I don’t think many tourists go to Anahim Lake, BC. I’m sure that even fewer go a second time. There’s not much about the remote community of 360, located 316 km (198 miles) west of Williams Lake, to attract visitors. With its scattered homes and rough unpaved roads, it’s really quite sad looking.
Someone taking the BC Ferries Discovery Coast Passage between Port Hardy on Vancouver Island and Bella Coola on the mainland, might stop there for gas (142.9/litre when we were there). Others might come for the year-round outdoor adventure opportunities in nearby Tweedsmuir Provincial Park and the surrounding area; activities including fishing, canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, and bird watching in the summer or cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter but they wouldn’t find meals or accommodation available at Anahim Lake.
When we decided to leave the trailer in Williams Lake and take a day trip to the west, we didn’t know how far we’d go but as the day progressed Anahim Lake became our destination, our turn around point. I remembered nothing of the community itself from my first visit on a family vacation in the mid 1960s. What I did remember was attending the Anahim Lake rodeo, still an annual event. For a horse mad city girl, a genuine small town rodeo was big excitement! Huge!
Ever since my mother’s diagnosis with Alzheimer’s disease, memory and how it works has fascinated me. Over the years as I’ve thought back on childhood trips through central BC, I remembered the wide open rolling ranchland of the Chilcotin region. As we drove out to Anahim Lake this summer, I was surprised to see much less of that than I expected to. Much of our time was spent driving through forest. Logging trucks with heavy loads lumbered past us all day long but I remembered nothing of that. I suspect that that’s because I was growing up at the coast surrounded by forest and forestry. It wasn’t unusual. It didn’t stand out. Ranching, however, was something brand new and interesting. At that point in my life, I’d never been to the prairies and had never seen vast expanses of wide open land.
I did remember bumping over cattle guards and sharing the road with cows and horses. That hasn’t changed. You definitely know you’re in ranching country when open range livestock have the right of way and you stop beside the highway to wait while a lone cowgirl drives a herd of cattle down the road!