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.

Conservation News

Their scientific classification is Oreamnos americanus. To the Ktunaxa First Nation living in the valleys below them, they are known as kyanukxu. While we call…Read More 
Recently my four-year-old daughter and I went for a hike to the Butte, a local favourite here in Kimberley. The Butte is located…Read More 
One year has passed since the release of A New Future for Old Forests, a thorough provincial old growth report, yet little has been done…Read More 
A new scientific paper, Habitat loss accelerates for the endangered woodland caribou in western Canada, released by some of North America’s preeminent caribou researchers…Read More 
 Mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) are an iconic species that both represent and require wilderness. Approximately half of the world’s mountain goats reside within…Read More 
Proposed logging in the Columbia Wetlands threatens the internationally recognized wetlands and the wildlife that call them home. Wildlife are in decline around the province. If we can’t prioritize wildlife in a wildlife management area, where are they a priority?Read More 
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