Once a busy junction on the wagon road leading to the Cariboo and Barkerville gold fields, Clinton was originally known as The Junction, and Cut Off Valley, before being renamed in 1863, honouring the Colonial Secretary, Henry Pelham Clinton, the 5th Duke of Newcastle.
An historical cairn in Clinton marks the junction of two routes to the Cariboo gold mines; The original 1859 Cariboo Trail from Lillooet, and the Cariboo Road through the Fraser Canyon, built in 1863 by the Royal Engineers.
Situated halfway to these gold fields, Clinton was an ideal place for weary travellers suffering from gold fever to stop for a rest, food, entertainment, and even encouragement. Clinton grew with the demand for these services.
Staying true to its rawhide roots today, Clinton’s Main Street still exudes a Wild West flavour, with many of the buildings boasting their original storefronts, restored to retain the western atmosphere and character. The area surrounding Clinton is known as the Guest Ranch Capital of British Columbia. From historic Hat Creek Ranch to Kelly Lake, Big Bar Lake and Jesmond, many guest ranches offer the genuine trail-ridin’ cowboy experience.
Clinton Museum: For a glimpse into Clinton’s colourful past and western heritage, visit the Clinton Museum. The building that houses the Museum was built in 1892, from locally hand-made bricks, to serve as a school until 1925, and as a courthouse from 1925 to 1955.
Wildlife: The Clinton area offers good big game viewing, from Big Horn sheep, moose and Mule deer, to bear and cougar.
Chasm Provincial Park protects colourful and fascinating geological formations and fine stands of ponderosa pine. The park is 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.
A great place for families to visit is Reg Conn Centennial Park, a little-known treasure within the village of Clinton. Have a quiet picnic beside the bubbling creek, lawns and trees, and stretch those legs before hitting the road again.
Winter: Winter activities include cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and showshoeing. Clinton has some of the best cross-country ski trails in the Cariboo. From late fall through spring, the almost 50 kilometres of trails are well groomed, and excellent snowmobile trails are located within minutes of town. Other winter recreation offered includes hockey, Curling bonspiels, skating and ice fishing.
Trails: There are over 60 kilometres of marked trails through some of the most scenic terrain in the South Cariboo. Carefully spaced shelters offer the skier ample opportunity to rest when the need arises. These same trails are suitable for hiking and mountain biking during the summer, and are especially enjoyable in the fall months. Even in the hearts of our cities, you’re never far from the wilderness. In British Columbia, the opportunities for recreation are everywhere.
Horse Riding: Whether cantering over open meadows or through powdery snow, feel the freedom that can only be experienced on horseback. Guest Ranches in the Cariboo have year-round access to thousands of acres of prime horse riding country. Follow maintained riding trails through the timber or enjoy the wide-open rangelands and mountain meadows of the Cariboo Cattle Country.
Summer: When the snow and ice leaves the hills and lakes, Clinton is again blessed with an area where the multitude of lakes provides excellent picnic and camp sites, and offers kokanee or rainbow and eastern brook trout. The climate and the 3,000-foot elevation provide warm days and cool nights, with plenty to do; hiking or horseback riding on the mountain trails west of Clinton, canoeing, camping and fishing.
Hang-Gliding: At nearby Lime Mountain, the conditions for hang-gliding are said to be amongst the best in North America. Hang-Glider clubs throughout the province now meet regularly in Clinton during the spring and summer. The annual Western Canadian Hang-gliding Championships are held here in May.
Heritage Cemetery: The final resting place of many of the founding families of Clinton is in The Old Clinton Cemetery, which dates back to 1861.
Rockhounds should visit the Limestone Quarry, within minutes of Clinton, where fossils of early plant life can easily be found.
Marble Range, northwest of Clinton, presents an interesting challenge for mountain climbing enthusiasts.
In May, Clinton puts on its famous May Ball, an event they’ve been holding since Confederation, about 1867. Stick around for the Clinton Rodeo for an up-close look at the rough and ready world of real cowboys.
Set amid the peaceful tranquillity of Clinton’s Reg Conn Centennial Park, the Annual Clinton Country Jamboree in mid August is a feast for the senses, as the village celebrates its early pioneers. Free admission provides a full day of celebrating western heritage, enjoying live music, cowboy poetry, demonstrations, an open market, beer garden, meals, prizes and much more.
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.