The small community of Tatla Lake is located on the Bella Coola Road (Highway 20), which leads from Williams Lake across the Chilcotin Plateau and Coast Mountains to Bella Coola on the west coast of central British Columbia.
Tatla Lake, near the western edge of the Chilcotin Plateau, is a helicopter tour access point for several wilderness destinations, including the Homathko Ice Field and Mt. Waddington, the Coast Mountains’ highest peak, at 4,016 metres.
Information on exploring the region by floatplane is available, and charter flights are also available at Tatla Lake to nearby fishing lakes.
Due to the wild nature of the Chilcotin region, visitors who wish to get off the beaten track but lack backcountry experience would do well to hire a guide. Local guides and canoe and cabin rentals can be arranged in Tatla Lake.
Be sure to stop in at the Graham Inn for some of the renowned home-style cooking.
Tatla Lake Recreation Site is located just north of Highway 20. Tatla Lake is popular for swimming, boating, canoeing and Kokanee fishing, offering a BC Recreation Campsite on the slopes of the lake. Cartop boats can be launched. Note that Tatla Lake ices over between November and May. The recreation site is located via a short access road off highway 20.
You can fish for trout and kokanee at Puntzi Lake, which features a fishing derby on the last weekend in June. The ice fishing is also good, particularly for whitefish in January. The Chilcotin River is a good spot for steelhead and sockeye salmon. South of Lees Corner (Hanceville) are numerous Chilcotin Lakes, some with rough Forest Service recreation sites. Obtain a map from the BC Forest Service in Alexis Creek or Williams Lake.
Take a fly-in fishing trip by floatplane or helicopter to the remote One Eye Lake or the Klinaklini River.
Hikers can do the 2-hour hike to Klinaklini Falls, southwest of Tatla Lake, off Highway 20. There also hiking trails at Puntzi Lake, just over 7 km north of Highway 20, about 60 km west of Alexis Creek, and hikers can explore the badlands of the Chilcotin Plateau on trails in the vicinity of Farewell Canyon. In British Columbia, the opportunities for outdoor adventures are everywhere.
The White Mile of Chilko River’s Lava Canyon challenges rafters and kayakers from around the world. Here the river drops 19 metres per km, 1,500 feet in 15 miles. This is not for the faint of heart or for those new to the sport, but it’s one example of the world-class rapids the Chilcotin offers.
Cross-country skiing is popular in the area, with 17 km of cross-country ski trails, including beginner, intermediate and advanced trails, and a race circuit.
Chilko Lake and Ts’yl-os Provincial Park are located about 37 miles (60 km) southeast of Tatla Lake. Eighty Kilometres long and glacier-fed, Chilko Lake is the largest natural, high-elevation freshwater lake in North America, and plays host to the third-largest chinook/sockeye salmon run, from August through to October. The salmon eggs are a major food source for rainbow trout and dolly varden. There is true trophy fishing here, with rainbow trout as big as 22 pounds (10 kg) and dolly varden as large as 24 pounds (54 Kg). Whitefish also inhabit Chilko Lake.
From Tatla Lake travel south as far as Cochin Lake, then east around Choelquoit Lake and south to the Forest Service campsite on the north end of Chilko Lake. Please note that travel time varies considerably depending on weather conditions. Routes follow rough, washboard gravel roads; high clearance four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended.
Chilko Lake Resort and Ts’yl-os Park Lodges are located at the north end of Chilko Lake and can be reached by road from Tatla Lake, which runs between Williams Lake and Bella Coola, or by air. A 3,200-foot gravel airstrip at Chilko Lake Resort accommodates private and chartered aircraft, and floatplanes can land and tie up in front of the lodge.
In Ts’yl-os Provincial Park (pronounced sigh-loss), experienced hikers can undertake a four-to six-day loop trek through the Yohetta Valley, Spectrum Pass, and Tchaikazan Valley. The easiest approach is from the Tchaikazan trailhead. To reach the trailhead, turn south at Elkin Creek, about 100 kilometres southwest of Hanceville on Highway 20. An alternative approach is via Chilko Lake and the Rainbow Creek Trail, a difficult 3-hour hike. A boat service to the Rainbow Creek Trailhead is available from the Xeni Gwet’in community in Nemaiah Valley. Also in the Park, at the north end of Chilko Lake, the well-marked Tullin Mountain Trail (12 km return) starts at the Gwa Da Ts’ih campground. This excellent day hike has an elevation gain of 2,400 feet.
Since Ts’yl-os is a wilderness park with limited services, all hikers should be experienced in the backcountry and well equipped for route finding, first aid, and survival conditions. The chance of encountering bears is much higher in Ts’yl-os Park than elsewhere in this region. Be bear aware. The wilderness park has two small campgrounds that tend to fill up quickly in the summer months. There are two developed campgrounds located in the northern half of the park; Nu Chugh Beniz Campground at Chilko Lake’s midpoint, and Gwa Da Ts’ij Campground at the north end of the park on Chilko Lake, reached via Tatla Lake.
Bounded by rugged peaks of the Coastal Mountains to the west, and the dry Interior Plateau to the east, Ts’yl-os Provincial Park provides visitors with a great diversity in both land and wildlife.
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