Eagles, Salmon, Bear – Oh My!

Bald Eagles in the wilderness…sometimes spiritual… always uplifting.  An expedition-class river raft is the ultimate viewing platform for observing one of the highest concentrations of bald eagles in the world. Annually 3000-4000 eagles descend upon the Squamish Valley on six to 8-foot wingspans. They gather in Brackendale (a short drive from Vancouver) to feast on spawning Chum salmon. The Squamish River provides idyllic safety and comfort as scores of eagles are close-up on sandbars and roosting in trees overhead. This tour runs November to mid February, but eagles can be viewed on many different rafting trips year round.

Ready to get up close and personal with British Columbia’s iconic salmon? Come to Campbell River on Vancouver Island where all five species of Pacific salmon can be found, starting with pinks in late July, Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye in August and September, with Chum salmon the last arrivals. It’s a gentle float down clear water with great opportunities to spot black bear, deer, beaver, weasel, eagles, mergansers, kingfishers, and seals as well. Not close enough to the salmon? Then wiggle into a wetsuit and snorkel in the river pools with thousands of salmon.

How about some Grizzlies? Head to the heart of British Columbia, where the Babine River is a secret jewel with spectacular whitewater, impressive canyons and calm sections of crystal clear water. The Babine River corridor is home to the highest concentration of Grizzly Bears in North America and is also rich with cultural history. It will be easy to look down in the water and spot Chinook and Sockeye Salmon, and the world renowned Steelhead as they dart around smooth dark boulders.

Rafting guides float their craft quietly into nature. And their knowledgeable, friendly nature makes a lasting impression. Many rafting companies are family owned and operated. Guests become good friends that return year after year for the high quality personal service and river rafting adventures. The rafting companies are also making many friends in the community by donating towards community groups and projects.

Looking for green? Recycling and environmentally friendly supplies are a staple in the industry.  Always looking for new ways to reduce their ecological footprint, the operators are constantly finding innovative techniques to minimize impact on the environment.  Substantial donations are made towards local habitat enhancement projects, environmental programs and education activities. Some have signed on to support 1% for the Planet, donating an additional 1% of annual revenues.

Power or Paddle? If you choose paddle, the Nahatlatch River, near historic Yale, is considered one of the best early season whitewater runs in British Columbia. It is a demanding river with fast continuous action. The Elk River (near Fernie) is a large to medium volume river. It carves through spectacular 400ft vertical walls with caves and hoodoos. Paddle rafting requires guests to participate and listen to commands from their guide. These trips can be more strenuous and demanding, but the rush and team camaraderie are unforgettable.

Power is a safe way to experience the thrills of the mighty Fraser River and Hell's Gate. Large power rafts let you ride through the scenic Fraser Canyon in secure comfort. Majestic views, wildlife and history make for indelible memories of this incredible waterway.

Plan and book your river rafting trip anywhere in British Columbia by going to British Columbia River Outfitters Association (BCROA) at www.bcroa.com.

Fast Fact

Rafting trips are one of the best places to spot wildlife. Valley bottoms have some of the best habitat and are the easiest travel routes, especially in mountainous areas. Plus, the river’s currents, rapids and twists and turns disperse human sounds and smells and keep people out of view. So, it’s no surprise that you’re more likely to see wildlife on a rafting trip than on a hiking trail.

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