The road up to Lytton is underpopulated, under serviced, less than perfectly maintained, primarily two-laned, twisty, full of abandoned architecture and incredibly scenic.
The area is special for more than one reason; Lytton was developed at the convergence of the Fraser and Thompson rivers, it has one of the warmest climates in BC, and therefore Canada, it has a unique and almost desert like natural landscape, and it is said to have been home to the Nlaka’pamux people for more than 10,000 years.
Lytton was known during the gold rush era as ‘The Forks’, because of the meeting of the two major rivers at its base. It was the development of the Coquihalla Highway that knocked Lytton into its current state of economic degradation. Until the ‘Coke’ was built in 1987, Lytton was an important stop on a variety of major routes.
For many years Lytton was a stop on major transportation routes, namely, the River Trail from 1858, Cariboo Wagon Road in 1862, the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s, the Cariboo Highway in the 1920s, and the Trans Canada Highway in the 1950s.
The local logging industry collapse in 2007 did not help with Lytton’s ultimate deterioration. The little village has all but been forgotten in recent times, and though it shows, nothing has stripped away the unique beauty of the area – or the strong native culture.
A short drive around town shows you that the First Nations spirit is quite strong in this little town of 200 or 300. Street signs include original Native names, and Totems are set up in many private yards.
The town was (re)named after British novelist and Colonial secretary, Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Lytton was a good friend of Charles Dickens and author of the famous phrases;
It was starting to get late and we really wanted to make it to the outskirts of the next town, Lillooet, to camp overnight at a familiar spot. So we didn’t spend long looking around Lytton before we headed back out to the highway, and into the narrow, winding mountain roads.
Additional photos in the slideshow.