Much of the Bulkey is paralleled by Highway 16. It flows west from Bulkley Lake past Perow and is joined near Houston by the Morice River, its major tributary. The Bulkley continues north past Quick, Telkwa and Smithers. It then meets the Skeena River near Hazelton.
The river was originally called Wet'sinkwha ("blue and green river") by the Wet'suwet'en people, the indigenous inhabitants of the Bulkley Valley. The name Bulkley was given for Colonel Charles Bulkley, the engineer-in-charge of the survey team who, in 1866, explored the area in preparation for the failed Russian American Telegraph.
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, although the Morice is larger. This was done by Poudrier, a government cartographer who, it is rumoured, never saw the region.