Land Without Limits

Great Bear Rainforest Loop

Great Bear Rainforest Indigenous Tours with Nuxalk Nation | Callum Snape

Vancouver – Nanaimo – Port Hardy – Bella Coola – Anahim Lake – Williams Lake – Lillooet – Whistler – Vancouver

Part 1

Vancouver to Nanaimo via BC Ferries

Crossing time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Road trip Great Bear Rainforest

Mike Wigle

The first leg of your trip through the Great Bear Rainforest Loop will take you from Vancouver to Nanaimo. The top choice for travelers is to start by taking a BC Ferry from the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal, on the North Shore, or the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, in Delta, to Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island.

Vancouver and Nanaimo are both gorgeous, well-known, and bustling west coast ports in British Columbia. Vancouver is consistently named as one of the top five worldwide cities for livability and quality of life, while Nanaimo, known as “The Harbour City” and the first stop on the Great Bear Rainforest Loop, serves as the gateway to other destinations on the coast.

It is recommended to reserve a spot on the ferry, as the wait for sail times can become quite lengthy during the spring and summer months. If you are not traveling with your car and you’re looking to save time, Pacific Coastal Airlines offers regular flights from Vancouver to Port Hardy, which will take you straight to Part 3 of this trip guide. Take note: flights should be booked in advance, especially in the warmer months, and you want to book a car rental in Bella Coola to continue your journey on land!

Part 2

Nanaimo to Port Hardy Ferry

Distance: 385 km | Duration: 4.5 hours

Great Bear Rainforest Port Hardy BC

When you reach Nanaimo, it is time to take Highway BC-19N toward Campbell River and continue along it until you reach Port Hardy, which is where you will board a ferry to Bella Coola, a quaint little town located in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. The stretch of highway from Nanaimo up to Port Hardy is lined with charming towns, camping and fishing sites, wineries, craft breweries, and much more. For information on the island’s activities and attractions, visit Tourism Vancouver Island.

Port Hardy is a fantastic town serving as a hub for air, ferry, and marine transportation networks, and acting as the gateway to the fast-growing Central Coast (part of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region). The town also supports diverse traditional and emerging sectors, abundant natural resources, and a strong community spirit. Plan to spend at least a day in Port Hardy to explore its offerings or simply unwind in the refreshing ocean breeze. 

Part 3

Port Hardy to Bella Coola via BC Ferries

Duration: 10 hours

Bella Coola BC

From the Port Hardy Ferry Terminal (6800 BC-19 in Bear Cove), embark on the Northern Sea Wolf, offering service from Port Hardy to Bella Coola. BC Ferries reservations are highly recommended, and of course, don’t forget to bring your camera, as you’ll encounter numerous shot opportunities along one of the world’s most scenic water routes, an unforgettable attraction in the Great Bear Rainforest Loop.

If you’re embarking during the summer from mid-June to mid-September, the ferry trip to Bella Coola takes around 10 hours, departing early in the morning (between 7:30 and 8:30 am), and arriving in Bella Coola between 5:30 pm (direct) and 11:30 pm (through Bella Bella).

During the shoulder seasons, however, the ferry takes an overnight trip, allowing you to arrive in Port Hardy via airplane on the same day, as the ferry departure time is at 6 pm, and the airplane usually arrives in the morning. Always check for updates on both Pacific Coastal Airlines and BC Ferries before booking your tickets.

The Bella Coola Valley is in the traditional territory of the Nuxalk (new-hawk) people and is one of the gateways to the largest coastal temperate rainforest on earth. When you arrive, take the time to soak in the fresh mountain air and explore the town waterfront. Shop locally produced goods at the historic Kopas Store and visit the Copper Sun Gallery while you make your way to your accommodation. From sailing and fishing adventures to guided wildlife tours and incomparable Indigenous experiences, plan to spend at least two days in the Bella Coola Valley as there are a lot of things to see and do!

