Dune Za Keyih
The 346,313 hectare Dune Za Keyih Provincial Park and Recreation Area, known for its spectacular scenery and diverse wildlife, is centered in British Columbia's Rocky Mountain Trench between Denetiah Provincial Park to the northwest and Kwadacha Wilderness Provincial Park to the southeast.
The park encompasses portions of the 250 kilometre Kechika River – BC's largest unlogged watershed. In 1996, the Kechika was designated a heritage river for its outstanding ecological and wilderness recreation values. It includes the Frog River, flowing from the Cassiar Mountains on the west side, and the Gataga River, merging from the northern Rockies to the east.
This remote wilderness park is a beautiful example of northern Rocky Mountain valley-bottom ecosystems. Because they feature milder climates and provide access to food and shelter during the harsh winter months, valley bottoms are very important havens for wildlife in this cold northern part of BC.
By protecting the confluence of three separate river valleys, as well as portions of each, Dune Za Keyih is a particularly important ecosystem. The area is untouched by roads or development, leaving nature to function virtually free of human influence. As a result, Dune Za Keyih Provincial Park has completely intact plant and animal communities.
For those who have extensive backcountry experience, this remote park is a beautiful and pristine place to visit. Recreational opportunities include canoeing, camping, fishing and hunting. Wildlife routes and guide-outfitter trails may provide horseback travel opportunities. There are no developed campsites in the park, but backcountry camping is permitted throughout the area. Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.
The Frog River is for experienced paddlers only. The Gataga River has an excellent seven day trip from the forks of the Upper Gataga to Terminus Mountain in Denetiah Provincial Park.
Those wishing to fish or hunt in the park are reminded that they must have the appropriate licence.
Dune Za Keyih Park and Recreation Area is a protected area in the heart of the larger Muskwa-Kechika wildland complex and located in the Kaska Dena people's traditional territory. The area was part of one of the routes to the Klondike gold fields in the late 1890s.
In 1970, a large comprehensive park in the Northern Rockies was originally suggested for protection. However, it was not until two decades later, that conservation results were achieved. When the Mackenzie Land and Resource Management Plan (LRMP) process convened in the late 1990s, a few visionary activists took the lead conservation role and in 2000 successfully negotiated several areas including Dune Za Keyih Park.
The wild country in the area has long been crucial to the lifestyle and culture of the local Kaska Dena First Nations. They played a crucial role both at the LRMP table and in other conservation efforts and were key in ensuring that this high quality wilderness area achieved park status. In recognition of this, the park’s original name – Frog-Gataga after its two main rivers – has now been translated into the local Kaska Dena language.
Location and access:
This park is in a very remote area of British Columbia, some distance east of the northern community of Fort Nelson. The park is hard to reach and very undeveloped. There are no roads into the park and thus access to it is difficult.
Access to the area is best accomplished via floatplane or helicopter. Jet boats can navigate up-river, but logjams often block the upper portions. The park does not have a boat launch.