Off Track Travel

17 of the Best Canoe Trips in British Columbia

Explore the BC’s dramatic mountains and misty forests from a different perspective – the classic Canadian canoe.

There’s a large variety of incredible multi-day canoe trips in British Columbia, ranging from relaxing paddles on pristine glacier fed lakes to adventurous circuit expeditions with portages and river sections.

Canoe resting on shore of island on Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit, one of the best BC canoe trips. There are sunset colours in the sky

With that in mind, here are 17 of the best BC canoe trips you need to need to put on your paddling ‘to do’ list!

Stretching from Vancouver Island to Northern BC, these routes and circuits range from 2 to 10 days in length so you can pick the best fit for your own adventure.

Some are more remote than others, but all offer glorious scenery accompanied by a serene paddling experience.

Mirror lake reflections of snow capped mountains on Murtle Lake, one of the best BC canoe trips

BC canoe trips: about this list

This is not a definitive list of canoe trips in British Columbia but includes some of the most popular, fun and varied canoe adventures to be had!

  • While we love canoeing, we have not paddled all of these BC canoe trips (yet). I have noted those that remain on our ‘to do’ list so you will know which I write about with personal experience
  • All but one of the following canoe trips have established lakeshore camping facilities (usually with outhouses, fire pits, occasionally picnic tables, tent pads and bear caches)
  • This post features flat water adventures only (with very short river sections). If you’re looking for river paddling options, I’d suggest researching the Similkameen, Thompson, Nicola, Nanaimo River, Cowichan River, Slocan River and the Upper Fraser River
  • The majority of these BC canoe routes are first come, first serve – only one uses a reservation system (Bowron Lake)
  • Prefer kayaks? No problem – all of these routes are suitable for kayaks too though portaging may be more laborious

This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase via one of these links, we may receive a percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.

Google Map of BC Canoe Trips

Preparing for your paddling adventure

Help keep the wilderness wild and make sure you understand the principles of Leave No Trace before heading out on your BC canoe trip.

Also learn how to avoid a negative bear encounters , for a safer camping adventure.

Finally, ensure you have the 10 essentials to survive longer in the outdoors and know how to stay safe , in case things don’t go to plan.

Back view of Gemma paddling on Isaac Lake, with mountains and rain in the distance

Besides your 10 essentials, here are more items to bring:

  • Proper canoe cart – For the BC canoe routes that have suitable portages for them, a canoe cart can be a big help. Make sure you buy or rent an expedition version, meaning a canoe specific portage cart (photo on this page ). The smaller ones with horizontal supports are built for kayaks and are a lot more difficult to maneuver
  • Foldable chairs – Some of the campsites on the following BC canoe trips have picnic tables but most do not (and even then, picnic tables don’t have backrests!) We always bring our lightweight Helinox chairs on canoe trips for that extra comfort after a long day of paddling
  • Camp stove – Yes, I know, cooking on the fire can feel like a non-negotiable part of a canoe trip but it’s important to have a backcountry stove for backup. Think fire bans, torrential rain and/or a severe lack of dry wood….
  • Lightweight tarp – For rain or for shade, I wouldn’t ever consider going on a BC canoe trip without a tarp. My preference is to use an ultralight siltarp , which saves extra weight and bulk on portages

Close up view of canoe bow with calm lake water and forest behind on Main Lake, one of the best BC canoe trips

BC Canoe Circuits

The following are true canoe circuits, in that you finish exactly where you started after completing a circular route.

This occurrence is pretty rare in British Columbia due to topography, even with man-made portages. Nevertheless, there are three great examples.

Gemma is pulling a white canoe away from the camera while carrying a green backpack, portaging on the Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuits, one of the best canoe trips in BC

Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit

Overview: 12 lakes, 12 portages with short river/creek/pond sections (47km total) Where: Vancouver Island, 30km from Campbell River Camping: 37 camping areas Fees/reservations: No fees, lots of free campgrounds Launch: Multiple options. Mohun Lake in Morton Lake Provincial Park is the most popular Rentals: Comox Valley Kayaks (75km from the circuit) Other things to do : Fishing Dogs: Permitted Suggested length of trip: 4 days For more info: Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit Guide

A destination usually associated with ocean paddling, Vancouver Island is also host to some excellent freshwater paddling opportunities.

Indeed, one of the few true canoe circuits in all of BC can be found in an assuming forest just northwest of Campbell River.

The 47km long canoe circuit comprises twelve lakes, twelve portages and a couple of short river sections.

Each lake is wonderfully memorable, ranging from the expansive Lower Campbell Lake to the tiny lily-padded Whymper Lake. Amor Lake, with its unusual shape and delicate islands, is a definite highlight.

Situated in a working forest, the Sayward Canoe Circuit is not as pristine as Bowron Lakes but feels surprisingly remote.

The campgrounds offer a variety of experiences, from very rustic (no facilities) and basic (outhouses only) to well-established (Rec Sites with picnic tables) and even developed (private campgrounds).

Canoe view of calm lake, which is lined with trees. A forested hill is visible in the background

Emar Lakes Canoe Circuit

Overview: 7 small lakes, 6 portages in Emar Lakes Provincial Park Where: North Thompson region, 115km north of Kamloops Camping: 2 vehicle accessible campgrounds plus wild camping Fees/reservations: None, first come first serve Launch: Willowgrouse Lake, Janice Lake or Dytiscid Lake Other things to do : Fishing Dogs : Not recommended Suggested length of trip: 2 days

This compact canoe circuit is on my list for a trip in 2024. Seven pretty lakes form a complete loop, connected by six short portages.

The largest lake is Janice Lake (also known as Long Island Lake) which is about 2.5km across at its widest point. While it is possible to paddle the lakes in a day, a night or two helps to slow the experience down.

