Efforts to designate portions of the Denetiah area as provincial or federal park have been ongoing since the late 1960s. In 1967, the Northern Recreation Survey identified the Dall and Denetiah Lakes, as an area possessing outstanding recreational value situated in remote wilderness of stunning beauty. Recreation reserves were established around Denetiah and Dall Lakes in 1968 and 1970. The area was included as an Area of Interest (AOI) to the Protected Area Strategy in 1994. The Fort Nelson Land and Resource Management Plan (1997) later confirmed the importance of protected status for this area.
Denetiah Park falls within the traditional territory of the Kaska Dena and Tahltan First Nations. Although there is limited documented information, the area has high potential for cultural and heritage resources.
Modern man’s history within Denetiah is characterized by long-term trapping and prospecting and brief periods of gold mining. Other important historical events include the development of the Davie Trail which was the main travel route to the Klondike, a cattle drive of 500-600 head along the Davie Trail from Vanderhoof to the Klondike (ca. 1900) and the use of the Kechika River to transport furs to Lower Post. An advance party from the Bedaux expedition (1934) that attempted to establish an east-west route through the Northern Rocky Mountains crossed the Rocky Mountains at Sifton Pass and may have travelled through the area on route to Telegraph Creek.
Denetiah Park provides representation of the Kechika Mountains and Cassiar Ranges ecosections. The area is characterized by moderate relief with long, thin lakes and boreal forest situated in wide, U-shaped valleys. Lakes have sand-pebble beaches. Peaks and glaciers have been sharply carved by glaciers, of which only a few small ones remain. Extensive areas of contiguous alpine areas cover the high areas. Mountains from the western portion of the park are from the Stikine Ranges, those in the middle represent the Kechika Ranges and mountains east of the Kechika River are located in the Muskwa Ranges.
The Kechika Ranges are composed largely of Precambrian and Paleozoic sedimentary rocks that have been carved and shaped by glaciation. Exposures of Precambrian age rocks, and quartzite, pebble, conglomerate, siltstone, slate and shale of Lower Cambrian age are found in cliffs that surround Denetiah and Dall lakes. The advance of the last ice-sheet in a northeast direction deposited glacial erractics south of Denetiah Lake. Denetiah Lake was first created by a valley glacier and then later partially filled in and dammed by glacial debris. There is high geological and mineral variety around Denetiah Lake and quartz sand beach lies at its southwestern end.
Denetiah and Dall Lakes are the main hydrological features. The Kechika River was designated as a BC Heritage River in 1996 for its outstanding ecological and wilderness recreation values. All drainages in the park drain into the Liard River and via the Mackenzie River into the Arctic Ocean. Denetiah Park falls within a large undeveloped watershed that includes the Turnagain and Kechika Rivers and all of their tributaries; it is the largest unroaded and undeveloped watershed south of 60 degrees latitude in BC.
Three biogeoclimatic zones occur within this wilderness park. The Boreal White and Black Spruce zone is found in the valleys of the Kechika and Dall Rivers. The Spruce Willow Birch zone is located at higher elevation along Denetiah Creek and the Alpine Tundra zone is found at the highest elevations.
A variety of wildlife inhabits this northern mountain landscape. The area provides high quality habitat for moose, caribou, stone sheep and mountain goat. The abundance of prey supports predator species such as wolves and grizzly and black bears. The best stone sheep habitat in the world is located immediately north and south of Denetiah Park.
The Rocky Mountain Trench is an important migration corridor for many bird species, especially waterfowl. There are staging and nesting areas for swans.
Fish inventories in Dall Lake have identified bull trout, lake trout, lake whitefish, northern pike, dolly varden, arctic grayling, round whitefish, long nose sucker and slimy sculpin. Denetiah Lake has mountain whitefish, long nose sucker, slimy sculpin and rainbow trout. Dall and Denetiah are low productivity lakes, with fish exhibiting slow growth and late maturation. As a result, fish populations are easily overfished. Please be prudent and refer to the current BC Environment Fishing Regulations Synopsis. Anglers can fish for arctic grayling, bull trout and whitefish in the Kechika River.