Stories of the Gold Rush

7 Days

Please find below a detailed itinerary for your trip to Northern British Columbia. This vacation can be customized to suit your unique situation.

Tales from the Gold Rush period, along with the pathways that guided entrepreneurs, miners, and those who capitalized on the miners’ pursuits, have consistently enticed explorers to British Columbia. The phenomenon of “gold fever” gave rise to communities that sprang up seemingly overnight along the Cariboo Gold Rush Trail. Although many of these towns vanished as swiftly as they appeared, a few have endured, continuing to draw visitors today.

For those seeking vacation possibilities, the region offers a rich tapestry of experiences. Beyond the historical allure of the Gold Rush sites, visitors can explore breathtaking natural landscapes, engage in outdoor activities such as hiking and wildlife spotting, or savor the tranquility of lakeside retreats. The diverse offerings cater to a wide range of interests, making British Columbia an ideal destination for both history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Additionally, individuals with mobility requirements will be delighted to discover an extensive network of trails in the area that are easily accessible, ensuring an inclusive and enjoyable experience for all.


Embark on a captivating journey through the cultural and natural wonders of British Columbia. Begin in Williams Lake, situated on the traditional territory of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) nation, known as Columneetza, meaning the meeting place. With a history spanning over 6500 years, the area offers picturesque lakes, rivers, and a rich cultural heritage. Explore The Museum of the Cariboo Chicoltin at the Tourism Discovery Centre, a unique showcase of the region’s history with a focus on ranching, rodeos, and cowboys.

Spend a tranquil morning at Scout Island on Day 2, a haven for bird watchers with accessible trails and a nature house. Visit the accessibility-focused town of Horsefly for lunch, where all businesses and amenities are wheelchair accessible.

Day 3 unfolds the history of the Cariboo Gold Rush, exploring Quesnelle Forks, Cedar City, Keithley Creek, and Likely. Big Lake Ranch and Gavin Lake Forest Education Centre provide low-mobility trails amidst historical remnants and lush surroundings.

On Day 4, visit Cedar Point Provincial Park and the Cedar City Museum, highlighting the gold rush boom towns and offering low-mobility trails. Explore Quesnelle Forks, a historic hub with a rich past.

Shift to Quesnel on Day 5, with a scenic drive via Soda Creek. Discover the Xat’sull Heritage Village, showcasing the history of the Secwepemc Nation and their traditional way of life.

Day 6 leads north to Barkerville Historic Town, established in 1862. Immerse yourself in the vibrant history through heritage buildings, live performances, and authentic experiences. Though mostly wheelchair accessible, some areas may involve stairs.

Conclude the journey on Day 7, heading back to Williams Lake and Highway 97. Experience a week filled with cultural immersion, historical exploration, and the breathtaking beauty of British Columbia.

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the rich history of Williams Lake
  • 6500 years of cultural heritage
  • The Museum of the Cariboo Chicoltin
  • Bird watching at Scout Island
  • Accessibility-focused town of Horsefly
  • Discover the history of the Cariboo Gold Rush at Quesnelle Forks
  • Explore the Xat’sull Heritage Village showcasing the Secwepemc Nation's history and traditional way of life.
  • Barkerville Historic Town
  • Breathtaking beauty of British Columbia


Williams Lake is situated on traditional territory of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) nation. Traditionally known as Columneetza, the meeting place, The T’exelcemc (Williams Lake First Nation people) have history here that extends over 6500 years ago. You will find yourself surrounded by hundreds of lakes and rivers, beautiful neighborhoods, great restaurants and a rich cultural history.
Once you’ve settled into your Wheelchair-accessible guest room, you might want to visit The Museum of the Cariboo Chicoltin, located at the Tourism Discovery Centre—a massive, log home-style Visitor Information Centre. The museum showcases the diverse history of the Cariboo Chilcotin region and is the only museum in BC that focuses on ranching, rodeos, and cowboys.

