Located on the Stewart/Cassiar Highway at the junction with the road to Telegraph Creek, the town of Dease Lake was first established as a Hudson’s Bay trading post in 1838, and was once part of a major transportation route into the north for traders and trappers.
Dease Lake witnessed the discovery of gold by prospectors on the Stikine River in the 1860s, and was the centre of the gold rush on the Dease and Thibert Creeks in 1873. The fascinating history dates back a century to the Yukon Gold Rush and the ambitious plans for the Collins Overland Telegraph route from New York to Russia and Europe.
Dease Lake today is a government service and supply centre for the northwest region, and is a departure point for adventurers and paddlers who navigate the majestic Dease River, or hike and camp in the vast surrounding wilderness.
The extreme north of British Columbia offers the most awe-inspiring scenery in the entire province. When travelling the 570 kilometres south from the Hwy 37/Alaska Highway junction, visitors pass through two world-famous wilderness parks, Mount Edziza and Spatsizi Plateau. Winding through this region is the Stikine River, considered to be the lifeblood of the Tahltan First Nations people, for whom this ecological paradise is home.
The Dease River, from Dease Lake to Liard River, used to be one of the most important water highways in the province, and saw its last great use during the construction of the Alaska Highway. Nowadays, the river is experiencing a bit of a renaissance, as paddlers discover this 265-km waterway. It’s mostly Class l and ll, with some Class lll rapids. Expect to take about seven days to complete the one-way paddle.
Fishing: Broad Dease Lake and curvaceous Boya Lake offer angling for char and a variety of northern specialties, burbot and whitefish. Dease River, which flows north from Dease Lake through Boya Lake Provincial Park, and north to the Liard River, has good grayling fishing. Access is from the town of Dease Lake, from pullouts beside Hwy 37, and from Boya Lake Park’s boat ramp.
Camping: Organized camping is rather sparse in the great wilderness of the northwest. Allen Lake Forest Service recreation Site is a medium-sized campground located next to the town of Dease Lake, at the southern end of the lake.
River Rafting: If you’re looking for an unforgettable wilderness adventure with stunning scenery and a land teeming with diverse wildlife, why not try a whitewater rafting expedition.
River Whitewater Rafting in Northern British Columbia .
Recreation Sites: A rough Forest Service road runs southwest from Dease Lake, skirts the Grand Canyon of the Stikine River, and connects with the must-see town of Telegraph Creek. A few miles downriver from Telegraph Creek is a trio of Forest Service Recreation Sites on the banks of the Stikine: Glenora, Winter Creek and Dodjatin Creek.
Paddlers wishing to paddle the Stikine River can put in at Telegraph Creek, below the Grand Canyon of the Stikine, and kayak down to Stikine on the Alaska border, or continue on to Wrangell, Alaska in Alaska, where adventurers can take the Alaska Ferry service south to Prince Rupert. The latest customs policy prohibits the local float plane company from flying canoe parties back to BC from Wrangell, and US floatplanes cannot tie canoes on. Paddlers can arrange floatplane pickup on the BC side of the border, or jet boat charter backhaul from either the border or Wrangell. The United States now requires all persons crossing the BC/Alaska border to go into Wrangell to clear US Customs.
Stikine River Provincial Park protects a geological feature unparalleled in Canada. Eighty kilometres of steep-walled canyon, composed of sedimentary and volcanic rock, has been carved through eons of river erosion. In the bottom of this sometimes 300 metre deep chasm flows the wild and unnavigable Stikine River, which varies in width from 200 metres to as little as 2 metres at a point near the Tanzilla and Stikine confluence.
Horseback and floatplane are the two most common modes of transportation into Mount Edziza Provincial Park, but you can also hike in. Mowdade Lake Trail leads 24 km from the trailhead at Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park, but you’ll need a boat to cross the Iskut River at the trailhead. Further north, at Iskut, the Klastline River Trail follows the Klastline River to Buckley Lake. From here, the trail hooks up with the Buckley Lake Trail that leads into the park from Telegraph Creek. A trail runs from Mowdade Lake west to Coffee Crater, and then north, where it hooks up with the Buckley Lake Trail, though trail is perhaps too strong a word, as these are unmarked, uncleared, undeveloped…well, routes. From Mowdade Lake to Buckley Lake is approximately 60 km. Expect to take six to seven days to backpack in. Only experienced backcountry travellers should attempt these routes without an experienced guide.
Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park is the second-largest park in BC, at over 650,000 hectares. To get there, turn east off Hwy 37 onto the Ealue Lake Road at Tatogga Lake. Follow the road for 22 km, crossing the Klappan River, where it intersects the BC Rail Grade. The grade parallels the southwestern boundary of the park for 112 km, and is rough but driveable for most vehicles. From here, the park must be accessed by foot, horseback, or canoe. The two trails that lead into the park, the McEwan Creek Trail and the Eaglenest Creek Trail, follow well-marked routes and connect to a number of other trails. There are over 160 kms of trails in the park, with an old outfitter’s cabin available for public use at Cold Fish Lake.
A worthwhile side trip from Dease Lake is a drive to the beautiful little community of Telegraph Creek, and the opportunity for a river boat trip or tour on the Stikine River. Located on a terrace overlooking the Stikine River, one can step back in time in the Yukon Gold Rush town of Telegraph Creek, which gets its name from an overland telegraph line to the Yukon.
Named for the jade deposits found to the east of the high community, Jade City is located on the Stewart/Cassiar Highway (Hwy 37), 2 hours south of Watson Lake near the British Columbia/Yukon border, an hour south of Boya Lake Park, and 2 hours north of Dease Lake.
Circle Tours: See the best of Northern BC on one of the Circle Tours that capture the wonders of the north. The Circle Tour of Northern British Columbia incorporates the Alaska Highway through the Rocky Mountain foothills to Watson Lake in the Yukon, linking with the Stewart/Cassiar Highway and Yellowhead Highway 16 in the south. The Inside Passage Circle Tour and the Native Heritage Circle Tour follow the same route, from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island north by ferry to Prince Rupert. Catch another ferry to the Queen Charlotte Islands, or venture east on the Yellowhead Highway to Prince George, and south through the peaceful Cariboo to Vancouver along the historic Cariboo Wagon Road.
Circle Tours in British Columbia.