Here, rolling hills, backcountry lakes, brilliant sunshine and deep-powder snow beckon.
If you love winter, our region beckons. Heli-skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing are all in abundance here, as well as Nordic and downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, pond hockey, tobogganing, dogsledding and curling. In short, winter is the time to get outside and have fun.
Long ago, the only way to get around the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast in winter months was via dog sled. Today, this unique way of travel has been revived not only at the competitive level but as a truly memorable interactive experience for visitors. Both amateur and experienced mushers can now answer the call of the wild with a range of guided tours, one-on-one mushing workshops and multi day dog sledding adventures. Imagine being ensconced in a fur-covered dogsled, powered by a team of huskies, as you skate through the forest and over frozen lakes. Add in winter camping, kicking back in a snow-banked hot tub and swapping stories around a crackling fire at a cozy lodge, and it is easy to understand why this region attracts those who enjoy winter weather. Love skiing? You’ll have an embarrassment of riches to choose from: groomed Nordic trails and backcountry skiing options, family-focused downhill opportunities and some of the most amazing deep-powder heli-skiing in the world. Troll Mountain east of Quesnel is a popular family ski hill, and Mount Timothy, which has new owners, is set to re-open in the winter of 2019-20. Nordic skiers and backcountry aficionados will find peace and tranquility in our region. As BC’s Nordic Ski Society puts it, “Everything about this region, from the stable weather and ideal snow conditions to the vibrant culture and stunning natural environment, makes it ideal for its Nordic activities.” Meticulously groomed trails, maintained by resorts, clubs and communities, can be found in any direction a skier might choose to point their poles. Novice Nordic skiers can easily cover the 8-km (5-mi) route between Wells and Barkerville, for example, and well-maintained groomed trails can also be found around 100 Mile House and 108 Mile Ranch. Mount Agnes, near Barkerville, features 23 km (14 mi) of trails leading through heavily forested countryside. Hallis Lake, outside Quesnel, is known for its vistas and viewpoints, while an hour south near Williams Lake, the 28 km (17.5 mi) of groomed trails at Bull Mountain are the main attraction – some of them lighted and dog-friendly.
But it is the region’s many mountains and soft, dry powder that draw heli-skiers from all over the world. In fact, the sport of heli-skiing was invented in the Cariboo Mountains by mountaineering legend Hans Gmoser, known as the “Father of Heli-skiing.” The mountains beckon still. The region’s world-renowned heli-skiing destinations boast 3,000-m (9,850-ft) peaks that receive as much as 15 m (49 ft) of snow annually. Here, alpine daredevils inhabit a world of absolute stillness, a place of virgin beauty with thousands of vertical feet of the finest skiing on earth. Looking to get in on some pow action? From the Cariboo to Coastal Mountains you’ll find ample offerings, including Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing just outside Gold Bridge, BC, Bella Coola Heli Sports in Stuie and Silvertip Lodge perched on Quesnel Lake in the Cariboo Mountains, perfect for finding incredible heliski conditions.
Local Cariboo outfitters keep skiers fit with multiday hut-to-hut tours of the Bowron Lake canoe circuit, where the lakes’ frozen surfaces are broken only by the speckled tracks of foxes, hares and timber wolves. In the Chilcotin, Tatla Lake features 40 km (25 mi) of groomed trails and is home to an annual Tatla Lake Ski Challenge and Fun Day in January (with outdoor barbecue and enough good cheer to warm even the coldest winter day). Nearby, Nimpo Lake’s wilderness lodges serve as perfect base camps for ski touring in the wilds of Itcha Ilgachuz Provincial .
For some winter lovers, snow exists simply for snowmobiling. Sledders journey by trail across fluffy, white wilderness, including up and down mountainous terrain known for adrenaline-rush hill-climbing (following responsible sledding guidelines, of course). Meanwhile, Gold Bridge and Bralorne in the Bridge River Valley have long been popular snowmobile havens. The Mineshaft Pub is “sledder central” for many events. Favourite rides in this area include the Lone Goat Trail and Slim Creek, where the distance travelled is limited only by the amount of fuel carried.
End your day of snow fun with a horseback ride through the soft snowpack, or relax your cares away with a soak in a wood fired hot tub as you watch the sunset over the mountains. Start planning your snow days adventure to the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast with a host of winter activities.