Spend the morning on Scout Island; the place for bird watching. In spring and fall, hundreds of species of migratory birds pass by the area’s marshland and lake. The nature house and some of the trails are wheelchair accessible but call-in advance for current trail conditions.
The Scout Island Nature House is alive with people and other animals and plants. The staff will help you get up close to aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, snakes, salamanders; or you can watch a bird in the marsh through the scope. At the right time of year, you can see swallows feeding their young on the web cam or watch the hummingbirds up close at the feeders. Staff will be pleased to answer questions and suggest which trails to walk.
When you’re ready for lunch, detour east to the small town of Horsefly, and you’ll find a community dedicated to accessibility. All Horsefly businesses are accessible, as are amenities such as the local campground, fishing dock, and the Horsefly River Spawning Channel Trail.

Explore the history of the Cariboo Gold Rush that unfolded in 1859. Here, the communities of Quesnelle Forks, Cedar City, Keithley Creek, and Likely sprung to life overnight.
First, stop at Big Lake Ranch, located on the shore of Big Lake. This was once a major stop for miners, and some buildings from the ranch are still standing. Make your way along the 500-m (1,640-ft) Big Lake Community Hall Low Mobility Trail, a packed gravel surface that loops from the Community Hall through the forest along the lakeshore and back.
The next stop is Gavin Lake Forest Education Centre, where the 305-m (1,000 ft) Gavin Lake Low Mobility Trail is adjacent to the Gavin Lake Forest Education Centre. Boardwalks cross over swampy areas of the lake and the forest, and two accessible bridges offer viewing platforms. The Forest Education Centre has accessible washrooms.

You can continue your explorations today with a stop at Cedar Point Provincial Park, where old-growth forest and Quesnel Lake—famed as the deepest inland fjord lake in the world—draw frequent visitors, as does the Cedar City Museum, which highlights the gold rush boom towns of Quesnelle Forks, Cedar City, and Keithley Creek. This area was a key stopover point for local Indigenous peoples and later a rendezvous spot for fur trappers and traders until gold was discovered in 1858. There are low-mobility trails here, and the museum and washroom beside the museum are accessible.
Nearby Quesnelle Forks, set at the confluence of the Quesnel and Cariboo rivers, was established in 1860, serving as a major supply hub for gold prospectors until the Cariboo Waggon Road was built in 1865. It fell into despair, but a small group of Chinese miners and merchants remained. More Chinese railway labourers arrived after the completion of Canadian Pacific Railway, and, at one time, the town had the third-largest Chinese population after Nanaimo and Victoria, before being abandoned completely in the 1950s.

Day 5 :

Today you will relocate to your accessible guest room in Quesnel. The drive is a little over an hour, but there are many things to do and see along the way so make a day of it and savor every moment in this breathtaking beauty.
Head north from Williams Lake to Soda Creek, home of the Xat’sull First Nation. In 1909, Soda Creek played an important role in the construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway that transported passengers from Ashcroft to Fort George (now Prince George). Indigenous land was seized by European settlers (backed by the colonial government), and the local Indigenous community was relocated onto a small patch of reserve land between the highway and the Fraser River.
Today, the Xat’sull Nation operates the Xat’sull Heritage Village, which showcases the history of the Secwepemc Nation and their traditional way of life. Take a tour with a cultural guide to view the teepees and winter homes, or pit houses (also known as kikule houses), drying/tanning racks, a lean-to, a sweat house, and a summer hut.

Today’s journey has you heading out of Quesnel heading north, then you will turn right onto Barkerville Highway (Highway 26)—a scenic road where you’re likely to spot wildlife.
Continue east to Barkerville Historic Town, established in 1862. There are more than 125 heritage buildings on site, and miners, madams, and Chinese families (all local actors dressed in period costumes) go about their day in a town abuzz with business and drama. The St. Saviour’s Anglican Church at Barkerville Town is one of the oldest in BC and there is still a daily service.
Enjoy live performances, meals at historic restaurants, and more. The historic town is mostly wheelchair accessible, except for a couple of places where visitors may need to climb stairs to reach the second floor.

Head back to Williams Lake and Highway 97 to continue your journey



  • Accommodation
  • Transportation

Does not include

  • Meals (except specified above)
  • Flights
  • Any optional tours
  • Personal spending
  • Gratuities
  • Medical or Trip Interruption Insurance

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Stories of the Gold Rush
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Trip Info

  • Price is subject to change
  • Assistive devices on request
  • Can be modified for sight impairment
  • Free & Easy
  • 5-star
  • Transportation not included
  • Small Groups or individuals
  • Low Level