Central - Cariboo Highway

In the mid 19th century, gold prospectors and pioneers moved into the interior of British Columbia, following the Fraser River north. Billy Barker discovered gold in 1862,and the Cariboo Gold Rush was on. The gold mines are long gone, but Highway 97 (Cariboo Highway) generally follows the route of the old Cariboo Wagon Trail.

Tip: As you travel up Highway 97, wonder why towns have names such as 70 Mile House, 100 Mile House, 141 Mile House? On the Cariboo Wagon Trail, mile 0 was the town of Lillooet. Roadhouses along the wagon trail, where people could get fresh horses, a meal and place to stay, were often named by mileage from Lillooet, e.g. 70 miles.

Hat Creek Ranch (Junction of 97 and 99) - Hat Creek Ranch was a roadhouse on the Cariboo Wagon Trail, where wagon trains and stagecoaches came and went; in 1916 the road opened to cars, but people still needed a place to stay and a bite to eat.
Visit the historic 1860 roadhouse, explore the ranch barn, and take a walk to the Shuswap native village with a traditional Kekuli, an underground pit house. Kids can pan for gold and take a free stagecoach ride in a bright red stagecoach. Go for a half hour, hour or two hour trail ride (for kids 8 and up), pony rides for little ones. The ranch has a restaurant, old apple orchard, and picnic tables outdoors.
Lakes -
Lac La Hache - Lac La Hache Park, a day use area right on the lake, next to Highway 97, has picnic tables, a playground, and grassy areas. There's swimming and trout fishing on the lake.
McLeese Lake - At McCleese Lake Resort are pedal boats, motor boats, canoes and kayaks for rent, playground, swimming beach, and grassy areas down to the lake.
Williams Lake Stampede - Every year on the long July 1 weekend, Williams Lake hosts a rodeo. Kids can watch cowboys and cowgirls bull riding, barrel racing, steer wrestling, chuck wagon racing, (and kids compete in the rodeo too), plus a colorful parade, music and food. Wear your cowboy hats.
Barkerville - In the historic town of Barkerville, kids can experience life in the Cariboo gold fields. There's 100+ historic buildings, including the schoolhouse where kids can sit at desks and use a chalk slate. Watch blacksmithing demonstrations and bread baking on a wood stove in a typical household of 1870, take a walk through Chinatown, ride on a stagecoach, and pan for gold. Barkerville is open year round, with special events in summer.
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