Exploring the History Of BC’s Southern Interior at the Historic Hat Creek Ranch

Last Updated on September 11, 2016

On our road trip up to British Columbia’s Interior, we knew a stop we had to make was at Hat Creek Ranch, in Cache Creek. We love learning about history and unique accommodations make our eyes sparkle. The area surrounding the Hat Creek Ranch is very beautiful, and listening to the wildlife and the water rushing through the creek at night was so peaceful. We love being outdoors and the Hat Creek Ranch was a wonderful place to explore another piece of beautiful British Columbia.

The Historic Hat Creek Ranch is located on one of the sections of the original Caribou Wagon Road that is still accessible to the public at the Junction of Highway 97 and 99, 11 km north of Cache Creek. The ranch includes 320 acres of fields and hills in BC’s southern Interior.

Hat Creek Ranch – The Surroundings

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This cool Wagon greets you as you enter the Hat Creek Ranch property.
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This is what you will see around The Hat Creek Ranch. Beautiful views!
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We’re total geeks for cool wooden photo props. These ones were too much fun!
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How could we resist taking these cute photos?
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A decorative wagon is a ton of fun for photos and little kids to explore. Madison insisted on being “Yellow Belle” and Sadie is getting quite the personality and demands to join in everything now!

Unique Accommodations – The Wagon & More

When we first discovered The Hat Creek Ranch, we were so excited to hear about the new addition of the Wagon. From first look, it doesn’t look all too spacious, but as soon as we opened the door, we were immediately impressed with how much space there was; it was much bigger than we expected! Inside are two sets of full size twin bunk beds, a luggage storage space and an eating and bench area. The beds were more comfortable than I expected, though you need to make sure you bring extra warm clothes for the evening. We were glad we did as the light comforter provided wouldn’t have kept us warm enough from the really cold night.  There was no electricity or running water in the Wagon, but there were washroom facilities with flushing toilets and showers just steps away, as well as access to ice and (not potable) water and a couple battery powered lamps were included. The Wagon was clean and was perfect for a little getaway, making the camping experience almost feel luxurious. It was also great to be able to park our vehicle right by the Wagon for easy unpacking. The day ended up being warm and beautiful and having a picnic table was wonderful for the picnic we brought to share.

Tips:

  • The top bunks don’t have a bed rail along the side, so parents may not want their kids to sleep up top incase they may roll off. On the bottom beds, the back side of the ladder can act as a bed rail for  those with toddlers that move around a crazy amount like our daughter does.
  • You’ll still need some bug spray or after bite. Bugs will still find their way in the wagon – you are camping, after all!
  • Bring an extra layer of warm clothes or a warm sleeping bag. Our visit was at the end of May, but warm days can bring some cold nights in the Interior.

Other options for accommodation include Miners Tents, Cabins, a Teepee, or RV parking. You’re sure to find an option you’ll love! 

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How cool does this Wagon look at first glance?
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The Wagon entrance
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The dining and bench area
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Two sets of full size bunk beds, complete with an area on the end of each for luggage storage, maximizing space.
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The Hat Creek outside our wagon. We loved listening to the rushing water as we fell asleep and in the early morning hours.
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If you don’t want to stay in a wagon, another option is the teepee! However, you’ll want to make sure the forecast doesn’t say rain, or you could end up wet.
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Yet another accommodation option, the Miner Tents.
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Another accommodation option- a small cabin. The green building has flushing toilets and showers.

Stagecoach Ride

The stagecoach ride around the ranch was enjoyable and we could really feel the rumble as the ride was as bumpy as would be expected. It made us realize how much bumpier it could have been back in the old times, and how much longer each ride would have been. Madison, our almost three-year-old, absolutely loved the stagecoach ride and was excited to see the horses close up and to know they were pulling her around.

You can sit inside the plush upholstered cab or, if you’re lucky, alongside the driver. We chose to sit inside the cab since we had two young kids with us. The cab inside was so spacious, we could have easily fit a couple more people inside.  Today, getting to ride in a stagecoach is something special and the scenery during our ride made it that much more incredible.

The stagecoach ride was included in the price of admission.

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You can ride inside, or outside!
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The small town was a wonderfull depiction of early life on a ranch
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Enjoying the beautiful views from the stage coach
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How cool does that look to take a ride in?

The Roadhouse & Native Village Interpretive Site

We love seeing what life was like in the past. The staff were really friendly, and the interpreters were very knowledgeable. The buildings in the small town stand as they did back in 1901. The Road House was interesting to explore and even the Victorian era wallpaper and flooring was original and untouched. It is the last remaining roadhouse of its type and is one of the largest known along the Cariboo Wagon Road.  The Hat Creek Roadhouse was popular for its hearty meals that were prepared from the ranch’s own produce. You’ll also find chickens, pigs, lambs and horses, as in the old days. I particularly loved checking out the kitchen and taking a look at how food would have been prepared back then.

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Long dirt roads
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Stunning scenery all around
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Flowers in bloom with the Roadhouse in the distance.
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The entrance to the town
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Horseshoes waiting to be worked on
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Old kitchens have so much character!
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An old room
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Admiring past days
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Another bedroom with a baby crib

We especially loved learning at the Native site and the guide there, Darcy, was full of interesting information about the Stucwtewsemc (“Stluck-TOW-uhsen”) tribe and did a fabulous job showing us around and answering our questions.

The Pithouse was very impressive and is the traditional winter lodge for the Shuswap First Nations. It is built half above ground and half below and a typical “Kekuli” could accommodate between 25-30 and upwards of 50 people from grandparents to grandchildren and immediate family.

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A sweat lodge – a place for naturally cleansing the body and spirit. The rocks were placed in a pit in the centre of the sweat lodge and once everyone was inside the entrance was closed and water was poured over the hot rocks to produce a steam and cleanse oil and dirt from ones pores.
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Used to make soup, stews and teas – How impressive is that!
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Admiring some Native gloves
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Beautiful drum

Hat Creek Ranch was a great way to learn about the history in BC’s southern Interior. It was great exploring life when it was a simpler time and we loved learning by being able to see first-hand what we were learning about and being able to ask the knowledgeable staff any questions we had.

Hat Creek Ranch is open May – September. We visited the town on a Monday and with school not out of session yet, it was a little quieter. We heard that it gets quite busy during the summer months. Because of this, if you visit during peak time, we would recommend that you begin your visit with the stagecoach ride to cut down on your wait time to experience it. 

 

Have you ever visited an historic ranch? What were your favourite parts?

 

Our stay in the covered Wagon was sponsored in part by Hat Creek Ranch, but as always, our opinions are our own.