Whether travel takes you somewhere new or to a beloved destination that draws you back time and time again, memorable experiences share a sense of place, people and culture. But they also let you indulge your own passions through that local lens – what makes you, YOU.
As travellers crave authenticity in their experiences – connections to the local people, flavours, history, flora and fauna, for example – they’re also looking at ways to be their authentic self. For some it will be satisfying a thirst for adventure; for some, a yearning to connect with a community’s history; for others, an appreciation for its music and arts.
In British Columbia’s Cariboo, you’re invited to express yourself through your journey. Artistic, cultural, historical and natural experiences are found throughout the region – come explore!
Authentic Family Adventures: Lakeside camping, a thrilling downhill mountain bike track through the backcountry, or gold planning along Barkerville’s main street … no matter what piques your family’s interests, you’ll find it in the Cariboo!
Slow down with a shared fishing experience, perfecting your cast against a backdrop of turning leaves, or connect with yourself and the landscape on horseback, following in the footsteps of the farmers, ranchers and prospectors who travelled trails first frequented by local Indigenous peoples.
Planning ahead? Annual not-to-be-missed family events include the Williams Lake Rodeo in June and Billy Barker Days, each July in Quesnel.
Authentic Heritage: From the Indigenous people who’ve long made their home here to the Gold Rush prospectors who shaped the British Columbia that followed, history is often at the heart of a trip to the Cariboo.
Near Wells, east of Quesnel, the National Historic Site of Barkerville brings that history to life through professional actors, exhibits and hands-on experiences that inform, entertain and educate everyone from the youngest explorer to the most seasoned historian. Or, head off the beaten track with a visit to Quesnelle Forks, a ghost town accessible by a dirt road from Likely where you can wander original log cabins and a heritage graveyard, circa the late 1800s.
For connections reaching back even further, visit the award-winning Xat’sull Heritage Site near Williams Lake, where Secwepemc members share stories, cultural workshops, wilderness walks and other activities, in addition to accommodation and meals.
Deepen your appreciation with visits to the Wells Museum, Quesnel District Museum and Archives, and in Williams Lake, the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin and the city’s oldest building and first designated heritage site, the Station House Gallery, today a railway station, gallery and gift shop. Farther south, 108 Mile Heritage Site features a collection of buildings, antiques and artifacts from throughout the Central Cariboo.
Authentic Natural Experiences: With its abundance of lakes, rivers and, yes, roaring waterfalls, the Cariboo is a nature enthusiast’s dream destination. A few bucketlist items? Mahood Falls is a spectacular sight in the South Cariboo, and about a two-hour drive from 150 Mile House to the trailhead. Or, churn up a little whitewater of your own with a jet boat adventure near Quesnel, where the Quesnel River meets the mighty Fraser. From wildlife viewing to unique geological features, a destination often looks quite different from the water!
In Williams Lake, stop by Scout Island Nature Park, a beautiful destination for birdwatching and possibly … beavers! In the Cariboo Regional District, explore sand dunes and the blue-green Chilcotin River at Farwell Canyon, or head to 100 Mile House for a hike to Centennial Park’s dynamic waterfalls or to capture wildlife on camera at 100 Mile Marsh.
Authentic Cultural Pursuits: It’s no wonder a region so rich in natural beauty and history also sparks creativity in artists of all genres.
Through Sept. 7, Downtown Williams Lake becomes a destination for visual arts enthusiasts during the three-week annual Art Walk – pick up your guide at participating businesses.
The town of Horsefly shares a musical weekend of bluegrass, roots, rock and jazz during Arts on the Fly, Sept. 2 and 3 this year, followed by the Salmon Festival the following weekend.
Wells is also known for its vibrant arts community – beyond its cheerfully painted buildings and colourful scenery. Plan to take in a play, film or musical performance at the historic Sunset Theatre.
To plan your adventures through the Cariboo, visit explorecariboo.com
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