Explore the suggested activities below or read a detailed list of Things to Do in the Bella Coola Valley:

  • Guided Tours: Hiring a guide is key to experiencing the ultimate adventure. They can lead you to local gems like Clayton Falls, the Petroglyphs at Thorson Creek, or the iconic white Kermode “Spirit” bears.
  • History: Take a tour of the Bella Coola Museum (housed in a building that dates back to 1892) and trace the history of the town and surrounding areas.
  • Hiking & Wildlife Viewing: There are dozens of hikes in and around the valley, for all levels and experience, and an absolute excess of wildlife to be seen. Be sure to travel to nearby Snootli Creek Regional Park to walk through the ancient cedar grove. Truly humbling and uplifting.
  • Ocean Adventures: Boat tours, whale and wildlife watching, kayaking, sailing, fishing—whatever you fancy, they’ve got it all!

If you’re looking for accommodation options in Bella Coola, make sure to consider Bella Coola Grizzly Tours & Outfitting, Bella Coola Mountain Lodge, and Nusatsum River Guest House.

Part 4

Bella Coola to Anahim Lake

Distance: 135 km | Duration: 2 hours 22 minutes

Tweedsmuir Provincial Park BC

As you continue your breathtaking journey along the Great Bear Rainforest Loop, drive on BC-20E out of Bella Coola, navigating through the switchbacks and over the Heckman Pass Summit toward Anahim Lake. Take note of the suggested stops below to make the best of this part of your road trip:

  • Heckman Pass Summit: Upon leaving Bella Coola and ascending the switchbacks, take a moment to stop at the Heckman Summit and admire the vista of the valley below. From this vantage point, you’ll witness the transition where the boreal forest meets the coastal rainforest, with the ocean stretching out beyond the mountains in the distance.
  • Tweedsmuir Provincial Park: Easily accessible via Highway 20, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park serves as the transition zone from the Interior Plateau into the Rainbow Range and Coast Mountain Range, offering some of the most dramatic scenery in North America as a result.

The Rainbow Range earns its name from the multicoloured volcanic peaks, with the day hike to witness them being a beloved favorite among park visitors for many years. Another highlight of the park is Hunlen Falls, cascading 855 feet into the Atnarko River, which can be admired on numerous flightseeing tours in the area or accessed via an easy 20-minute hike from Turner Lake.

In addition to the countless hiking trails scattered throughout the park, there’s a world-renowned multi-day canoe trip known as the Turner Lake Chain, spanning seven lakes and starting at Turner Lake. The park also offers excellent fishing opportunities along the Bella Coola, Atnarko, and Dean Rivers. With nearly 40 campsites situated in both the backcountry and along the highway, visitors always have a place to rest while immersing themselves in the area’s natural beauty.

If you have the time, consider spending several days exploring and lodging within the park. With vast territories to traverse and a diverse array of wildlife and scenery, you might find it hard to tear yourself away! For those eager to delve into Tweedsmuir for a few days but prefer lodge accommodations, look no further than Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, situated in the heart of the park.

  • Anahim Lake: Situated deep in the heart of the Carrier First Nation territory, Anahim Lake serves as the eastern gateway to Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, renowned for its superb fishing, expansive and untouched wilderness, and breathtaking nearby ice fields and waterfalls. Rich with First Nations history, the town boasts must-see historic sites, such as the culla culla houses at Natsadalia Point on Anahim Lake, providing valuable insights into the indigenous way of life in the region. Recommended accommodations include Anahim Lake Resort & RV Park, Red Cariboo Resort, and Eagle’s Nest Resort.

Part 5

Anahim Lake to Chilanko forks

Distance: 142 km | Duration: 1 hour 50 mins

Loon Lake Resort BC

This leg of the Great Bear Rainforest Loop will take you into the sweeping Chilcotin Plateau and down into the valley, in the heart of the Cariboo. This part of the Chilcotin is steeped in the First Nations history of many different peoples, as well as the settler traditions of ranching and guide outfitting. Be prepared to be blown away by not only the abundant wildlife but also the vastness of this ever-changing landscape.

