The Nazko Valley is a beautiful valley with crystal clear rivers and lakes, vast verdant forests and impressive mountains. Known as the Gateway to the Nuxalk Carrier Grease Trail, the Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail, the community of Nazko is rich in First Nations and ranching Culture.
The Nazko Valley is within the traditional territory of the Carrier First Nation. The Chuntezni’i, Euchinico and Lhoosk’uzt’en bands of the Carrier have lived, travelled and hunted in the Nazko Valley since the beginning of time. The word Nazko means river flowing from the south.
Fishpot Lake and the Nazko settlement were places for spring fishing, and Trout Lake was a good winter fishing spot. In the fall, caribou were hunted on the Itcha Mountains, with the meat dried and stored for the winter.
The Carrier traded widely with the neighbouring tribes. On the Nuxalk Carrier Grease Trail goods (oolichan oil, dried meat, and obsidian) were traded over a 347-kilometre (158-mile) distance. In 1793, Alexander Mackenzie was guided through the Nazko area along the Grease Trail by the Carrier during his historic trip as the first person to cross North America by land.
Although fur traders and gold seekers passed through infrequently, the first permanent European homesteader settled in 1903. In the 1920s trading posts were built in Nazko, Kluskus and Ulkatcho, trading furs and dry goods widely with the Carrier bands, homesteaders and ranchers.
Today, the Nazko Valley area offers a wide variety of services and accommodations, and an impressive line-up of artists and crafters, including First Nations carvers, leatherwork and beadwork, watercolours, wood art, stained glass and cross-stitch.
The Nazko Valley is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts seeking wilderness adventure. Due to the wild nature of this region, the opportunities for hiking, mountain biking and horse riding are endless, and forest service and wilderness campsites abound. For anglers, the Blackwater River is a world-famous fly-fishing river. Travel information and Nazko Valley Tour brochures are available at the Nazko Valley Community Centre.
Location: The community of Nazko is located 100 Km (60 miles) west of Quesnel on the Nazko Highway.
Spectacular vistas of the valley can be viewed from the Fishpot Forest Service Lookout Tower. Access is from the old Baezaeko Road at 5.7 km. Follow the third road left and continue up to the hilltop. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended.
Attractions: There are many unique and interesting attractions to see and places to explore in and around the Nazko Valley. Highlights include Indian Head Rock, the Lava Mine, Crater Lake, Nazko Falls, old abandoned homestead sites, and many heritage sites in the community of Nazko.
The Blackwater Homestead was one of the first homesteads in the Valley back in 1912. The main house was built in the 1950s, and most of the buildings on site are original. At its peak the ranch covered 1501 acres of private land and wintered about 500 head of cattle. The Blackwater homestead is located on the Nazko Road across the Blackwater Bridge.
The Krestenuk Trading Post was set up in the 1920s for the Nazko, Kluskus, and Trout Lake area. The main business was fur trading and supplies, and the trading post was also used as a post office. The Trading post is located just past the Chuntezni’i Cemetery.
The Old Red School House at the Nazko Community Centre was originally located 10 km from where it is situated today. The log schoolhouse was the first provincial school, built in 1951, and has remained a treasured symbol of the area’s past ever since.
The Catholic Church on the Nazko Reserve was built around 1892, when the Nazko Settlement was formed. The Nazko residents built it to serve the community, and the church was used from 1892 until 1988.
The Chuntezni’i Cemetery is believed to have its beginnings with the establishment of the Roman Catholic mission in the 1890s. The Homesteader Cemetery was officially established in 1935, and early homesteaders have used this peaceful setting as a place for the departed since 1917.
Camping is available at the Marmot Lake Campsite operated by the Nazko Community Association. Forest Service Campsites are located at Blackwater River, Snaking River, Fishpot Lake, Crater Lake and Honolulu, which offers campsites on the banks of the Nazko River at 22 km on the Honolulu Road. A campsite campground and lakeside log cabins are also available on Fishpot Lake at the Fishpot Lake Resort, a year-round wilderness vacation destination catering to families, fishermen, hikers, campers, photographers, birders, and nature lovers. Canoes and boats with motors are available for rent.
