There’s a new All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) that lets you get up to 70 mph on rock-strewn terrain, launch into parachute-assisted flight and swoop over 10,000 foot peaks.
Off-road the Alaska Highway in Northern BC. To land one of these wild rides, though, you’re going to need $120K. The $100-a-day alternative: Celebrate the Alaska Highway’s 75th by renting an ATV and off-roading its wilderness, starting in Northern BC. BC’s sprawling Northern Rockies region is untamed. Paved highways join its communities while backcountry gravel roads connect valleys, lakes and rivers.
The routes outside Fort Nelson vary from easy to difficult, with large boulders, loose gravel, steep climbs, deadfall trees, dried up creeks and raging rivers. Off-roading provides unparalleled access to the region in its most primitive form. Northern BC’s friendly off-road tour operators can give you lessons, guides and equipment. Some provide accommodations and meals. All have good maps, GPS systems, communications, ropes, winches, safety equipment and first aid. They’ll take your group on half-day, full-day and multi-day ATV wilderness camping trips.
Off-road the Alaska highway: Muskwa-Kechika
The Muskwa-Kechika Management Area (M-KMA) in Northern BC is approximately twice the size of Vancouver Island. Home to some of the greatest diversity and abundance of wildlife, the M-KMA is one of the last great remnants of the vast wilderness that once existed across North America. Motorized access in the Muskwa-Kechika is restricted to specific, designated routes called “Access Management Area (AMA routes). These routes are for 4×4’s, ATV’s, snowmobiles and also horseback riding. Here are five we recommend:
1. Wokkpash Corridor
Location: Mile 382 (km 619) of the Alaska Highway
Approach: 157 kms northwest of Fort Nelson, inside Stone Mountain Provincial Park, about 11 kms past Summit Lake campground. Just before arriving at the turnoff you will pass a highway lodge; start looking for the blue highway sign indicating a motorized vehicle route to the left, which is the Wokkpash Corridor (also known as the Churchill Mine Road).
Description: Off-road the Alaska Highway in Wokkpash Corridor. Several un-bridged creek crossings: One at McDonald Creek, one at Wokkpash Creek, and one at Racing River. For just over one half of this route full sized, 4×4 vehicles are allowed with the other half restricted to within 400m of each side of the trail.
2. Yedhe Creek Trail
Location: Mile 424 (km 687) of the Alaska Highway. Historical Mile 443.
Approach: Turn left (south) off the Alaska Highway 225 kms northwest of Fort Nelson just in front of the Petersen Creek bridge, inside Muncho Lake Provincial Park. Continue through the gravel pit until you reach a bridge spanning the Toad River (also known as the Davis Keyes bridge). This is the extent of normal 4×4 vehicle access. From this point on, the route is only open to ATV’s and snowmobiles, and to within 400 m of each side of the trail.
Description: Off-road the Alaska Highway in Yedhe Creek Trail. Cross the bridge and take a sharp right onto the Yedhe Creek Trail, which will continue for a few kms before reaching a fork. Take the left trail to access Yedhe Creek, branch off along another valley to the south, and end up in the mountains. Take the right trail at the fork down to and through the McDonald First Nations Reserve at Moose Lake. Continue past the lake to Belcher Creek.
3. West Toad Corridor
Location: Mile 425 (km 689) of the Alaska Highway
Approach: Turn left (south) off the highway 227 kms northwest of Fort Nelson just after the closed service station “The Village,” inside Muncho Lake Provincial Park. The access road is quite difficult to find as it drops off the side of the road very quickly and is generally not very visible. If the highway has started to turn north and you’re climbing a hill, you’ve gone too far.
Description: Off-road the Alaska Highway in West Toad Corridor. This trail is a full sized 4×4 route for its entire length but travel to each side of the route is restricted to within 10 m. There’ll be two main creek crossings, one near the beginning at Tandzie Creek and another across the West Toad. A few kilometres in you’ll pass through an outfitter’s lodge site on your way to the end of the route at Moose Lake.
4. Nonda Creek Corridor
Location: Mile 409 (km 658) of the Alaska Highway
Approach: Turn right off the highway less than 1 km past the Muncho Lake Provincial Park entrance sign about 201 kms northwest of Fort Nelson. Turn on the same road as where a blue sign points to “Stone Mountain Safaris”.
Description: Off-road the Alaska Highway in Nonda Creek Corridor. This route is a full sized 4×4 route for its entire length with travel restricted to within 400m of either side of the trail. Less than a km along the route take a left at the fork to drive up to the viewpoint at the Nonda radio tower. (The right fork leads to an outfitter’s lodge and ranch.) The route will lead you past some low points running beside Nonda Creek then veer off and eventually come out above the tree line for a panoramic view of the mountains of the Sentinel Range.
5. Liard River Corridor
Location: Mile 478 (km 774) of the Alaska Highway
Approach: Turn right off the highway just after going over the Liard River
suspension bridge and before reaching the Liard River Hotsprings
Provincial Park. This is about 313 kms northwest of Fort Nelson on
the Alaska Highway.
Description: Off-road the Alaska Highway in Liard River Corridor. 2k down the road, take the right fork to where you can get a good view of the Liard River. The left fork leads you onto the main part of the trail where you will follow the Liard River downstream for around 13 kms. You will eventually reach an outfitter’s lodge. From this point, motorized travel is restricted to ATV’s or snowmobiles and within 400 m on either side of the trail. Continuing on you will pull away from the Liard River, cross over the Deer River, pass by Nordquist Lake, and reach the end of the motorized route in about another 6 kms.
- Off-roaders should always have a good backcountry map book. If none available then they should check in with the local off-roading clubs for road accessibility.
- Always check the weather, as it can be severe and unpredictable.
- Some of the remote multi day off-roading adventures include wilderness camping in the middle of nowhere. Always let someone know where you are going and when you are expected to return!
- The many marked and unmarked gravel roads in forested valleys and up mountainsides service the forest industry. Logging trucks use the gravel roads to transport logs. When traveling these roads, always pull over to the side when logging trucks approach to avoid flying rocks and massive dust clouds that will limit your visibility.