The Fraser River Valley boasts incredible rafting on the Nahatlatch, Chehalis and Chilliwack Rivers. Guided rafting trips are available through rafting companies operating in the Fraser Valley, as well as other recreational adventures in this popular outdoor area.
The Nahatlatch River
The Nahatlatch, Fraser, and Thompson Rivers are all justifiably well known for their river rafting experiences. Of the three, the Fraser and Thompson are more prominent, though not necessarily more challenging than the Nahatlatch. In fact, the Nahatlatch provides more excitement in its varied run than either the Fraser or the Thompson, and is also more thrilling than the Chilliwack and Elaho/Squamish rivers.
Both the Thompson and the Nahatlatch flow into the Fraser River within a short distance of each other, with the Nahatlatch being be reached by gravel road west of Boston Bar. The rafting season kicks off in May, once water levels from the snow-melt and spring runoff become manageable. The later in summer you try the Nahatlatch, the better your chances of being able to run the narrow Nahatlatch Canyon, a Class lV to V mind-altering experience. The best rapids include Big Jack, the Nozzle, Final Exam, and Hump & Bump.
The Nahatlatch River provides one tortuous rapid after another with some wonderful play spots and big rapids on the Hannah Lake to Apocynum section, one of North America’s premier rafting runs for experienced rafters seeking Class lV to V thunder. The river is graded Class IV+ with a couple of Class V rapids as it enters the section from the canyon from Apocynum to the Fraser River. Highlights include the thrills of the Meatgrinder, Rosegarden, Headwall, Twisted Sister, and Lose yer Lunch.
The Chehalis River
In spring and early summer, when water levels are at their annual high, there’s challenging river kayaking and rafting on both the Chehalis and Chilliwack Rivers. The Chilliwack and the Chehalis are both geologically young rivers, prone to changing their course from one spring runoff to the next. Be as mindful of sweepers as of boulder gardens.
The Chehalis River flows south from Chehalis Lake into the Harrison River. Whitewater adventurers seek out the Chehalis in May and June when water levels are high. Experienced paddlers put their canoes and kayaks in at an obscure point just above the river’s confluence with Statlu Creek near marker 14. The presence of vehicles beside the road is a tip-off. Running the river allows you to view the Chehalis’s red-rock canyon, waterfalls, and caves that are otherwise hidden from the roadside by dense stands of scrub forest.
The Chilliwack River
The Chilliwack River is better known than the Chehalis, which lies almost due north on the opposite side of the valley, and is considered to be the most challenging whitewater in the Lower Mainland region of BC. A challenging section of the Chilliwack is used as a race course and training site for Canada’s national kayak team. Watch for the metal flags strung above the river east of the Vedder Crossing Bridge that outline the kayak slalom course. In total, there are almost 22 miles (33 km) of the Chilliwack to run, and rafters can challenge the river’s entire length when it is at full flow.
Chilliwack Lake, 63 miles (100 km) east of Vancouver, is the headwater of the Chilliwack River, which flows through the Fraser Valley into the Vedder River before emptying into the Fraser River. The Chilliwack is graded from Class ll to Class lV with rocks, boulder gardens, blind corners, haystacks, and surfing waves. The canyon portion is steeper and more demanding. Chilliwack River highlights include the Picket Fence Rapid, Cable Pool, Boulder Run and the Race Course.