British Columbia Highway 20 runs for 450+ kilometers from the town of Williams Lake in BC
interior, through a few very small settlements (Riske Creek, Hanceville,
Alexis Creek, Redstone, Tsi Del Del, Chilanko Forks, Tatla Lake, Kleena
Kleene, Nimpo Lake, Anahim Lake, Firvale and Hagensborg) to the coastal community
of Bella Coola, some 455 kilometers away. While the highway itself is by
no means a scenic drive, it leads to some of the best BC wilderness,
including a huge Tweedmsuir Provincial Park. We drove the entire length
of Highway 20 today, and here is our trip report.
1. We are Northbound on Highway 97 in Williams Lake, with a sign showing that left
lane would lead to Highway 20.
BC Highway 97 North in Williams Lake British Columbia Canada
2. A few hundred meters later, we are getting ready to turn left.
Williams Lake is the right place to fuel your vehicle at the best price,
and to stock up on supplies, prior to driving on Highway 20. There are
very few stores for the rest of the way, and the selection of goods is
much more limited. No Wal-Marts, Safeways, Save-on-Foods, or Canadian
Tires exist West of Williams Lake.
Highway 97 North in Williams Lake BC Canada
3. Now on Highway 20, still in Williams Lake, with a sign indicating the
distances to various destinations.
BC Highway 20 West in Williams Lake British Columbia Canada
4. For the first 25 minutes, Highway 20 goes up and down the hills.
BC Highway 20 West near the town of Williams Lake
5. This cyclist sure got a great workout.
Cyclist on BC Highway 20
6. Then, the Chilcotin area of British Columbia begins, and the hills
become less numerous and not nearly as steep.
Start or Chilcotin Area on BC Highway 20 West of Williams Lake
7. There's lots of green around, and very little traffic.
Highway 20 West British Columbia Canada
8. Within an hour or so, Hanceville Lookout rest area features this neat
View from Hanceville Rest Area by Highway 20 in British Columbia Canada
9. Passing by an aboriginal settlement.
Aboriginal Settlement by BC Highway 20
10. In Tatla Lake we have encountered dozens of cows roaming freely on
the side of the highway.
Entrance to Tatla Lake on BC Highway 20 British Columbia Canada
11. Tatla Lake, BC.
Tatla Lake BC Canada
12. Cows in Tatla Lake. Watch out for cattle guards - there are four or
five of them on Highway 20.
Cows roaming on the side of Highway 20 in British Columbia Canada
13. Hello to you too.
Cows by Highway 20 in Tatla Lake British Columbia Canada
14. The first mountain showed up far away on the horizon 171 kilometers
after the beginning of Highway 20. And it took close to three hours of
driving before really good mountain
views started to appear, like the one on the photo below.
Mountain View from BC Highway 20
15. Here is another good view, seen from a pullout.
Mountain seen from Highway 20 pullout Province of British Columbia
16. After Anahim Lake (320 kilometers from Williams Lake), the asphalt is replaced by gravel for the next 60
kilometers. There are numerous rough spots on this stretch of Highway
20, usually accompanied by a small "slow" sign nearby.
Gravel part of BC Highway 20
17. About 15 kilometers of the gravel portion of the highway is a very
steep descent, which begins after Tweedsmuir Provincial Park entrance
(which itself starts 355 kilometers after Williams Lake). A
sign requires all vehicles to have chains on drive axles (during the
winter season, obviously), but, even with the road being dry, it was far from a
Steep hill BC Highway 20 by Bella Coola Valley
18. You quickly lose over 1,000 meters in elevation on this hill. The road is
quite narrow in many places, and not that smooth.
Highway 20 near Tweedsmuir Provincial Park British Columbia Canada
19. Plus, there are no guard rails. Driving this road in the winter is not
for the faint of heart.
Steep hill on BC Highway 20 by Bella Coola Valley
20. A steep drop-off.
Steep drop off by BC Highway 20
21. The enormous hill ends in Bella Coola valley. The road was a bit
flooded at one point, but quite passable.
BC Highway 20 in Bella Coola Valley
22. In the valley, the mountain views get better and better.
Mountain view BC Highway 20 West in Bella Coola Valley
23. One more.
Highway 20 West Bella Coola Valley British Columbia Canada
24. It's a neat drive, once you are in the valley. There are houses on
both sides here and there, and, still, very little traffic.
Bella Coola Valley Highway 20 West British Columbia Canada
25. Highway 20 ends at a government wharf, a few kilometers past a small
settlement of Bella Coola. Here we are approaching Bella Coola.
Approaching Bella Coola on BC Highway 20 West
26. After this bridge, turning right leads to the center of Bella Coola,
while going straight for about three more kilometers would lead to the
wharf and the end of Highway 20, both of which we will cover in the next
Highway 20 West near Bella Coola British Columbia Canada
BC Highway 20 is far from being the most scenic drive in the province,
and features a pretty complicated hill closer to its western end. That
said, if you want to experience the vast and mostly people-free
wilderness of the Chilcotin region of British Columbia, or to visit Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, Highway 20 will
get you there.
ihikebc.com -> 130 Trip
on BC Highway 20 (Williams Lake to Bella Coola)