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8 Day Whitewater Rafting Adventure
per person based on double occupancy
June – August
* Additional private launches may be available by request
Deposit: $1000 Meeting Place: Vancouver, BC Gateway City: Vancouver, BC River Rating: IV-V Age Range: 13-75
Outside magazine choose our Chilko trip as the BEST River Trip on the planet in 2014 because the Chilko-Chilcotin-Fraser River is unmatched in its awesome diversity and enormous stretches of Class IV white-water.
This world-class river adventure winds through lush alpine forests, narrow canyons, high desert plateaus and sky-scraping hoodoos, then ends 3,000 vertical feet lower and one week later on the Fraser River, the lifeblood of Canada’s largest river system. The route runs through Lava, Big John and Farwell canyons and includes the longest stretch of commercially navigable white-water in North America.
The trip begins in Vancouver with a spectacular flight over the Coast Mountains to either Williams Lake or direct into Chilko Lake (see flight options). From Williams Lake, we transfer you 4 hours across the Chilcotin Plateau to the headwaters of Chilko where we begin our river odyssey. We think celebrated author Pam Houston sums the river trip up best:
“What I love most about the river isn’t the challenge of the rapids, isn’t the drop dead gorgeous scenery, isn’t even getting intimate with a place you can’t get to in a car (though I love all those things too). What I love best about being on the river is the way you move through space at a speed humans were meant to move, and the whole day becomes about making your miles, making your meals, making a comfortable, if temporary, home.”
The Chilko-Chilcotin-Fraser is much more than this, but we think you get the picture! This trip combines perfectly with our 4 or 5-day Bear Camp Multisport, before or after the expedition, respectively.
Itinerary at a Glance
- Meet in Vancouver where we board a flight to Chilcotin country (see flight options). Flying over Whistler and the Coast Range offers a scenically spectacular start to our adventure
- Spend two glorious nights at the Bear den on the banks of the Chilko River
- Hike Mt Tullin and/or paddle 20 miles of swift current and mellow rapids to camp in a beautiful meadow surrounded by pines. Enjoy the many delightful meals in the wilderness
- Descend through Lava Canyon and challenge the longest, continuous stretch of whitewater on the continent – heart stopping hydraulics and towering, standing waves cascade for more than 18 miles through deep and narrow lava gorges
- Run the “Gap” – a 20-foot wide chute that carries us into the Chilcotin Plateau
- Hike at an ancient Indian fishing spot deep in the 1500-foot canyon
- Soak up the scenery or hike to your g=heart’s content on a layover day at Big Creek
- Negotiate S-Bend and Big Creek rapid. Enjoy fun splashy rapids and the accelerating current as we whirl past towering hoodoos and dramatic canyons
- Challenge Farewell, The Gates of Mordor and Big John Canyon, a stretch of the Chilcotin featuring countless massive wave trains
- Shuttle to the airstrip for the spectacular flight back to Vancouver
- R/T Vancouver to Williams Lake plus transfers on commercial plane $600 pp
- One-way direct charter to Bear Camp/ return to Vancouver commercial plane from Williams Lake $800
- Float plane or heli access – quotes by request
What to Expect on the Chilko-Chilcotin-Fraser River Expedition
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips in the area, and sometimes the weather. Our daily distances can fluctuate depending on weather, activities, and National Park notices. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like.
We meet in Vancouver for our flights. (Please review our various flight options but in any event make sure your gear is packed in soft luggage as this will allow for easy storage and transfer into the aircraft). As soon as everyone’s gear is stowed, we will board our plane for the incredible flight over the mountains and glaciers. Once at the Bear’s Den, on the banks of the Chilko River, we’ll go through the camping procedures and then enjoy the first of many delightful meals in the wilderness.
After a delicious and hearty breakfast, you can choose to an easy hike to Green Lake, a big hike up Mt Tullin, mountain biking on some fun double track, inflatable kayak 20 miles back to the Bear’s Den, cast a line for trout, or simply hang out in our scenic riverside camp and prepare for tomorrow’s big water adventure.
You will quickly notice that the pace of the river has increased. Today we descend through Lava Canyon and challenge the longest, continuous rapids of the trip. Heart-stopping hydraulics and towering, standing waves cascade for more than 18 miles through deep and narrow lava gorges, making for some non-stop excitement. It is no surprise Lava Canyon has become world-famous among white-water enthusiasts. Depending on the trip, we will choose a secluded riverside camp just above or below where the river doubles in size as the turquoise Taseko River joins the Chilko. At camp, a delightful evening under the stars and celebration is in order after a fun-filled day of adventure.
This morning the river valley opens as we emerge on the Chilcotin Plateau. Birdlife abounds and our casual float is a welcome reprieve after yesterday’s excitement. This will be a great day for trying the oars or paddling an inflatable kayaks and everyone will be encouraged to give it a try. Arriving relatively early into camp, there will be time for swimming or reading around the campfire. Try your hand at some fishing or sit and watch the sunset on the metamorphic rocks across the valley.
An early departure will set the stage for an action-packed day. In the morning, we will enjoy some friendly Class II and III rapids before arriving at our lunch site at an ancient Indian fishing spot deep in the 1500 ft. canyons. This stop offers outstanding hiking, swimming and for the more adventurous, cliff jumping into the refreshing waters of the Chilcotin. After lunch we can ride the Goose Neck Rapids while golden eagles soar high above us. Tonight, we’ll camp at the confluence of Big Creek.
Today is a well-deserved lay over day. This means a leisurely breakfast, plenty of time to hike up Dome Mountain for an incredible view or taking some time fish for rainbow in Big Creek. If you feel less active, you’ll be able to wander with your camera through this beautiful valley.
After a leisurely day yesterday, we will break camp and immediately enter the Big Creek rapids. Lots of fun splashy rapids and accelerating current keep the pace up as we whirl past towering hoodoos and dramatic canyons. Today’s adventures include a wild ride through Farwell Canyon as we eventually enter California bighorn sheep country. After lunch, we float through a California Big Horn sheep reserve and hopefully we spot a herd or two from the rivers’ edge. In short time we’ll enter the Gates of Mordor and challenge Big John Canyon. This stretch of the Chilcotin features countless massive wave trains that roller coaster for miles in a rushing chorus down deep desert canyons only to dissipate into the mighty volume of the Fraser River. In this country, there will be plenty of photo opportunities for the camera buff. The rolling grasslands and the massive canyons provide a dramatic backdrop to the white-water experience. Tonight we will camp on one of the many massive beaches of the Fraser River.
After a peaceful float down the mighty Fraser we’ll arrive at our take-out point by the historic Gang Ranch. Here we’ll board our vehicles for the shuttle to Williams Lake to meet our plane for the spectacular ride back over the Coast Mountains and eventually reach the Pacific. Weather permitting, we plan to arrive back at the Vancouver airport by 3:00 PM.