With countless remarkable experiences at your reach, it is recommended to spend a minimum of two days exploring the Chilcotin Plateau. Here is a list of suggested stops that will leave you wanting to spend a full month getting to know this region:

  • Nimpo Lake: Known as “the floatplane capital of British Columbia,” Nimpo Lake serves as a primary departure point for flightseeing tours and fly-in fishing expeditions to the pristine wilderness lakes and rivers of the West Chilcotin region. Adventurers departing from here can access secluded cabins nestled in unparalleled scenery, offering a dramatic backdrop for outdoor pursuits.

    Nimpo Lake itself boasts exceptional rainbow trout fishing, opportunities for day hikes, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing, all readily available from Nimpo Lake Resort, Retreat Wilderness Inn, and Stewart’s Lodge & Tweedsmuir Air. Tweedsmuir Air also provides flightseeing tours of Tweedsmuir Park, showcasing its magnificent Hunlen Falls, access to over 25 air-only lakes, and customized adventures into the rugged backcountry, such as Nuk Tessli.

Directions: Located approximately 18 km east of Anahim Lake on BC-20E, Nimpo Lake sits on the left-hand side with clear signage marking its entrance. While there are multiple access roads, the simplest route is to turn left onto Cessna Drive (which becomes Otter Road) as you pass through the town of Nimpo Lake.

  • Kleena Kleen: A small settlement located 61 km west of Nimpo Lake. Clearwater Lake, nearby, serves as a departure point for float plane excursions into remote fishing lakes and rivers, as well as for exploring the alpine wilderness of the region. Numerous overnight accommodation options are available, including Terra Nostra Guest Ranch.
  • Tatla Lake: Situated on the western edge of the Chilcotin grasslands, Tatla Lake holds the legacy of Irish settler Robert Graham, who initiated the area’s ranching heritage. Overnight accommodation options include The Graham Inn and Tatla Lake Manor.
  • Puntzi Lake and Redstone: Located 11 km off the highway at Chilanko Forks, Puntzi Lake offers abundant opportunities for biking and hiking trails, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting, and birdwatching. The lake offers several fishing resorts and serviced RV campsites, including Barney’s Lakeside Resort and Woodlands Fishin’ Resort. Heading east, you’ll encounter Redstone, a small First Nations community where the Redstone Store serves as a vital stop for fuel and supplies during your Highway 20 road trip.

Continue on BC-20E toward Williams Lake for the second part of this leg!

Part 6: Chilanko Forks to Williams Lake

Distance: 176 km | Duration: 2 hours 16 minutes

bc road trips

Jonny Bierman

As you leave Chilanko Forks behind on your journey toward Williams Lake for the continuation of your epic Great Bear Rainforest Loop, be sure to make a few pit stops along the way to fully appreciate all that this magnificent region has to offer:

  • KiNikiNik Lodge, Restaurant & Store: Nestled in Redstone between the Chilancoh and Chilcotin Rivers, right on Hwy 20, you can’t miss the beautiful timber-framed, modern-designed KiNiKiNiK! For a genuine pasture-to-plate experience, pause and savor the cuisine crafted with locally sourced organic meats and vegetables.
  • Bull Canyon Provincial Park: Situated in a stunning canyon along the azure Chilcotin River, Bull Canyon features a 20-vehicle accessible campground with full services available from May 15th to September 15th. If you’re looking to stretch your legs, take a hike along the 2km Chilcotin River Interpretive Trail, which showcases protected archaeological sites (please refrain from disturbing) and showcases the diverse array of plant life in the area. Fishing in the river is permitted with an appropriate angling license and adherence to fishing restrictions in certain sections of the river.

Directions: Located 7 km (approximately 10 minutes) west of Alexis Creek on BC-20E, keep an eye out for the sign on the right side of the highway pointing to the creek.

