I spent three weeks last summer paddling in British Columbia, Canada. Before we left we found it difficult to find a good plan as to where exactly the best paddling spots were in BC during the month of August. Here are some tips to help with your trip.
There was just two of us and so we needed to find other paddlers to paddle with quite often. Facebook came in very handy for this. Every area in BC has its own whitewater kayaking Facebook page: Whitewater Whistler, Golden Kayakers, Revelstoke Whitewater, Jasper Whitewater and Clearwater Whitewater. We signed up to them all and found loads of really friendly people to paddle with throughout our trip. These pages were also good for river levels and local knowledge.
We used Whitewater in Southwest British Columbia by Claudia Schwab. It’s old now but still has some good information and covers not all but a lot of the rivers especially around Whistler. The River Gypsies’ Guide to North America by Leland Davis also has some rivers in it also and there are some websites that are also very helpful especially as you travel further from Whistler; www.liquidlore.com and www.bc-ww.com.
We rented a four-wheel drive truck. The rivers are not always easy to get to; to get to the Elaho we drove for an hour on a narrow very bumpy mountain road. A four-wheel drive definitely came in handy during our trip.
It is difficult to buy secondhand boats. We started looking for boats months before we left and were lucky to get two before we arrived. A friend collected them for us and stored them in his house till we arrived and sold them on for us when we left. I would fly with my boat if going out again.
Our route and the rivers
We started with a week in Whistler. There are an unbelievable number of rivers in this area. We paddled the Birkenhead, the Cal Cheak, the Elaho, the Daisy Lakes section, the Lillooet, and the Cheakamus. Then we drove to Lytton where we paddled the big volume Thompson River and the Stein River. (This was one of my favourites of the trip, it is very remote and to get to it you have to take a ferry across the Fraiser River, but there is a path along the whole length of the river should you need it.) Next we stopped in Revelstoke for a few days. The raft company here, Wild Blue Yonder, were really helpful and gave us a shuttle from the Illecillewaet River. We also paddled the Jordan which has seven interesting drops.
Not stopping for a moment we moved on to Golden and paddled the Kicking Horse. There are several section to this river, we only got the upper done as we had to head to Banff to meet friends. Then Banff provided a break to the kayaking in our trip, we did some mountain biking and hiking.
The drive from Banff to Jasper is fantastic, it’s called the Icefields Parkway. It’s is an amazing drive through the Rockies with over one hundred glaciers dotted along it. Definitely worth making the drive up to Jasper. In Jasper we paddled he upper Fraser. A much smaller river to the one we crossed when in Lytton. This was another one of my favourite rivers.
From here we went to Clearwater. We paddled several sections of the Clearwater River. And our final stop was to Boston Bar – a slight detour on our way back to Whistler but well worth a paddle on the Nahatlatch River.
British Columbia is an amazing place to paddle – there are so many rivers to choose from. Paddlers and locals were all very friendly and helpful. I’ll definitely we back to paddle in this area of the world.