Gold Rush Trail

3 to 7 days, 472.86 km (293.82 mi)

Discover BC’s gold rush past on this trip from Lillooet to Barkerville. This journey takes visitors past many historic buildings.

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Part 1

Lillooet to Clinton

Start the journey in Lillooet, Mile “0” of the 1860s Cariboo Wagon Road. Have a photo taken at the Mile “0” cairn on Main Street then stop by the Miyazaki Heritage House, built by one of Lillooet’s first settlers. Visit the Lillooet Museum for the history of the town and see the Hangman’s Tree—a tall tree used as a gallows during the 1880s by the “hanging judge,” Sir Matthew Begbie.

Take Highway 99 to Clinton, and stop at Marble Canyon Provincial Park. This beautiful canyon features spectacular limestone cliffs. Take a picnic at the park’s Turquoise Lake and see the nearby cascading waterfall. At the junction of Highway 99 and Highway 97 is Historic Hat Creek Ranch, which was a working ranch during the 1860s. Today, learn about its history, hear tales of ghost stories, and ride on an original stagecoach.

Part 2

Clinton to 100 Mile House

Follow Highway 97 to Clinton and visit the local museum, built in 1892 from hand-made bricks. Located just north of Clinton is Chasm Provincial Park (commonly referred to as a the “mini-Grand Canyon”). Rich shades of red, brown, yellow, and purple are on display along the canyon walls, a result of successive lava flows over the past 10 million years. There are also plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities here—bighorn sheep, moose, and mule deer are often spotted.

Overnight at 100 Mile House and explore the 8-hectare (19-acre) 100 Mile Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary to view gulls, swans, ducks, and blackbirds, or see an original Barnard Express BX Stage Coach. Stroll through Centennial Park, visit Bridge Creek Falls, or take in the Cariboo Mountains from the Mt. Begbie Lookout Tower. Stop by the 100 Mile House Visitor Centre to see the world’s largest cross-country skis.

Part 3

108 Mile Ranch

Next up is 108 Mile Ranch. This unique attraction consists of 12 historic buildings, including an original 1908 Clydesdale barn (the largest of its kind left in Canada), the 105 Mile roadhouse, the 108 Mile telegraph office, a hotel, and a store. Tour the buildings and see how pioneers lived during the gold rush.

Part 4

Williams Lake

Continue north to Williams Lake, past the communities of Lac La Hache and 150 Mile House. Williams Lake is considered the hub of the Central Cariboo, so there’s plenty to do and see. Stop in at the Williams Lake Visitor Centre to see an amazing compilation of artifacts; hike the popular River Valley Trail that leads from town to quiet forest; or visit the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin for a history of ranching and rodeo in the area. It’s also home to BC’s Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Optional: From Williams Lake, head northeast to the town of Likely to see the largest man-made bullion pit in North America, or stop at the nearby Quesnelle Forks Restoration Site and Ghost Town to explore a historic graveyard and the remains of Canada’s oldest Chinese tong house.

Part 5

Quesnel

Drive north along Highway 97 to Quesnel, the “Gold Pan City,” home to the world’s largest gold pan. Visit the Quesnel and District Museum and Archives to check out Mandy the famous haunted doll, or stroll through the Antique Machinery Park. In July, don’t miss “Billy Barker Days”—named for one of the gold rush founders—a four-day festival that celebrates the Cariboo’s gold rush past and highlights Quesnel’s community spirit. Overnight in Quesnel.

Part 6

Barkerville

Head east on Highway 26 to Barkerville Historic Town, the final destination on the Cariboo Wagon Road. Barkerville is the largest historic site in BC, home to more than 125 heritage buildings. Tour the town in a stagecoach, witness authentic gold rush theatre, watch live courtroom drama featuring the notorious Judge Begbie, or try your hand at panning for gold. Don’t miss this unique, living history site. Overnight in Barkerville.

Optional: Bowron Lakes Provincial Park is located east of Barkerville. Situated on the western slopes of the Cariboo Mountain Range, these lakes are world-renowned for their canoe circuit—a chain of lakes, waterways, and connecting portages covering 116km/72mi.

Optional: Backtrack on Highway 26 to Quesnel and head north on Highway 97 to Prince George. From there, drive west on Highway 16 to Prince Rupert and take the ferry north to Alaska. Or, continue on Highway 97 to Dawson Creek and drive north on the Alaska Highway.

Driving Directions

Part 1 - Vancouver
  • 6.25 km
  • 12 min
Show Map & Driving Directions