  • Alexis Creek: (Tsilhqot’in)—home to the Indigenous people who inhabit the region between the Fraser River and the Coast Mountains. Named after Chief Alexis of the Chilcotin, the small community of Alexis Creek serves as a vital service center for the East Chilcotin Region. It’s advisable to make a stop here, or at nearby Redstone, for gas and supplies, especially as the number of stations along the highway starts to dwindle.
  • Riske Creek: The small community of Riske Creek, named after a Polish pioneer who settled there in the 1860s, serves as the gateway to a variety of outdoor adventures along Highway 20. The Historic Chilcotin Lodge, constructed in 1940, functions as a hunting lodge and offers gourmet meals, comfortable yet rustic accommodations, as well as a gift store and tea house where you can unwind before continuing your journey.
  • Junction Sheep Range Park & Farwell Canyon: Located at the confluence of the Fraser and Chilcotin Rivers, Farwell Canyon boasts Canada’s largest population of bighorn sheep, which roam the park and are frequently spotted scaling the steep cliffs and hoodoos. From Highway at Riske Creek, take a left onto Farwell Canyon Road and continue for approximately 21 km to reach the park.

Farwell Canyon Hike: From the park entrance, numerous trails descend into the canyon. Most trails offer moderate hiking conditions and necessitate sturdy footwear, along with a small backpack containing snacks and water, as the trails can extend for a considerable distance (approximately 2-3 hours). Not recommended for individuals who are not physically fit.

If you are interested in exploring some backcountry or experiencing a taste of the cowboy life that permeates this region, consider contacting some local outfits and booking a stay at Bracewell’s Alpine Wilderness Adventures, Escott Bay Resort, Taseko Adventures, or Terra Nostra Guest Ranch. All of them provide guided tours and backpacking trips in the area, as well as horseback trail rides, fishing opportunities, and much more.

Your next stop in the Great Bear Rainforest Loop is Williams Lake, also known as the hub city of the Cariboo region and a sought-after destination for nature and wildlife enthusiasts, as well as those looking for adrenaline-fueled adventures. 

  • Mountain Biking: This mountain biking mecca serves up some of BC’s best biking on Westsyde Ridge, Desous Mountain, and Fox Mountain. The River Valley Trail offers a 12 km gravel trail down to the Fraser River that’s great for walking, running, mountain biking, and horseback riding. 
  • Nature and History: If wildlife viewing is your thing, Scout Island houses a nature sanctuary with a beach, picnic grounds, and a wide variety of small animals and birds. For history buffs, Williams Lake has a rich First Nations history and it is actually named after Chief William of the Secwepemc First Nation. 
  • Cowboy Culture: Those looking for a wild west cowboy experience, will have their hands full. Because Williams Lake is in the heart of Cowboy Country, it hosts a famous rodeo, the Williams Lake Stampede, every year in July, drawing rodeo buffs from all over the world. Take a day and have a look around and stop into the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame, located in the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin, which is open daily and offers an interesting insight into the lives and histories of the region’s cowboy past.

Make sure to check out this comprehensive list of Williams Lake accommodation, activities, and attractions.

Part 7

Williams Lake to 100 Mile House, BC

Distance: 92 km | Duration: 1 hour 7 minutes

Kayanara Guest Ranch Eagle Creek BC

As you continue your Great Bear Rainforest Loop, leave Williams Lake on BC-97S toward 100 Mile House, BC. Here you will have the opportunity to dig deeper in the cowboy culture, appreciate breathtaking vistas, and become familiar with the big sky beauty this area has to offer! Here’s a list of suggested stops along the way:

  • Lac la Hache: Often referred to as “The Longest Town in the Cariboo,” this community’s resorts, ranches, restaurants, and homes are scattered along the lake’s 19 km shoreline. It’s particularly popular among wakeboarders, power boaters, and anglers. One of the most popular recreational lakes in the Cariboo, it boasts campgrounds, resorts, and a bait and tackle shop. It’s also well-stocked with Rainbow and Kokanee, and hosts wild lake trout, burbot, and mountain whitefish.

Definitely something for everyone and a fantastic way to spend a day out on the lake in the sun. Accommodation recommendations include Crystal Springs (Historical) Resort and Kokanee Bay Motel & Campground.

Directions: Approximately 66.5 km from Williams Lake on the right side of the highway.

