The Cariboo Highway (Highway 97) largely follows the route of the Cariboo Trail and Cariboo Waggon Road, which led from Lillooet to the gold-rush regions in the Cariboo Mountains. However, the present Cariboo Highway 97 begins at the TransCanada Highway near Cache Creek and connects the latter with Yellowhead Highway further to the north near Prince George, a distance of 445 km (276 mi.). From there it is known as the "John Hart Highway" and continues further north to create a link between the TransCanada Highway and Vancouver and Dawson Creek, where the Alaska Highway begins. In a southerly direction the Highway initially follows the TransCanada Highway eastwards, then turns off with three alternative routes into Okanagan Valley and links up with the east-west link road, Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3; see entry), which runs near to the U.S. - Canadian border.The first gold-seekers, on hearing news of great finds of gold in the interior of British Columbia, came north from California, initially following the rocky Cariboo Trail along the Fraser River. In 1862 the governor of the province, Sir James Douglas, had a road 6 m (20 ft) wide and 640 km (400 mi.) long laid into the interior to take wagons and ox-carts; by 1865 it was completed as far as the Barkerville goldfields. Several travelers' rests were built along the way; names such as "100 Mile House" or "150 Mile House" still remind us of these mainly modest stations which have long since disappeared.Although the new Waggon Road actually started in Yale, skirted Lillooet and did not meet the old Cariboo Trail until it reached Clinton, for some curious reason the miles were counted starting from Lillooet which, following the boom period in the early 1860s, had lost much of its importance. In Lillooet, which today lies 75 km (47 mi.) west of Highway 97, there is a tablet recalling the "0" miles mark of the old Cariboo Waggon Road.
Running from Prince George to Dawson Creek, the Hart-Peace River Highway is the northernmost east-west route across the Rockies.
100 Mile House, Canada
100 Mile House (930 m (3052 ft)), a center for the remote ranches round about and the site of two modern saw-mills, gets its name from the old Cariboo Waggon Road. This is where the "100 Mile Roadhouse" was opened in 1862. One of the original red Bernard's Express mail coaches stands in front of the Red Coach Inn as a reminder of the past. In 1912 the Marquess of Exeter purchased more than 6000 ha (15,000 acres) of land around here for his extensive Bridge Creek Ranch, which the family still owns.The historical 108 Mile House, 13 km (8 mi.) north of here, is currently a Heritage Site Museum.
Clinton (887 m (2912 ft)), originally called "47 Mile House", was an important traffic junction during the Cariboo gold-rush. In 1861 a road led from here via Pavilion Mountain to Lillooet; today it is a gravel road usable only in summer. Clinton has so far retained the atmosphere of a pioneering town, and a number of the "19th c.-type" ranches take in paying guests.At 1419 Cariboo Highway stands the old brick-built schoolhouse dating from 1892; today it houses the South Cariboo Historical Museum. Its exhibits reflect the pioneering period and the old Waggon Road. The many lakes in the vicinity are very popular with anglers.
Williams Lake, Canada
The town of Williams Lake (586 m / 1923 ft) lies in the center of the Cariboo region. As well as the timber industry, cattle-rearing and mining of copper molybdenum, tourism - with the attractions of fishing and hunting - plays an ever more important role.In the vicinity of Williams Lake can be found numerous traces of the gold-rush period and the Williams Lake Museum at 1148 Broadway provides information about this. A special attraction is a small reactivated gold-mine.Each year, on the first week-end in July, one of Canada's larger rodeos, the Williams Lake Stampede, takes place here.
Access to the western part of Wells Gray Provincial Park is by way of an 88 km (55 mi.) long approach road. The 35 km (22 mi.) long Canim Lake, charmingly situated in the mountains, and Mahood Lake - which is 19 km (12 mi.) long, with a camp site at its western end, and forms part of the provincial park - are very popular with canoeing enthusiasts.Mahood and Canim River Falls, together with Deception Falls, are favorites with walkers.
Lac la Hache
In recent years tourist facilities (including boat-hire) have sprung up along the 19 km (12 mi.) long Lac La Hache with its beautiful bathing beaches.There is a small community of Lac La Hache, self described as being the longest town in the Cariboo. Some of the attractions in the area include the Lac la Hache Museum, Lac La Hache Provincial Park, and Moose Valley Provincial Park.Lac La Hache is a popular summer destination with travellers and others who live in the region as well.