Chilcotin—The Last Frontier
On a dark October night in 1934, two men pored over a series of maps on the floor of a bunkhouse at a Wyoming ranch, the darkness punctuated only by the light from a single flickering lamp. Rich Hobson, who had lost all his savings in the financial crash of 1929 and had decided to pursue his long-held dream of becoming a cowboy, and his friend 'Panhandle' Phillips, who was an excellent horseman and an infamous prankster. In the dim light Pan pointed out to Rich a huge expanse of .... nothing. A completely unknown area in central British Columbia stretching from the Fraser River to the ocean, a wide open, mysterious, untamed wilderness. Legend had it that this place held the largest untracked grasslands anywhere. Fascinated, the two cowboys would eventually pack up and head for this place called Chilcotin, and against all odds eventually build the largest cattle ranch in North America. (Their story is recounted by Rich Hobson in his excellent and timeless book “Grass Beyond the Mountains”.)
Strangely, that old map hasn't changed much. The area from Williams Lake to Bella Coola has just a single road running down the middle of it – Highway 20 - and people still refer to it as The Last Frontier. It has always drawn rugged, determined, hard-working people. Honest self-reliant individualists taking the path less traveled, who in days past might have raised cattle but nowadays would be just as likely to build character-filled lodges or fly floatplanes so they can share their beautiful, raw wilderness with people who have a similar spirit.
The Chilcotin is a land of unique beauty and diverse ecosystems, one of the most dramatic expanses of wilderness to be found anywhere in North America.
The 456 kilometers of Highway 20 provide easy access to a wide range of scenery and experiences. You will find everything from rolling grasslands and sand dunes, to dazzling waterfalls and glaciers, right next door to the Great Bear Rainforest with its dramatic valleys and coastal rainforest. The wildlife viewing is just as amazing – moose, grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, caribou, beaver, eagles, pelicans, fox, and coyote are just some of the animals common to this relatively small region.
The West Chilcotin Tourism Association represents the people who can show you this amazing region. Whether you are looking for charming resorts near the highway, fly-in lodges in the unspoiled back country, or the adventure of trail rides or floatplane tours, the Association's members are ready to help you experience something unique.
We are happy to share this spectacular place with you.