The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is a land of big adventure and wide-open spaces. Visit real working ranches and ride over rolling rangeland. Fish the provinces best freshwater lakes and secluded saltwater inlets. British Columbia's wild history comes to life with rodeos, heritage villages and historic First Nations communities.
In the 1800s miners from all over the world rushed to the Cariboo Chilcotin. The small towns boomed into cities almost overnight with men eager to strike it rich in the gold fields. Gold fever had hit British Columbia and with it came a legendary era of saloons, cowboys and Wild West frontier adventure. Eventually, the gold rush died out. With it went the miners and the bustling cities soon turned into empty buildings. Today, the legends and ghost towns have been faithfully brought back to life in towns like Barkerville, but the frontier adventure has always been alive and well.
The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is a big region. It stretches from near the Alberta border all the way west to the Pacific Ocean. Over 600 km (375 miles) wide, people who come in search of wide-open spaces are never disappointed. Diverse in scenery, rich in history and full of adventure, the Cariboo, the Chilcotin and the Coast regions are British Columbia's real west.
The Cariboo is the east portion of the region and is accessible via Highway 97 the old Gold Rush Trail. The Trail is clearly marked by signposts. Starting in the south at Clinton the Cariboo region stretches north to Quesnel and beyond to Prince George. A stop at the mining frontier town of Barkerville is always a favourite. The gold-rich town of Barkerville sprang up in the 1860s after a British prospector named Billy Barker struck it rich on Williams Creek. Completely restored, the town brings the rough gold-rush days to life. More »
The Chilcotin is a land of dramatic landscapes dominated by ranchlands, cut by rivers, dotted with lakes, pine and spruce forests and grasslands where grizzlies, caribou, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep and deer roam free. Thousands of cattle roam the rolling hills and this is a land where cowboys still reign. The famous Gang Ranch still exists. The Chilcotin starts in the south at Lillooet, Mile "0" on the Cariboo Waggon Road, and this environment is dominated by the desert flats of the Fraser River canyon which slowly transition as you head north into a semi-arid region of sagebrush and prickly-pear cactus. As you near Alexis Creek in the central Chilcotin you encounter rolling forests and ranchland crisscrossed by river valleys. West Chilcotin is accessible along Highway 20 and as you approach the community of Anahim Lake the landscape of foothills change to snow-capped peaks as the plateau rises into the Coast Mountains. More »
The Central Coast provides the most awe-inspiring sport fishing and scenery in the Region. Hundreds of kilometers of rivers flow down from the Coast Mountains, but the saltwater inlets and channels cause the most excitement. Home to salmon, halibut and cod, the beauty of the mountainous fjords drew settlers from as far as Norway. Explore over 400 km of protected waterway by boat, stopping to see abandoned towns and beautiful secluded harbours. The town of Bella Coola is home to several West Coast native artists and a museum that recounts First Nation's history before contact with European explorers. More »
Full of adventure, living history and beauty, the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is far more than British Columbia's answer to the Old West - it is the living Wild West.
A number of route-marked self-guided circle tours have been developed to aid the traveler explore the wonders of British Columbia and three include excursions through the Cariboo Chicotin Coast.
The Gold Rush Trail is approximately 1,900 km long and can take from 7 and 10 days to drive. Many of British Columbia's highways follow the trails used by the early gold seekers. All along these routes are artifacts and remnants of the early pioneers. Drive this tour and relive their journeys through steep canyons, raging rivers and high mountain passes. The roads are greatly improved, but the scenery is as rugged as ever. More »
The Totem Circle Tour covers over 2,500 km and can take anywhere from one to two weeks to drive and is suited for those interested in exploring the culture of British Columbia's First Nations people. Passing through historic sites and villages that will bring you face to face with the people, their art, stories and history. Witness the province's most beautiful and awe-inspiring scenery as you travel overland through the heart of the province and sail the Inside Passage down through the coast's magnificent fjords and rainforests. More »
The Discovery Coast Circle Tour allows travelers to experience all the diversity that BC has to offer, including the cowboy towns of the Cariboo, the rainforest and the grasslands of the Chilcotin plateau. This really is a tour of discovery. For those with the urge to really get out there - in a car, an RV, or a pair of hiking boots - BC Ferries presents a remarkable summer route between Port Hardy and Bella Coola. It follows a coastline so remote BC Ferries calls it the Discovery Coast Passage.
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Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia