Driving from Lillooet to Hat Creek Ranch and Lone Butte

After 3 excellent days camped in Lillooet, on Day 49 of the trip, June 13th, we moved on to visit a high school friend and her husband in Lone Butte. On the way, I finally stopped to visit historic Hat Creek Ranch.

We pulled away from the Fraser Cove RV Park just after 10:30, but I hadn’t gone very far north on Highway 99 before regretting not coming up here with the Tracker. When I saw this large waterfall, I knew that I wasn’t quite finished with Lillooet yet.

Waterfall north of Lillooet, BC
At the next pullout, I stopped and unhooked the Tracker to go almost back to Lillooet. It only takes a few minutes to unhook the “toad”, and I sometimes do it 3 times a day to go exploring.

Disconnecting my RV toad
Here’s a closer look at that waterfall. With the binoculars, I could see that there’s a road that goes to the base of the falls, or close to it. Something for the next trip.

Waterfall north of Lillooet, BC
Then I continued south to a viewpoint over Lillooet. That’s The Old Bridge in the foreground, the Fraser Cove RV Park above and to the left of it.

Lillooet, BC
The viewpoint also offers a great view of the railway bridge.

Railway bridge at Lillooet, BC
Across the highway from the viewpoint, a pretty interesting erosion channel is forming in the cliff.

Erosion at Lillooet, BC
At 10:30, the Tracker was hooked up to the motorhome again, and we were headed north and east. Just after I got through the narrow underpass ahead, I saw a commercial van come to a sliding stop when an oncoming semi already filled that space.

BC Highway 99 north of Lillooet, BC
I love this country, and there are a few places I want to explore on the next trip down. The Fountain Valley and Pavilion Mountain roads in particular are great day-trips out of Lillooet. That’s the Fraser River in the next photo.

The Fraser River from BC Highway 99 north of Lillooet, BC
The variety in the terrain is wonderful, from irrigated fields to dry sagebrush-dotted slopes and rugged cliffs.

BC Highway 99 north of Lillooet, BC
Continuing through the dryland ranching country, at noon.

Ranching along BC Highway 99 north of Lillooet, BC
At 12:15 I reached an area that looks so out of place that I always have a “where am I?” moment or two. From out of the dry hills, these massive limestone mountains suddenly appear.

Limestone cliffs along BC Highway 99 west of Cache Creek
At the eastern edge of the limestone mountains, a cement plant has been making use of the resource for decades.

Cement plant along BC Highway 99 west of Cache Creek
Dropping down to meet Highway 97 north of Cache Creek, at 12:30.

I’ve driven past Historic Hat Creek Ranch probably 100 times, and for many reasons had never stopped for a visit before. The parking lot was only about 20% full, so this looked like a good day to rectify that. Before going in, the dogs and I had a good long play in the field out front, so they were ready for a nap.

Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
That’s a restaurant on the left, and the admissions area to the right. Admission is $13.50 for adults, $12 for seniors, or $30 for a family.

Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
I soon had my wristband and could go an explore the site.

Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC

The first building you come to once on the property is a blacksmith shop, and I had a long chat with the blacksmith. He’s a certified wheelwright, and he and his wife come to volunteer here each summer – she does the baking. I was curious about how one becomes a wheelwright today – he told me that the Western Development Museum offers courses.

From this point on, you need a wristband. I find it intersting that the blacksmith shop is open to the non-paying public. A hook to get people interested in the ranch as a whole?

Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
The ranch as we see it today looks as it did in 1901. The B.X. Barn is the first building you come to. It was the home of the B.C. Express Company, which transported people and freight on the Cariboo Wagon Road which ran right where I shot the next photo from.

B.X. Barn - Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
The mower shed across from the B.X. Barn houses much more than mowers, including this stage coach that carries people around the property.

Mower shed - Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
The worker on the right in the next photo is leading a miniature horse to its corral. It was still early in the season, so many volunteers and animals hadn’t arrived yet. While I don’t like crowds, a little more action would have been nice. What a fussy guy 🙂

Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
Hat Creek House is the main focus of the ranch. Many of the rooms inside (the guest rooms in particular) have not been restored, but have been left much as they were found.

Hat Creek Roadhouse - Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
The detail on this door of the roadhouse is wonderful. I expect that was some carpenter’s creative outlet for a few days during a long winter.

Door detail at the Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
An important part of any good roadhouse, to settle the dust from the trail, was the saloon.

Saloon in the Hat Creek Roadhouse - Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
There’s some really intriguing electrical wiring on the ceiling of the roadhouse kitchen. I have no idea how the electrons travel through that. I wonder what a 1901 Electrical Code Book looks like?

Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
Ranch women had to be tough, but apparently some of them needed to escape into a romantic life occasionally 🙂

Ranch Romance magazines at Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
Back outside the roadhouse, the orchard shows how water and hard work started to transform this country a century and a half ago.

Orchard at Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
The miners’ camp looks like t would be a fun place to have some interpreters at.

Miners' camp at Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
This cool unicycle-wheelbarrow contraption is at the miners’ camp. It must have taken a substantial amount of practice to keep it upright on a rough trail!

Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
This horse-drawn wagon is available to take visitors from the ranch to the Native Interpretation Centre a few hundred meters away. The building to the right is the greeting place, where an introduction to the Shuswap First Nation cultue is presented.

Shuswap Native Village at Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
These women put on a powerful demonstration of drumming and singing, significant parts of many events and ceremonies.

Shuswap Native Village at Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
This pit house (kekuli), built hald undeground for insulation, was the traditional winter home of the Shuswap people. Accommodating 25-30 people, this one can be rented for overnight accommodation – a unique family or school camping outing.

Pithouse at the Historic Hat Creek Ranch, BC
I didn’t leave Hat Creek Ranch until after 3:00, and I expect that when everything is running, a visit could take most of a day. At 3:25, though, I was heading north on Highway 97, coming into Clinton.

Clinton, BC
At 4:30, I reached the tiny community of Lone Butte, named after the lone butte that dominates the view as you enter the community.

Lone Butte, BC
I find Lone Butte to be charming. There’s not a lot here, but my friends and I have had some good meals, and the Water Tower historic site in the centre of town is interesting.

Lone Butte, BC
You don’t have to look far to find other interesting buildings such as this old garage.

Lone Butte, BC

Arriving at the home of my friend and her husband, I quickly decided that I needed to stay for a couple of nights. A party out at a remote lake almost turned my stay into more than 2 nights, but I was starting to feel the pull to the North, and had a few must-dos still on The List. Day 50 of the trip was all “visiting” stuff, and on Day 51 I headed northwest to Farwell Canyon.

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