a vast wilderness mosaic of subalpine and alpine areas, low-lying meadows, and fertile wetlands. Situated within the traditional territories of the Kaska-Dene First Nations, Treaty 8 First Nations, and the Tsay Keh Dene, the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area is 6.4 million hectares (almost 16 million acres)approximately the size of Ireland. It includes 17 parks and protected areas, 50 intact watersheds, and it supports a vibrant ecosystem. Here, bears, elk, caribou, moose, sheep, wolves, and a wide variety of bird species thrive.

Intrepid backpackers can tackle the Redfern Lake Trail or Sikanni River Trail, accessing backcountry campsites along the way. Anglers have the opportunity to fly into remote, off-grid lakes, while pack trips offer a unique way to experience the area’s rugged beauty. Thanks to its vast landscape and limited infrastructure, those who venture into this remote region are rewarded with the opportunity to embrace nature on its grandest scale.

Mount Robson | Owen Perry

Stand in the Shadow of the Highest Peak in the Canadian Rockies

Mount Robson Provincial Park

With Mount Robson’s towering presence as a constant companion, hikers on the Berg Lake Trail (temporarily closed; day hikes on the Kinney Lake Trail remain open) are reminded of the mountain’s immensity with almost every step. Known as Yuh-hai-has-kun by the Texqakallt Nation, which translates to “mountain of the spiral road” due to its geological layers, the dramatic peak (at 3,954 meters (13,ooo feet)) serves as an imposing backdrop to a winding trail that begins in the temperate rainforest and ascends past waterfalls and glacial lakes into the alpine. Along the way, hikers in the lower reaches might catch sight of deer, moose, elk, and black bears, while caribou, mountain goats, and Stone’s sheep can be spotted in the higher elevations.

One of the trail’s highlights is the close-up views of the Berg Glacier as it courses down the side of Mount Robson and calves icebergs into Berg Lake. This dramatic interplay of ice and silty-blue water creates breathtaking scenes that evolve with the ever-shifting light. Backpackers must obtain a permit from BC Parks and are required to watch an orientation video before setting off.

Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park | Andrew Strain

Hike The Largest Road-free Landscape in The Province

Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Park

Encompassing nearly 700,000 hectares (more than 1.7 million acres) and including the headwaters of the rugged Stikine River, Spatsizi Wilderness Park stands as one of Canada’s largest road-less conservation areas. Once a historic hunting ground for the Tahltan Nation, who named it Spatsizi or “land of the red goat” for the mountain goats that roll in the park’s red iron oxide dust, the vast landscape is a conservation stronghold for a diverse population of wildlife including woodland caribou, grizzly and black bears, beavers, hoary marmots, and a lush variety of birds. 

Characterized by rolling uplands, wide valleys, and weathered peaks such as Mount Will and Nation Peak, the park offers exceptional opportunities for multi-day hiking, canoeing, and horseback trips. Trails like the McEwan Trail, Eaglenest Creek Trail, and Gladys Lake Trail, though challenging, provide experienced adventurers with solitary access to an expansive and varied wilderness. Local guides and outfitters based in Iskut can provide the knowledge and experience required to venture into this wilderness area. Park facilities are limited and travellers are encouraged to research ahead of time and come prepared. The historic Cold Fish Camp hunting camp offers respite for weary travellers.

In The Great Wilderness, these wonders of nature stand as monuments to time and the forces and cultures that shaped them, offering a humbling reminder of our place in the world. As you stand at the crest of a mountain trail or paddle that final kilometer of river, you can’t help but somehow feel more complete. These moments of connection can be so profound they call to mind the deep wisdom and resilience of the Indigenous Peoples who have stewarded these territories for endless generations. The Great Wilderness is not just a place to visit; it’s a place to challenge yourself, to learn, and to know what it means to be interdependent. We can only thrive when the land does.

GETTING HERE

The scale of The Great Wilderness can sometimes be hard to grasp. There are several gateways into these awe-inspiring landsStarting on the West Coast of British Columbia, Prince Rupert is a Pacific Ocean port city accessible by both highway and BC Ferries. From here, you can travel north towards the Yukon and Alaska borders, or east towards the town of Terrace and northwestern BC. In the centre of BC, the outdoor-oriented city of Prince George is a base camp to the north, connecting to both Stewart-Cassiar Highway and Route 16. Those travelling into the Northern Rockies or to Tumbler Ridge can begin their trip at Dawson Creek (Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway), or further north in Fort St. John with frequent flights into the North Peace Regional Airport.

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