The Waterways of British Columbia – Home to World Class River Excursions

British Columbia, located on Canada’s west coast, is the home of world-class river experiences set in spectacular scenery.  Once the highways of early explorers, rivers are now the pathway for a growing river adventure and ecotourism industry. BC River Outfitters Association (BCROA) members pride themselves in maximizing fun and thrills in full safety while minimizing impact and maintaining the pristine wilderness.

Vancouver and Whistler, on the southwest mainland, hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and amazed the world with stunning scenery and warm hospitality. The towering Coast Mountains, fertile valleys and easy access make this an great vacation choice. The Cheakamus, south of Whistler, is a whitewater rafting and kayaking playground. Up the Fraser Valley, in spring and early summer, there is challenging river kayaking and rafting on the steep walled Chehalis and on the Chilliwack River’s long and continuous rapids. Canada's national kayak team trains on the Chilliwack race course.

Vancouver Island, on the southwest coast of the province, is home to Campbell River, where rafters can float or snorkel with thousands of salmon as they swim up-river to spawn. Adventurers on the Nimpkish and Southgate River trips can catch glimpses of black bear, elk, cougar, deer and eagles in the magnificent rain forests. The area’s year-round temperate climate makes for a long rafting season.

Tucked away in Central British Columbia, the Thompson Okanagan area has prime water adventures. The Adams River careens over the ‘Ledge’, pounds through the ‘Ender Waves’ and blasts thru the famous ‘Adams River Gorge’. This water then takes a 480-kilometre tumble through the rapids of the Thompson River’s desert-like chasms, and Hells Gate on the Fraser River. Further east, the Clearwater River offers world-class whitewater in unspoiled Wells Gray Park.

The Kootenay Rockies area has three mountain ranges of snow-capped peaks, four national parks and over four dozen provincial parks. Here, the Slocan River glides through historic gold and silver mining valleys before joining the wildlife filled basin of the Kootenay River. The Elk River carves through a 400ft vertical wall with caves and hoodoos, while the Kicking Horse River shows both gentle and ferocious sides as it cuts a wild swath through the Yoho Valley, then spills through a narrow canyon.

In 1862 gold sparked a rush of adventurers to the Cariboo. Today “Best Drop”, “House Rock”, “Notch” and “Devils Eyebrow” on the Quesnel River draw the adventure seekers. The big rapids on the Chilcotin, an afternoon float on the Fraser between 300’ towering canyon walls, or the roller coaster action of Sailors Bar are all show stoppers.

River rafting in Northern BC is a spectacular journey through untouched wilderness, old growth forests and along pristine rivers. The Tatshenshini, known as the river of glaciers and grizzlies, is in Glacier Bay National Park, the largest non-polar ice field anywhere, and is rated as one of the top ten river trips in the world. The Babine River, smaller in scale, delivers an up close and personal feel. Here spectacular whitewater excitement comes in some of the most impressive canyons known.

The province is rich in rivers throughout the province, so travelers can try their hand at rafting or kayaking almost anywhere they travel in BC. Go to for a complete list of river adventures.


Myth: Rafting is expensive Busted: There aren’t many guided outdoor activities that are as affordable as rafting – trips start at $30 for a half day. And the value is unmatched: excellent food, gear included, professional guides, shuttles and sometimes free photos from your adventure. Even multi-day expeditions are good value when you include the costs of charter flights and how much you save by not being able to spend a cent for two weeks.

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