The 6 best ways to see nature in British Columbia
By Jonny Bierman
There’s a popular saying that goes something like this: “You won’t find WiFi in the forest, but we promise you’ll find a better connection.” The same could be said for the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region of British Columbia, but more correctly, ‘You won’t find a lot of cellphone service in our region, but we promise you’ll find a better connection.” It’s also known that disconnecting to reconnect will leave you more grounded and engaged with the outdoors and yourself. So evidently, it looks like the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is a natural fit for experiencing nature…
The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region of British Columbia begins only a few driving hours away from Vancouver to Lillooet and seven hours from Edmonton. The region in its entirety is a wild and off-the-beaten-path place that invites its visitors to venture beyond for an experience in nature that is hard to find in places so close to crowded urban centres. The relationship between time spent in nature, its health benefits and wellness travel creates the perfect setting for a transformational journey in a region that delivers on the promise of helping you rediscover and reconnect with what’s real, what’s true, and what’s important–and this is done fully by discovery in and of nature.
We are a land without limits from the largest coastal temperate rainforest in the world, the Great Bear Rainforest, to the dramatic and authentic interior plateau of the Chilcotin. In our Land of Hidden Waters, a new lake for every day you stay awaits with all the fishing, paddling and family lakeside cabin adventures you can imagine. On the Cariboo Gold Rush Trail, history is shaped by nature as the Fraser River brings life to its banks and everywhere it flows. This is also where you can explore historic sites that tell the story of how this travel corridor is the very reason British Columbia exists today; on a Gold Rush Trail road trip, you’ll discover culture, unique accommodations, and adventures found nowhere else in BC.
In BC’s Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, nature is what we do, and these are our 6 suggestions on how to do it:
1. Be one with really big trees
A journey into an ancient place with living time capsules and storytellers is not an experience you get to immerse yourself in very often. From the Cariboo Mountains to the central coastline, our region is graced with old-growth forests and giant cedars that still stand healthy and tall. It isn’t until you stand next to such a large and old relic of time that you truly appreciate its mighty and massive presence, history and power. See this for yourself in Bella Coola on a boat tour of the central coastline and or camp amongst old-growth cedars next to North America’s deepest fjord lake at Cedar Class C Provincial Park (also see our Camping With No Reservations story and our list of Provincial Parks for more suggestions).
2. Look up
These mountains are constantly in motion and their glacier-capped peaks, old-growth forests, and cascading waterfalls will have you looking up a lot. For the curious adventurers keen to get up close and personal with the ancient peaks themselves, consider a floatplane-accessed mountain bike adventure or horse pack trip in the South Chilcotins. In the Cariboo Mountains, some of North America’s largest inland temperate rainforests are surrounded by cascading waterfalls and unparalleled stillwater and river fishing. The dramatic landscapes surrounding these waters would be nothing without the glacial fjord and jagged cliffs towering above carved by tectonic and glacial movements many years ago. And when the sun sets and the stars come out, the skies throughout our entire region are painted with an unimaginable amount of stars that will again, keep you looking up. Out here, enjoy complete silence and all the constellations you can name.
3. Take an Indigenous experience tour
They say a place is only as good as the people you know in it, and lucky for us, we have local Indigenous storytellers who put an incredible perspective to the places you visit. Learning from and about local Indigenous people, their sense of place, and their relationship to the planet will put your personal journey through life into perspective. Their history dates back thousands of years and in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, we are lucky enough to have communities with award-winning Indigenous experience tours that share past and present knowledge and stories. Step back in time with experience tours in Bella Coola, Lillooet and Soda Creek (just outside of Williams Lake). Visit a dugout house, enjoy BBQ salmon caught from the traditional fishing rocks on the Fraser River, or take a guided walk through Indigenous conservation at work. Many of these experiences welcome guests with traditional drumming ceremonies and explain the meaning and importance of all plants and animals through what has always been their home, pantry, medicine cabinet and places of teaching.
4. Wildlife viewing
With wild places comes wildlife, and the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is not short on furry and magnificent creatures. The businesses in our region have been pioneers in wildlife viewing and conservation while also providing unique accommodations in luxury lodges, canvas safari-style tents and private log cabins. Out here, viewing wildlife is paired with an assortment of activities like rafting, kayaking, fishing, biking, horseback riding and much more. Of course, on any part of your journey in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, you’re very likely to see wildlife along the way or on the water.
For the best fall wildlife viewing, check out our recent bear viewing story. 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.
5. Go farther
We have some of the most unique ways of getting around which present ample opportunities to get further into nature and remote destinations. Floatplane from Nimpo Lake or Bella Coola to glaciers and icefields that stretch for as far as the eye can see, to Hunlen Falls (the third highest waterfall in Canada) or to an overnight stay at remote alpine lake lodges. Are moose on your mind? The Cariboo is the best place to spot them and there are countless lakes to canoe for chances to see them from a respectful distance. Go for a few days in comfort with the many lakeside lodges, cabins and resorts.
6. Locally grown
Our food, wine and hand-crafted souvenirs are a great way to experience what the land has to offer us. Nutrient-rich soils in Lillooet provide optimal growing conditions for award-winning wine and the hops responsible for some of BC’s best beers. Explore delicacies and regional flavours further through the many farmers’ markets throughout the region. These markets provide rare opportunities to find culinary flairs you won’t see anywhere else, like the Cariboo’s birch syrup BBQ sauce! Tastes and flavours have evolved through new and existing cultures meeting, and our region blends the best to create a truly unique experience. This is no truer than when you stay at a German or Swiss-owned guest ranch, sample BBQ salmon and bannock at one of our Indigenous experiences, or when you bring home craft beer or local wine from your journey in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast.
For more accommodations and other information download our Travel Guide or visit the trip planning section of our website.