Tackle the longest continuous stretch of commercially navigable Class IV whitewater in North America as you wind through lush alpine forests, narrow canyons, and skyscraping hoodoos on this British Columbia whitewater rafting adventure.
Rafting the Chilko, Chilcotin, and Fraser Rivers in British Columbia, Canada is a river rafting experience unmatched in its awesome diversity and stretches of Class IV whitewater. This BC whitewater rafting trip begins with a spectacular scenic flight over the glaciated Coast Range into Chilko Lake and two nights of accommodations at Bear Camp in the luxury safari-style platform tents. From there, our Chilko River rafting adventure winds through lush alpine forests, narrow canyons, high desert plateaus, and skyscraping hoodoos, then ends 3,000 vertical feet lower and one week later on the Fraser River, the lifeblood of Canada’s largest river system. Our rafting route runs through Lava, Big John, and Farwell Canyons and includes North America’s longest continuous stretch of commercially navigable Class IV whitewater.
What to Expect
Itinerary & Map
Itinerary at a Glance
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every Chilko River rafting trip is different depending upon the group, other trips on the water, camp locations, and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
The trip begins with an incredible flight over the mountains and glaciers of British Columbia. Once at Bear Camp on Chilko Lake, we’ll settle into our luxury safari-style platform tents before enjoying a gourmet welcome dinner.
After a delicious and hearty breakfast, you can choose to mountain bike, inflatable kayak on the friendly waters of the upper Chilko River, cast a line for trout, sea kayak, SUP or simply hang out and relax by the lake. Yet another gourmet meal signals the end of an epic day and following some pre-trip instructions, we’ll head off for another peaceful night as our minds dance with thoughts of our Chilko River rafting adventure.
Today we’ll rise early and pack up all of our gear into waterproof bags to be stowed on our expedition rafts. You will be provided a personal wetsuit, PFD and helmet and after a thorough safety briefing, our rafting trip begins with a 20-mile scenic float from Bear Camp to our first camp at Bear’s Den.
Keep an eye out for bald eagles and the occasional bear along the shore as you fall into the relaxed flow of river travel. Those looking for some splashy fun can try an inflatable kayak.
Arriving at camp in the afternoon, we’ll transfer our gear to our pre-set tents and meet in the dining tent for cocktails and dinner.
After breakfast we’ll break camp, stow our dry bags, and climb into our wetsuits, PFDs and helmets before pushing off on the river. As the current quickens, so do our heartbeats knowing what’s in store. Today, we descend through Lava Canyon where we’ll encounter the infamous White Mile and challenge the longest, continuous stretch of 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 whitewater enthusiasts.
We’ll stop at Bumper Camp, a secluded riverside camp just 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 thrill-packed day.
This morning the river valley widens as we emerge on the Chilcotin Plateau. Bird life 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 kayak.
Arriving relatively early to 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’ll enjoy some friendly Class II and III rapids, floating by ancient First Nation fishing spots deep in the 1,500-foot canyons. Learn how indigenous communities have relied on the river for thousands of years and how they manage their resources today. 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.
Fueled by another great breakfast and ready for more whitewater, 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. Our adventures are capped with a wild ride through Farwell Canyon as we eventually enter California bighorn sheep country, hopefully spotting a herd or two.
Soon we’ll enter the Gates of Mordor and challenge Big John Canyon. This stretch of the Chilcotin River 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 region, there will be plenty of photo opportunities for the camera buff. The rolling grasslands and the massive canyons provide a dramatic backdrop to the whitewater experience. Tonight we will camp on one of the many massive beaches of the Fraser River.
After a peaceful float down the mighty Fraser River we’ll arrive at our take-out point by the historic Gang Ranch. Here we’ll board our vehicle for the shuttle to Williams Lake Airport to meet our plane for the spectacular flight over the Coast Mountains and back to Vancouver.
Meeting Time & Place
Airport South – Vancouver’s Regional Airfield
Varies based on flight time to Williams Lake
Approximately 3 – 4 PM to Airport South
Dates & Prices
|July 6, 20||$4,500|
|August 3, 17, 31||$4,500|
Including flights and two nights at Bear Camp.
• 5% taxes & fees
• Mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
The Need-to-Know Info
Included in Your Trip Cost
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Transportation to and from Vancouver
- Optional floatplane flight directly to Chilko Lake (contact OARS for details)
- Pre- and post-trip accommodations and meals
- Excess baggage charges (on the flights)
- Single supplement fee (for the two nights at Bear Camp)
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan or mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
- Fishing gear and license
The number and variety of boats on your trip will vary based on water levels, the number of participants, and other factors we take into account when planning your adventure. Please be aware that in doing so we will ask you to share boat time with your fellow travelers. We don’t assign boats, nor can we guarantee exactly which crafts we bring, but trust us to provide you with the best possible mix for you and others on your trip.
