Stretching across a vast region of British Columbia, from the Pacific Coast north of Whistler to the Cariboo Mountains, the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is a backcountry adventure paradise. From horseback riding to hiking and kayaking, follow our activity guide for unforgettable pursuits that take you through ancient forests, along secluded saltwater inlets, over snow-topped peaks, and across lush rangeland, where working ranches welcome visitors to experience life on the land.
Explore the Great Bear Rainforest
The Great Bear Rainforest, the largest coastal temperate rainforest in the world, is home to the Kermode, or Spirit Bear, a black bear with cream-coloured fur. These special beasts have been an important part of First Nations legends for centuries, and spotting one in its natural habitat is a moment that will stay in your heart forever.
With over 16 million acres of incredible biodiversity, including 1000-year-old spruce and cedar trees, the Great Bear Rainforest is truly wildlife heaven. You’re in with a great chance of spotting grizzlies and black bears as you hike the trails, or spend a few days at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, where guides will lead you on foot and by boat on river excursions to watch the grizzlies feast on salmon and frolic with their cubs.
Take a hike on two legs – or four!
The entire Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region is criss-crossed with trails that serve hikers and horseback riders alike. Wells Gray Provincial Park boasts more than 20 trails, perfect for either activity, dotted with beautiful waterfalls, five lakes, two major rivers, and an abundance of wildlife. Our top tip? Head to Helmcken Falls along the trail that begins at the main park road and leads to Clearwater Lake.
Alternatively, explore Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. This enormous area (it’s the second-largest provincial park in BC) will make you feel like you’re the only person to ever tread the trails. This pristine wilderness is filled with hiking and horseriding routes through immaculate, lush rainforest.
Outfitters like Bracewell’s Alpine Wilderness Adventures put together single and multi-day backcountry guided and independent experiences, including hiking, horseriding, and fishing.
Paddle the Cariboo
The pristine Bowron Lakes Provincial Park incorporates a glittering series of lakes, the ultimate escapade for paddlers of all ability levels. Complete the whole circuit of lakes in around 10 days, or spend just couple of days gliding your way around just a few.
While you’re there, check out the gold rush town of Barkerville, restored to embody its colourful history, complete with locals dressed in period costume wandering the streets, and the nearby village of Wells, a picturesque town filled with talented artisans and heritage buildings. A little further along, the township of Quesnel is equally quaint, with its heritage buildings and welcoming locals. Wander across the world’s longest wooden truss bridge and hike the Riverfront Trail System – keep your camera ready for roaming deer!
Bella Coola beauty
The flight to the remote coastal community of Bella Coola is well worth the effort on its own. As you soar over the Sunshine Coast and dramatic mountain peaks, complete with ancient glaciers, you’ll feel like you’ve entered another world. Bella Coola is the perfect place to base yourself for wildlife viewing and outdoor adventures in all seasons. Start your explorations at the Tall Cedars Trail, close to Highway 20, which draws you deep into the temperate rainforest filled with Western red cedars.
Don’t miss the Nuxalk Nation petroglyphs (rock carvings), located near Thorsen Creek. Aged between 5000 – 10,000 years-old, the well-preserved petroglyphs offer an insight into the region’s history and deep-seated culture. Get to know the local Nuxalk First Nations people still living in the region. Their stories will fill your heart and permeate your being, changing you forever.
Don’t forget the South Chilcotins
The South Chilcotins are light on people but heavy on nature. We’re talking lakes, rivers, grasslands, and peaks, serving up outdoor adventures unparalleled anywhere else on earth. Mountain bikers and horse-riders can’t get enough of South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park, with its alpine meadows and towering mountains. Take a floatplane to access the striking Bridge Glacier or consider a multi-day horse-packing trip to really immerse yourself in this natural wonder. Make a stop in the village of Bralorne and check out the Bralorne Pioneer Museum, where the region’s gold rush history comes to life.
An insider’s tip: The Fort Berens Estate Winery on the banks of the mighty Fraser River is the perfect place to kick back for lunch. Sip on beautifully-crafted wines and enjoy a meal imbued with local flavours as you take in the spectacular panoramic views.