It’s British Columbia’s best-kept secret. Located on the Fraser River, Lillooet is 325 kilometers north of Vancouver and 140 kilometers east of Whistler. Spectacular scenery, wildlife, and history are within easy driving distance of Vancouver, Whistler, Kamloops, and the Fraser Valley – visit for the day, stay for a weekend, or explore a while longer.
Lillooet is steeped in history and local lore. 1860 was the height of the Gold Rush, and this site was the second largest populated North American centre west of Chicago – falling just behind San Francisco. Some locals still pan the river for gold, determined to make a big find.
Outdoor recreation takes the spotlight in every season, from mountain biking and hiking to snowshoeing and fishing. Mountains reach for the sky and challenge avid climbers to discover new trails. Lakes curve through the valley, inviting you to a lazy afternoon in the canoe or an exploration by cross-country ski. Lillooet is an outdoor lover’s paradise, as yet somewhat untapped.
History of Lillooet
Lillooet is one of the oldest towns in the province, acting a supply point for miners heading to the fields when the gold rush began in 1858. At its peak Lillooet boasted a population of 15,000 and was the second largest settlement north of San Francisco and west of Chicago.
While the town of Lillooet itself was small, nearby Parsonsville, Marysville, and Cayoose Flats became shantytowns and tent cities full of people desperate to find their fortune in the mud, rock, and gravel of the Fraser River and its tributaries.
Remnants of the gold rush remain in the river rock along the banks of the Fraser, in Lillooet’s museum, and along Main Street. To this day, veins can still be found along the Fraser River – all you need is a gold pan and some time on the riverbank.