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 province's 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 1800's, 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 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 Chilcotin Coast is British Columbia's real west.
What better way to explore the region than on horseback? Travel the rolling, grassy rangeland in true Cariboo Chilcotin fashion. There are countless ranches that will outfit or offer riding instructions, lead guided trail rides or backcountry fishing trips. Being home to some of the world's largest cattle ranches, visitors can experience the adventure of a lifetime and take part in a real, hard working cattle drive.
The William's Lake Stampede captures all the rodeo spirit of the Cariboo Chilcotin. For a week in early July, the city displays its wild and colourful western hospitality. Bull riding, steer-wrestling and bareback events draw cowboys and crowds from across North America. The fairgrounds and midway are always a hootin' hollerin' good time.
Adventure can come in more peaceful forms, too. A canoe trip on one of the region's serene lakes is an excellent way to see the land. Bowron Lake Provincial Park offers a unique paddling opportunity that may be quiet and peaceful, but no less an adventure. The Bowron Lake circuit takes 7-10 days, travels 116 km of lakes and rivers, and then returns right back to the starting point. Surrounded by wildlife, mountains and crystal clear water, this is a wilderness experience the likes of which are hard to find anywhere else in Canada. BC Parks is happy to rent canoes, but travellers are responsible for their own food, whether they pack it or fish along the way.
A paddling expedition isn't necessary to enjoy fishing in the Cariboo Chilcotin. With rod and reel and access to over 8000 fishing lakes, adventure and relaxed afternoons are never far from anywhere. The Cariboo's Highway 24, known as the fishing highway, winds through a district of small and large, deep and shallow lakes. This variety can accommodate the style of any angler and produce a generous catch.
Through the Chilcotin, the lakes and rivers produce cutthroat, trophy sized bull and rainbow trout. Guides and lodges can show anglers the way to the most secluded, and sometimes secret, fishing spots. A land of off-highway adventures, the Chilcotin holds pristine provincial parks, glaciers, and Mt. Waddington, the highest mountain in British Columbia.
The coast provides the most awe-inspiring sport fishing and scenery in the region. Hundred of kilometres 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 explore abandoned industry 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. 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.