On This Page
Burnie-Shea Park and Burnie River Protected Area
Attention Visitors – Important Notice!
Snowmobiling prohibited in the northern portion of the park
The northern portion of this park is closed to snowmobiling, as indicated on the attached map [PDF].
About This Park
Burnie-Shea Provincial Park was established in 2008 as a result of the Morice Land and Resource Management Plan.
This 34,536 hectare park consists of a broad subalpine valley with extensive wetlands surrounded by rugged mountains. The dramatic peaks of the Howson Range, much of which is still extensively glaciated, rise to 2759 metres. These summits make up the western half of the park. Upper and Lower Burnie Lakes lie at the bottom of the deep U-shaped valley at 914 metres elevation, and drain southwest to the Burnie River. Shea Lake lies in a wetland complex just southeast of Lower Burnie Lake within the Telkwa Mountains, and flows southeast to the Morice River. A myriad of wetlands and small sinkhole lakes occupy the Tom George Plateau at the northeast end of the park.
The park provides excellent remote backcountry recreation opportunities including wildlife viewing, hiking, mountaineering, and skiing. Access is generally by helicopter or floatplane.
There is a commercial lodge at the north end of the park near the terminus of the Burnie Glacier.
Park size: 34,536 hectares
Date Established: May 29, 2008
Protected Area size: 2,345 hectares
Date Established:February 6, 2009
Know Before You Go
- This is a remote backcountry park with difficult access and minimal facilities. Visitors need to be self-reliant. Expect to encounter hazards such as avalanches, crevasses, and ice/rock fall in the mountainous and glaciated terrain. Other hazards include streams that can have large fluctuations in water levels due to snow and ice-melt on hot days, extreme fluctuations in weather conditions (e.g. snow in August), and wildlife encounters. Visitors should be well-prepared for these conditions.
Location and Maps
Please note: Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Maps and BrochuresThere is no road or trail access to Burnie-Shea Park. Access to the area is generally by helicopter, floatplane or on foot. It is a long hike in the summer and a longer ski in the winter. Skiers occasionally access the area via the Copper River Road or the Telkwa River Road. Shea Lake is more accessible, with a road located approximately 4 km east of the lake.
Nature and Culture
Burnie-Shea Park lies within the traditional territory of the Wet’suwet’en people. A long history of Wet’suwet’en use is evidenced by numerous cultural features within the park. Historic trails provided access through this area and a traditional cabin still exists at Shea Lake. The Wet’suwet’en continue to use this area.
The Howson Range has a history of mountaineering dating back to the 1950’s, when Rex Gibson, then president of the Alpine Club of Canada, led 3 successive trips to the area. On his fourth trip in 1957, Gibson was attempting to climb Howson Peak with Sterling Hendricks and Don Hubbard. A fall while the party was roped together pulled all three members down the side of the mountain. Gibson died of his injuries before help could arrive.
The wetlands, meadows, and rich avalanche tracks, combined with the absence of substantive human presence, provide good quality grizzly bear habitat. The alpine and subalpine areas on the east side of the park and beyond provide habitat for the recovering population of northern caribou known as the Telkwa herd, while the terrain around the Howson Range is home to a healthy population of mountain goats. Other species known to use the area include black bear, moose, wolverine, and deer. Burnie Lakes support a diverse fish population including kokanee and mountain whitefish.
The park also protects whitebark pine communities. Whitebark pine communities are regionally significant because they are at the most northerly extent of their range. Whitebark pine are declining throughout their range due to mountain pine beetle and white pine blister rust. Clark’s Nutcrackers are dependent on whitebark pine seeds for survival. The seeds are also important to other wildlife species, especially grizzly bear.
Activities Available at this Park
There is excellent backcountry skiing in the Howson Range. A commercial ski lodge is located at the north end of the park.
Please refer to the Burnie-Shea Provincial Park Management Plan for information on snowmobiling opportunities within the park or contact BC Parks at 250 847-7320.
Caution: Rugged terrain may produce zones of high avalanche hazard. It is recommended that you have experience in evaluating avalanche hazards.