  • 108 Mile Ranch: Once a working cattle ranch, 108 Mile Ranch is now a small residential community located 12 km north of 100 Mile House. A heritage site welcomes visitors as they arrive at the north end, featuring 12 historic buildings dating from 1860 to 1914, including one of the last remaining Clydesdale barns in Canada. Alongside the heritage sites and numerous kilometers of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, there’s also a 9.2 km trail circling 108 and Sepa lakes, offering an easy walk for the entire family. 108 Mile Ranch is a captivating stop along the highway, offering all the amenities for travelers and adventurers, including one of the area’s few golf resorts at 108 Golf Resort.

Directions: Located approximately 78.5 km from Williams Lake, just after Lac la Hache. You can’t miss it!

  • 100 Mile Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary: Almost forty species of waterfowl can be found on South Cariboo lakes and wetlands. Many migratory species live here during the summer months or pass through in the spring and fall during their annual passage. These include not only various ducks and geese, but also trumpeter and tundra swans, white pelicans, and the great blue heron. Click the link for 100 Mile House information on Accommodations, activities, and attractions.

Directions: In 100 Mile House at 155 Wrangler Way.

Part 8

100 Mile House to Clinton

Distance: 72.5 km | Duration: 44 minutes

This may be a relatively short stretch of highway, but it’s a crucial part of the Great Bear Rainforest Loop nonetheless, as it’s full of places to see and things to do. Continue down BC-97S toward Clinton, make sure to stop at The Sugar Shack a genuine slice of Quebec in the heart of the Cariboo where you can savour an authentic, no-shortcut poutine, an continue on to explore the mesmerizing parks on this part of your route:

  • Green Lake Provincial Park: Green Lake stands out as one of the most beautiful lakes in British Columbia, boasting crystal-clear emerald water that appeals to a wide array of visitors. The lake’s size, water temperature, clarity, and the abundance of campgrounds and resorts along its shoreline make it irresistible to fishing enthusiasts, water sports lovers (including wakeboarding, kayaking, and paddleboarding), or those simply seeking relaxation on the sun-drenched shore. At the north end of the lake, there’s even a sunken boat housing a skeleton and a treasure box, a delightful surprise for young ones. It’s highly recommended to take some time to explore this lake and enjoy its serene beauty.

Directions: Turn left off BC-97N at the 70 Mile Store and follow the road until it forks into Green Lake N and Green Lake S. The majority of the campsites and resorts are on the north side of the lake. All are first come, first served. Approximately 10 minutes from the turnoff. Head back toward the 70 Mile Store and then turn left back onto BC-97S toward Clinton. This stretch of the highway is very picturesque and has two popular stops, Chasm Provincial Park and Marble Range Provincial Park.

  • Chasm Provincial Park: Often referred to as the Mini Grand Canyon, the Painted Chasm is one of the most geologically unique parks in the Cariboo. It displays a spectacular array of color during the spring and summer months, with a striking contrast between the red, brown, and purple lava walls of the gorge and the greenery of the Ponderosas and grasses in the valley below. Carved by melting glaciers and erosion over the past 10 million years, the Chasm stretches for 8 km in length, 600 meters in width, and 300 meters in depth. It features a fenced viewing platform at the top, and there are hiking trails throughout.

After you’ve enjoyed the lookout, follow the trail that runs parallel to the train tracks northward. It will fork; take the southwest trail lined with giant Ponderosa Pines. This trail follows the edge of the canyon for quite a distance, and the views are well worth the hike.

Directions: Approximately 26.5 km from 70 Mile House, turn left onto Chasm Road and continue for 4 km to reach the viewing platform.

  • Marble Range Provincial Park: Known for its limestone karst formations, created by dissolved limestone, dolomite, and gypsum resulting in sinkholes and caves, this park is situated in an alpine and subalpine habitat. Surrounded by old-growth forests, karsts, and mountains, this wild and unmanaged area offers a perfect blend of primordial nature and abundant wildlife.

