Offroad adventurers in the Cariboo/Chilcotin region are undertaken on a variety of “backroad tours”, including mountain top adventures, Fraser River tours, and tours to historic ranches and native historical sites.
The wilderness terrain varies from steep, challenging mountain roads, with dramatic switchbacks and breathtaking views, to quiet country roads where wildlife can be viewed in their natural habitat.
Some of the more popular areas for offroad touring are Big Bar, Jesmond, Pavilion, Churn Creek, Bonaparte River, Big Bar Lake, Kelly Lake, Loon Lake, Clinton to Lillooet via backroads, Clinton to Williams Lake via backroads, Big Creek, and Nemiah Valley. Visitors travel past historic ranches and renowned areas such as Gang Ranch, Canoe Creek, Hat Creek and West Pavilion.
Multiday trips from the Cariboo can be arranged to destinations like the legendary and historic gold rush town of Barkerville, and the small fishing and logging village of Bella Coola at the western terminus of Highway 20, which runs west from Williams Lake through the Chilcotin to the Coast Mountains. Offroad 4×4 tours can be combined with a camping excursion to one of the many pristine lakes in the Cariboo, with hiking and canoeing trips included.
Other offroad sights to see in the area include views of the Coast Mountains and the Marble Mountains, Farwell Canyon and the Chilcotin River. Nineteen kilometres from the Highway 20 junction, the road crosses the Chilcotin River at Farwell Canyon, once the site of a native village. A bridge spans the spectacular canyon, carved through limestone and sandstone, creating ancient hoodoo rock formations and other water-carved formations on the rock walls. The region boasts Native traditional fishing and hunting areas, waterfalls, and fields of wildflowers.
ATV tours can be provided in the Cariboo/Chilcotin area through wilderness trails suitable for beginners. Instruction is provided with ATV tours. Meals are provided with all tours, including delicious picnic barbeque lunches and dinners.
100 Mile House – 4×4 tours can be arranged with 100 Mile house as a pickup and starting point.
70 Mile House – Many 4×4 tours pass by the 70 Mile House area, and camping excursions for those interested in swimming, renting boats, canoeing, and horseback riding can be arranged at Green Lake Provincial Park, approximately 15 minutes from 70 Mile House. Trips are all inclusive, with tents and all camping gear provided.
Cariboo Highway 97 – Many sightseeing tours branch off Highway 97 and on to logging and wilderness roads.
Lillooet – Backroad Tours between Clinton and Lillooet are very scenic including the rugged Fraser River ambience, excellent opportunities to see wildlife, traditional native fishing, historic ranches, mountaintop vistas, hiking, goldpanning and much more.
Williams Lake – 4×4 tours between Clinton and Williams Lake include travelling past two native reserves, the spectacular Churn Creek suspension bridge, past the famous Gang Ranch, hiking at beautiful Farwell Canyon and the chance to see Big Horn Sheep and other animals in their natural habitat. Trips to the historic Sky Ranch can be based out of Williams Lake.
Lone Butte – 4×4 tours can include stops at Lone Butte and the interlakes area.
Chilcotin– Many 4×4 tours, ATV tours, and camping excursions are in the heart of the Chilcotin, including cabin stays at the Sky Ranch.
Alexis Creek – Cabin Stays at the historic Sky Ranch are approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from Alexis Creek.
Offroad sightseeing and 4×4 tours are arranged out of Clinton on the Cariboo Highway 97, provided in a 6-passenger crewcab pickup. Visitors can also be picked up at the airport or motels in the Williams Lake area, or at any major BC centre or airport for an additional fee.
New Regulations for Off-roaders
British Columbia announced new regulations for offroad vehicles in 2011, including safety and environmental regulations, and requirements regarding licensing and registration.
Only a licence will be required for crossing highways at designated areas, rather than the operations permit previously required. The designated crossings will help connect trails across the province. Off-road vehicle users are also required to have a one-time registration permit.
The changes will apply to all-terrain vehicles, quads, off-highway motorcycles and utility vehicles, as well as snowmobiles. By fall 2012, all of BC’s new requirements should be in effect, including required helmet use, spark arrestors to avoid forest fires, and new mufflers to control noise.
Responsible off-road riders welcome the new regulations in BC, particularly the registration and display of plates, as it may help to identify off-road users who damage the environment. A portion of the registration and licensing fees will go back to the associations to build trails.
The new policy regulations were implemented by ICBC in consultation with the Quad Riders Association of B.C. and the Private Forest Landowners Association.