100 Mile House

Discover the unexpected

Every turn in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast provides the traveller with delights

by Tanya Laing Gahr
The interconnecting lakes in Moose Valley park are popular with canoeists. — photo by Birgit Bienek

One of the best parts about travelling is the discovery of the unexpected. Often as you come around a bend in the road, the scenery suddenly changes and you find yourself looking—slack-jawed and gobsmacked—at a natural geological formation or work of engineering that no amount of warning could have prepared you for. According to Danni Ismay, the visitor services co-ordinator for the South Cariboo Tourism Association, the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region of B.C. will provide you with many such moments of discovery.

Travel along the waterway

Ismay said Moose Valley Provincial Park and Flat Lake Provincial Park are popular in the summer with paddlers who enjoy the calm, interconnecting waters for canoeing and kayaking.

“They’re good for wildlife viewing,” she said. “It’s kind of marshy, so you’ll often see moose and birds.”

Moose Valley park actually has several interconnecting lakes—12, in fact—that give canoeists the option of heading out for a short, hour-long paddle or a longer, full-day experience. Dedicated paddlers even have the opportunity for an overnight stay, as there are several wilderness campsites within the park.

Flat Lake Provincial Park, as well, is best seen from a canoe. Wildlife lovers will be enchanted by the sight of black bear, muskrat and beaver. The park is also home to endangered bird species such as the sandhill crane and American avocet.

Ismay suggests that if you are interested in canoeing, it’s best to bring your own, as rentals are limited in the area. However, it’s well worth the cost, she said.

B.C.’s Grand Canyon

Ismay’s favourite destination, located between the communities of Clinton and 100 Mile House, is Chasm Provincial Park.

“The view is absolutely gorgeous,” she said. “You see all the layers of volcanic rock and it’s like our mini Grand Canyon. And you’d never even know it’s there.”

The chasm is the result of melting glaciers carving through the rock at the end of the last ice age, 10,000 years ago. The resulting rift—which is eight kilometres long, 300 metres deep and up to 600 metres across—reveals an amazing array of colours from ancient lava flows. Depending on the time of day, it’s possible to see deep shades of reds, browns, yellows and purples in the canyon walls.

Ismay described Chasm Provincial Park as being a bit off the beaten trail and worth every second of the trip.

Fall in love with waterfalls

Wells Gray Provincial Park is worlds away from the ordinary, putting the traveller right in the heart of the wilderness, according to Ismay. Old-growth forest, deep canyons, pristine lakes and raging rivers provide a gorgeous backdrop for the wildlife that is abundant in the park. And the waterfalls within the park only add to the beauty.

“Wells Gray park…has a series of waterfalls—quite spectacular ones, depending when you go,” said Ismay.

In fact, there are several waterfalls throughout the park, including Helmcken Falls, which is three times the height of the famous natural wonder, Niagara Falls.

The drive to Wells Gray Provincial Park can take some time—Ismay suggested planning on around two hours when travelling from 100 Mile House—but this simply proves that the journey is every bit as important as the destination.

“It’s just beautiful,” she said. “You turn off and go around the southern part of Canim Lake and as you get closer to Wells Gray park, you start seeing the terrain change from the alpine trees with the skinny pines and spruce become bigger and more like (a) rainforest.”

Ismay said the many trails throughout the park are perfect for hiking enthusiasts. There are a number of short, self-guided loops as well as longer and more challenging trails for experienced hikers. Guided interpretive hikes are also available from tour operators in the region. And if you’re looking to add a bit of adventure to your time at Wells Gray park, whitewater rafting tours can be arranged.

Because the area can take time to access, travellers who like to avoid crowds will enjoy Wells Gray Provincial Park as well.

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