Although it was the large population of woodland caribou that gave the region of the North Cariboo-Chilcotin its name, it was the large population of prospectors that flooded to the area during the Gold Rush that had most of an effect on the area. Today, the nineteenth century's influx of settlers has long abated but the path they took couldn't be clearer - just look at a map and you'll see the town that spread out from what is now Highway 24. The Cariboo-Chilcotin includes the townships and areas of Quesnel, Wells, Barkerville and closer to the coast, Bella Coola and Namu, plus many more.
Nowhere in British Columbia will one find such glorious expanses of rolling hills, mountains, canyons and pristine lakes - which make this the perfect playground for any avid outdoorsman. Just visit Quesnel. The Gateway to the North, as it has been coined, is known foremost for its fantastic fly fishing but river-rafters, paddlers and even swimmers enjoy the crystal-clear water of the high country. One particular favourite regional activity is jet-boating - one of the most adrenalizing ways of exploring the amazing earth and rock formations that make the area popular. From towering, 12 million year old hoodoos to deep box canyons, this is some of the most unique and stunningly beautiful terrain in the province. But you don't have to be Lewis and Clark to enjoy the North Cariboo-Chilcotin. There's fun for the entire family here, whether you're cycling with the kids, golfing with the guys or enjoying a hiking alone with nature. In winter, the choices don't diminish, the area's backcountry making for some of the best skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and dog-sledding anywhere.
The culture here still revolves around the area's proud old days as BC prospecting center - just take one look at the Billy Barker Casino Hotel with its Mississippi paddlewheel boat facade. But to really experience the Gold Rush heritage of the North Cariboo-Chilcotin, one has to visit historic Barkerville. Like a trip back in time, this museum town is a living breathing tribute to the Wild West with everything and everyone in 1800's character. Mosey down the creaking wooden sidewalks; stop into the saloon for a drink; ride a stagecoach; even pan for gold yourself. (visitors still find trace amounts!)
And this is only the beginning. Enjoy festivals like June's Highland Games, August's Quesnel Fall Fair and the ever-popular Billy Barker Days.
Visit the North Cariboo-Chilcotin. The prospects are good!
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