Learn more about the OARS Fleet and the boats that may be a part of your experience: Oar Raft with Paddle Assist, Inflatable Kayak
Our first two nights are at Bear Camp, where you’ll be accommodated in our safari-style platform tents.
Beginning day 3, after each active day on the river we pull ashore to camp for the night. Upon arrival, our first task is to unload the boats using a bag line of crew and passengers to expedite the process. Individuals then collect their waterproof bags and locate a tent site to camp for the night.
In each camp, there will be a kitchen and central dining/seating area with chairs. Your guides will also set up the portable toilet in a secluded area where privacy is assured.
As dinner is being prepared by the guides, hors d’oeuvres will be served and you will have an opportunity to relax, enjoy a drink if you wish, and reflect on the day with your fellow traveling companions.
In the morning, the first wake-up call will let you know that coffee, hot water for tea or cocoa, juice, fresh fruit, and cold cereal are ready on the hors d’oeuvres table. You can fill your mug and grab a bite, then begin to pack up your personal belongings and sleep gear as the guides prepare breakfast. After breakfast is served, all gear will be loaded onto the boats and we’ll head downstream to see what new adventures await us.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we must consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or necessary restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
The weather is one of the few details we can’t control. However, we plan our trips for times when the likelihood of good weather is greatest. The Chilko-Chilcotin tends to be dry in climate and much warmer than the coast. In summer, daytime temps in the interior of B.C. can be quite warm, while the temperatures drop quite a bit during the evenings. While we don’t expect rain, it is always a possibility in British Columbia. Be sure to follow our recommended equipment list, as our experience suggests a multi-layering approach with a range of temperatures and conditions in mind.
Average Air & Water Temperatures
|Air (Day) °F||Air (Night) °F||Rainfall|
The temperature of the lake tends to be in the low to mid 50’s (°F). You’ll find the river warms up as we travel downstream, noticeably upon arriving at the confluence of the Chilcotin River and the Fraser River.
The Chilko-Chilcotin-Fraser is considered a Class III-IV river system with a number of extended drops. The Chilko River flows into the Chilcotin River, which flows into the mighty Fraser River. This free-flowing waterway is perfect to raft from May through September. Our Chilko River adventure winds through lush alpine forests, narrow canyons, high desert plateaus, and skyscraping hoodoos, and 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 it is known to have the continent’s longest stretch of commercially navigable whitewater.
Before booking your trip with OARS, there are a few important considerations we’d like you to know about.
Reservations and Deposits
An $800/person non-refundable deposit is required at the time of reservation. Deposits may be made by check, money order, or Visa/Mastercard (American Express and Discover incur a 3% processing fee). Prices are in US Dollars, and all payments must be made in US Dollars. Payment of the deposit establishes your acceptance of our complete Terms and Conditions. Individual departures and trip capacity are strictly limited by the managing agency.
Canceling your trip after your deposit is processed will incur cancellation fees because OARS has absorbed costs on your behalf and will turn others away who would like to book the spaces we’re holding for you. Final payment is due 90 days before departure. Accounts on which final payment has not been received 80 days before the departure date will be canceled without exception.
Cancellations and Refunds
Your deposit is fully refundable, less a 3% processing fee, for 7 days after you book when you submit a deposit 7 days or more before the final payment due date.
If you must cancel your reservation after the rescission period described above, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the schedule below. We regret we cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including foul weather, poor air quality, wildfire activity, acts of terrorism, civil unrest, or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving a trip early. For these reasons, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan.
|Date of Cancellation||Cancellation Fee|
|90 or more days before your trip||Full deposit|
|89 to 0 days before your trip||100% of the trip price/person|
Requests to transfer a date will be treated as a cancellation, per the terms above.
OARS International and the outfitter R.O.A.M. Adventures, Inc. reserve the right to cancel any trip due to insufficient registration or other factors that make the trip impractical to operate. Do not make nonrefundable travel arrangements unless you have spoken to your Adventure Consultant regarding the status of your trip.
If a trip must be canceled or postponed due to force majeure (factors outside the control of OARS), OARS will provide full credit for payments made toward future travel, or a refund less a 5% service fee plus any nonrefundable payments made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers. OARS will make good faith efforts to recover deposits made on your behalf to 3rd-party suppliers, however, we can’t guarantee recovery of any or all of the advance payments made. OARS is not responsible for expenses incurred by participants in preparation for a canceled trip.
Our Chilko Chilcotin Fraser Rivers trips are run by an affiliate company and arranged through O.A.R.S. International, Inc.
Ancestral Lands Acknowledgement
We respect and recognize that many of the river canyons where we operate are the ancestral homes of indigenous communities. Where we operate on the Chilko, Chilcotin, and Fraser Rivers between Chilko Lake and Gang Ranch, we acknowledge the territories of the Dënéndeh, Tŝilhqot’in Nen, Esketemculeucw (Esk’etemc), and Secwepemcúl’ecw (Secwépemc).
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