Wood River Wilderness

Imagine a magical and majestic mountain setting with towering peaks, lush forests and pristine lakes teeming with fish. A place where ancient trees preside over wildlife corridors, critical for the endangered mountain caribou, mountain goat and grizzly bears. A rare and special ecosystem home to 305 species at risk.

We’d like to introduce you to the Wood River Wilderness—a proposed wilderness area commemorating the Athabasca Pass route through the Rockies, long used by First Nations for trade and travel. In 1811, David Thompson, traveling with indigenous guides, crossed the Rockies into the Columbia Valley. His explorations eventually followed the entire 2000km Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean.

The Wood River Wilderness, at roughly 50 square kilometres, would incorporate the upper Wood, Pacific and Jeffrey watersheds, including the Athabasca Heritage Trail from Athabasca Pass down to a few kilometres upstream of the Wood Arm of Kinbasket Reservoir. The area is remote, even by Canadian Rocky Mountain standards, and represents an ecosystem more akin to BC’s coastal forest than to the high and dry country associated with the Rocky Mountains. Cedars, hemlock and spruce dominate this Rocky Mountain rainforest, rich in lichens, moss and ferns, while the alpine tundra and glaciers above are surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the Canadian Rockies. Mountain caribou, wolverines, grizzly bears, moose and mountain goats roam this remote wilderness, only very rarely encountering humans.

A Rocky Mountain rainforest in the Wood River. Photo by Kari Medig.

The Wood River Wilderness would not only preserve the historic Athabasca Trail, it would protect a wilderness and an experience still unchanged two centuries after David Thompson first crossed the Rockies.

There are few places remaining where those of us immersed in modern life can actually experience time travel or the closest parallel. Ancient trees still bear blaze marks from 200 years ago. Here, as in no other place, travellers follow in the footsteps of the explorers and First Nations people, seeing the same things they saw, experiencing a wild landscape rich with Canadian history.

Painting by Joseph Cross.

Latest news related to Wood River Wilderness

Selenium in the Elk Valley: Are we locking in centuries of water pollution?

Late last month, Teck Coal announced plans to shut down their Line Creek water treatment plant. The plant…

Art for Mountain Caribou: An interview with Grant Smith & Online Art Auction

Place your bids here. Grant Smith is a Kimberley artist and retired art teacher. When Grant first moved…

Supreme Court decision on Qat'muk: What's next?

After years in court, the Ktunaxa Nation suffered their final loss last week in their legal case to stop the proposed Jumbo Glacier Resort—but it won’t be the end of their efforts to protect Qat’muk

Wildsight disappointed in Supreme Court decision on Jumbo Glacier Resort

Wildsight is deeply saddened by the Supreme Court ruling today that fails to recognize indigenous spiritual rights connected…

Selenium in the Elk Valley: Teck's $1.4M fine highlights long-term problems

On Oct. 5, Teck pleaded guilty and was fined $1.4M under the Fisheries Act for releasing pollution…

Read More News

Join The Team

Want to protect wildlife, clean water and wild spaces? Volunteer with us! Wildsight volunteers are a very special group of people who give generously of their time to stuff envelopes, attend rallies, help run events, put up posters, keep tabs on forestry practices in their communities and participate in citizen science initiatives.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES