Autumn colored trees along Highway 20 at Redstone Reserve.
Circle Tour
Discovery Coast Circle Tour
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Circle Tour - From East to West
Redstone - Chilanko Forks - Puntzi Lake


All roads except for Highway 20 are gravel. You should be sure to check on local conditions before embarking on your trip.

As there have been some changes to the "Discovery Coast Ferry Route "(Route # 40), the West Chilcotin Tourism Association recommends that you check the latest ferry schedules, type of ferry, and amenities, before embarking on your trip.

Continuing west from Alexis Creek about 35 miles or 55km, you will reach Chilanko Forks after passing through Old Redstone and the Redstone Reserve where there is a store and gas bar. (The two are actually several miles apart.) At Chilanko Forks there was a store and gas station but it is no longer open for business. Unfortunately, a very famous building just west of that burned down in the 1990's but it was this author's very favorite stop. The store had been in existence for many years and was stuffed full of the strangest things including furs, old carvings, claws and teeth of predators on necklaces, homemade moccasins and various other interesting things along with groceries and fresh baked goods. I'm sure you could have spent days in there and still never have catalogued all the historical wonders that could be found there. The owner was equally interesting, looking like someone straight out of the bush and full of great stories.

Just west of the forks is the Chilanko Wildlife Management area. It is a protected marshland where over 50 different species of birds make their summer home and where moose and caribou can be seen in winter. The first Post Office in Chilanko opened in 1907 but closed in 1918. It did not reopen until 1963 and is still in existence on the site of the old store that burned down.

At Chilanko Forks you can turn north to Puntzi Lake which is about 6 miles or 10km from the turnoff. The lake is a deep, cold, nine mile long lake with excellent Rainbow Trout and Kokanee fishing in summer, and ice fishing for whitefish in winter. However, take caution. This beautiful lake can be calm one moment but have sudden violent storms the next, most notably in spring and late fall. Some waves have been recorded to be 12 feet in height. Caution is suggested for any lake in the Chilcotin ringed by mountains and many are known for their sudden storms.

There are several resorts on Puntzi Lake and a favorite event is the Puntzi Lake Fishing Derby held on the last weekend in June or first weekend in July. Check to get the dates. The lake is also noted for prime bird watching with Pelicans throughout summer and Trumpeter Swans from early fall to freeze up.

There is a weather station on nearby Puntzi Mountain that has recorded some of the coldest temperatures in North America. Here there are the remnants of a radar station built by the US Air Force in the 1950's as one of the thirty-four stations in the Pine Tree Defense line, set up to defend against attack of North America by the USSR. With a range of 150 miles, the radar scanned the skies day and night and base personnel were in constant contact with air defense base in Seattle and the Canadian Air Force base at Comox. There was also a 6000 foot airstrip built, the second longest in British Columbia at the time. You can still take the airfield road to the summit of Puntzi Mountain for a spectacular 360 degree view of the Chilcotin Plateau. The base was eventually turned over to the Canadian Government and was closed down completely in 1966. While some things from the massive complex were sold or moved out, most was destroyed. Much to the disgust of locals who, accustomed to the remoteness of their region, saved all and wasted nothing.

Operators - Redstone/Puntzi Lake

Woodland Caribou Resort
Puntzi Lake
 
   
Yellow aspen behind a fence at Redstone.
 
Orange, red, and yellow aspen leaves along the highway at Chilanko.
 
Yellow aspen trees along the highway.
 
Going through Redstone Reserve in autumn.
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