This year Marg and I decided to return to the Chilcotin, which we had last visited in 1985, with three boys and five dirt bikes. The country has not changed, it is still friendly to visitors and has some of the best motorized recreational areas in British Columbia. It’s where one can enjoy the sport with a few others. Some say it is still untamed, but I would say it is safer than the streets of Vancouver.
Our trip was comprised of two legs, three weeks to travel west from Williams Lake to Bella Coola, then another three weeks going back east. We split our camping experiences between Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts recreation sites and resorts/lodges. There is lots to choose from. A good source of recreation sites, roads and trails can be found in the back road map book for this area. For resorts we have found two that have not only provided a large variety of ATVing, but nice facilities as well. The friendly atmosphere is a bonus, and there are small stores near by to replenish the critical foods.
Lakes and wildlife
Barney’s Lakeside Resort can be found at Puntzi Lake. This is a full service resort, offering cabins, campsites with hookups, propane, fishing, guided tours and ATV access. From here you can ATV as far as your supply of fuel lasts. It will offer some great wildlife experiences, and you can see everything from bears to pelicans.
Further west, just before you get to the community of Nimpo Lake, is Pine Point Resort. It is a full-service resort, offering cabins, a campsite with hook-ups, plane tours, guided tours, fishing and a variety of other activities for your enjoyment. From here you can explore the foothill of the Coast mountain range and see the immense mountains standing in a row to protect this area from the wet coastal weather. Again your fuel is the only thing limiting your experience.
For Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts recreational sites, again there is lots to choose from. Due to budget cuts they have mostly been left unattended, but are still worth the effort. Check with locals for road conditions and campsite info. Most offer boat launches, outhouses and unlimited ATV’ing. As these are user maintained, please respect them.
Trails to pursue
You can ride the rough trails used by local rangers to move their cattle between meadows, snowmobile trails, ATV trails, abandoned roads and well-maintained BCFS mainlines. There is a trail for every user group, which adds to the the experience.
A bonus is the variety of scenery you travel through. Remember to bring a camera and a fishing rod for the opportunities that will be presented to you.
One clear morning we left camp prepared for a long day of exploring. We first located a BCFS mainline, which we took for a short distance where we found an old road going off the the left. Upon turning onto this road we found ourselves enjoying the technical riding from swamp crossing (thankful for 4X4), creek crossings, side hills. Further along we again found a spur going uphill. Taking this one we climbed a further 800 feet to a BCFS fire lookout and radio tower installation. The view was breathtaking. Continuing west we found ourselves again back on a BCFS mainline which we took. This again lead to an old spur going off to the right, then to a large lake with a sandy beach, campsite and boat launch. By the time we had returned to camp we had exceeded 100 kilometres and seen deer, bears and various other critters to take pictures of. This was a typical day for us ATVing as well as catching dinner with the many fish waiting to strike.
There as those that say it is too far to get here, it is only a day’s drive from Vancouver to begin your experience. Most of us think nothing of driving to Utah or Arizona for the winter, yet ignore the treasures that await in British Columbia. This has to be one of the great hidden, untapped areas left to be explored. While it is still being developed it offers unlimited opportunities for the adventurous.
In closing, while the experiences are unlimited, please take care of the opportunity to do your part in leaving it as you found it.