The Cariboo is the name given to the broad, rolling ranching country and immense forests of British Columbia’s interior plateau, which extend north of Lillooet between the Coast Mountains to the west and Cariboo Mountains to the east. The region contains marvellous pastoral scenery, and much of the interest it offers – in addition to fishing and boating on thousands of remote lakes – comes from its gold-mining heritage. Initially exploited by fur traders to a small degree, the region was fully opened up following the discovery of gold in 1858 in the lower Fraser Valley. The building of the Cariboo Wagon Road, a stagecoach route north out of Lillooet, spread gold fever right up the Fraser watershed as men leapfrogged from creek to creek, culminating in the big finds at Williams Creek in 1861 and Barkerville a year later.
Much of the old Wagon Road is today retraced by lonely Highway 97 (the Cariboo Hwy), which runs through pine forests and past the occasional ranch and small, marsh-edged lake.