The 257 km long Bulkley River runs through the valley which is bounded on the west by the Hudson Bay Mountain range and on the east by the Babine Mountains. The northern boundary of the valley is usually considered the Bulkey's confluence with the Skeena River at Hazelton, although it is sometimes placed further south near Moricetown. The valley's southern edge is at Bulkley Lake, part way between Houston and Burns Lake.
The Bulkley, a smaller stream running through Houston and the Morice join just west of Houston. At the point of their joining they become the Bulkley, not the Morice despite the fact the Morice is larger. This was done by Poudrier, a government cartographer whom, it is rumoured, never saw the region.
The Wet'suwet'en people have called the valley home for thousands of years. With the neighbouring Gitxsan, they had their Aboriginal title in the area affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada with its Delgamuukw decision of 1997.
The valley is named for the river, which in turn is for American engineer Charles Bulkley. He oversaw the construction of the telegraph line through the area in the 1860s. The Grand Trunk Railway was constructed through the valley by 1914, and development hastened thereafter. Today, Highway 16 traverses the entire valley.
Ranching began in the valley around the turn of the 20th century, but has been surpassed in economic importance by the forest industry and more recently, tourism.
There has also been mining activities in the valley.
The main communities in the Bulkley Valley (South to North):
- Skeena-Bulkley Valley Federal Electoral District
- Bulkey Valley-Stikine Provincial Electoral District
- Bulkley Valley Centre for Natural Resources Research and Management
- Bulkley Valley Museum in Smithers