The opportunity to fish for rainbow trout is a major draw on this BC canoe trip, and indeed, for this area in general. The nearby road is sometimes nicknamed the ‘Fishing Highway’!

There are two vehicle-accessible Recreation Site campgrounds on two of the lakes and wild camping spots elsewhere on the circuit (no facilities). The Rec Sites also provide the best places to launch.

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit

Overview: Parallelogram of 12 lakes, 8 portages plus a number of river sections (116km total) Where: Central Cariboo region, 110km east of Quesnel Camping: 54 designated camping areas, each with tent pads, outhouses and bear caches Fees/reservations: $60 per person for full circuit, $30 for west side, plus reservation fee (reservations are highly recommended and launch in fall before the summer paddling season) Launch: Kibbee Lake, after 2.4km portage (full circuit) / Bowron Lake (west side) Rentals: Multiple options close to launch Other things to do : Fishing, hiking opportunities Dogs : Not permitted Suggested length of trip : 6-10 days (3-5 for the west side) For more info: Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit paddling guide

Mountains surrounding Lanezi lake on the Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit, one of the best BC canoe trips

Bowron Lakes is the most well-known (and popular) BC canoe route.

It’s easy to understand why – this epic 116km circuit in Bowron Lake Provincial Park is a perfect parallelogram of lakes, rivers and portages backdropped by wild, temperature rainforest and rugged mountains.

It is, however, no mean feat. Almost 11km of the total circuit distance takes the form of (often muddy) portages, with the longest being 2.4km

There is the option to explore just the west side of the Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit , which still takes in a good handful of lakes and rivers as well as some outstanding views.

Bowron’s popularity means that the daily canoe launches are restricted.

Reservations are therefore all but essential during the summer months, with the booking system usually opening the October prior. For the 2024 season, reservations opened on 24th October 2023 at 7am PT.

Canoe Routes

For this section, I define a canoe route as one including at least two lakes, connected by a river or portage.

Some of these BC canoe routes feature many more than two lakes, with one even being considered a circuit of sorts.

One great aspect of choosing a canoe route over a circuit is being able to choose how much or little you want to paddle.

It is perfectly possible to change campsites every night or to explore the lake system from a base camp if you’re feeling lazy!

Mirror reflections on Slocan lake, with rolling mountains and many layers of blue

Main Lakes Canoe Route

Overview: 1 large lake with connections to 5 others in Main Lake Provincial Park Where: Quadra Island, a short ferry from Campbell River on Vancouver Island Camping: 7 established marine campsites with outhouses Fees/reservations: $5/per camping night/per person, first come first serve Launch: Mine Lake or Village Bay Lake Dogs: Not recommended Other things to do : Hiking opportunities, fishing Suggested length of trip: 2-4 days

Positively idyllic in summer, the Main Lakes Canoe Route is an ideal destination for a relaxing BC canoe trip. Five smaller lakes branch out from the largest one, the eponymous Main Lake.

Setting up a base camp at a campsite on Main Lake is the most convenient and comfortable way to explore the park.

There are seven camp areas to choose from on this BC canoe route, with some of the sites enjoying gorgeous sandy beaches (perfect for those long hot days!)

Besides visiting the other lakes in the area, it’s also possible to hike 1.6km to Yeatman Bay. This offers the unusual opportunity to visit the ocean on a freshwater trip. And the views across to Maurelle Island are stunning!

White canoe sits on sandy beach next to calm lake, with picnic bench on right hand side, surrounded by forest

Powell Forest Canoe Route

Overview: 8 lakes, 5 portages in a horseshoe shape (63km total) Where: Sunshine Coast, east of Powell River Camping: 17 designated camping areas Fees/reservations: No fees, first come first serve Launch: Multiple options, Lois Lake is the most popular Rentals: Mitchell’s Other things to do : Fishing Dogs: Permitted Suggested length of trip: 4-6 days For more info: Paddling guide

JR standing on a floating dock and  looking out to Windsor Lake Powell Forest Canoe Circuit, with mountains in background

Just a stone’s throw from the Salish Sea, an exciting off-the-beaten path adventure awaits on the Powell Forest Canoe Route .

Well-maintained portages connect 8 unique lakes, which are surrounded by misty temperate rainforest and stunning coastal mountains.

Most of the lakes in the Powell Forest are smallmand easily crossable in a few hours or less. The exception is Powell Lake, which accounts for 30km of the quoted canoe route length listed above.

Deep, mysterious, temperamental and seemingly never-ending, paddling this fjord is an experience in itself.

The Powell Forest Canoe Route is so close to being a circuit that a lot of people do call it one.

The technicality is that while it is an incredible adventure on its own merits, you do not start and finish at the same spot unless you double back or utilise a vehicle.

There are various ways to extend, shorten or otherwise adapt the route of this BC canoe trip to your own needs.

Lightning Lakes Canoe Route

Overview: Three lake chain in E.C. Manning Provincial Park Where: Between Hope and Princeton, just off Highway 3 Camping: Backcountry campsite on Strike Lake, with outhouses and bear cache Fees/reservations: $5/per camping night/per person, first come first serve Launch: Lightning Lake day-use area Rentals: Manning Park Resort Other things to do : Hiking opportunities, fishing Dogs: Allowed on leash Suggested length of trip: 2 days

Looking through the trees down to curving Lightning Lake, with mountains in distance

This trio of imaginatively named lakes in Manning Park forms a short yet scenic BC canoe route, bordered by forested mountains and a lakeshore hiking trail.

Lightning Lake is the first lake on the chain, also the largest and most interesting to paddle. The portage to Flash Lake is 500m and the next to Strike Lake 1.5km.

