Top 5 Classic Kayaking Destination in BC
British Columbia has long been known as the top destination for action sports. Bikers, hikers, paragliders, snow sliders and any outdoor sports enthusiast all know that in Canada there is but one province where you can push your limits in any discipline. Not only can you progress your own skills but the progression of many sports, owe gratitude to the terrain of BC, and the athletes who become entranced by it.
The valleys, rivers, and canyons of BC have provided a unique playground for water sports. A proving ground, and an arena that has played a pivotal role in the progression in all disciplines of whitewater kayaking.
Here are my top 5 classic destinations for whitewater kayaking in beautiful BC.
Falls Ashlu River. Photo by Eric Parker.
1) Squamish River Valley
Dipper Creek is a classic gorgeous waterfall run which flows into the upper Squamish. Just downstream the Squamish confluences with the Elaho River. The Elaho is a classic raft run, with a Class 5 section for paddlers to enjoy just upstream.
Heading towards Squamish and Howe Sound the Ashlu river is next to join in where upstream the classic “Ashlu Box Canyon” starts at the 50/50 waterfall and over 5km winds through some of the most beautiful canyons you can imagine.
2) Whistler – Callaghan River
The Callaghan river is a steep run with classic rapids, and waterfalls. The continuous gradient in its upper section starts the run with a bang climaxing at an iconic 20-foot waterfall. This is a precious run to the locals who host an annual race to bring awareness to the threat of another hydro project in the works here.
3) Sunshine Coast – Skookumchuck Narrows
The Sunshine Coast is many things: hippy, foodie, garden-y, artsy, creative, clean, crafty, and sporty. There is much recreation to be had on the coast but what brings kayakers to its shores is the Skookumchuck Narrows. The predictable tides make Skookumchuck a popular summer destination for local and visiting kayakers. The wave runs in cycles and is surfable for a few hours. When the wave is not rideable, the biking and coast culture provide entertainment.
Stikine River. Photo by Eric Parker.
4) Northern BC – Stikine River
Perhaps the most famous and internationally visited river in BC is the Stikine. Roughly 200km south of the Yukon and 200 East of the Alaska border, highway 37 crosses the Stikine River. This is the “put-in” for the Grand Canyon of the Stikine, an 85 km stretch of class 5 whitewater in remote canyons that has provided a proving grounds for expedition kayakers since its first descent in 1981.
The Stikine was called the Everest of rivers by some and over the years it held a spot on all serious kayakers hit list.
Sutherland Falls, Blanket Creek. Photo by Matt Baker.
5) Interior BC Revelstoke/ Golden
I was born in Ontario and will never forget my first trips into BC. I was stunned, as were many Ontario folks before me, with the beautiful mountains. My first trips were to the Slocan Valley to visit family and ride Red Mountain. While most of my time is spent coastal, there is a draw and a magic to the interior that I feel. The spring/early summer kayaking is incredible for high volume river running, and just outside of Revelstoke is a classic, picture perfect 60 ft waterfall.
My best trip to the Interior was a few years ago. The Kicking Horse River in Golden, Incompanplux outside Revelstoke and Sutherland Falls were all running at perfect flows and made for an amazing week of kayaking.
Driving to our next kayaking destinations. Photo by Eric Parker.
Whether you’re a beginner to water sports or a long time lover of it, you probably know access is possible in a variety of vehicles. You don’t need a truck, but you almost always end up using someone else’s. Therefore, I’m happy my Toyota Tacoma is mine when the driving gets a little gnarly/fun.
||Ben Marr is Professional Whitewater Kayaker based in beautiful, BC. You can connect with Ben on Facebook and Instagram.
Author: Ben Marr, Whitewater Kayaker