Circle Tour - From East to West 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.
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.
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.
Operators - Redstone/Puntzi Lake
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
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.