Yesterday we left the lovely Juniper Trails B&B in Williams Lake and started driving west along a secondary highway in the direction of Anahim Lake in west central British Columbia. We’re on holidays for another nine days so we have a different mindset than normal. We poke along stopping to read the signs along the highway. When photo ops present themselves we stop. In fact we don’t even adhere to much of a schedule which is a refreshing change.

So yesterday we made a detour to check out Junction Sheep Range Provincial Park, less than an hour’s drive west of Williams Lake.

"Eroded cliffs along the Chilcotin River"

Eroded cliffs along the Chilcotin River

"The fast moving Chilcotin River"

The fast moving Chilcotin River

Junction Sheep Range Provincial Park (rather a mouthful of a name) encompasses 4573 hectares and includes the confluence of the Fraser and Chilcotin Rivers as well as rolling grassland, canyons, gullies, hoodoos and even a sand dune. The park was formed in 1995 to protect what is considered to be an internationally important herd of California Big Horn Sheep. Unfortunately we didn’t see any – only the snake in the photo below.

"Unknown snake type"

Unknown snake type

I wish we’d had more time because this is great hiking country even if it does routinely hit 40C in the summer.

The park also offers up fantastic and far reaching views, loads of wildflowers and grass types, birds including prairie falcons, sharp-tailed grouse, long billed curlew, white throated swifts and the diminutive flammulated owl. Rubber boas are also around though I was just as happy not to see one.

"Local wildflowers"

Local wildflowers

"Looking east along the Chilcotin River"

Looking east along the Chilcotin River

"A mixture of grassland and coniferous trees"

A mixture of grassland and coniferous trees higher up

There’s a long native history too. Archaeological evidence shows humans have been in the area for at least 12,000 years.  The Native people still fish on the Chilcotin River. Fortunately the two we saw fishing took some precautions. They tied themselves and their nets off before fishing. The Chilcotin is not a river you want to be swept into. They were obviously successful as you can see two large fish on the rocks.

"Natives fishing on the Chilcotin River"

Natives fishing on the Chilcotin River

The drive to the bottom of the canyon can be a touch dicey and not one you want to do on a rainy day. It’s got to be a few thousand feet down via a series of switchbacks to the bridge on a narrow road you must share with fully laden logging trucks. Keep your eyes peeled and don’t play chicken with them. It’s only 20 kilometers to the bottom of the canyon from Highway 24. Although the road is gravel, it’s in good condition.

"Fully laden logging truck"

Fully laden logging truck

I think if you’re going to be anywhere near Williams Lake then this is a detour worth making.

"More beautiful canyon views"

More beautiful canyon views

Have you ever visited the Chilcotin area in BC?

Leigh McAdam


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