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. In the early 1860s, the Cariboo Gold Rush was in full swing, and the Cariboo Wagon Road was being built to handle the traffic of miners and supplies north to the goldfields and Barkerville.
Once a midway point on the Fraser Canyon route from the Lower Mainland to the Interior, and a good place for travellers to rest on the exhausting Gold Rush Trail, Cache Creek is named after the habit of travellers hiding their ‘cache’ in a nearby creek (Bonaparte River) while they rested before continuing on their journey. Other versions of the origin of the name tell of a robber who stole and ‘cached’ gold from a prospector along the Bonaparte River. To this day, this ‘cache’ has never been found.
Today, Cache Creek attracts visitors with its western mystique and beautiful scenery. Surrounded by dry grasslands and working ranches, Cache Creek is a great place in the High Country to ride horses on one of the many great western ranches in the area. The gently rolling terrain has clumps of trees around areas of water or higher elevation. Small lakes dot the landscape, and interesting mammals, birds and flowering plants suited to survival in this hot, dry region can be found.
Location: Cache Creek is located at the junction of Highway 97 and the Trans-Canada Highway 1, 121 miles (193 km) north of Hope, 9 miles (15 km) north of Ashcroft, and 53 miles (84 km) west of Kamloops.
Explore the era of the freight wagons of the B.C. Express Line (formerly Barnard Express) at the historic Hat Creek Ranch, located on one of the few sections of the original Cariboo Wagon Road still accessible to the public. Hat Creek Ranch was established as a roadhouse, serving the express stages. All of Hat Creek Ranch is a museum today, and the original buildings still stand as they did in 1901, with some dating back as far as 1860. Tour Hat Creek House and buildings, see Blacksmith demonstrations, take a wagon ride, or go trail riding.
The local Stuctwesemc people from the Bonaparte Reserve have reconstructed a traditional Shuswap Village beside Hat Creek. This is a rare opportunity to observe an actual kekuli pit house, and guides will show you the crafts, tools, and technologies of a self-sufficient culture that has always been closely integrated with the natural resources of the region.
Marvel at the huge piece of Jade rock displayed at the Cariboo Jade Shoppe. This incredible piece of Jade sliced from a rock near Dease Lake in Northern BC, is 1 foot thick and weighs 1,300 kilograms (2850 pounds). Inside the store you can watch this semi-precious jade being cut and polished.
The Ashcroft Museum, located 8 kilometres south of Cache Creek, has impressive displays of historical artifacts of the area.
Explore nearby Chasm Provincial Park, with its coloured rock formations, remnants of the ice age.
The year-round Horstings Farm Market is filled with the aroma of fresh baked bread and fruit pies, and the store is brimming with fresh produce, local honey, jams, syrups, country crafts, wicker and unique gift items. Located on Highway 97, 2 km north of Cache Creek.
Close by is Loon Creek Hatchery, which raises kokanee salmon and rainbow trout. Take the paved secondary road off Hwy 97 for 27 km northeast of Cache Creek.
Steelhead Provincial Park is located on the southwest shore of Kamloops Lake. Summer recreation draws a crowd, but at other times you’ll have this park and its wonderfully eroded landscape to yourself. This is an angling hot spot, too. Take Hwy 1 about 25 km east of Cache Creek.
Near the west end of Kamloops Lake, Savona Provincial Park offers a pretty spot for a picnic and a swim. Highway 1 runs right past the park.
Juniper Beach Provincial Park is one of the few access points to the Thompson River between Savona and Spences Bridge. One of the newest parks in British Columbia, it was created to help protect a desert landscape. Some of the world’s best steelhead fishing is found here. In July, you’ll be able to watch sockeye salmon as they travel upstream to spawn in the Adams River. Visitors can pretend to join them by taking a plunge in a large, natural pool that is separated from the river for swimming. Take Hwy 1 east of Cache Creek for about 25 km.
Golf: Semlin Valley Golf Course is a lovely 9-hole public golf course located on the hillside just 1 km east of Cache Creek on the Trans Canada Highway. Set in the nexus of three majestic valleys in the rugged heart of Cariboo Gold Country, this gorgeous track features lush, well-maintained fairways, panoramic vistas and the best-kept greens around. Another option is the Tobiano Golf Course, situated eight minutes east of Savona on a gentle bluff that traces the washes and swales along the shoreline of pristine Kamloops Lake, the former site of the historic Six Mile Ranch now transformed from rugged bench lands into a visually captivating golf course. Kamloops Golf Vacations (High Country).
Rock Climbing: The surrounding mountains are a paradise for rock climbers and particularly for rockhounders, who head to the High Country in search of Jade. Recreation in the Thompson Okanagan area.
Fishing is great in this area, and very popular on the Thompson River. Among the best of the area lakes is Loon Lake, a long narrow, well-stocked rainbow trout lake that also contains kokanee and steelhead. Boat launch facilities are located at Barnes Lake, Loon Lake, and Pavillion Lake. There are few fishing runs as legendary – or as threatened – as the steelhead run on the Thompson River, and one of the main tributaries, the Nicola. Steelhead are an oceangoing species of trout famous for their size, speed, stamina, and tremendous strength. In order to surmount obstacles in the Fraser Canyon before entering the Thompson near Lytton, steelhead must possess all these characteristics.
Pavillion Lake: Nestled in a canyon between Lillooet and Cache Creek is Pavillion Lake, which contains mysterious underwater formations of coral-like structures, some of which are up to four metres high, up to 11,000 years old, and covered in mats of microscopic, sunlight-loving microbes. Teams of scientists from NASA, Simon Fraser University and Portland State University believe that the massive structures have been created by microbes and are not found anywhere else in the world. The Underwater Council of BC has applied to the province for their protection.
Drop by Cache Creek over the second weekend in June for the BC Old Time Drags and Rod Run, when hot rods from all over the Pacific Northwest hit town to take part in races and a hot rod parade. Held at the Municipal Park and Eagle Motorplex.
Don’t miss Cache Creek Graffiti Days, held at the Municipal Park and Eagle Motorplex on the second weekend in June, in conjunction with the Old Time Drags.
Farm Guide: Travellers looking for a down-to-earth experience can find a list of resources and activities featured in the Kamloops Farm Fresh Guide. The guide showcases the diversity of life in the Thompson Nicola region, which ranges from wine tasting to guided family horseback rides on a working cattle ranch. Visitors can use the guide (available from Tourism Kamloops) to locate area farmer’s markets and fall fairs, discover fresh-picked fruit and vegetables, farm-raised meat and eggs, and value-added products like honey and jellies.
East of Cache Creek is the historic community of Walhachin, 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.
South of Cache Creek is the historic community of Ashcroft, nestled in the valley beside the mighty Thompson River, a desert oasis rich in history and big on hospitality. Ashcroft was born as a connection between the railway and the Cariboo Wagon Road.
North of Cache Creek is Clinton in the Cariboo, 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.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on Okanagan and Kootenay Rockies Circle Tour. Travel the sunny interior of British Columbia, north through the Okanagan to Sicamous, following Highway 1 into the mountains of the BC Rockies. From Golden, head south through the Columbia Valley to Creston, and west through the Southern Okanagan, starting and ending your sun-drenched voyage in Osoyoos, the place where two lakes come together. Circle Tours in British Columbia.