Viewing Woodland Caribou in the Itcha Mountains

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One of my most memorable mountain experiences was riding with a pack train through the Itcha Mountains in search of the largest woodland caribou herd in southern British Columbia.

The Itcha Mountains are actually old volcanoes created over a period between one-three million years ago. They are part of the Anahim Volcanic Belt which lies in present day Itcha-Ilgatchuz Provincial Park, situated north of Anahim Lake in central BC’s  West Chilcotin.

The best way to experience the Itcha volcano and witness the caribou that reside there, is to join Wanda and Roger Williams of Itcha-Ilgatchuz Mountain Outfitters, who offer fun-filled horse pack trips throughout the park. I have travelled with the Williams family on many occasions over the past 20 years and I have enough stories and memories to fill a book!

10 people riding horses all in a line through the Itcha Mountains, the majority with cowboy hats on.

Riding into the Itcha Mountains. Photo: Chris Harris

Wanda and Roger have been guiding in the park for decades and know the land and its animals intimately. The land here where the caribou reside is vast. You could hike for weeks and never see a caribou. Travelling by horse with local guides; however, is a totally different story. Chances are you are going to see hundreds of caribou.

A herd of approximately 30 caribou standing in a group in the Ptarmigan Basin.

Part of a larger herd in Ptarmigan Basin. Photo: Chris Harris

Approximately fourty caribou walking in two lines across snow covered ground toward a rocky ground.

Caribou by the hundreds travel across a snow pack. Photo: Chris Harris

The experience of riding through the Itcha volcano is a lifetime experience of its own; seeing hundreds of caribou on the same trip is a memory you will never forget, and a story you will tell your grandchildren.