The Chilcotin is a place where streams and rivers score the land, slashing out amphitheatres filled with fantastic rock formations.
Here, Mt. Waddington rises 4,016m/13,176ft. The jagged mountain peaks of the Chilcotin are covered in vast ice fields and wide alpine meadows, gradually softening into large valleys, gently rolling foothills, pine-covered forests, lakes and rivers and the grasslands of the Chilcotin Plateau.
This is true backcountry, with some of the best fishing lakes and rivers to be found in North America. The expansive Chilcotin lies between the Fraser River and Coast Mountains, a 5,000 sq km/3,100 sq mi plateau of rangeland where thousands of cattle roam. Cowboys rope and brand the young in the spring, keeping them from straying in summer, and round them up in the fall.
Chilcotin locals exude a certain independence of spirit – witness the history of the Chilcotin-Freedom Highway. Needing a connection between coastal and interior communities, the citizens themselves decided to build a highway to civilization. And after immense effort, they completed what is now the "Freedom Highway" (Highway 20).
Travelling to the Chilcotin:
South Chilcotin: Sea-to-Sky Highway (Hwy 99) from Vancouver/Whistler to Pemberton and Lillooet.
East & West Chilcotin: Chilcotin Highway (Hwy 20) from Williams Lake has no traffic lights for its 460km/285mi. Pavement or seal-coat between Williams Lake and Anahim Lake, all-weather gravel between Anahim Lake and Stuie, pavement between Stuie and Bella Coola (60km/45mi).
East & West Chilcotin: Rocky Mountaineer’s "Rainforest to Gold Rush" route from Whistler to Quesnel and on to Jasper, Alberta.
East & West Chilcotin: Ferry from Port Hardy to Bella Coola, then east on Highway 20.
South Chilcotin: Charter flights and resort-operated flights from Vancouver and Whistler to resorts and other destinations.
East & West Chilcotin: Scheduled flights from Vancouver to Williams Lake, Anahim Lake, Bella Coola and Bella Bella. Charter flights and resort-operated flights to resorts and other destinations.
Note: A Forest Service Map or other detailed backcountry map is recommended for off-Highway 20 travel.
For more info on getting around the Chilcotin, see Transportation & Maps.