There is a backcountry campsite just a short walk (600m) away from Strike Lake. Located in a grove of spruce trees, it’s primarily used by hikers.

From Strike Lake, it is possible to hike to Thunder Lake (6km return), the fourth and final lake of the chain.

In theory, you could also portage but the trail is narrow, slippery and littered with avalanche debris. Access to the actual lakeshore is also potentially tricky so I wouldn’t recommend it.

I was a little hesitant to include the Lightning Lakes Canoe Route on this list since it is relatively short and the portages were quite overgrown when we last visited.

The low water levels of Strike Lake can also prove to be a challenge in late summer. But it was the fun hike/canoe trip combination, with easy highway access that won me over!

Moose Valley Canoe Route

Overview: 12 small lakes in wetland area in Moose Valley Provincial Park Where: South Cariboo, 30km west of 100 Mile House Camping: 1 vehicle accessible campground, 2 rustic campsites (no facilities) Fees/reservations: None, first come first serve Launch: Marks Lake Other things to do : Fishing Dogs: Policy not specified Suggested length of trip: 2-3 days For more info: BC Parks guide

The Moose Valley Canoe Route winds through a maze of small, shallow lakes in a delicate wetland area. The pretty lakes are studded with intricate, reed-fringed islands. Moose are a fairly common sighting here.

Although it’s possible to paddle this canoe route in a day, many choose to stay for a few nights to soak in the tranquillity of the area. Facilities are limited but there are a couple of established marine sites on Long and Canoe Lakes.

Very close to Moose Valley (by BC standards anyway), is also the Flat Lake Canoe Route. There’s not much information about it available online, which is why I mention it within Moose Valley’s entry.

According to BC Parks, Flat Lake Provincial Park features several small lakes interconnected with short portages. It is suggested to be ideal for canoe trips of up to three days. We plan to one day paddle both Moose Valley and Flat Lake on the same road trip.

Clearwater/Azure Lakes Canoe Route

Overview: 2 lakes connected by a portage in Wells Gray Provincial Park Where: 65km north of Clearwater and Highway 5 Camping: 12 camping areas with outhouses and bear caches Fees/reservations: $5/per camping night/per person Launch: Southern end of Clearwater Lake Rentals: Clearwater Lake Tours Other things to do : Hiking opportunities, fishing, waterfalls Dogs: Not recommended Suggested length of trip: 5-8 days for both lakes (3-4 for Clearwater only)

141m Helmckcen Falls plunging into a lush canyon in Wells Gray Provincial Park. The canyon is surrounded by forest

Positioned at a right angle to each other, Clearwater Lake and Azure Lake are connected by a short portage.

With both of these glacial-fed lakes being an impressive 22km long, it is possible to paddle for up to a week and still have the chance to see something new.

We’ve had this BC canoe trip on our list for years but we keep having to reschedule (most recently in 2023) due to wildfires. It is on our 2024 calendar.

Wells Gray Provincial Park is best known for its collection of spectacular waterfalls. This canoe route has one of its own to complement the others, the beautiful Rainbow Falls at the end of Azure Lake.

There are a total of twelve camping areas between both lakes, with most being on Clearwater Lake. Being further away from the launch point, Azure Lake is usually less busy. There is, however, a water taxi service that can pick up and drop off paddlers anywhere along the route.

Turner Lake Canoe Route

Overview: 7 lakes, 7 portage chain in Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park Where: West Chilcotin region, 70km east of Bella Coola Camping: 7 established marine campsites with outhouses and bear caches Fees/reservations: $5/per camping night/per person, first come first serve Launch: Turner Lake (fly-in or 16km hike) Rentals: Tweedsmuir Air Other things to do : Hiking opportunities (with alpine options), fishing, waterfall Dogs : Not recommended More info: BC Parks Guide Suggested length of trip: 4-5 days

Paddler in red canoe on calm lake. lined by forest with snow topped mountains in background

One of the most remote BC canoe trips listed here, the Turner Lakes Canoe Route is a real wilderness adventure.

Those who make the effort to hike or fly in will find a series of seven high-elevation lakes, most of which have views of dramatic snow-capped mountains. Another highlight is the chance to see Hunlen Falls, Canada’s third-highest waterfall (401m).

While the portages are on the shorter side (less than 600m), they are not to be underestimated. The changeable weather can prove a challenge too.

Rather than attempt to hike or fly in their boat, most canoeists choose to arrange a canoe rental at Turner Lake. Two rustic cabins can also be booked.

The Turner Lake Canoe Route is definitely high on my bucket list of BC canoe trips. I plan to combine it with an alpine hiking adventure in the Ptarmigan Lakes area as this couple did , hopefully in 2025.

Nazko Lakes Canoe Route

Overview: 7 lake, 6 portage chain with short creek/river sections in Nazko Lake Provincial Park Where: Chilcotin region, 150km northwest of Williams Lake Camping: 4 established campsites (no facilities) Fees/reservations: No fees, first come first serve Launch: Deerpelt Lake Other things to do : Fishing Dogs: Not recommended Suggested length of trip: 1-3 days For more info: BC Parks Guide

The Nazko Lakes Canoe Route takes in seven small but pretty lakes in the Chilcotin region.

One of the lakes is so tiny that it does not have a name. The portages are apparently short and easy, all being less than 800m with little elevation gain.

The paddling distance adds up to 20km, with Tanilkul Lake being the longest lake at 5km. It is also cited as the most beautiful lake on the chain.

Moose are a fairly common sight here, with the endangered American White Pelican also in the area (the reason I most want to check it out!)

There are no camping facilities on this BC canoe route besides the vehicle-accessible campground on the first lake (Deerpelt). There are, however, four established spots for camping, spaced out over four lakes.

