Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Information
Travelling north a few hours from Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, and just beyond Kamloops and the Thompson Okanagan region on the east, brings you to the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region. This large section of central BC stretches from the Pacific west coast through to the eastern Rocky Mountains and is flanked by stunning mountain ranges, bounded by wild coast, and with the mighty Fraser River flowing through the interior. There is diverse wilderness beauty throughout its vast area which covers over 117,000 square kilometres (about 73,000 square miles) and has virtually no crowds (population 73,000). This is an area roughly the size of Greece but with less than 1% of its population, or imagine it as 100 times bigger than Hong Kong with almost 100 times fewer people. This is the land for adventure and remote destination getaways.
- See also Holiday Suggestions & Travel Ideas for the Cariboo, Chilcotin and Cental Coast region.
The Cariboo country’s scenic landscape ranges from rugged canyons, with roaring rivers to open plains and rolling hills with plenty of opportunity to explore the spectacular backcountry of BC’s Wild West. Guest ranches, trail rides, canoe trips, world class fishing resorts and hunting lodges as well as historic ghost towns and First Nations communities with tours and archaeological digs offer travel experiences off the beaten path. From Mile Zero of the old Cariboo Wagon Trail at Lillooet to Barkerville there are reminders of a bygone era with historic ranches, summer rodeos and winter Sled Dog Mail Run events, Billy Barker Days with a nod to one of those who had hit the mother lode and started a Gold Rush, and traditional tribal Pow Wows with singing, dancing, crafts, music, and more.
The Chilcotin area features rolling hills and wide-open spaces of high plateau grasslands and is edged with dramatic mountain ranges. Volcanic remnants, forests, freshwater lakes and rivers, tap into the imagination of adventurers looking to ride, raft, kayak, climb, and explore this inviting outdoors region. Pack trips and fishing expeditions, eco tours and wildlife photo shoots provide abundant opportunities to try something different. There are no major urban centres in this area and very little, if any, cell phone connectivity, and being prepared with your own supplies is simply a matter of routine here. Services and campsites tend to be primitive and being self-sufficient is necessary. Winter time is spectacular and the backcountry skiing, recommended with professional ski tours and heliskiing guides, is an awesome experience.
The Coast region west of the Cariboo and Chilcotin areas is a lush landscape showcasing some of BC’s best rainforest, rugged fiords and the wonder of being surrounded by cliff-faced inlets, pristine old growth trees and an abundance of wildlife. Enjoy guided eco-tours, fishing expeditions, and heli-hiking to remote terrain in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park and other countless lake and wilderness settings. In the Bella Coola Valley and the inlet that runs down to the Pacific , the fresh ocean smells and dockside activities imbue the unique vibe of the communities here with a kind of timeless, other-worldliness tune.
In the early days First Nations peoples travelled along established trading routes that became known as "grease trails" due to the fish oils that leaked from wooden containers during the journey. Much of the British exploration in the 1700 and 1800’s followed the trails and rivers and today’s town and supply development can often trace its origins to the fur trade and gold rush activity of the day. In these days now there a number of tour routes that can be recommended including the Fraser River Trail, the Gold Rush Trail, the Totem Circle Tour, the Discovery Coast Passage Tour, and drives along the historic Freedom Highway to name a few.
The Cariboo Highway (#97) is the main North-South route that connects communities between the village of Cache Creek and the City of Prince George, and other towns such as Clinton, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, and Quesnel. The Chilcotin Highway (#20), which is officially known as the Alexander MacKenzie Highway runs East-West and is the link from Williams Lake in the Central Cariboo region out to the coast and the town of Bella Coola and includes "The Hill" a particularly spectacular rough cut road with grades up to 18 percent and a number of exhilarating switchbacks.
Search, review and book from a range of popular hotel and lodge accommodation in the Cariboo, Chilcotin and Coast region.
Click here to return to the British Columbia regional overview page.
Photo credit: Echo Valley Ranch, Cariboo courtesy Tourism BC, Albert Normandin; Sport Fishing in Bella Coola courtesy Tourism BC, Albert Normandin; The Atnarko/Talchako by the Bella Coola River courtesy BCVT, Michael Wigle; Bella Coola Harbour courtesy BCVT, Michael Wigle
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