There is no better way to enjoy the visual delights of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast and Fraser Canyon than from the seat of a touring motorcycle. All the sights and scents of the road, the feel of the wind and the look of the sky become clear and immediate as you motor access the countryside. Ranking high on the list of attractions for motorcyclists is the huge diversity of landscapes. The topography ranges from forested lake country to golden, rolling grasslands to red-rock canyons and twisted hoodoos, and the vistas are awesome, with plunging cliffs, immense cloud banks and long descents into river-lined valleys. As an added bonus, many roads have pullouts where you can pause for a few moments and take it all in.
Each route offers something different. Dramatic scenery takes centre stage on Hwy. 1, where the cliff-hugging road twists through the Fraser Canyon past sheer rock walls and along perilous ledges jutting hundreds of metres above the thundering Fraser River. Meanwhile, in the South Cariboo, Hwy. 24 (The Fishing Highway) bisects a rustic tableau of old homesteads, meadows and wooden Russell fences while providing access to more than 100 lakes, superb fishing and a host of guest ranches and lakeside resorts where you can chill after a long day on the blacktop. Hwy. 26 in the North Cariboo runs a tight-turning course that features spruce-scented air from Quesnel to Barkerville as it winds past a restored Gold Rush roadhouse and the historical curiosities of Mexican Hill, Robber’s Roost, Blessing’s Grave and Devil’s Canyon. In contrast, Hwy. 20 cuts a lonely line through big-sky country, from Williams Lake across the Chilcotin Plateau all the way to Bella Coola on the West Coast. Dotted with small communities, old-fashioned general stores and panoramic vistas, the road stretches 457km/284mi without a single traffic light.
Bikers will also revel in this region’s lack of traffic. Once off the main arteries, the lanes empty out and there are few RVs or trucks to slow you down. Even sweeter, the roads curve like giant snakes as they cut through the wilderness, imparting a sense of righteous flow to a ride. In fact, in many places you are more likely to see wild animals – black bears, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, eagles and trumpeter swans – than vehicles. Dual sports enthusiasts also delight in the extensive network of gravel roads that lead into the backcountry to connect with remote lakes, glittering waterfalls and brooding mountain peaks. There will be little or no automobile traffic on these rib-rattling roads, but plenty of hairpin turns, scenic climbs and time for peaceful reverie.
Wherever you choose to ride you will also experience unusual sights and sounds such, as sharing a river crossing with nothing but cowboys and softly nickering horses on the Big Bar Ferry, along with unique opportunities such as the chance to take a float plane tour of Mt. Waddington, (the highest peak in the Coast Range), and the massive Homathko Icefield. You will also meet friendly locals who gladly offer directions and impart tips on such things as the best lake for landing rainbow trout or the best place to enjoy a cappuccino. They may also direct you to such unpublicized gems such as the Bear’s Paw Café in Wells, a cozy diner that garners rave reviews, or the Log Cabin Pub, a classic biker bar in the town of Spences Bridge where a sign posted above the front door reads, “Please leave your hurry at the door – our goal is to slow you down.”