The Bonnet Plume River begins its journey in the Mackenzie Mountains on the Yukon and NWT border. It flows over 350 km, first west and then north through range after range of mountains, cutting across rockslides, sluicing through canyons and sliding for miles through braided gravel flats before joining the Peel River. The Bonnet Plume's watershed, included in its entirety in the Canadian Heritage Rivers System (1998), is more than 12 000 km2. Long known as big game hunting country, Dall sheep, grizzly bear, moose and caribou graze on the alpine meadows and valley bottomlands. The Gwich'in called the river Tsaih Tl'ak Njik, or the "river of black ochre," most likely referring to the coal seams in the area. It was named in honour of Bonnet Plume (baptized as Andrew Flett), a Gwich'in chief who worked as an interpreter for the Hudson's Bay Company. The Tutchone of Mayo, YT, and the Gwich'in of Fort McPherson, NWT, and their ancestors have used the Bonnet Plume area continuously for thousands of years for hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering.