Gold Country is a region of British Columbia rich in gold mining history, with fascinating tales of gold prospectors, merchants, travellers and cowboys to enchant visitors and history buffs.
An area of great scenery and abundant wildlife, the mountains and valleys, lakes and rivers, and historic towns of Gold Country provide everything for the modern traveller and outdoor adventurer. Follow the links below to each community page to unlock the secrets hidden in Gold Country.
Location: Gold Country overlaps the extremities of three regions of the province, as defined by Tourism British Columbia; the Thompson Okanagan, the Cariboo, Chilcotin, Coast, and Vancouver, Coast & Mountains. The communities are located in southern central BC, along or near the Trans Canada Highway 1 and the Cariboo Highway 97.
The following communities are located in Gold Country.
The historic community of Ashcroft is nestled in the valley beside the mighty Thompson River, a desert oasis rich in history and big on hospitality. Born as a connection between the railway and the Cariboo Wagon Road, Ashcroft has a history steeped in transportation and agriculture.
As you drive up to Brookmere, the Coldwater River flows along beside you; perfect for a cool dip on those hot sunny days. There are trestles along the way and they are used by hikers and bikers. As you climb up the steep mountain to Brookmere, the view of the valley is gorgeous. Not much remains of the community, but evidence of its railway history can be found by the caboose, the foundation of the railway roundhouse and a large fuel storage tank that remain at the site.
Amid a desertlike climate of cactus, sagebrush and rolling tumbleweeds, the bustling little town of Cache Creek provides an oasis of motels at the junction of the Trans Canada Highway and the Cariboo Highway (97). Long before fur traders, Gold Rush Miners, ranchers and settlers arrived in this valley, people of the Shuswap Nation followed a nomadic lifestyle here for thousands of years.
Clinton was once a busy junction on the wagon road leading to the Cariboo and Barkerville gold fields. 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.
West of Lillooet, the Gold Bridge area opened up in the late 1920s and soon became the richest gold-producing region in the province. History buffs have plenty of old ghost towns and abandoned mines to poke around in here, while those more inclined to explore the outdoors will find plenty of hiking and trail-riding in the area.
Green Lake of Green Lake Provincial Park is wide and shallow, fed by two small creeks, lake-bottom springs, and upland runoff. One of the Cariboo’s largest bodies of water, the lake is 14 km (8.7 mi) long, this lake is excellent for both summer and winter recreation. Swimming, boating, waterskiing, paddling, and horseback riding are all popular; 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. Set up camp near the emerald waters of Green Lake, located amid open ranchland and mixed forests of aspen and lodgepole pine. The park offers 121 campsites in three campgrounds. Admire Cariboo sunsets at Sunset View, explore the aspen forests of Emerald Bay or enjoy waterfront camping at Arrowhead. Green Lake is located off Highway 97, a 15-minute drive northeast from 70 Mile House.
Founded as Mile 0 on the wagon road leading to the Cariboo and Barkerville gold fields, Lillooet was a child of the Gold Rush, like so many Cariboo towns. Serving as a terminus for boat routes across Harrison and Anderson Lakes, at the start of the first Cariboo Road, the town had swelled to almost 15,000 residents within twenty years of its founding.
Set into the hills beside Logan Lake in the heart of the Highland Valley, the community of Logan Lake is located 60 kilometres southwest of Kamloops. Logan Lake passed from a company ‘camp’ town in 1971, when it was established as a company town to support the expanding copper mine development 15 kilometres to the west, to a ‘rooted’ community in the late 1970s.
A golden addition to Gold Country, this community is perfect for the outdoors enthusiast. The hiking and biking trails give you a chance to experience pristine nature. Take a drive up to Promontory Mountain. Though the road is quite steep, and a 4 X 4 is recommended, you will be glad that you decided to make this trip. Standing on the weather station catwalk, the view you experience is spell binding. Make sure you bring your camera, as the view of Merritt and all the surrounding mountains is spectacular.
Located where the green waters of the Thompson River meets with the brown, silt-laden flow of the Fraser River, Lytton is one of the oldest continuously settled communities in North America. Built on the site of a First Nations village known as Camchin, the meeting place, Lytton was also a stopping place along the route taken by hardy prospectors as they made their way north to the gold fields.
The growing city of Merritt is located at the hub of the Coquihalla Highway system, in easy reach of Vancouver, Kamloops and the Okanagan. Merritt is the service centre for the ranch country of the Nicola Valley, and provides an excellent base for exploring the many outdoor recreational opportunities in the area.
Imagine a magical place where the sun shines on most days of the year on grasslands, rolling hills, historic ranches and shimmering lakes. Such a place exists in the southern interior of BC, where the sun heaps over 2,000 hours of annual sunshine upon Merritt and the Nicola Valley. The charming Nicola Valley is steeped in history; mining and railways, western lifestyle, and First Nations culture.
The community of Savona is located on the shores of beautiful Kamloops Lake, named after Francois Savona who established a ferry service across the Thompson River in 1859. Between 1865 and 1885, Savona was the eastern terminus of the BX Stage Coach Line, as well as the western terminus of two steamship lines that provided regular service to Kamloops and ports on the Shuswap Lakes.
70 Mile House
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. Today, 70 Mile House still has an old store and other services catering to travellers following this historic route.
At the confluence of the Thompson and Nicola Rivers, 37 kilometres northeast of Lytton, is the small community of Spences Bridge, an important Nlaka’pamux centre. The area around Spences Bridge has a long and ancient history, with a Native Heritage spanning thousands of years. Europeans first came during the Cariboo Gold rush of the 1850s, when the town was known as Cook’s Ferry.
The community of Walhachin was originally established in 1910 as a farming community for British settlers attracted by somewhat exaggerated claims of an agricultural utopia. The new colony was not successful, and today Walhachin is a small community of approximately 100 residents, located off the Trans-Canada Highway, between Savona and Cache Creek. Walhachin has been used as a filming location for the television series, the X-Files.
Northeast of Cache Creek is Loon Lake, a wonderful spot for a nice and easy summer vacation, great for families and outdoor types. The beautiful 7-mile long and narrow lake is surrounded by mountains and is abundant in wildlife. Fishing is great in the Cariboo, with literally thousands of lakes, ponds, and rivers in the region. Loon Lake is among the best of them, as it is well-stocked with rainbow trout and also contains kokanee and steelhead. Close by is Loon Creek hatchery, which raises kokanee salmon and rainbow trout. Travel 20 miles (32 km) north of Cache Creek on Highway 97 and turn east on the paved Loon Lake Road, continuing for approximately 14 miles (23 km) to the lake, passing sprawling ranches and Loon Creek Canyon.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on a driving Circle Tour. Head north out of Vancouver for the scenic Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island Circle Tour, or stay on the intensely scenic Sea to Sky Highway, passing through the magical winter resort town of Whistler and Coast Mountains Circle Tour. To explore the rural farmlands and forests of the fertile Fraser Valley, take the Fraser Valley Circle Tour, travelling outbound on the scenic route north of the historic Fraser River, returning westwards along the Trans Canada Highway 1 to Vancouver. Circle Tours in British Columbia.