Take the day—or stay overnight along the way—to explore the scenic wilderness of the Interior Plateau along Highway 20 west of Williams Lake.
Road conditions in this sparsely populated part of the province can vary. Before you begin your journey, please check DriveBC for the latest road conditions.
If you’re coming from Vancouver or the Lower Mainland, your trip begins by following the Trans Canada Highway 1 east towards Hope before heading north through Lytton and Cache Creek. From here, you can continue on Highway 97 north through 100 Mile House to Williams Lake.
The adventure starts on Highway 20 at Williams Lake. Fly direct with Pacific Coastal Airlines and rent a car at the airport, or make your way there in your own vehicle. By car, Williams Lake is about three hours from Kamloops or from Prince George.
Find all the road trip supplies you’ll need in town, and consider starting out with a to-go feast courtesy of the Laughing Loon.
Within a half hour’s drive headed west along Highway 20, the road swings through the forested beauty of Desous Mountain (a great mountain biking destination), crossing the mighty Fraser River before heading up other side of the valley. With the sweeping Chilcotin Plateau unfolding toward the Coast Mountains, you’ll start to feel like you’re entering a new world of adventure—a true entry point into a Land Without Limits.
Beyond Alexis Creek (named after a colonial-era chief of the Tsilcot’in) you’ll find picturesque Bull Canyon, a small provincial park that overlooks the milky green waters of the Chilcotin River. It is the only provincial campground on the route before Tweedsmuir. If you don’t have time to stay overnight, stretch your legs along the short trail that leads down to the riverbed.
Off Highway 20, KiNiKiNiK Restaurant, Store & Accommodations is a unique place to stop for a rest, and a must for provisions from their deli and butcher shop. Also beyond Alexis Creek is Puntzi Lake, famed for its kokanee and rainbow trout fishing.
As you head towards the Potato Mountain Range, you’ll pass the northern end of Ts’ilʔos) Provincial Park with its numerous high elevation lakes. Great hiking trails criss-cross the countryside, and great water views abound as you continue west towards Tatla Lake.
Gravel roads, some well maintained and others a bit rough, intermittently intersect the highway and lead to spectacular backcountry areas. Tatlayoko Road just east of Tatla Lake is definitely worth exploring. Tatlayoko Lake (31 kilometres south) is a great spot to drop a paddle or head to the backcountry. Stay the night at Homathko River Inn and keep exploring this pristine Chilcotin valley.
As you continue your journey along Highway 20, watch the landscape change from lake-dotted hills to expansive grasslands in valleys where accommodations nudge up against rugged mountains. Overnight options in the area include Tatla Lake Manor, located right “downtown,” and Eagle Bear Lodge, which offers log cabins with waterfront views a little ways off the main road.
As Highway 20 curves north, watch for the tiny roadside hamlet of Kleena Kleene. Find a cozy bed for the night at Clearwater Lake Lodge or Terra Nostra Guest Ranch, and plan to paddle a canoe or kayak on Lake Clearwater, enjoy a horseback trail ride (suitable for novice or advanced riders), and hike a sign-posted trail leading out from the lodge.
Drive another 30 kilometres and keep your eyes peeled for a quaint old barn on the left side of the road that marks the community of Towdystan, a major supply stop in the area’s early ranching days. Take a detour south to Charlotte Lake, where fishing and birdwatching are popular.
Farther along Highway 20, as you approach Nimpo Lake, watch for a paved pullout on the north side of the road along the Dean River. Look for the plaque commemorating one of the battles of the Chilcotin War in 1864.
Known as “the float plane capital of British Columbia,” Nimpo Lake is a popular launching point for aerial sightseeing tours and fishing fly-ins to some of the pristine wilderness lakes and rivers of the West Chilcotin.
Another twenty minutes’ drive, Anahim Lake is the site of a long-established Chilcotin settlement that expanded in the 1940s and 50s when the Carrier Peoples moved from more remote villages. It is also home to the area’s main airport.
Anahim Lake is a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts, with several resorts that offer packages as well as catering to self-guided fishers. This is also the eastern gateway to the southern reaches of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park and its phenomenal wilderness recreation opportunities.
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Last updated: June 4, 2021
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