Travel Canada: British Columbia’s Backroads

April 11, 2012

in Travel Canada

  • SumoMe

(Tales Told From The Road” continues its series of “Travel Canada” stories highlighting destinations and attractions from sea-to-sea.)
Vancouver, B.C. is a terrific Pacific Northwest destination:  Mountains tumbling down to the sea on the north side, beautiful city parks, lively entertainment, and fine dining.

B1881-CH-0905.op-Bowron-Lak96Whistler, just north of Vancouver, was the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics and offers four-season outdoor recreation.

British Columbia’s Okanagan region produces wines as good as any you will find anywhere in the world.

You won’t be alone in either of those three places; hundreds or thousands of your new “tourist friends” will be keeping you company. For a greater sense of solitude in this far western Canadian province, you need to go north into the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, known  as “The Land Without Limits.” (Photo courtesy of Chris Harris and Tourism BC).

This region is divided into three sections, each different from the other.


This YouTube video gives you a taste of what you’ll find here:


The Cariboo

This section was named after the woodland caribou and was the first part of the B.C. Interior to be settled by non-indigenous people. Today, ranching, logging and mining are the mainstays of the local economy.

The Cariboo is divided into three parts: The heavily forested “North,” the “Central” which has the region’s largest town, Williams Lake, and the “South” which has rolling grasslands, open meadows, pine and aspen forests, and granite-walled river gorges.

DSC_034196The Cariboo is a popular area for hiking, biking, geocaching, fishing, wildlife viewing and boating in summer, and nordic and downhill skiing, ice fishing and snowmobiling in winter.

Here you’ll find cattle and guest ranches, the B.C. Cowboy Hall of Fame, and amateur and professional rodeos, including one of Western Canada’s largest, the annual Williams Lake Stampede. (Photo courtesy of Jesse Madden and Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association.)

The Chilcotin

Peter Castonguay 0001096As you head head west across the province, you come to a large plateau called The Chilcotin. Coastal mountains lie to the west, Canadian Rocky Mountains to the east.  Travel into the backcountry for lake fishing, go into alpine region on a pack trip, or float downstream on a whitewater raft trip.

Like The Cariboo, The Chilcotin is cattle country, but you also find Canada’s largest population of bighorn sheep, white pelicans, trumpeter swans, bears, wolves, mountain caribou and wild horses.  Highway 20, known as the Freedom Highway, is the region’s spine, running from Williams Lake to Bella Coola.  Don’t worry about getting a ticket for running a red light; there aren’t any along this stretch of road.  Although the Mounties won’t pull you over, cows, moose or bears moseying across the highway may force you to do so.  (Photo courtesy of Peter Castonquay and Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association).

The Coast

Coastal RenaissanceHere the mountains drop steeply into the sea, creating a series of fjords and islands. You’ll find cedars growing in the forests, and fish dodging anglers along the banks of the rivers. Go the beach or take a dip in hot springs.

This is where you’ll find opportunities for sea kayaking and wildlife viewing, shopping at farmer’s markets and galleries specializing in art by First Nations artists. Bella Coola is the principal town and you can reach it by road or air. But much of the coastal region, like stretches of the Great Bear Rainforest, is roadless, accessible only by boat, ferry or floatplane. (Photo courtesy of BC Ferries and Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association).

Sign Me Up!

For more information on the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast are, visit or view the online edition of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Travel & Touring Guide 2012.

(Thanks to Geoff Moore of Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association for providing information about and photos of the region to Tales Told From The Road at the 2012 Canada Media Marketplace.)

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