Please note that this park was damaged in wildfires in 2017 and one of the camping areas is still closed at the time of writing (Tanikul South Campsite). Check for updates on the BC Parks website.

Nanika-Kidprice Canoe Route

Overview: 4 lake, 3 portage chain, most of which is in Nenikëkh / Nanika-Kidprice Provincial Park Where: Northern Interior, 75km southwest of Houston Camping: 4 established campsites with outhouses and bear cache plus 4 ‘rustic’ sites (no facilities) Fees/reservations: No fees, first come first serve Launch: Lamprey Lake Other things to do : Fishing, waterfall, hiking opportunities (unmaintained routes) Dogs: Allowed on leash Suggested length of trip: 3-5 days

This lesser-visited canoe route lies in a valley between two mountain ranges in Northern British Columbia.

Four high-elevation lakes line up to offer 30km of paddling, accessed with the assistance of three portages. The longest is 2.2km but is mostly level.

In addition to excellent views of snow-capped mountain peaks, the Nanika-Kidprice Canoe Route offers a number of beautiful beaches to camp and relax on. Powerful Nanika Falls (18m) can be found on the final lake of the chain, Kidprice Lake.

From reading trip reports, the fishing on the route sounds promising (particularly for rainbow trout). This combined with the scenery and relative obscurity of the route, makes the Nanika-Kidprice a very appealing BC canoe trip.

Nation Lakes Canoe Route

Overview: 4 lakes, 3 rivers chain, most of which is located in Nation Lakes Provincial Park Where: North Central BC, northwest of Fort St James Camping: 8 provincial park campsites plus Recreation Sites and wild camping Fees/reservations: None, first come first serve Launch: Four different access points, Tsayta Lake is popular for canoe route use Other things to do : Fishing Dogs : Permitted Suggested length of trip: 7-10 days

With an epic total distance of 120km, the Nation Lakes Canoe Route is perfect for anyone wanting a long paddling adventure in pristine wilderness.

Due to this canoe route’s remote location in Northern BC, you’re also unlikely to see anyone else outside of hunting season.

Besides the isolation, wide open views are one of the major attractions, alongside the high paddling-to-portage ratio.

Unusually, the connections between the lakes are river sections so there are no formal portages. It may, however, be necessary to portage due to low water or logjams.

BC Parks doesn’t detail too much about this canoe route, so I’d suggest having a read of trip reports – examples here and here .

A canoe rental and shuttle service is available via Chuchi Lake Fishing Lodge , the latter of which I will likely use myself when we paddle this route.

Back view of JR pushing canoe up dirt path on Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit. There is a portage sign close to camera

Large lakes

British Columbia is characterised by its immense mountain ranges, rugged coastline and narrow valleys. The latter are often filled with long, narrow lakes.

Some are man-made (reservoirs) while others are fed by glaciers. Such large lakes lend themselves well to canoe tripping, though can be susceptible to high wind and waves.

In this section, I highlight five large valley lakes that offer canoe-tripping opportunities (each tried and tested by us). There are, however, plenty more to discover.

Buttle Lake

Overview: 23km long reservoir lake set in a picturesque valley Where: Vancouver Island, 65km southwest of Campbell River Camping: 4 established marine campsites with outhouses Fees/reservations: $10/per camping night/per person, first come first serve Launch: Multiple options, including official boat launches Rentals: Strathcona Park Lodge Other things to do : Hiking opportunities, fishing, waterfall Dogs: Not recommended Suggested length of trip: 2-4 days

Shoreline view of Buttle Lake with forested mountains surrounding calm lake, some snow capped. The lake surface is completely flat and mirror-like

Buttle Lake is one of the most defining features of Strathcona Provincial Park .

Mountains rise steeply from the edge of this narrow turquoise lake, creating impressive valley views. A large waterfall cascades directly into the lake at the southern end.

There are four marine campsites on the lake, with Rainbow Island being a favourite for families due to its convenient location. At Phillips Creek campsite, a 6.6km trail leads up into the subalpine Marble Meadows.

Please be aware that Buttle Lake can be exceptionally windy, especially on hot days, and some of the shoreline can be steep.

If desired, you can also paddle north into Upper Campbell Lake for a longer canoe trip – there is another provincial marine campsite here as well as some Recreation Sites and wild camping options.

Okanagan Lake

Overview: 135km long lake Where: Okanagan Valley, adjacent Highway 97 Camping: 7 established marine campsites with picnic tables and outhouses Fees/reservations: $13/per night/per camping party, first come first serve Launch: Numerous options – Indian Rock near Naramata is our go-to Rentals: Multiple local options Other things to do : Hiking opportunities, fishing Dogs: Not recommended Suggested length of trip : 3-4 days

Set up tent in grassy area above calm Okanagan Lake, with sunset colours visible above distant mountains

Stretching an impressive 135km from top to bottom, Okanagan Lake is one of the most impressive bodies of water in BC’s southern interior.

Okanagan Lake also very windy at times and very popular with boats in the summer so consider planning a trip for the shoulder seasons.

While there are several large communities and a highway located on the shores of the lake, a few areas have escaped development.

One of these is Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park , which sits on the lake’s eastern shore between Kelowna and Penticton.

Most of the shoreline of the park is steep, rising into remarkably rugged mountains (watch for bighorn sheep!) The few flatter sections have been developed into marine campsites, which can be used as overnight stopovers or for base camp use.

Whatever you do, make sure to take a trip to Rattlesnake Island , a scenic spot that was once the centre of an international incident involving hostages and a miniature golf course (the remains of which are still there).

