Lillooet is located between the eastern edge of the Coastal Mountain foothills and the western edge of British Columbia's interior desert landscape.
The town spreads along a bench of land overlooking the mighty Fraser River and is backed by the snow-capped Coastal Mountains that rise from the dry desert canyon. Lakes and rivers in the area form part of the Fraser River drainage system.
The Fraser River is the largest salmon spawning river in the world and the longest undamned river in North America. Often referred to as the "Muddy Fraser," the river deposits 20-million tons of sand, silt and mud from the BC interior, as a result of erosion, glaciation, rock-breaking frosts, rain freshets, and spring floods.
Numerous spots in Lillooet and along the highway afford beautiful views of the river canyon. View First Nations fishermen as they fish and dry salmon. Eleven First Nations bands fish off the rocks on the Lillooet side of the river.
Just a few minutes drive northeast of Lillooet on Highway 99 is Pavilion Lake. The lake's beautiful crystal-clear waters host unique microbialites – formations resembling fresh water coral – that are easily seen from shore. Since 2004, the lake has been the site of the University of Britiish Columbia's Pavilion Lake Research Project, which studies these microbialites. The main sponsors of the project are the Canadian Space Agency and NASA.
Located just west of Lillooet are the crystal blue waters of Seton Lake. The lake is primarily fed by Anderson Lake to the southwest, via the short Seton Portage River, but is also impacted by Carpenter Lake. Seton Lake's shoreline offers a perfect setting for camping, swimming, wild life viewing, fishing, and bird watching opportunities.
Climb aboard the Kaoham Shuttle running on the Canadian National Railway tracks along the north shore of the lake and through a 1,220m/4,000ft tunnel. A portion of the Bridge River Hydroelectric Development, the largest power project undertaken in BC's history, is visible along this route.
Climate and Weather
Because Lillooet is located in the rain shadow of the Coastal Mountains, it enjoys a semi-arid climate similar to that of Osoyoos in the south Okanagan, although it is not far from the lush vegetation of the Coastal Mountain rainforest. Average daytime highs in summer reach 38°C/100°F, but a cool evening breezes often blow in from the Fraser River. In winter, temperatures run a moderate but consistent daytime temperature of 5C°/41F°.
Annual precipitation averages 290mm/11.5in a year, with little snow falls in town. However, excellent powder in the surrounding mountains provides great snowmobiling and downhill skiing opportunities.