By Amy Watkins
Warm welcomes, charming accommodations, and magical scenery are waiting for you and your family in the winter wonderland of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast. Stay cozy this season in an easily accessible cabin that will fit all the family, hit the hills in quiet ski resorts, or take them all on an adventurous ice fishing or snowmobiling expedition. Crisp frozen lakes, powdery snow-covered mountains, and a sense of adventure await… whether you choose a relaxing cabin vacation or a high-octane activity-packed excursion.
Wrap up for winter ranch life
Bring winter alive for all the family with an exhilarating ranch visit that combines adventure and relaxation in a snow-sprinkled wilderness. Sleigh rides are a quintessential holiday experience to get in the festive spirit and at Wettstone Guest Ranch at Bridge Lake, visitors can enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow, try dog sledding, or get out on the lake for some skating and snowshoeing nearby. Stay in a Lakeview Chalet for a self-contained cabin adventure with a fully equipped kitchenette, cozy dining area, and two bedrooms for a family-friendly base.
Visit family-friendly ski resorts
Little ones that have lots of energy can burn it off on the slopes of locally owned Mt. Timothy, which is located in the heart of the Cariboo range. The family-oriented ski hill offers affordable skiing, uncrowded slopes, and diverse terrain for all the family, served by a triple chair, T-Bar, and two magic carpet lifts for easy access. Kids can go tubing, ride a sled on the Gold Rush Trail, or try the bunny slopes for an easy introduction to winter sports. Troll Resort near Wells is another family-friendly winter sports destination with a variety of terrain, including beginner slopes and a progressive terrain park for little ones who are new to the slopes.
Be wowed by winter wildlife
Fall in love with Likely, a small-town gem where you’re very likely to have a multitude of winter wildlife watching opportunities. Ecotours BC offers a package of winter wildlife viewing, snowshoeing, and accommodation in their cozy country Pyna-Tee-Ah Lodge near Likely. Look up to see owls, hawks, and eagles, or keep your eyes on the snow to track bigger beasts such as moose, mink, wolf, lynx, deer, and Mountain Caribou. Keep your camera ready in the hopes of spotting an elusive wolverine as you explore the area around Quesnel Lake, the deepest fjord lake in the world.
Indulge in ice fishing
Bond over learning a new skill with a family ice fishing expedition. Take a guided ice fishing trip with Lone Butte Fishing Adventures along BC’s fishing highway. Providing ice tents, heaters, and gear and electronics, the team makes sure to keep the family warm and having fun while trying to catch dinner. If your adventurous little ones have too much energy for patient ice fishing, let them burn it off with a skate on a pond rink at a lakeside cabin such as Fawn Lake Resort and Ruth Lake Lodge.
Hit the cross-country trails
Cross-country skiing is fun for all the family at 100 Mile Nordics Ski Trails, where newbies and experts alike can explore the Nordic ski and snowshoe trails on a budget day out (under $30 a day for the whole family). Discover 45 kilometres of well-marked cross-country ski trails, 3.5 km of which are lit for night skiing, and stop at the lodge to warm up with a hot chocolate after a day of accessible adventure. Clinton also offers 60 kilometres of marked cross country ski trails maintained by the Clinton Snow Jockey Club. Not into skiing? Snowshoeing is another accessible way to experience the crisp winter air and snow-covered scenery at a more leisurely pace, and snowshoes and cross-country skis can be rented from many locations throughout the region to save you from bringing or buying your own gear.
Step back in time in Barkerville
Kids will love the historic feel of Barkerville Historic Town, which had its golden beginnings back in the 1800s. Named after Billy Barker’s legendary gold strike on Williams Creek, which triggered a multi-billion dollar industry and helped build BC, the National Historic Site brings history alive with exhibits and events. With 125 heritage buildings, period exhibits, heritage restaurants and shops, there’s lots for the family to explore and this winter the historic zone is open all season long for the first time ever. Once you’ve taken in the sights, the children can slide down the Shamrock Tube Run, which offers conveyor lift access to two tube runs and over 400 feet of snow sliding fun.
Winter waterfall viewing at Canim Lake
Frozen fans can see a real-life magical landscape of wonderful waterfalls and snowy sculptures made by nature at Canim Lake, which takes its name from the word canoe in the Chinook language. At 37 km long, Canim Lake is one of the larger lakes in the Cariboo, with a beautiful backdrop of Douglas fir, spruce, and pine forests and the spectacular Wells Gray Provincial Park. Blessed with incredible waterfalls, the area takes on a magical appearance in winter when Canim Falls, Deception Falls and Mahood Falls become magnificent frozen sculptures. Canim Lake is dotted with family-friendly accommodations such as Canim Lake Resort, which is a 30-minute drive from the falls – take snowshoes to complete the 15-minute stroll to see the frozen beauties. Pack hot chocolate for the family to keep everyone warm and happy!
Get off-the-beaten-track with a snowmobile tour
Sometimes it’s the journey, not just the destination, that can be the most adventurous part of a vacation. Getting to Bralorne Adventure Lodge, a remote lodge in an old gold mining town north of Pemberton involves a 60-90 minute snowmobile ride to the front door. Choose from one to six-day snowmobiling adventures to get out into the crisp white wilderness and take in everything from frozen lakes to alpine peaks. Back at the lodge, things are fully catered, and you can warm up in the cedar spa after a day of adventure on the 100s of kilometres of trails nearby. If you’re a family of experienced snowmobilers, you can rent a ride to take you on the Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail from 70 Mile House to Horsefly, along 170 kilometres of signposted trails.
Experience exhilarating heli-skiing
Elevate your family adventure with a heliskiing trip in the place that it was invented by mountaineering legend Hans Gmoser, the Cariboo Mountains. Dry untouched powder awaits adventurous skiers, with up to 15 m (49 ft) of snow annually blanketing the picturesque peaks, where your family can experience secluded skiing in some of the world’s most-renowned heli-skiing locations. Base yourselves at Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing just outside Gold Bridge, Bella Coola Heli Sports in Stuie, or Silvertip Lodge perched atop Quesnel Lake in the Cariboo Mountains. Small group family packages offer the ultimate in intimate adventure, with private accommodations that combine rustic charm and modern luxury for an unforgettable family vacation.
Wherever you choose to travel in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Region this winter, it’s sure to be an adventure for all the family.