Murtle Lake

Overview: Large lake in shape of a backwards L, part of Wells Gray Provincial Park Where: Between Clearwater and Valemount, close to Highway 5 Camping: 19 designated camping areas with 69 campsites, each with outhouses and bear caches Fees/reservations: $5/per camping night/per person, first come first serve Launch: Murtle Lagoon, after 2.5km portage Rentals: Murtle Canoes Other things to do : Hiking opportunities (with alpine options), fishing Dogs : Not permitted Suggested length of trip : 4-7 days For more info: Complete paddling guide

Looking down from alpine ridge to Murlte Lake, a huge deep blue lake backdropped by snow capped mountains. Murtle Lake offers one of the best bc canoe trips

Murtle Lake has the distinction of being North America’s largest canoe-only lake.

Such peace and freedom offer opportunities for not just a peaceful BC canoe trip, but an adventurous one if desired.

The lake itself is divided in two by 15km West Arm (more campsites, busier) and a 20km North Arm (more dramatic views, quieter). The width varies but is never more than 3km.

Wide sandy beaches dot the shores, with intricate islands providing the perfect place to stop for a snack break. 2000m peaks provide amazing mirror lake reflections on calm days.

Two lakeside trailheads offer access into the alpine itself, for a chance to see Murtle Lake from above too.

Located at an elevation of 1067m and fed by a glacial river, Murtle Lake is noticeably cooler than most of the other BC canoe routes listed here. So be sure to bring extra warm layers (even in the height of summer) as well as your fishing rod.

Slocan Lake

Overview: 39km long lake, the majority of which is part of Valhalla Provincial Park Where: West Kootenay region, between Nelson and Revelstoke Camping: 8 provincial marine campgrounds with outhouses, picnic tables and bear caches plus two Recreation Sites ( Bannock Point , Wragge Beach ) Fees/reservations: No fees, first come first serve Launch: 7+ options, we prefer Slocan village Rentals: Smiling Otter Other things to do: Hiking opportunities, fishing, historical artefacts Dogs : Allowed on leash in marine campgrounds (and select trails) Suggested length of trip : 3-5 days For more info: Complete Valhalla Provincial Park guide

View of picnic table next to set up tent on sandy beach next to calm Slocan Lake, surrounded by forested mountains. The perfect destination on a BC canoe trip

Slocan Lake is our go-to destination for lazy summer canoe trips, when we much prefer the idea of swimming to portaging! This is the perfect place to sunbathe, fish, float and relax.

The western shoreline of this long lake features a string of dreamy beach campgrounds looking out onto the turquoise-coloured water and mountains beyond. Our favourite campsites are Ben Browns and Cory’s Ranch.

This is the perfect place to swim, sunbathe, fish, float and relax. Highway 6 borders the lake on the other side but somehow seems a world away. Our favourite campsites are Ben Browns and Cory’s Ranch.

If you prefer a more adventurous BC canoe trip, Slocan still delivers in buckets. There are five hiking trailheads along the lake, offering the chance to explore beautiful waterfalls, old mining cabins and even venture into the alpine.

Christina Lake

Overview: 18km long lake adjacent to Gladstone Provincial Park Where: West Kootenay region, easy access from Highway 3 Camping: 7 established marine campsites with picnic tables and outhouses Fees/reservations: $13/per night/per camping party, first come first serve Launch: Texas Creek Campground Other things to do : Hiking opportunities, fishing Dogs : Not permitted Suggested length of trip : 2-3 days

Canoe view of sandy beach on Christina Lake, with clear lake water, backdropped by forested hills

As well as being one of the warmest lakes in British Columbia, Christina Lake is also known for its amazingly clear water.

The shore is lined by several fine sandy beaches, perfect for swimming and sunbathing in summer. It’s all backdropped by the Monashee Mountains.

Like Okanagan Lake, this BC canoe trip is best taken outside of summer if peace is a priority. The southern shores of Christina Lake are fringed with vacation homes – expect to see many power boats.

The northern half of the lake is surrounded by Gladstone Provincial Park, but even then, some of the shoreline remains private and is dotted with more houses.

While Christina Lake isn’t our top pick for a wilderness trip, it’s still worth consideration for a short paddle adventure. We enjoyed tranquil mornings and evenings as well as the gorgeous views and productive fishing.

Sunset behind a calm lake with canoe resting on beach

For more paddling inspiration:

9 Extraordinary Kayak and Canoe Trips You Must Try in Canada

7 Canadian Canoe Trips That Should Be On Your Bucket List

Canoeing Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Emerald Lake: Complete Guide and Comparison

Paddling Desolation Sound By Canoe, British Columbia

Wallace Island: An Idyllic Kayaking Destination in British Columbia

A Week in the Wilderness of Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia

Kayaking the 100 Wild Islands, Eastern Shore, Nova Scotia

Explore the BC's dramatic mountains and misty forests from a different perspective - the classic Canadian canoe. There's a large variety of incredible multi-day canoe trips in British Columbia, ranging from relaxing paddles on pristine glacier fed lakes to adventurous circuit expeditions with portages and river sections. Click here to discover 17 of the best canoe trips in BC - they need to go on your bucket list ASAP!

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river canoe trips bc

One half of the Canadian/British couple behind Off Track Travel, Canada. Jean Robert (JR) is up for anything, but you’re most likely to find him either snowboarding, fishing or building something. Gemma and JR are currently based in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada.

Monday 26th of July 2021

Thanks, this site is great, we were supposed to canoe on Kootney Lake with our crew this summer but the wildfires are terrible there right now and we are are last minute canoe route "shopping" to find a new trip. You mentioned the Nation Lakes above, we did that last year, if you'd like a sneak peak of some of the route, log jams, fishing etc. Check out the video we made Happy Adventures and thanks for the info!

