Angwinga’asanskwhl Nisga’a (Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park) is the
first provincial park within the Province of British Columbia established to combine
interpretation of natural features and native culture. The park is included in
the landmark treaty, the “Nisga’a Final Agreement”, between the Government of
Canada and the Nisga’a Nation. Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park is also the first
provincial park to be jointly managed by a First Nation and BC Parks.
Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park (17,683 hectares) is located about 60 miles
(100 km) north of Terrace in northwest BC, adjacent to New Aiyansh on the Nass
Valley Road. Two centuries ago the volcano erupted, killing approximately 2,000
people and creating the pocked lava plain, an eerily moonlike landscape 6 miles
(10 km) long and 2 miles (3 km) wide.
As the lava spilled from the crater an
estimated 250 years ago, it followed a creek bed downslope to Lava Lake and down
the Tseax Valley to the Nass River. The lava travelled at different speeds depending
on the steepness of the slope. Some types of lava flow and interesting features
by burned out tree trunks leaving holes in the lava.|
as the top layer cooled and hardened. The crust insulated the lava flowing inside
which eventually flowed out, leaving the crust as the roof and walls of the tube.|
that often has a smooth surface or is ropey in form.|
and jagged lava.|
Large chunks of lava.|
This region also contains cinder
cones, tree moulds, lava tubes and caves, spatter cones, and Lava Lake. Some lava
flow features are very delicate and need protection. Lichens cover the majority
of lava flow and a single footprint can set back hundreds of years of growth.
The dramatic landscape blended with the rich native culture makes this park a
special experience. The park offers visitors a chance to explore many unique and
interesting features of a volcanic landscape and to learn about the culture and
legends of the Nisga'a people. The history of the region is tied to legends handed
down from past generations. The Nisga'a house system is composed of four main
families: Wolf, Raven, Killer Whale, and Eagle. Each family owns stories and passes
them on to the next generation.
One of the most well known stories is about
the genesis of the volcano. Legend has it that children had shown disrespect to
the life-giving salmon by putting stones and burning sticks into their backs and
watching them swim. The elders warned the children repeatedly to stop but they
did not listen. Soon the ground began to rumble. The volcano and the lava flow
then covered the valley bottom, redirected the mighty Nass River and destroyed
two villages. This resulted in 2000 Nisga'a people perishing.
Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park offers 16 vehicle accessible campsites on a first-come,
first-served basis - campsite reservations are not accepted. Wilderness or backcountry
camping is permitted in the alpine areas, and there are no group campsites available.
The park has no sani-station/dump facilities and does not have electrical hook-ups.
The campground is open from May to Septemberr - the closing date may be extended
depending on the weather. The Nisga’a Visitor Centre will be open from June to
Five short interpretive trails, Crater Creek, Beaupre
Falls, Tree Mould Trail, Vetter Creek Trail and the Fish
Wheel Trail provide easy access to several of the park's special features.
Lava rock may be sharp, unstable and surfaces may be thin especially along lake
and stream edges, so explore with care.
Guided volcanic hiking tours
offer the park visitor a chance to hike 2 miles (3 km) through a scenic old growth
forest and past a variety of volcanic features to a viewpoint on the volcanoe's
cone overlooking the crater. To protect the special features of the area, unguided
access to the volcanic cone is prohibited. The hike is rated as moderate with
some hills and steep stairs. It is recommended that your vehicle have high clearance
to access the starting point of the hike. All hikers must have a reservation prior
to hiking and fees are charged. For your own safety and preservation of the park,
obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys
plant life and soil structure, so please stay on the trails.
and kayaking are permitted, and a boat launch accessing the Nass River
can be found at the park's north end. A boat launch accessing the Lava Lake can
be found at the park's south end.
Wildlife: When exploring the Nass
Mountain Range, you will see moose, goats, marmots, bears and many other species
of wildlife. When visiting the Vetter Falls viewpoint, visitors might get a chance
to catch a glimpse of a phantom steelhead.
The park has a day-use/picnic
area, with some facilities being wheelchair accessible. There is a water pump
located at the Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park campground, and pit and flush toilets
are located throughout the park, but no showers.
Campfire pits are provided
at most campgrounds. Limited burning hours may be in effect at some parks and
fire bans may be implemented during extremely hot weather conditions. Please Conserve
Firewood, and be prepared to bring a portable stove for cooking.
The park Visitor
Centre/Ranger Station located near the Nisga'a Park campground is built in traditional
Nisga'a longhouse design. Inside you will find interpretive displays and information
about Nisga'a culture. There is also a Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Park self-guided
auto tour brochure. The brochure contains information about Nisga'a legends, points
of interest, trails within the park and traveller services.
If you want to
circle around the park in your vehicle, take the Nass Forest Service Road to join
Hwy 37, and then meet Hwy 16 at Kitwanga. Watch out for logging trucks.
easiest way to access the Lava Beds is to take Highway 16 from Prince George or
Prince Rupert to Terrace, then north for 100 km on the Nisga'a Highway, which
is paved for the first 70 km. The alternate route is through Kitwanga on Highway
16. From Kitwanga, head north for 78 km on paved Highway 37 to the Cranberry River.
Here the unpaved Nass Forest Service Road leads west to New Aiyansh, a distance
of 86 km.
Just outside Anhluut'ukwsim Laxmihl Angwinga'asanskwhl Nisga'a Provincial
Park, there are five communities, four of which are Nisga'a villages; Gitlakdamix
(New Aiyansh), Gitwinksihlkw (Canyon City), Lakalzap (Greenville), Kincolith and
Nass Camp. All communities are road accessible from the park except for Kincolith,
which is located at the mouth of the Nass River and is accessed by aircraft or
boat only. Within the communities there are amenities like: grocery stores, bed
and breakfasts, restaurants, gift shops, gas stations and health services.