Traveling east from Greater Vancouver along Highway 1 (Trans Canada Highway) or Highway 7 on the north bank of the Fraser will bring you to the start of Mighty Fraser Country. The wide, fertile lower Fraser Valley is spread between the Coast and Cascade Mountains, parallel with the Canada-US border and runs 150 km between Vancouver and Hope before heading through the steep canyons and gorges of the Cascade Mountains.
The Fraser (named after explorer Simon Fraser in 1813 by David Thompson) is the heart of one of the world's greatest salmon producing river systems. And the country it traverses is simply magnificent. In fact, the river actually shaped much of Fraser country. Over thousands of years, it carved a spectacular canyon through the Coast Mountains, a broad, lush valley with some of Canada's most fertile farmland, and a vast delta and wetlands.
The Lower Fraser Valley is a rural region of berry fields and dairy farms. Built along the fertile Fraser River floodplain, forested hills rise abruptly at the edge of the fields. Recently, flower bulb farmers have begun to expand operations and the spring promises lots of colour for the traveler. The City of Abbotsford is one of the fastest growing areas in North America. Nearby, the city of the Chilliwack is surrounded by attractions and activities that include Cultus Lake Provincial Park, Minter Gardens built in an old quarry, Dusty's Dino (formerly Flintstone Park) and the waterfall at Bridal Falls, well worth a visit. The surrounding mountains, lakes and rivers allow for many outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, camping, boating, kayaking and many challenging golf courses.
Harrison Hot Springs accessible via Highway 7, and British Columbia's first resort community, is built on the shore of Harrison Lake. A popular vacation destination, the town's sandy beaches and two mineral hot springs beckon tourists. Further up the valley the Fraser River narrows at the town of Hope the gateway to BC's Interior. Hope is at the junction of four major highways - Highways 1,3, 5 and 7. Hope was once a fur trade and gold rush town but now celebrates its connection with forestry and wildlife. Hope has become known as the "Chainsaw Carving Capital" with 20 giant wooden sculptures scattered around town.
Cutting through the Cascade Mountains, the Fraser flows through a region of deep gorges and narrow canyons. Follow the Trans-Canada (Hwy 1) north from Hope along this magnificent section of highway and stop at Hell's Gate, the narrowest point along the whole river's length. Here, you can descend into the canyon in an air-tram for a close-up look at the raging river. Further along the route the vegetation thins and the rain shadow takes hold of the scenery as you approach Lytton. Here the clear waters of the Thompson River merge with the muddy Fraser River. Lytton offers some of the best whitewater rafting in Canada.
Manning Park, along the Crowsnest Highway (Highway 3) from Hope, offers skiing in the winter for all levels and horseback excursions, mountain bike rentals and hiking during the summer. On the drive to the park stop and see the awesome Hope Landslide east of town. Manning Park is a pristine provincially managed park offering many wildlife viewing opportunities and is best known for its abundant populations of marmots, ground squirrels and pikas.
Need a place to stay or camp while exploring Mighty Fraser Country?
Explore the Communities of Mighty Fraser Country
Browse other Vancouver Coast and Mountains Sub Regions
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia