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Deadman River Valley, B.C.

1 May

You’ve heard the saying – “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Deadman Falls is surely one of British Columbia’s most spectacular waterfalls, and yet the drive through Deadman River Valley rivals the falls themselves.

The Deadman River Valley drive is a must for anyone who wants to explore the Central Interior. At approximately sixty kilometres, allow for two hours driving time. Deadman-Vidette Road has two access points.  If you are leaving Savona in the direction of Cache Creek, keep an eye out for Deadman-Vidette Road on your right hand side. To access the second, my backroad map indicates that if you continue on, shortly before Cache Creek, take Back Valley Road. which becomes Deadman Cache Creek Road and finally merges with Deadman-Vidette Road. B.C. Guy and I were so impressed with the Savona entry point that we decided to return on the same section of road. As expert travelers, we use backroad maps to our advantage and, therefore, would never miss a turn-off or anything.

The road winds past the small community of Skeetchestn. Pavement turns to red dirt. Meander past ranches both thriving and forgotten. Rocks jut out from parched hillsides full of grazing cattle and horses. Don your best Texas accent as B.C. Guy did and drawl, “She sure is dry!”

Be sure to watch the painted hills for the geological anomaly known as Split Rocks. At  kilometre sign 55-16, the road gently curves upward. Pause at the crest and stare at the mountain. While you will drive closer, this is the best angle to view the three columns as the profile allows for the surrounding greenery to outline the rocks. Carry on, my friends. Carry on.

After a time, the scenery changes abruptly to thick forest. For most British Columbians, the dense forest is familiar territory and if you are visiting on a hot day, a welcome relief. The forest road narrows considerably. It passes by not one, but six lakes. Limited campsites are available. Vidette Lake is the final lake before a steep ascent. The road emerges on a plateau, with poplar a plenty.

Congratulations. You are even more amazing than you knew you were. Count yourself among the few who have reached the Center of the Universe. And you didn’t even know you were on the quest. In 1980, a monk arrived in the area only to announce that he had calculated the plateau as the exact location of the Center of the Universe. Buddhists arranged for the Dalai Lama to make an official visit, but the land owners were not keen to donate the land.

The grassy plateau once again gives way to denser forest. Once you pass a sign that reads “Singing Lands,” watch for an inconspicuous sign marking Deadman Falls. A minute or two on the walkway leads to an uncompromising canyon. Do not allow free-spirited dogs to run around unattended. If, however, you are traveling with far-sighted relatives of which you are not particularly fond… Depending on the time of year, you may be privy to the cone formation found at the bottom of plunging waterfalls in late winter and early spring, or wildflowers which are sure to bloom later.

That British Columbia is home to the Center of the Universe is not astounding. Whether you discover British Columbia through highways or backroads, just make sure you take the journey.

B.C. Girl Bite: For further backroad driving inspiration, read Liz Bryan’s Exploring the Interior: Country Roads of British Columbia. I also recommend selecting a backroad map book , found at many tourist information centers and gas stations.