Canoeing: The Nazko Valley offers several canoeing adventures ranging from stillwater paddles on Marmot, Redwater, and Brown Lakes to more advanced river trips on the Blackwater, Nazko and Baezaeko Rivers. There is a two- to four-day canoe route on the Nazko Lakes north of Alexis Creek. This route enjoys beautiful scenery, good fishing, wildlife viewing and wilderness camping. Campsites are located at Loomis and Deerpelt Lakes in the Nazko Lakes Provincial Park (see below). The 20-km canoe wilderness canoe circuit spans six lakes (Deerpelt Lake, Nazko Lake, Tanilkul Lake, Nastachi Lake, Tzazati Lake, and Tchusiniltil Lake) and has easy portages, most of which are marked.
Fishing: Good lake fishing for Rainbow Trout is available at Fishpot Lake (to 7 lbs), Marmot Lake, which is excellent for early season fly-fishing with Rainbow Trout to 8 lbs, and Brown (Bishop) Lake, a trophy lake with excellent fly-fishing and Rainbow trout to 15 lbs. Blackwater River is one of the finest fly-fishing rivers in BC, with Rainbows to 5 lbs. The Baezaeko River gives up Rainbow trout to 4 lbs and Bull Trout to 10 lbs, but access is limited. The Nazko Rivers yield Rainbows to 5 lbs and Bull Trout to 10 lbs, mostly accessible along the Honolulu Road.
Hiking: Hikers with a historical bent would appreciate tackling some or all of the Nuxalk-Carrier Grease Route, known as the Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail, which stretches a full 264 miles (420 km) from the mouth of the West Road (Blackwater) River between Prince George and Quesnel to the Sir Alexander Mackenzie Provincial Park. The major appeal of the extensive backcountry hiking or horseback riding trail is the opportunity for long-distance wilderness travel along an historic route that follows the footsteps of First Nations peoples, Alexander Mackenzie, and other explorers.
Nazko Lake Provincial Park in the northern part of the Chilcotin Plateau protects wetlands portions of the lakeshores and the Nazko River. These wetlands are important for waterfowl, shorebirds, aquatic fur-bearers and moose, as well as the amphibians, fish and insects that live and breed in the park.
Itcha Ilgachuz Provincial Park is a huge remote and roadless wilderness area due north of Anahim Lake on Highway 20. The park landscape is unique in its variety of volcanic landforms, alpine environments, lakes, grassland, forest, and wetland habitat. Unmaintained hiking trails and horse riding trails exist throughout the park, and cross-country ski touring and winter camping are possible. Wilderness and backcountry camping is allowed, but no facilities are provided.
Kluskoil Lake Provincial Park northwest of Quesnel is a 15,548-hectare wilderness park that provides splendid opportunities for outdoor adventure in the Interior Plateau of BC. Campsites are provided on a first-come, first-served basis, and for those that enjoy hiking or biking, this region is littered with trails.
White Pelican Provincial Park provides a sanctuary for one of the world’s most beautiful birds, the White Pelican. The park incorporates and completely surrounds Stum Lake, and is managed exclusively to protect the provincial pelican population.
Wildlife is abundant in the area, including mule deer, white tail deer, moose, caribou, black bear, grizzly bear, cougar, wolves, coyotes, lynx, otters and beavers. A wonderful variety of birds and waterfowl can be viewed, including Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Trumpeter Swans, and the rare White Pelican (see White Pelican Provincial Park above).
To the east of Nazko is the picturesque community of Quesnel 100 Km (60 miles). Located at the confluence of the Fraser and Quesnel Rivers, Quesnel is the commercial centre of the North Cariboo.