Explore Magazine

Explore Magazine

Explore Magazine

23 Kayak and Canoe Routes in British Columbia

Michaela Ludwig

Michaela Ludwig

June 15, 2016

Another great article presented by

Water, water everywhere. An expansive coastline dotted with islands, sounds, channels and fjords, British Columbia is a paddler’s paradise. And if saltwater expeditions don’t suit your fancy, there’s a web of rivers and lakes blanketing our province. Chief among our favourite ways to explore B.C. is by kayak and canoe. We love the remote corners and serene pockets that waterways lead us to. We love spying bears scavenging on shorelines, whales breaching at sea and blooms of pulsating jellyfish. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely half-day paddle, overnighter or multi-day expedition, we’ve assembled a collection of 23 routes and water trails to get you started. 

river canoe trips bc

Pictured above is My Passion Media’s  official truck, customized by Cap-It . It’s fitted with two Thule Hullavator Pro Kayak  Racks.

Kayak & Canoe Trips on Vancouver Island

river canoe trips bc


Johnstone Strait

river canoe trips bc

Location : Telegraph Cove, along the Johnstone Strait, is about 210 kilometres northwest of Campbell River. The community is home to about 20 residents and serves as a launch point for kayakers and whale watchers.

How to get there: Travel via road to Telegraph Cove and launch your kayak from there.

Description : One of the main reasons people kayak in Telegraph Cove is to spy orcas. This is a world-renowned spot to paddles amongst the whales and, in fact, was ranked as the No. 2 on the Lonely Planet’s top 10 list of Canadian adventures.

Distance : The strait itself is 110 kilometres long and between two-and-a-half and five kilometres wide.

Difficulty : Novice kayakers will need to go with a tour group. If you’re intending to cross the strait, know that it is defined as class four and meant for only the most experienced kayakers.

Quadra Island

Location : Quadra Island sits on the north end of the Salish Sea and is one of the dozen islands that make up the Discovery Archipelago. This island is the commercial hub and transportation centre for the residents and workers in the area.

How to get there : Start at Campbell River and take the ferry over.

Description : On Quadra Island, you’ll find stunning beaches and, looking over to Vancouver Island and the mainland, mountain peaks.

Distance : The island itself is about 35 kilometres from end to end, if you wish to paddle around the island or down one of its coasts.

Difficulty : The calm waters around Quadra Island make this place a paddler’s haven.

Denman & Hornby Islands

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Location : These northern Gulf Islands are located in the calm waters of the Strait of Georgia, between mainland BC and Vancouver Island.

How to get there : To access Denman and Hornby Islands, you need to catch the ferry out of Buckley Bay, on Vancouver Island. You’ll get to Denman Island first, and a second ferry will take you over to Hornby Island.

Description : Situated in calm waters makes for ideal kayaking, and you’ll get a chance to spot a wide variety of wildlife, including whales, seals, sea lions and birds. Hornby Island offers spectacular white sand beaches.

Distance : If you’re looking to paddle around Hornby Island, the distance is about 25.5 kilometres. From Denman Island, you can paddle to Sandy Island Marine Provincial Park, three small islands known as the Seal Islets, Chrome Island or all the way to Hornby Island when the winds are calm.

Difficulty : In terms of ocean kayaking, paddling around these islands is relatively easy going.

Gabriola Island

river canoe trips bc

Location : An island laying just off the coast of Nanaimo/Cedar, Vancouver Island.

How to get there : Take a 20-minute ferry ride from Nanaimo.

Description : Hidden coves, sandstone coastlines, rainforest, sea life and sandy bays are just some of the reasons paddlers gravitate to Gabriola Island. You can take in the majestic Malaspina Galleries, paddle to the Flat Top Islands off Silva Bay or over to DeCourcy Island and Pirates Cove Marine Park. There’s also Mudge Island and the Northumberland cliffs.

Distance : The island is about 14 kilometres long.

Difficulty : Paddling around Gabriola Island offers something for everyone – from calm waters and ventures to other islands, to more tricky trips, such as the Gabriola Passage at the island’s north end where the currents can run fast and create whirlpools and rip curls.

Location : The Salish Sea includes the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia, Puget Sound and all of the surrounding channels and adjoining waters. There are also several small islands in this area.

How to get there : The Salish Sea stretches from Desolation Bay to Oakland Bay. You can access this area from Vancouver, Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham, Port Angeles and Victoria.

Description : Kayaking the Salish Sea provides plenty of opportunities to see wildlife and take in the beautiful scenery. If you’re kayaking around the Gulf Islands, part of the Salish Sea group, this area offers a mild climate, sheltered waters and amazing scenery – perfect for kayakers of all levels.

Distance : The Salish Sea extends about 18,000 square kilometres around the southeast end of Vancouver Island.

Difficulty : According to the water classification map of BC waters, from the Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of BC, the Salish Sea routes range from a class two to a class three, until you hit open ocean on the other side of the island. There are many tour groups that operate in this area.

D’Arcy Island

Location : D’Arcy Island is one of the southern most islands in the Gulf Islands group.

How to get there : There are several different location where you can launch your kayak, but the easiest and most direct route would be from Island View Regional Park in Saanich. However, this starting point will require you to cross open ocean for about six kilometres, so weather and skill will be a determining factor.

Description : D’Arcy Island attracts many paddlers, with its beautiful beaches, stunning Gulf Island scenery and sheltered campground. It also has a rich and interesting history.

Distance : About 36 kilometres from Island View Beach and back again.

Difficulty : Opposing current and wind conditions can create dangerous wave conditions. This paddle would not be for beginners.

Discovery Island

Location : South of Oak Bay and downtown Victoria.

How to get there : There are several put-in points, including Cattle Point, Willows Beach, Gyro Park and Telegraph Cove.

Description : Discovery Island is perfect for those looking for a quick paddle without going too far from home. There are also campgrounds available for an overnight stay. You’ll feel far away from the city, but be close to home.

