Cariboo. Photo Blake Jorgenson
Located in the Cariboo area of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region of British Columbia, the city of Williams Lake has everything for the outdoor adventurer. This is cowboy country with rodeos, big breakfasts and family fun. The region offers whitewater rafting, kayaking and canoeing, hiking, golfing, wildlife viewing. There is a world class network of mountain bike trails. The River Valley Trail and various loop trails follow the Williams Lake river as it snakes through dry Douglas fir forests, open grasslands and stunning geological features. There are a myriad of places to paddle within an hour’s drive, including the city itself and around the Scout Island Nature Centre. Experienced guides are available for river drifting and searching for the renowned grizzly bear. Guided jetboat cruises on the Fraser River to Soda Creek pass by the territory of the largest non-migratory California bighorn sheep population in the world. Notable whitewater trips take place on the Quesnel, Cariboo and Fraser Rivers. And in the winter there is an abundance of snowmobiling.
Prior to the Cariboo Gold Rush, the Williams Lake area was occupied by a small Shuswap village. When the gold rush brought an influx of European fur traders and eager gold miners, this village was transformed into a bustling community. In the ensuing decades, settlers took up ranching and turned Williams Lake into a cattle town. Even today, ranching plays a major role in the local economy, and many of the biggest and oldest working cattle ranches can be found in the region.