Posted by: cherylyoung | October 27, 2012

The most indelible natural scratch on British Columbia’s beautiful surface is the Rocky Mountain Trench, the longest and straightest valley in the province.


The most indelible natural scratch on British Columbia’s beautiful

surface is the Rocky Mountain Trench, the longest and straightest

valley in the province.

Never widening to more than 20 kilometres, it skirts the western edge

of the Rockies for 1,400 kilometres from Montana to Yukon.

Each of BC’s four largest rivers – the Fraser, Columbia, Peace, and Liard

– travel through parts of the trench.

Most pervasive is the Fraser River, the lifeblood of British Columbia,

with arteries that reach deep into the heart of the province.

Nearly 1,400 long, the Fraser River is Canada’s fifth-largest river

system, and drains an area of 231,313 square kilometres From its

headwaters near Mount Robson to the sea at Vancouver, it collects

the runoff from mountains on opposite sides of BC through its

massive tributaries, the Nechako, Quesnel, Chilcotin, Thompson,

McGregor, West Road, Cottonwood, Bridge, Coquihalla, Chilliwack,

Harrison and Pitt Rivers.

The Nahatlatch, Fraser, and Thompson Rivers are all justifiably

well known for their riverrafting 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 of the others.

Both the Thompson and the Nahatlatch flow into the Fraser within a

short distance of each other.

The season begins in May, once water levels become manageable.

Although it’s entirely possible to run these rivers unaccompanied,

the majority of paddlers opt for the services of a certified guide,

at least the first time.

The Fraser River in the Cariboo Region
Returning salmon use the Fraser to reach their spawning beds in

the upper reaches of the Thompson, Adams, Clearwater and Quesnel Rivers.

In a region made famous by its gold rush, you too can pan for gold.

The Cariboo stampede of the 1850s and ’60s may be just a memory,

but that doesn’t keep the Fraser from washing down a few more grains

and nuggets each spring onto these shores.

The staff at the Lytton Visitor Centre can assist you in your search

at Lytton’s Gold Panning Recreation Reserve on the Fraser River.

Hwy 12 from Lytton to Lillooet runs along the Fraser River, a good

way to see this important waterway.

The Fraser River in the Greater Vancouver Region
Life on the Fraser River is often best viewed from a beach. Unfortunately

, many of the river’s best beaches (or ‘bars’) in the Greater Vancouver

area are leased to lumber companies for logging booms.

Several exceptions lie on either side of Fort Langley, at Derby Reach

Regional Park and Glen Valley Regional Park.

The hard-packed beaches at Derby Reach’s Edgewater Bar and

Glen Valley’s Two Bit, Poplar, and Duncan Bars are wide, gently

sloping stretches of sand, perfect to stroll on while watching

the river flow.

Blue herons glide by above, while in the river a seal will occasionally

poke up its head to check you out, sometimes with a fish in its mouth.

Although 30 miles (50 km) upriver from the mouth of the Fraser,

tidal action in the river is still powerful enough to leave more

(or less) of the beach exposed, depending on the time of your visit.

One of the best ways to get a feeling for the Fraser River in the Fraser

Estuary is from a small boat such as a canoe or kayak.

Although the Fraser River powers its way through the estuary in

three main channels, there are numerous backwaters where the

current is not as strong nor the wakes from passing tugboats and

freighters as intimidating.

Try launching at Deas Slough and explore the nearby

Ladner Marsh area.

There are two approaches, one from Deas Island Regional Park and the

other from the public boat launch at the north end of Ferry Road

on the outskirts of Ladner.

The boat ramp on Ferry Road at the west end of Deas Slough

is vehicle accessible.

This is where anglers, water-skiers, jet boats, canoes, and kayaks launch.

To reach Ferry Road, take the Ladner exit immediately south of the

George Massey Tunnel on Hwy 99.

Drive west on River Road to Ferry Road.

Turn east on Ferry and drive to the launch ramp.

From here, Deas Island’s rocky-pointed snout is only a

quick paddle away.

The full girth of the Fraser River’s South Arm lies on the far side of

Deas Island and should be paddled only at slack tide.

During falling tides, currents in the Fraser can reach almost 7 miles

(11 km) per hour, although you won’t experience these conditions

in the backwater on Deas’s south side.

The heart of Deas Slough is equidistant from either Ferry Road

or Deas Island Park.

Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park, about 14 miles (22 km) north of Yale on

Hwy 1, provides an interesting place to stop in the Fraser Canyon.

An interpretative display gives picnickers an idea of the canyon’s history.

The canyon was a major obstacle to transportation developers who

needed to link interior locales with the rapidly urbanizing coastal

settlements, and it has seen the passing of Simon Fraser; the road building

of the Royal Engineers; the fur brigade; thousands of gold seekers; railway,

highway, and bridge builders; and early truckers.

Since the Cariboo gold-rush days of the 1860s, a strategically located

bridge has spanned the Fraser River here.

The original, Joseph Trutch’s spectacular suspension bridge,

opened in 1862

A second Alexandra Bridge washed out in the flood of 1887, and a

subsequent replacement built in 1925 is now a neglected relic.

Since 1965, travellers on Hwy 1 cross the Fraser River downstream

from the park over a four-lane, orange-arched beauty.

Look up the canyon from here and you’ll get a quick glimpse of its

silver-coated predecessor, which still has some flash left in its

boiler-plate finish.

The old bridge leads nowhere and, like a monument desecrated

by rebellion, has been stripped of officialdom.

Graffiti-scratching day trippers took over when the old bridge

was decommissioned.

One of oldest of the many well-preserved markings reads, Eddie’s

getting married ’65.

Nearest Towns: Tete Jaune Cache, McBride, Prince George, Quesnel,

Williams Lake, Lillooet, Lytton, Hope

Nearest Parks: Churn Creek Provincial Park, Edge Hills Provincial Park,

Emory Creek Provincial Park, Alexandra Bridge Provincial Park


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