By Amy Watkins
Remote adventures don’t have to be rustic, with plenty of places offering a luxurious way to experience awe-inspiring scenery and incredible wildlife. Relaxing at a lakeside retreat, cozying up in a wooden cabin, taking in the wonder of cowboy country or the breathtakingly beautiful Great Bear Rainforest are quintessential ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Fishing fans can find amazing adventures in the lakes of Cariboo country, along the famous Highway 24 (aka the ‘Fishing Highway’). Winter warriors can head to the Cariboo for a wonderland of roaring fires in warm, cozy cabins and enjoy outdoor adventures such as ice fishing in frozen lakes, snowshoeing through crunchy forests and playing pond hockey on icy lakes. Loon Bay Resort’s traditional wooden cabins sleep one to six people and are located on Sheridan Lake, along Highway 24; open in summer and winter for multi-generational travellers to enjoy the great outdoors.
Family-owned and operated, Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort is a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, which means it has been handpicked because it “shares a strong commitment to sustainable practices and to protecting natural and cultural heritage”. This top luxury wilderness resort, guest ranch, and eco-retreat is situated in the heart of the ranch land of the Cariboo and can be reached by floatplane, helicopter, or overland from Williams Lake or Kamloops (a two hour’s drive away). Visitors can explore BC’s backcountry by foot, mountain bike, canoe, helicopter, or horseback—or take part in Siwash’s signature fire-ecology hike, which stops at nearby waterfalls and ends with a gourmet picnic lunch. Following the 2017 Elephant Hill Wildfire, the lodge created a Wildland Private Nature Reserve at Siwash Lake to let guests share in the conservation and regeneration of the local ecosystem. Accommodation is in safari-style ‘glamping’ tents that are decked out with luxurious cedar hot tubs, a wood-burning fireplace, and moveable beds for sleeping under the stars.
Spout Lake’s Ten-ee-ah Lodge is named after the First Nations Shuswap word for ‘big animal’ and the wilderness resort began life in the 1940s as a moose hunting base camp. Today it has deluxe log cabins and bigger log homes for larger parties to enjoy the ‘active relaxation’ of horseback riding, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, fishing, or flightseeing over the lake. Chilcotin’s lakeside retreats range from cabins that boast country charm to ‘summer camps for grown-ups’, and world-class wilderness lodges.
Nimpo Lake Resort, in the West Chilcotin, is a restful lakeside resort that has charming yet modern log cabins that each have a private deck and firepit. Rent a family-sized pontoon boat or a fishing boat to make the most of the rainbow trout-stocked lake and keep all eyes open for the bald eagles and ospreys that are fishing too. Ideal for soft adventure, the resort offers semi-wilderness experiences with home comforts for travellers who want to relax and enjoy the surroundings.
Bear Camp is a converted fishing and hunting campsite that features safari-style tents in the trees, made from local Douglas fir timbers and equipped with duvets and cozy beds for a grown-up summer camp experience. A 1950s fishing cabin is now the funky dining room, where the chef prepares food in an open kitchen concept and guests can mingle at the bar. Situated along the Chilko River, Bear Camp is connected by an interconnected network of elevated decks where guests can sit and enjoy the wildlife on the doorstep, or can choose to explore the raw wilderness of the Pacific Coast Mountain Range via kayak, canoe, or hiking.
Backcountry adventurers can journey into the Coast Mountains to find rugged comfort in the heart of the wilderness. Nestled at 1600 metres on the shores of an alpine lake, Nuk Tessli Lodge’s three log cabins are set within the forest as a base for backcountry camping with off-grid comfort and amazing hiking and mountaineering opportunities.
Tyax Lodge and Heliskiing is a world-class base for adventure on the shores of Tyaughton Lake in the heart of the southern Chilcotin Mountains. Surrounded by majestic mountain peaks, glacial lakes, and a diverse ecosystem of wildflowers and wildlife, the resort has luxurious lodge and chalet accommodations. In the winter, it offers heliskiing with 830,000 acres of ski terrain equaling over 375 existing runs, and annual snowfall of between five and 25 metres.
Head off the beaten track to the Chilcotin, between the Fraser River and the Coast Mountains and you’ll discover Retreat Wilderness Inn on the banks of Nimpo Lake; an intimate all-season lodge that offers paddleboard, kayak or fishing boat rentals, as well as forested community trails that are perfect for hiking, mountain biking, cross country skiing, or snowshoeing for epic views of the ranchlands, forests, and Coast Mountains. Nearby is Canada’s third-highest free-falling waterfall, Hunlen Falls, as well as hiking at the Rainbow Mountains, and paddling at the Turner Lake Chain in Tweedsmuir Park.
Bella Coola Valley and the Great Bear Rainforest are also found in this area. British Columbia’s central and northern Coast is a majestic land that was sculpted into deep fjords during the last ice age, and is now home to snow-capped mountains, rugged beaches, and emerald old-growth rainforests. Bella Coola, located at the western terminus of Highway 20, approximately 6.5 hours west of Williams Lake, is a popular place from which to explore the Great Bear Rainforest, where wolves, grizzlies, and even white spirit bears can be spotted amongst the world’s largest coastal temperate rainforest. It’s also home to some extraordinary accommodation options such as the restored 1920s Tallheo Cannery Guest House, which is in the heart of Bella Coola, near one of the last remaining fishing canneries on the Northwest coast. Surrounded by rocky shoreline and acres of coastal rainforest, the lodge is home to the community’s original general store, and guests can view original cannery artifacts, or visit the on-site art gallery & gift shop.
For more than 15 years, the cozy Nusatsum River Guest House has been offering cabin and lodge accommodation to adventurous visitors, who come to Bella Coola to see the hot springs, ancient trees, and varied marine life of the Great Bear Rainforest. Guests can dine on exceptionally fresh seafood, snuggle up with local books, and listen to the sound of the Nusatsum River at the door of the quaint cabins.
Deeper in the Great Bear Rainforest is the remote First Nations community of Klemtu. Situated 228km northwest of Bella Coola, the village can be accessed via air from Vancouver and is located on Swindle Island, close to the islands of Princess Royal and Gribble, which have the highest concentrations of the elusive white ‘spirit bear’ aka Kermode bears. Open between June and October, the Indigenous-owned wilderness Spirit Bear Lodge offers eco-cultural immersion tours to learn about the history of the area and discover wolves, whales, grizzlies, black bears and spirit bears in the supernaturally spectacular rainforest. Inspired by the traditional longhouses of the West Coast’s First Nations people, the lodge offers a cozy communal space in the Great Hall and each room has incredible ocean views to spot wildlife from the moment you wake up.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic luxury lodge to relax with a loved one, far away from everyday life, or you want an unforgettable eco-adventure into the heart of the rainforest, there are log cabins and wilderness resorts throughout the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast waiting to welcome you.
*Book your bear viewing with a certified Commercial Bear Viewing Association operator.