The park features numerous hiking trails and is popular among backcountry and horseback riding enthusiasts, offering a mix of easy trails for leisurely walks and challenging summits for those seeking adventure. As the park lacks facilities and water sources, visitors should come prepared accordingly.

Directions: Continuing your journey down BC-97S, turn right onto Big Bar Road. Follow Big Bar Road for approximately 43.5 km, then turn left onto an unnamed road and continue for another 10.5 km.

As you travel deeper in the old Cariboo Waggon Road (now Highway 97), you will find yourself in Clinton, a small town known for its gold rush and pioneer history. Clinton is an antique collector’s haven with five antique stores and it also holds the title of the Guest Ranch Capital of BC, serving as a central hub for numerous outlying ranches and smaller communities.

Amazingly enough, Clinton retains some of its original buildings from its inception, like the Clinton Museum, which is housed in the original schoolhouse built in 1892 and offers a wealth of history and memories from the gold rush era. Consider embarking on a historical 20-stop Walking Tour, which encompasses numerous buildings constructed 100-200 years ago. To book the tour, visit the Museum at #1419 on the Highway through town.

Part 9

Clinton to Lillooet

Distance: 106 km | Duration: 1 hour 19 minutes

Hat Creek Ranch Cache Creek BC

Prepare yourself for a change of scenery on your journey in the Great Bear Rainforest Loop as the road will take you out of the flatlands of the Cariboo and roll you into the southern Chilcotin region, characterized by winding rivers, thick forests, and rising peaks. Continue on BC-97S and turn right at the junction onto BC-99N toward Lillooet. Take note of the following stops:

  • Historic Hat Creek: Used historically as a stopover for gold rushers in the 1860s, it’s now a BC Heritage Site set in a beautiful location with original buildings, equipment, and guided tours.

Directions: As you turn onto BC-99N, you will see the ranch on the left side. The entrance is well-marked and easily visible.

  • Marble Canyon Provincial Park: A cherished destination for both locals and visitors alike, Marble Canyon offers a small, tranquil campground and picnic area nestled between two picturesque lakes, Turquoise and Crown. These lakes are abundant with fish, and the park is a hotspot for birdwatchers, thanks to the diverse birdlife in the area.

Nestled serenely in the rugged Pavilion Mountain Range, this limestone canyon stands as a rare geological formation in British Columbia. Additionally, there’s a waterfall located at the far end of Turquoise Lake, easily accessible via a 15-minute hike from the parking lot. I highly recommend stopping here to explore (or paddle if you have kayaks or boards).

Directions: Situated on the left side of the highway between Hat Creek Ranch and Lillooet. Keep an eye out for the lakes and the sign for the park.

  • Fort Berens Winery: If you love wine, then make sure to visit the newly established Fort Berens Winery, located just outside of Lillooet, where you can sample wines crafted from the finest grapes sourced from Lillooet, the Similkameen, and the Okanagan regions.

Directions: Situated on the right side of the highway just outside of Lillooet (1881 Hwy 99 North).

Considered “Mile Zero” of the Cariboo leg of the Gold Rush trail, Lillooet marks the beginning of the famed Cariboo Waggon Road. Despite once being the second largest North American town in the 1860s, Lillooet has transformed into a picturesque small town boasting a delightful blend of modern culture and a rich history stemming from both indigenous peoples and settlers from the gold rush.

Located in a valley along the Fraser River, the town is embraced by mountains and surrounded by nearby lakes. Even for those primarily interested in the Gold Rush Trail for its historical significance, the breathtaking natural beauty enveloping the town cannot be overlooked. There is, quite simply, an abundance of activities to enjoy around Lillooet. Explore the suggested activities below:

  • Lillooet Visitor Centre & Museum
  • Mile 0: Cairn on Main Street (start of the Cariboo Waggon Road). It sits in the middle of Main Street as you drive into town (hard to miss)
  • Jade Walk: A walk downtown memorializing the significance of Jade in the region. Grab a walking map at the Visitor’s Center to follow this track.
  • Old Suspension Bridge: A suspension bridge built in 1913 and no longer in use. It’s also an excellent place to watch the local First Nations fishing below. Located on Old Bridge Road and accessible from in town.
  • Xwisten Experience: Guided tour of the archeological summer fishing site of the St’at’imc First Nations.

