By Road Welcome to the West Chilcotin - An expansive region cut through by Highway 20 West, the only paved access along the entire length of the Chilcotin Plateau, spanning thousands of square miles. Oh, and not one stop light or stop sign the whole way.
It is 200 miles from Williams Lake to Anahim Lake and just about another 100 from Anahim Lake to the Bella Coola Harbour. On a portion of this last stretch you will be on the 'Freedom Highway' and the "Hill." It's a wonderful opportunity to see all kinds of wildlife along the way. There are dirt backroads that swing off of Highway 20 and then rejoin it farther down but they can be in very poor condition, if not impassable at times. Check conditions before proceeding!
Although of absolutely no use while on Highway 20 because there is no cell service or Internet service, if you get stopped somewhere and can access the Internet, or before you leave home, Drive BC is a highly recommended site that gives up to date information on the status and condition of all highways in British Columbia.
Commercial Flight from Vancouver Flying commercially from Vancouver to Anahim Lake is a breathtaking journey. In only about an hour's flight you will enjoy one of the youngest and highest mountain ranges in the world. For hundreds of square miles there are towering crags peeking through icy glaciers and fresh snow cover, high tarns and emerald green lakes cupped among the rocks or in the valleys at the foot of the glaciers.
There is only one commercial carrier that flies to Anahim Lake and that is Pacific Coastal Airlines out of Vancouver. Pacific Coastal operates out of the South Terminal at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR), so you will need to take the shuttle over there in order to catch your flight. It can take at least a half hour to get over there and you may have to take a taxi if necessary to catch a connecting flight. Customer service at Pacific Coastal is excellent and you can call that department at 1-800-663-2872 or go to their website at Pacific Coastal for their rates and schedules under Route Map.
Personal Flight The Anahim Lake Airport designation is (YAA) and is a year-round airport with a 3950' x 75' asphalt runway with fuel facilities. Airport Coordinates are: N52 27 08 W125 18 11 Elevation: 3635` if you would like to come in a wheeled plane. You can reach the airport manager for more information at 250-742-2364.
If you like to vacation with your floatplane, you will be in some of the best bush plane country in the world! Nimpo Lake is known as the "Floatplane Capital of British Columbia" (52°20'00 N, 125°09'00 W) and floatplanes ply the waters all summer long. It's also a favorite stopping place for vacationers on their way north. The West Chilcotin is dotted everywhere with lakes that can be accessed by floatplane and many lodges, resorts, and outpost cabins are only accessible by plane either by lake or dirt strip. If unfamiliar with the country, check around with local sources or at the Anahim Lake Airport for information regarding fly in lakes.
By Ferry There are no coastal roads for the majority of the length of British Columbia due to its rugged terrain where mountains literally dip their toes in the sea. This makes ferry travel on part of your vacation route a very attractive option for an area that is otherwise entirely inaccessible. One of the most popular ferry routes for BC is the Inside Passage route from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert where thousands of islands make up this passage. You could take this trip if you wanted to drive part of the way on your return trip or going north, arrive back in Bella Coola and pick up the ferry from there back to Vancouver Island.
Alternatively, you can travel the Discovery Coast Ferry from Port Hardy to Bella Bella where you pick up a smaller ferry to Bella Coola. From Bella Coola you can continue on Highway 20 to Williams Lake and from there, turn north or south to continue your travels on mainland British Columbia.