A City-Slicker’s Guide to Exploring B.C.’s Wild Cariboo

Whether you’re spotting grizzlies or kicking back in a mountain lodge, a visit to the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is the best way to leave your daily grind behind.

March 7, 2018

By Catrina McCrae / Photo: Destination BC/Grant Harder

From snow-capped mountains to rolling plains and lush forests, B.C.’s Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is a far cry from the concrete jungle of Metro Vancouver. The region has three major areas—the Cariboo, the Chilcotin and the Coast—that span over thousands of acres of wilderness, which means you’ll have plenty of room to play.

Whether you’re looking to see a bear for the first time, hide away in a luxury lodge, catch a fish, or all of the above, you’ll find a way to reconnect with yourself and nature in B.C.’s Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region. You are definitely not in the city anymore, Toto.

Bear Watching

Getty Images/Flickr

Welcome to bear country. With so much wilderness, including dense vegetation and rushing streams full of salmon, it’s no wonder there’s a thriving bear population through the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast. Whether wildlife watching on foot, horseback or boat, you’re sure to come across creatures spanning from eagles to wolves to grizzly bears—all while you breathe in pure alpine air. If you’re lucky while travelling on the coast, you may even catch a glimpse of the elusive “Spirit Bear”, a rare sub-species of the American black bear famous for its bright white fur. Plus, for the real city slicker, you can even go “Glamping with the Grizzlies” as part of a new offering from Ecotours-BC. Sleep in a floating lodge that has 360-degree mountain views and provides direct access to old-growth forests, deep lakes and plenty of stargazing opportunities.

Luxury Lodges

Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson

You don’t have to be in the city to experience luxury; instead, find paradise in the elegant accommodations available in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast. For those needing a private escape, Silvertip Lodge sits at the edge of the Cariboo Mountains on a 14-acre private beachfront property that is only accessible by boat or small aircraft. Surrounded by the Fraser Canyon, boreal forests and rolling grasslands, Echo Valley Ranch and Spa is a great spot to take a step back from the grind of the city and de-stress. You’ll come across bald eagles, red wing hawks, falcons, moose and even lynx around the ranch—after you’ve had a relaxing Thai massage in their Sabai Sabai Suite, of course. For a true “Home on the Range” experience, book a stay at the Big Bar Guest Ranch, where rustic and welcoming accommodations offer comfort unlike anywhere else.


Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson

Fishing in B.C.’s wild Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is no joke. Salmon, halibut and rainbow, cutthroat and steelhead trout can all be found in the peaceful salt and freshwater lakes and rivers throughout the region. Fishing is so abundant in this region that a section of Highway 24 between 100 Mile House and Little Fort is known as the “fishing highway”, with over 100 lakes within an hour’s drive of each other!

Even if you’ve never cast a line before, you’ll find a new appreciation for the sport in this serene environment. Blackwater River is a heritage river famous for dry fly-fishing and wild rainbow trout; Nimpo Lake has rainbow and bull trout and is a port for floatplanes that go on excursions to more remote lakes; and Quesnel Lake is the deepest glacial-formed lake in the world, housing huge fish and sporting a long shoreline. For the saltwater fisher, Hakai Pass is legendary for its spring and coho salmon fishing and presence of halibut, lingcod and rockfish. The Rivers Inlet, south of Bella Coola, has giant chinook salmon (up to 70 pounds). And be sure to head to Denny Island for a serene open-water fishing experience. Of course, you can always book a guided tour if you want to up your chances of coming home with a big one.

Take a step back from the workweek hustle and lose yourself in the wilderness of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast. Catch a fish. Kick your feet up. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get to stare down a bear or two. Whatever you come across on your adventure, you are guaranteed to have an experience unlike any found in the city.

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