Part 10: Side Day or Multi-Day Trip Through the Bridge River Valley

Distance: 105 km | Duration: 2 hours 45 minutes

BC Road Trips - Cariboo Chilcotin Coast - Bridge River Valley

Nestled in the Bridge River Valley among the towering peaks of the South Chilcotin Mountains, Gold Bridge, Bralorne & Pioneer await history buffs who enjoy poking around old ghost towns and abandoned mines, as well as outdoor enthusiasts who will appreciate the valley’s fishing, hunting, mountain biking, rock hounding, and rugged mountain beauty. For a full list of things to do in this region, check out this link: Exploring Bridge River Valley.

It’s a good idea to check the conditions of the road before setting out as it is a narrow gravel road that can be adversely affected by weather. Summer and winter adventures await at Chilcotin Holidays, Tyax Adventures, and Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing. These are exciting activities you should definitely consider when going on your Great Bear Rainforest Loop!

Part 11

Lillooet to Vancouver via the Duffey Lake Road/BC-99S

Distance: 250 km | Duration: 3 hours 34 minutes

Lillooet BC Gold Rush Trail

When returning to Vancouver from your unforgettable Great Bear Rainforest Loop, the scenery between Lillooet and Whistler will leave you speechless. The entire area is known all over the world as one of the prettiest areas in BC with a nice sprinkling of roadside wildlife. Keep an eye out for bears, deer, marmots, and bighorn sheep.

The Duffey Lake Road (aka BC-99S) is actually considered its own attraction (especially to motorcycle aficionados) and has been mentioned in the Vancouver Province more than once as one of BC’s top drives. The winding road—often more switchbacks than highway—is often single lane, and the sites along the way are sublime. 

If possible, take a day to drive the road and enjoy the laid-back, relaxing ambiance of sunshine and a winding road surrounded by peaked pinnacles. A few stops along the way will make it for an epic end to your trip through the Great Bear Rainforest Loop:

Directions: Located 3 km west of Lillooet on the right side of the Duffey Lake Road.

  • Duffey Lake Provincial Park: Duffey Lake is situated in the Cayoosh Creek Valley and was historically used as a travel route between Lillooet First Nations on Lillooet Lake and the Stl’alt’imx First Nations on the Fraser River. From the beach, the lake is framed by densely forested hillsides on two sides with an amazing view of the snow-capped Mr. Rohr between them.

Directions: Located 52 km west of Lillooet on the right side of the Duffey Lake Road.

  • Pemberton: The Pemberton area is addictive with its peaceful vibe and idyllic setting, low in a river valley surrounded by the stunning Coastal Mountain range. It offers something for everyone—shopping, outdoor recreation, hiking, amazing mountain biking, backcountry trekking, river rafting, fishing, and so much more. To explore it fully, you’ll need a home base: consider sticking around for a day or two to get your adventure on.
  • Whistler: A resort town in the southern Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains, Whistler is located 36 km south of Pemberton. It’s estimated that over two million people visit annually to ski in the winter and mountain bike in the summer. The village of Whistler is spectacular—clean, innovative, inviting—with a wide variety of shops, restaurants, and accommodations dotting the landscape.

From Whistler, journey the scenic Sea-to-Sky on BC-99S/Sea-to-Sky toward Vancouver. Arguably one of the most gorgeous roads to travel in the world, BC’s Highway 99S from Whistler to Vancouver—locally known as the Sea-to-Sky Highway—will not disappoint you. The views are epic with the Pacific Ocean on the right and the mountains rising up on the left. Be careful you don’t get caught up in gaping at the views and cause an accident—it’s been known to happen!

Check out the 3-day Trip to the Great Bear Rainforest 

Check out the 5-day Trip to the Great Bear Rainforest Loop

Before you book your next BC bear-viewing adventure tour, ensure that the tour company you choose is a member of the Commercial Bear Viewing Association.