Over the years, I’ve heard stories from people who have canoed the picturesque Bowron Lake Circuit near Wells, BC. It is a 116 km paddle journey around a series of lakes, waterways, and portages in the Cariboo Mountains. I was in the area for a film shoot and there was no way I was going to pass up the chance to sample this classic wilderness experience. There was only one problem; I had just one day to do it. You see, the Bowron Lake Circuit is usually a 5-10 day canoe adventure with dramatic scenery, wilderness camping, and plenty of wildlife sightings. I needed local expert advice on the best way to get a sample of this great canoe voyage that has been rated one of the top ten canoe trips in the world.
That’s when I met up with Dave Jorgenson at the Bear’s Paw Cafe for a filling dinner and a fine brew. Dave runs a local outfitter called Whitegold Adventures and Pathways and has over 30 years of wilderness experience. He knows this area like the back of his canoe paddle, so if anyone was going to guide me in the right direction it would be him. “You want to see what the Bowron Lake Circuit is like in a day?” said Dave with a grin and a slight shake of his head. “Meet me here tomorrow at 4am with your camera gear and be ready to paddle.”
Before I know it, the next morning arrives and we’re off paddling on Bowron Lake before sunrise. As the sun appears over the mountains and glistens off the clear water below our canoe, we listen with a sense of peace to the sounds of our paddles gracefully dipping into the lake. Dave explains to me there may be no other place in the world where you can start and finish a canoe trip in the same place and never travel over the same water twice. Every day is a completely different experience. Imagine paddling around an enormous rectangle of connected lakes surrounded by beautiful vistas, rugged mountains, sandy beaches, green marshes and abundant wildlife. He then reminds me that I only have a day so we are going straight to a spot where I can see for myself why this place is so highly spoke of. Dave also tells me to pick up the paddling pace, because in the early morning at this site, there’s a good chance for viewing wildlife such as a beaver, bear or moose.
We get to the end of Bowron Lake and as our canoe glides around a marshy corner there is a huge bull moose splashing around in the water! This magnificent moose shakes its velvet covered antlers without a care in the world that we are canoeing right beside it. There is no way to explain the feeling of having front row seats to a morning moose show in its natural habitat. After my hands stop shaking with excitement, I slowly take out my film gear and capture this beautiful creature in motion.
Dave looks at me again with that grin of his and says, “You just experienced a bit of what the Bowron Lakes journey is like. When you finish the trip, somehow it changes your life in some little incremental amount; leaves you a different person”. That it did… so this is what the Bowron Lake Circuit is all about.
See some of the moose footage captured towards the end of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Adventures BC Trip Idea video.
Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit Trip Tips:
- The number of paddlers allowed into the circuit is limited, so be sure to book campsites and a launch date with BC Parks’ Discover Camping service. You can also rent canoes right at Bowron Lake.
- For guided trips look at local outfitters, such as Whitegold Adventures and Pathways, as they can take care of the logistics.
- Make sure to explore the quaint arts town of Wells and the historic town of Barkerville when in the area.
Kayaking and Canoeing in Wells, BC
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