Land Without Limits

72 Hrs of Winter Holidays in the Chilcotin

Terra Nostra Guest Ranch | Jonny Bierman

Home to the province’s “Wild West!” the expansive Chilcotin plateau is a richly diverse ecosystem. This area contains the largest water storage zone in western North America, and due to its special location between the rainy Coastal Mountains and the dry interior plateau is home to an array of biogeoclimatic zones, each a unique ecosystem and worth exploring.

While travelling Highway 20, keep an eye out for local wildlife that might not have got the winter slumber memo, including bighorn sheep, bears, lynx, wolves, mountain caribou and wild horses as you travel through the world’s last intact grasslands.

Winter getaways

Retreat Wilderness Inn | Jonny Bierman

Day One: Choose Your Adventure

Getting to the Chilcotin may seem daunting, given its location in the centre of the province, but flight services to the region make your arrival quick and easy! However, depending on what area of the Chilcoltin you’d like to explore, you have a few options:

Book your flight with ​Central Mountain Air or ​Pacific Coastal Airlines, with options for direct or connecting flights into the small town of Williams Lake. Grab your rental car and get on the road! Heading west on Chilcotin Highway 20, you’ll soon be climbing up to the windswept plateau, offering expansive views in all directions.

Alternate: If you’d like to delve deeper into the Chilcotin without the drive, then a connecting flight to Anahim Lake will have you poised to settle in at one of the many exceptional resorts there and around nearby Nimpo Lake. However, there are no rental car options here, so your winter getaway will be a bit more restricted (but exceptionally relaxing).

Head to your chosen accommodations, whether lodge, resort, or winter cabin and get settled in. Depending on amenities or activities, you might be invited to join in a cowboy campfire, enjoy a home-cooked dinner, or simply relax and take in the quiet, star-strewn skies of the beautiful Chilcotin.

Note that communities are few and far between on the Chilcotin Highway so while you’ll find ample fuel, food, and amenities along the way, it’s best to pack a few basic necessities (i.e. snacks and water) to ensure optimal comfort.
Fun stops on the Chilcotin Highway

Chilcotin River Trading: An Indigenous-owned and operated full-service gas station home to the best local grilled sandwiches in the West, bison chilli and soup, and a large selection of road snacks for your trip.

Historic Chilcotin Lodge: Accommodations, burger bar, bakery cafe and dining, all in one of the last remaining authentic lodging facilities in the Chilcotin (in fact, all of British Columbia) that once served as the area’s post office and general store.

Kinikinik Lodge & Restaurant: visit the live roof timber frame building, take a stroll and see the farm animals. Back at the restaurant, indulge in some wholesome food made from scratch. Feel free to stay a while at one of their timber-framed, modern-designed lodgings.

winter travel bc

Nimpo Lake | Jonny Bierman

Day Two: Scenic Explorations or Adrenaline-Fuelled Exploits

The outdoor adventures are endless in the Chilcotin, from aerial sightseeing tours via floatplane over the Homathko Icefield to heli-skiing the deep powder of the Chilcotin Mountains. Plan ahead to book with flightseeing operators who can pick you up from local lakes and community airports.

The snow up here in the depths of winter tends to be dry and soft, making ideal conditions for explorations by snowmobile. Any of the hills of the Chilcotin will provide a good ride, but the main attraction is the Rainbow Mountains in Tweedsmuir Park. The snowpack tends to be deep, and even when mountains elsewhere in the province are short of snow, the Rainbows are likely to be good. They cover such a vast area that even if the parking lot is crowded, you may not see another machine all day.

For those who’d like their winter vacation to take on a more relaxed pace, sightseeing along the remainder of the Chilcotin Highway offers plenty of opportunities. Explore hiking trails, take plenty of photographs, and bring some snacks so you can slow down and breathe deep the crisp air along the plateau and enjoy the sights.

winter getaways chilcotin

Red Cariboo Resort

Day Three: More Winter Adventures & Home

There are plenty of places to go in winter along in the Chilcotin and endless activities to experience if you bring some winter gear to stay warm. Working your way back to your departure point, consider cross-country skiing with various networks of trails and frozen lakes (when safe) to explore. Nimpo Lake has a host of community trails, and there are groomed trails in Tweedsmuir Park, but many local proprietors will have inside info on local trails to explore.

During the depths of winter, ice fishing in the Chilcotin is fantastic. Popular haunts include Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake, however, there are a myriad of lesser-known and hidden lakes to discover when the ice is thick enough. If ice fishing BC’s Chilcotin is on your bucket list, check with local operators for a guided experience or to see who might have equipment rentals available. See also Government of British Columbia restrictions and regulations on fishing in the area.

Winter getaways in the Chilcotin are memorable no matter what type of traveller you are, one looking for rest and relaxation, or eager for adventure. Get more planning tips and ideas by downloading our free travel guide or explore more stories below.