I have recently become newly enamored of the Fraser Canyon region in British Columbia. Growing up in the Lower Mainland, my family often camped in the Canyon when I was a kid, but it wasn’t until more recently that I began to appreciate the history and natural features of the area. Here are my top recommendations for a weekend getaway to the Fraser Canyon and beyond.
I always start my journey with lunch in Hope BC. The town punctuates the end of the fertile Fraser Valley and the beginning of the Canyon. There are plenty of small hotels and lunch spots in town, including some surprisingly good sushi and Korean options. If the sun is out, don’t miss a short swim at the Lake of the Woods, a sweet little swimming hole just minutes north of Hope as you head out of town north on the Trans-Canada.
The Fraser Canyon abounds with opportunities for white-water rafting. A lover of swift water, I was thrilled with a rafting excursion on the Nahatlach River, just east of Boston Bar, with REO Rafting. (Also check out Kumsheen Rafting). We pitched a tent on the property and enjoyed the sounds of the rushing river all night. Our package included meals, and I was impressed with the selection and quality of the cooking. We dined with other guests in the outside dining hall. The excursion itself was an absolute blast, though not for the faint of heart! Most of the rafters spent at least some time in the freezing water, but the guides are competent and fearless. I had an enormous smile pasted on my face the entire length of the journey.
Last summer, I spent a couple of days in Lytton BC and was absolutely inspired by the quiet solitude, punctuated by the ubiquitous trains whistles, of course. The town is at the confluence of the muddy Fraser River and the clear blue Thompson River, and the spot where they mix is a beautiful sight. There are only a couple of small hotels in town, so book ahead if you plan to stay the night.
Following the Thompson River north of Lytton, don’t miss Goldpan Provincial Park for excellent fishing and wildlife viewing. There are also more rafting opportunities in this area. Finally, take a moment to appreciate the charming town of Spences Bridge. The hot, dry plateau provides beautiful views of the ranch country, and small historic churchyards abound. Photographers will appreciate the light here, and the stunning colours of the sky and earth.
Enjoy the Fraser Canyon for the natural beauty and recreation, and also remember the immense role of the region in shaping the province of BC. The entire canyon region is rich with First Nations history as well as Gold Rush history. Check out the film Canyon War: The Untold Story (2009) for more details.