Construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road in the 1860s resulted in a number of new towns springing up throughout the southern Cariboo. One of many towns established along this historic route, and one of the first stopping places along the Cariboo Wagon Road, the town of 70 Mile House began as a mere roadhouse. Eventually, some of the travellers passing through this junction decided to stay and put down roots.
Many towns along the Cariboo Highway are helpfully referred to by the distance north along the Gold Rush Trail from Lillooet (Mile 0). Thus 70 Mile House marks the 70-mile distance between Lillooet and this town.
Today, 70 Mile House still has an old store and other services catering to travellers following this historic route.
Summer: During the summer around 70 Mile House, visitors can enjoy all the outdoor activities that have become synonymous with the beautiful wilderness of British Columbia: camping, horseback riding, mountain biking or hiking; swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, as well as some outstanding fishing. During the winter months try sleigh rides, snowmobiling, dog sledding, tobogganing, ice fishing and skiing.
You might want to stand on the shores of the lake in Big Bar Lake Provincial Park for half an hour simply trying to memorize the view – the Cariboo encourages that kind of behaviour. Glaciers melting as recently as 10,000 to 20,000 years ago have left a hummocky landscape marked with lakes and ponds: a real treat for open-eyed adventurers. There are vehicle/tent sites in this park, which opens in June – as soon as the snow melts! Swimming, fishing, and boating are popular activities here. A gravel road about 23 km south of 70 Mile House leads about 21 km to the park.
70 Mile House marks the turnoff to Green Lake Provincial Park. Once a by-way of the fur trade, Green Lake is wide and shallow, fed by two small creeks, lake-bottom springs, and upland runoff, and is excellent for both summer and winter recreation. The undulating plateau and highlands around the lake have become a cross-country skier’s paradise; sandy beaches dot the irregular shoreline at five spots, and there are vehicle/tent campsites at three locations in the park. Naturalists should stop here to observe the thriving avian population of eagles and osprey, as well as loons and a variety of ducks.
The small but beautifully situated Bridge Lake Provincial Park is particularly popular with anglers looking for rainbow and lake trout. It will win the heart of anyone who has the good fortune to spend a night here, particularly in fall, once the mosquito season has ended. A walking trail skirts the lake and provides an excellent afternoon’s exercise. There are vehicle/tent sites and walk-in campsites at Bridge Lake, 55 km east of 70 Mile House.
Colourful and fascinating geological formations and fine stands of ponderosa pine are protected by Chasm Provincial Park, located between Clinton and 70 Mile House, off Highway 97. At the end of the ice age, water from the melting glaciers carried so much silt that it carved the 8-km long, 600-metre wide, and 300-metre deep bedrock box-canyon. Layers of volcanic lava can be distinguished in the steep canyon walls. The rich ecosystem supports abundant wildlife; moose, black bear, aquatic mammals and waterbirds are all frequently viewed.
Guest Ranch: On the north shore of Green Lake is North America’s oldest guest ranch, which has a rail stop dating back to the days of the Great Eastern Railways.
Viewpoint: Rise above the rest, at the Mt. Begbie Lookout, 16 kilometres south of 100 Mile House, for excellent views as far as Wells Gray Park in the east, and the Marble Range to the west.
Snowmobiling: Wide open wilderness and frozen lakes invite snowmobilers to the area during winter to participate in snowmobile races, or to venture out for the pure adventure of it. The 100 Mile Snowmobile Club has developed a scenic touring trail network that stretches from 70 Mile House north to Spout Lake. Another network from 70 Mile House, south of Green Lake, connects with trails in Kamloops. The snowmobile corridor joins into the Trans Canada Snowmobile Trail, a project that will stretch 10,000 km when finished, and link all provinces and territories. Trail passes are required for use of the groomed trail system.
Skiing: In winter, this region is a popular skiing destination, for both downhill and Nordic skiers. The area boasts a 200-km trail system; one of the best, most beautiful and most extensively groomed networks in North America, and one of the longest in Canada. Trail passes are required for use of the groomed trail system. 100 Mile House hosts the annual Cariboo Cross-country Marathon, that draws an international field of between 700 and 1,000 Nordic ski enthusiasts to the second oldest loppet in Canada. The event is held in February, and covers lengths of 10, 20 30 and 50 kilometres.
Circle Tour: See the best of the Cariboo, Chilcotin and BC Coast on the Discovery Coast Circle Tour. Cross to Vancouver Island from Vancouver and head north, boarding the Queen of Chilliwack in Port Hardy. Return to the mainland at Bella Coola, and enjoy the grassy plateaus, rolling meadows, picturesque canyons and high mountain peaks of the Chilcotin. The old Cariboo Wagon Road will lead you back to Vancouver through the heart of the Cariboo region. The Inside Passage Tour, the Native Heritage Tour, and the Circle Tour of Northern BC all incorporate the Cariboo Highway 97 for the journey between Prince George and Vancouver.
Circle Tours in British Columbia.