Distance : Distances from the following points to Discovery Island: Cattle Point, 5.3 kilometres; Oak Bay Marina, 5.8 kilometres; Gyro Park, 6.98 kilometres; Telegraph Cove, 7.5 kilometres.

Difficulty : Although this paddling destination is close to the city, don’t be fooled – the currents in Baynes Channel can be strong and have stranded many an unprepared paddler over the years. Be sure of your skill and strength.

The Broken Group Islands

river canoe trips bc

Location : This group of islands is located in Barkley Sound, between Ucluelet and Bamfield.

How to get there : Launch points include Toquart Bay, Bamfield and Ucluelet. You can also drive to Port Alberni and ride the MV Lady Rose to Sechart Lodge and launch from there. However, there is a cost to launch at the lodge.

Description : The Broken Islands offer something for everyone – from flat, calm waters on windless days between the islands, to challenging and potentially dangerous when you’re on the exposed waters when the swells are high. The islands each have campsites available, as well as sandy beaches that are sheltered from the roaring surf. There isn’t a lot of fresh water on the islands, so be sure to bring your own.

Distance : An example of distances from Toquart Bay to the islands: Hand Island, 8.5 kilometres; Dodd Island, 11.7 kilometres; Willis Island, 12.1 kilometres; Turret Island, 15.3 kilometres; Clarke Island, 14.1 kilometres; Gilbert Island, 16.9 kilometres; Gibralter Island, 14.1 kilometres.

Difficulty : Paddlers that don’t have a lot of experience will need to stay in the calm waters between the islands. Those looking for an adventure could travel to the ocean side of the group.

Vargas Island

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Location : Vargas Island lies northwest of Tofino, Vancouver Island. 

How to get there : Put in at Tofino’s government wharf/First Street dock. 

Description : A relatively sheltered route that skirts along smaller islands, Vargas Island makes for a great weekend trip. It’s a short 3 kilometres to reach the island’s southeastern shoreline, which paddlers can then follow to the wide and sandy Ahous Bay. Wilderness camping is permitted, and facilities are limited to six pit toilets and five food caches. These are located on the northern end of the island. Grey whales often frequent the Ahous Bay area. Canoeing to Vargas is not encouraged.

Trip notes : A small wolf population resides on Vargas. While this should not dissuade visitors, you’re strongly encouraged to store food in the caches or hang from a tree, and advised against bringing pets. (Dogs are a high level attractant to wolves.)

Distance : A 3 kilometre paddle from Tofino to Vargas, however if you want to camp you’ll have to travel 8-10 kilometres further. Total round-trip: 20 km. 

Difficulty : This paddle is suitable for novices, and accessible in spring, summer and fall. 

Kayak & Canoe Trips in the Lower Mainland


False Creek

river canoe trips bc

Location : Downtown Vancouver

How to get there : From the planetarium in Vancouver, drive to the Canadian Coast Guard station and there is a public parking lot near by. You can launch from the coast guard station.

Description : For those that don’t want to travel too far, False Creek offers an urban paddling experience. There’s always something new to see and a surprising amount of wildlife.

Distance : From the put-in location, your trip is about nine kilometres.

Difficulty : Paddling False Creek is great for beginners.

Location : Indian Arm and Indian Arm Provincial Park are located near Vancouver. The Indian Arm fjord is about 20 kilometres north of Burrand Inlet.

How to get there : There are several put-in points and areas to get out of the water, including Barnet Marine Park, Admiralty Point Beach, Belcarra Park, Deep Cove, Jug Island Beach, Racoon Island Beach, Twin Islands, Thwaytes Landing, Berg’s Landing and Granite Falls.

Description : Indian Arm is a popular destination for kayakers, offering amazing scenery, a sheltered fjord, a vibrant history and lots of areas to explore. You can paddle from the far end of the Arm at Barnet Marine Park to the top of the Arm at the Indian River estuary.

Distance : It’s 54 kilometres from Barnet Marine Park to the Indian River (paddling the entire length of the Arm.) From Deep Cove to the Granite Falls campground, it’s about 17 kilometres one way.

Difficulty : Although the fjord is sheltered and offers great paddling opportunities, kayakers need to be aware that there are not a lot of places to exit your kayak along the Arm – therefore, you need to plan your trip accordingly.

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Location : The southern-most tip of Pitt Lake is situated about 40 kilometres east of downtown Vancouver. This is the second-largest lake in the lower mainland.

How to get there : To access the lake, you’ll need to park in the Grants Narrows Provincial Park.

Description : Pitt Lake offers beautiful scenery just outside the city. There are four provincial marine parks along the lake – at Raven Creek, Dark Creek, Osprey Creek South and Osprey Creek North. These areas offer camping. In the summer, Pitt Lake is a popular spot for power boaters, so expect to lose your peace and quiet.

Distance : The entire lake is 30 kilometres in length.

Difficulty : Although this is a lake on the lower mainland, and not the ocean, Pitt Lake is not always an easy paddle. Ocean tides force the water of the Fraser River and, in turn, the Pitt River, back into the lake and this creates a unique paddling experience – you’ll see seals in this freshwater environment and you’ll need to pull your boat above the high tide line. The lake is freezing cold and prone to high winds and downpours.

Kayaking & Canoe Trips in The Sunshine Coast

Desolation sound.

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Location : Near Powell River and Lund.

How to get there : You can launch your kayak from either Lund Harbour or Okeover Harbour Government Docks.

Description : Located at the confluence of Malaspina Inlet and Homfray Channel, this is a boater and kayaker’s paradise. There are many islands and coves that make up the Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park, perfect for exploring. The water is warm and ideal for swimming or scuba diving and there are many campsites to extend your stay.

