Williams Lake

Population: 12,000

Williams Lake is located on the shore of Williams Lake, at the junction of Highways 97 and 20, 126 miles north of Cache Creek and 147 miles south of Prince George. 

Visitor Information: Tourism Discovery Centre on Highway 97, south edge of town.

Williams Lake was named for Shuswap Indian Chief Willyum. The town began with the Cariboo gold rush in the 1800s, and grew rapidly with the advent of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway (later British Columbia Railway) in 1919. Williams Lake is a major cattle marketing and shipping centre for the Cariboo–Chilcotin.

Williams Lake has complete visitor services, including hotels/motels, gas stations, fast-food outlets and restaurants. Boitanio Mall on Oliver Street offers shopping. The public library has free internet access on their computers. There is a bowling alley on First Avenue and a 4-screen movie theatre on Third Avenue. There are slot machines and bingo at Signal Point Gaming, which is located adjacent to the Discovery Centre just south of Williams Lake on Highway 97. Area recreation includes an 18-hole golf course, a 9-hole golf course and a par-3 golf course as well as a twin sheet arena and pool complex.

Camping at Williams Lake Stampede Campground (dry camping and hookups); phone 250-398-6718. Follow Highway 20 a short distance west and take first right turn then follow signs. (You can see the Stampede grounds from Oliver Street overlook.)

Attractions:

  • The Williams Lake Stampede, British Columbia’s premier rodeo, is held annually near the July 1 (Canada Day) holiday.
  • Walk the River Valley Trail from Williams Lake to the Fraser River.
  • Explore local flora and fauna at Scout Island Nature Centre.
  • Visit the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin, home to the BC Cowboy Hall of Fame.
  • Chances Signal Point Gaming is located adjacent the Tourism Discovery Centre.