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Home / Thompson Okanagan / Wells Gray to Mount Robson / Blue River

Blue River

A Step Back in Time

Canadian Aboriginal people were the first to use the North Thompson route, followed later by a party of settlers who, after leaving Jasper, travelled a route by land to Kamloops. After their safe arrival, they became known as the Overlanders.

Prior to the establishment of the town of Blue River, a large forest fire engulfed the valley. Thus the forest surrounding the town of Blue River is all second growth. In 1890, Frank Bowen was one of the first settlers known to have trapped in the Blue River area. Later settlers were Dan Crowley in 1909, the Lawson brothers and their partner Wilkins in 1910. In 1910, J. Maher arrived in the area. He set up a cabin 11 miles east of Blue River, which is still visible today near Highway 5. Other settlers who arrived to the area around the same time were Austin Cook, Smith and J. Dales. Mt. Cook was named after Austin Cook's son. Stanley Harrison (Doc) arrived in 1912 with Angus Horne.

Together they acquired an area of land, which included Goose Lake. Doc later had a daughter who was the first Caucasian child born in Blue River, and Goose Lake was then named Lake Eleanor after her. Lake Eleanor is at the centre of Blue River and is admired by locals and tourists alike. It is a great spot for recreation especially swimming, fishing, and picnics.

When the Canadian Northern Railway (CNR) connected the east and west in 1914, Blue River became a divisional point. Each week two trains passed through the community. As the many small railways across Canada became unified in 1923, Blue River became part of the Canadian National mainline. The first section foreman was Billy Davies. A wagon road was built during the construction of the railway. The total number of families living in Blue River at that time was seven! Dave McLaren established the first store in 1922 across from the railway station. Johnny Kuffa built the first hotel.


Blue River is 210 km (130 mi) north of Kamloops  on the Yellowhead Hwy 5. 

Things to See and Do
  • Mike Wiegele's Helicopter Skiing Resort

Imagine finding yourself on the highest mountain peak looking down an untouched, untracked powder slope stretching infinitely before your eyes. An endless run from open alpine glaciers and changeable terrain. Around or over drop-offs, through the enchanted forests to the bottom of the valley floor. Now, imagine a helicopter waiting ready to take you up so you can do it all over again. Since 1970, Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing has been committed to the "soul" of skiing. They are also committed to integrating research and training into every aspect of their operation, from safe travel in the mountains to professional service within every department of the resort.

  • Wells Gray Park

Through the nearby access to Wells Gray Park, a three million acre wildlife park that stretches from Clearwater's Wells Gray Country to Blue River's Murtle Lake, Blue River offers visitors the only access to Murtle Lake, one of North America's largest non-motorized lakes. The park is home to over 200 species of birds and 56 mammals. Helmcken Falls is one of the most photographed sites in BC, being the fourth tallest waterfall in Canada at 141 metres in height. Wells Gray Park hosts five major lakes, two large river systems, and a multitude of waterfalls. Wells Gray Park offers tourists a variety of welcoming accommodations, such as: cottages, bed and breakfasts, lodges, motels, hotels, resorts, and back country chalets for hut-to-hut hiking.

  • Eleanor Lake

In the centre of the community of Blue River, Eleanor Lake offers a great beach, swimming and fishing in summer, and cross-country skiing and ice fishing in winter. The Don Forsyth beachhouse offers showers, washrooms, lifeguards, and a concession during the summer months.

  • Blue River Pine Provincial Park

Blue River Pine Provincial Park is located in the community of Blue River. The park protects a combination of wetland and upland on sandy fluvial-glacial soils along the lower stretches of the Blue River. Dry Lodgepole Pine forest type, uncommon in the North Thompson Valley is represented. This park also protects a very unusual association of Vaccinium myrtilloides (Velvet-Leaf Blueberry) with Lodgepole Pine. The wild berries make this a noted summer habitat for Black Bear. No camping or day-use facilities are provided here, however, locally maintained ski trails are present and snowshoeing is a popular winter activity in the park.

  • Fishing

Blue River, Avola and other parts of the North Thompson valley are renowned for spectacular fishing opportunities in all seasons. Many resorts provide boat and gear rentals to clients with their accommodation.

  • Skiing / Snowmobiling

In the winter season, Blue River's deep, dry powder beckons to the backcountry skier and is perfect for a day of snowmobiling with a local club or guiding company. Wells Gray Country and Blue River / Avola have excellent web sites that post current snow conditions and weather.

  • Canoeing

The Blue River Campground provides canoes, portage carts, and related safety gear to help vacationers experience the splendor of the Canadian Rocky Mountain wilderness lakes. The four most popular lakes nearby are: Murtle Lake, Mud Lake, Mystery Lake, & Eleanor Lake- each has a vastly different character.

  • Hiking / Biking

Hike, bike or enjoy a picnic amidst alpine meadows alive with colour, sound and bubbling brooks.  

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Contact Information

North Thompson Valley


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Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

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