Birdwatching at Scout Island
(Picture BC photo)

Williams Lake


The city of Williams Lake is located in a sheltered valley on BC's massive Interior Plateau on Highway 97, 552km/343mi north of Vancouver and 240km/149mi south of Prince George.

The valley, in the heart of Cariboo country, is surrounded by evergreen forest and hillsides and sits at an elevation of 610m/2,000ft.

Location and City Centre

The core of the city sits at the western end of the 11km/7mi long Williams Lake, from which the city's name is derived. Highway 20, leading to Bella Coola, intersects Highway 97 within Williams Lake. As a result, the city is somewhat of a well-appointed service centre with plenty of shopping/restocking options for visitors passing through.

To the east, the Cariboo Mountains create the foothills to the Rockies; to the west lies the mighty Fraser River and the ranching country of the Chilcotin. Mysterious "hoodoos" (natural rock columns) carved by eons of wind and rain can be seen from the Sheep Creek ridge on Highway 20, just 15 minutes west of town. These provide a stunning back drop to the Fraser River.

Climate and Weather

The surrounding hillsides enjoy an average of 222 days of sunshine a year, though Williams Lake proper does get its fair share of cloudy days. Still, the area is dry, with barely 27cm/11in of annual rainfall. Summer temperatures are mild (22°C/72°F in July) but winters can be very cold (-10°C/14°F in January). Winter sports abound due to an average annual snow fall of 192cm/77in.