Canoeing and Kayaking in the Thompson Nicola
For easygoing paddling, the North Thompson River is perfect. Use North Thompson River Provincial Park as your base. The current gently pulls paddlers downstream all the way to Kamloops, although you’ll need several days to cover the entire distance.
To canoe the long and skinny Kinbasket Lake, start at Canoe Reach at Valemount (near the north end of the lake, just south of Tete Jaune Cache on Hwy 5) and work your way south. There’s a boat launch beside Hwy 16 in Mount Robson Provincial Park that provides access to Moose Lake and Yellowhead Lake in the park.
For an even more peaceful experience, head to Murtle Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park. This lake has over 62 miles (100 km) of shoreline. Providing visitors with a quiet wilderness experience is the goal and motorboats and combustion engines are not permitted. Murtle is noted for excellent fishing, trails leading into the high alpine of Wavy Range and Central Mountain, wildlife viewing and beautiful white sand beaches. Campers are required to stay in designated sites, many of which have pit toilets, fire rings, and food caches. Camping permits are to be purchased in Blue River on Hwy 5.
Clearwater Lake and Azure Lake provide a 100 km round trip for canoeists. Camping in designated sites is required; there are twelve camping areas on the lakes, two of which are for canoeists only. Clearwater and Azure are noted for good fishing and beautiful scenery. Canoe rentals are available at Clearwater Lake Campground. Camping permits are purchased at the boat launch. Mahood Lake, on the western side of Wells Gray Provincial Park, is a pretty area, popular wish fishermen as well as canoeists. There are no designated sites, and no marine camping fees are charged. Pay particular attention at the outlet of the lake, as the Mahood River is very rough and dangerous, with rapids and waterfalls.
Canoeing and Kayaking in the Nicola Valley/Coquihalla Highway
The various parks around Lac Le Jeune offer plenty of opportunities for canoeing. Lac Le Jeune is one of the bigger lakes in a region characterized by hundreds of pocket-sized ponds, many of which provide serenity in the midst of splendid isolation. Get a Merritt Forest District recreation map and pick out a recreation site that appeals to you, or stop by their office in Merritt at the intersection of Hwy 5A and Airport Road. Parks in the area include Lac Le Jeune Provincial Park and McConnell Lake Provincial Park.