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Horseback riding, Echo Valley
(Albert Normandin photo)

Cariboo Chilcotin Coast

Regional Geography

BC's Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is a region of striking contrasts and startling beauty.

This vast region stretches from the Cariboo and Columbia mountains in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, with a vast plateau area in between.

Sweeping across the great wilderness, you'll encounter rolling grasslands and dense forests; snow-capped mountain peaks and lush valleys; glacier-fed lakes and secluded saltwater inlets.

Thousands of lakes and rivers wind through the region. There are numerous islands and deep fjords cutting inland from the Pacific Ocean.

The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region is sparsely populated, with most of the region's residents living in and around the three largest towns of Williams Lake, Quesnel and 100 Mile House.

BC's largest provincial park, Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, offers one of the region's most dramatic landscapes. The 981,000-ha/2.4 million-acre park captures visitors with the volcanic Rainbow Mountains, high elevation pine forests, ice-capped peaks and dramatic waterfalls.

The region is also home to Mount Waddington, the highest mountain situated entirely in BC.

Geology of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast

The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is an area of contrasts, formed by eons of earth activity. Flash back some 50 to 30 million years ago, when lava seeping through cracks in the earth formed the Chilcotin Plateau. Later, between 20 and 10 million years ago, an upheaval of the earth formed the mighty Coast Mountains, a formidable barrier between the plateau and the ocean.

During the last Ice Age, about one million years ago, advancing glaciers sculpted the land and when these glaciers retreated, ten thousand years ago, they smoothed the surface and left remnants that formed a myriad of rivers and lakes. The coast was chiseled by these same movements, a time-worn process that left incised, steep-sided fjords that plunge into the Pacific Ocean.