Why a Trip to the Cariboo, BC is not to be Missed
From an American’s perspective, a trip to British Columbia has to include visits to well-known locations including Vancouver, Whistler, and the like. Knowing we had the flexibility of exploring further thanks to our truck and travel trailer, we had a few thoughts upon planning for our Canadian adventure: What if we keep going north!? What would we find? What special campsites might we come across? What if there is some fun backcountry adventure that would lead us right into lush forests and abundant wildlife? This is what we found.
Having spent the first few days of our trip in and around the Squamish and Whistler areas, we found a small campground along Hwy 99 named Cinnamon rec site to use as a proper launching point into the Cariboo region. Just a short 20km drive south of Lillooet, we used this site to stock up on supplies in town and fill up on water and fuel. Hitting the road northbound we knew we had to put in a solid 3-4 hour drive to approach Williams Lake, a charming town with small, locally owned businesses dotting the streets.
Pushing further north, we pulled the travel trailer past the town of Quesnel and turned eastward on Highway 26 towards another small rec site named Lightning Creek. Thankfully we were not welcomed by lightning, although we can’t say the same about the mosquitoes. They certainly were planning a welcoming party for us, but we were prepared with repellant which we quickly slathered on. Having equipped ourselves with the necessary armor to fight off the festivities of our winged enemies, we chose a site for our travel trailer and set up camp. A good night’s rest was just what we needed to prepare for an exciting day of adventure to come.
Approaching the preserved mining town of Barkley, we took the Bowron Lake Park Rd turn-off and followed the signs showing us the way to the “Back Road”. A mix of tightly packed gravel and chunkier, loose rocks in certain areas, the “Back Road” is typically impassable by 2-wheel drive vehicles save for a few weeks in the Summer. Making use of the 4-wheel drive truck we use, we went straight for a deep dive into the backcountry. The further we went, the more special the scenery became. From creek crossings to hill and mountain vistas, this was the drive we had hoped for!
An early June series of storms had moved in on us causing us to ditch plans we had for a night of tent camping at Ladies Creek rec site, but the sight of the green pines standing tall and the crisp, fresh air made it an absolute joy just to be out there. Nearing the end of our journey on the “Back Road” we had one final encounter that cemented this as one of our favorite adventure travel experiences, our first bear sighting. Coming from Florida, we don’t see bears all too often and we certainly don’t expect to find them on a leisurely drive along the beachfront boulevard. But here he was, a majestic black bear happy to let us watch him feast on the vegetation.
We made sure to give him plenty of space, snapped a few photos, and went on our way knowing that he would most likely prefer to have a side of peace and quiet with his dinner. Having completed the “Back Road”, we couldn’t help but be thankful for an experience we will not soon forget. As it turns out, there is, indeed, a lot more to see and do in British Columbia than those “famous” spots. A trip to the Cariboo just might provide you with a few lifelong memories and a bucket list moment checked off the list.
For more campgrounds in the Cariboo and other areas of British Columbia check out the Camping Map.
Share your British Columbia travel and camping photos using #campinbc
Published: August 1st, 2019
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