Access to the Ecological Reserve core of the park is limited and tightly managed, as protection of the bears and their habitat is the primary goal of this area.
Access to the Wilderness Preserve portion of the park and Habitat Protection Area (HPA) is possible but demands experienced wilderness skills and self-sufficiency. Contact the Vuntut Gwitchin Government regarding access to the Settlement Lands.
As the crow flies, the park and HPA are halfway between Dawson and Old Crow and entirely within Vuntut Gwitchin Traditional Territory. Access is by helicopter from Dawson and the trip takes 2.5 hours, 1-way. You can also get there by foot or snowmobile. During high water you can travel by boat. You need a park permit to land any aircraft in any Yukon territorial park.
Download a 1:250,000 scale map of the park.
There are no staffed facilities in the Ecological Reserve or Habitat Protection Area (HPA). The nearest community is Old Crow, which lies 100 kilometre by air to the north. The Government of Yukon maintains basic cabin accommodation in partnership with the Vuntut Gwichin Government and Bear Cave Mountain Eco-Adventures. Use of the cabin is strictly managed for bear viewing opportunities.
Together, Ni''iinlii Njik (Fishing Branch) Territorial Park and adjacent Habitat Protection Area (HPA) and Settlement Lands protect a distinct and fascinating ecosystem and an enduring Gwich'in connection to the land. Limestone caves, year-round open water and early-winter salmon runs support grizzly bear concentrations and large trees rarely seen this far north. The Porcupine caribou herd also migrates through the area, home to many other species of wildlife, including Dall’s sheep and moose.
Specific and strict rules apply to bear viewing in the Ecological Reserve and Settlement Lands. Visitation is allowed only with a permitted commercial guide and limited to 1 group of 5 visitors per day from September 1 to October 31. Access from November to August is by permit only. These measures are necessary to maintain the area's wilderness character and the safety of visitors and wildlife residents.
The 6,500 square kilometre wilderness area is a legacy of the Vuntut Gwitchin Land Claim Agreement and is jointly managed by the Government of Yukon and the Vuntut Gwitchin Government.
The management plan provides long-term direction for park managers and other authorities responsible for managing these lands and resources.
- Maintain the long-term viability of natural population levels of grizzly bear which concentrate seasonally at Bear Cave Mountain.
- Manage the Ecological Reserve, adjacent Vuntut Gwitchin Settlement Lands, Wilderness Preserve and Habitat Protection Area as an ecological unit.
- Maintain the ecological integrity of the area, including the salmon-grizzly bear relationships and karst-hydrological processes.
- Provide for a range of ecological, geomorphological, paleontological and archaeological investigations, in a Beringian environment that is unique to northwestern North America.
- Protect the cultural values of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation.
- Manage impacts to known and as yet to be identified historical and heritage resources through inventory assessment and mitigation.
- Protect habitat located within the winter range and migration corridors for the Porcupine caribou herd.
- Provide for potential access routes and economic development in the Habitat Protection Area while providing management regulations to protect wildlife values.
- Protect salmon spawning habitat in the Wilderness Preserve and Habitat Protection Area.
The Ni'iinlii'Njik (Fishing Branch) Wilderness Preserve and Habitat Protection Area Management plan was completed and recommended by Vuntut Gwitchin Government and Government of Yukon in 2004 and updated in 2010.
Read the Ni'iinlii Njik (Fishing Branch) Ecological Reserve & Settlement Land R-5A & S-3A1 Management Plan and the Ni'iinlii Njik (Fishing Branch) Ecological Reserve & Settlement Land R-5A & S-3A1 Human-Bear Risk Management Plan (Schedule B).