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 en route to Clinton. Along the way is Marble Canyon Provincial Park. This beautiful canyon features spectacular limestone cliffs. Take a picnic at the park’s Turquoise Lake then discover the nearby cascading waterfall. At the junction of Highway 99 and Highway 97 is Historic Hat Creek Ranch. A working ranch during the 1860s, today learn about its history, hear tales of ghost stories, or take a ride on an original stagecoach.
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 “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. Explore the 8ha/19ac 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 the 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.
Next on the trip is 108 Mile Ranch. This unique attraction is a set of 12 historical buildings, including an original 1908 Clydesdale barn (the largest of its kind left in Canada), the 105 Mile roadhouse, the 108 Mile telegraph office, and a hotel and store. Walk through the buildings to see how pioneers lived during the gold rush.
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 region, so there’s plenty to do and see. Stop in at the Williams Lake Visitor Centre to view 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 historic 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.
Drive north via Highway 97 to Quesnel – the “Gold Pan City” – which features the world’s largest gold pan. Visit the Quesnel and District Museum and Archives (home to Mandy the famous haunted doll), or stroll through the Antique Machinery Park. Quesnel also hosts “Billy Barker Days” (named for one of the gold rush founders), a four day festival in July that celebrates the Cariboo’s historic gold rush past and the community spirit of the town. Overnight in Quesnel.
Head east on Highway 26 to Barkerville Historic Town – the final destination of the Cariboo Wagon Road. Barkerville is the largest historic site in BC and 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 a 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 west on Highway 26 to Quesnel, then 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, then head north on the Alaska Highway.