Whitewater Rafting in the Fraser Canyon by Duncan Rawlinson via Flickr
By Patricia Cashin
Last summer we spent a glorious extended weekend exploring the Fraser Canyon from Hope to Lytton where the rock formations along the mighty Fraser River push against the rushing waters that tumble through the narrow canyons. Cliffs rise from the edge of the canyon and one can glimpse trains making their way on what seems to be a perilous journey on rail lines seemingly hanging on to the cliff and diving into periodic tunnels through the rock.
We started our journey with lunch in Hope. The town punctuates the end of the fertile Fraser Valley and the beginning of the Canyon. There are plenty of accommodation options and lunch spots in town and this is an excellent place to top up your gas tank. Heading out of Hope on Trans Canada Hwy 1 we passed through small communities such as Yale and Spuzzum that sprang up in the Gold Rush era of the mid 1800s.
Just before arriving in Boston Bar is the very popular Hell’s Gate Airtram where you can take an amazing trip suspended above the river. However, we wanted to experience the thrills of whitewater rafting and opted for a rafting adventure on the Nahatlach River, just east of Boston Bar, with REO Rafting. (Also check out Kumsheen Rafting). We had booked ahead to stay in one their glamping tents, which was a new experience for us, and enjoyed the sounds of the rushing river all night while sleeping in a comfy queen bed. Our package included meals, and we were impressed with the selection and quality of the cooking. The river rafting itself was lots of fun, though not for the faint of heart!
If you are wanting to do a side trip, we were told that Blue Lake Resort is a stunning destination, offering both lodgings and campsites. Accessed via Blue Lake Road north of Boston Bar, it is a twisty climb on gravel road to the resort, but the canoeing, hiking and stunning views are well worth the effort.
Travelling on up to Lytton we were amazed at the change in landscape and inspired by the quiet solitude, punctuated by the ubiquitous train whistles. 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.
Leaving the Fraser River but staying on the Trans Canada Hwy 1, we headed north-east to Spences Bridge, that follows the Thompson River. En route is Goldpan Provincial Park known for excellent fishing and wildlife viewing. You can also camp there right by the river if you are lucky. 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.
We had spent three days on this fun trip but rather than returning via the same route we headed south on Hwy 8 through part of the Nicola Valley to Merritt. This town has a number of accommodation options and is a good place to have lunch and gas up. Once we were refuelled we travelled the Coquihalla Hwy 5 south towards Vancouver and home.
Published: April 20, 2017