Distance : There’s more than 60 kilometres of shoreline to explore.

Difficulty: Desolation Sound is excellent for a kayaker with experience, but it is not extreme.

Powell Forest Canoe Route

Location: Near Powell River.  

How to get there: The Powell Forest Canoe Route can be tricky to get to. All lakes on the chain are accessible by logging roads. To start your journey, take a ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale, and then catch the next ferry from Earls Cove to Saltery Bay. Once you land in Saltery Bay, drive another 10 kilometres and you’ll see the entrance sign on the right side of the road. This is the start of the route, Lois Lake.

Description: This hidden gem is known as one of the finest canoe trips in the province. Mountains, forest, wildlife – what more could you want? The best time to complete the route is from June to October, and there are campsites along the way. If you want to cut your trip short, you can choose only a few of the lakes to complete. Lakes along the route, in the proper order, include: Lois Lake, Horseshoe Lake, Nanton Lake, Ireland Lake, Dodd Lake, Windsor Lake, Goat Lake and Powell Lake.

Distance: The route is about 57 kilometres long, stretching across eight lakes. It takes the average paddler about five days.

Difficulty: The water is flat and the portage paths are clear and offer frequent rest stops along the way.

Skookumchuck Narrows

Location: Near the community of Egmont

How to get there: Take Egmont Road for about six kilometres, until you reach the parking lot. To reach the rapids, you’ll hike in past Brown Lake. You can also paddle out from Egmont.

Description: The Skookumchuck Narrows connect Sechelt and Jervis Inlets, and twice daily the tide changes and the flow of the saltwater will switch – this creates powerful rapids. For extreme kayakers, “the Skook is one of the great whitewater wonders of the world.”

Distance: It’ll take about two to four hours to paddle the Skookumchuck Narrows.

Difficulty: Low tide is good for intermediate kayakers, but higher tide attracts the extreme kayakers.

Copeland Islands

Location: Near Lund

How to get there: There is a launch site behind the Lund Hotel, but it can be busy with boat traffic in the summer months so take care.

Description: Located in the Copeland Islands Marine Park, there is a collection of islands, inlets with protected bays and a thriving ecosystem teaming with marine life. There are campsites along the way and several islands to explore.

Distance: An hour paddle north from Lund will have you at the first major island in the chain. You can paddle for the day, take a few days to explore or pass through on your way to Desolation Sound.

Difficulty: With calm weather, this is a relatively relaxing and easy paddle.

Kayak & Canoe Trips in Interior British Columbia

Lake koocanusa.

Location : East Kootenay, near Jaffray

How to get there : Take Highway 3 west from Fernie and turn south at Jaffray. Continue south to Kikomun Creek Provincial Park, which has a boat launch into the lake.

Description : With busy marinas and sandy shores, this calm, jade-coloured lake is a popular destination.

Distance : There is over 400 kilometres of international shoreline to explore.

Difficulty : More adventurous paddlers can run north up the lake to the mouth of the Kootenay River and visit the Kootenay Trout Hatchery. The waters are typically calm and offer a great one-day or multi-day paddling adventure.

Lower Elk River

Location : Near Fernie

How to get there : Take Highway 3 into Fernie

Description : The Lower Elk River provides gorgeous scenery and a heart-pounding experience. Rafting companies can lower their boats into the river, but kayakers will need to scramble down a steep path with the boat in hand. The biggest thrill, if that’s what you’re into, is known by the local kayakers as The Leap Of Faith – dropping down the Elk River Falls.

Distance : This is a day paddle at best.

Difficulty : The Lower Elk River is not for the inexperienced, or for the faint of heart.

Murtle Lake

Location : Murtle Lake is situated in the Wells Gray Provincial Park, within the Okanagan.

How to get there : You can get the Murtle Lake off Highway 5 at Blue River. You’ll drive about 27 kilometres down a gravel road to the parking lot. From there, take your canoe down the two-and-a-half-kilometre trail to the canoe launch.

Description : Murtle Lake is world famous, and known as the largest canoe-only lake in North America. Deep in an unspoiled mountain valley, there is a north arm and a west arm that are each about 20 kilometres long. The lake averages about three kilometres in width. The north arm runs into the Cariboo Mountains, while the west arm, the more popular of the two, offers sandy beaches, coves and three islands.

Distance : Murtle Lake boasts a total of 100 kilometres of shoreline.

Difficulty : Paddling on this glacier-fed lake is easy and rewarding, with stunning views. However, if you were to fall in, the lake is ice cold.

Kicking Horse River

river canoe trips bc

Location : Near Golden

How to get there : The river is situated just outside Golden – you can’t miss it.

Description : If you’re looking for a hair-raising adventure, this is it. This glacial river runs through a deep canyon and contains the longest section of whitewater in the Canadian Rockies.

Distance : There are three sections – 10 kilometres, 12 kilometres and 10 kilometres – which can be done separately or together.

Difficulty : From class III to class V waters – for experienced paddlers only.

Thompson River Canyon

Location : Near Lytton

How to get there : Put-in locations for the Thompson River are along Highway 1 and at Spences Bridge.

Description : The Thompson is accessible all year, but the best time is during the late summer and early fall when the water levels are low. The higher the river, the more difficult your run will be.

Distance : The trip would take between two and five hours.

Difficulty : This river is identified as a class III, meaning not for an inexperienced kayaker.

Silver Springs Lakes

Location : In the Rockies, near Elko

How to get there : Take Highway 3, south of Fernie. Parking for the lake is outside Elko, on the Morrissey/Elko Haul Road.

Description : Close to civilization, but set in the wilderness, Silver Springs Lakes are known as hidden jewels. There are three sections of water that make up this group of lakes.

Distance : This is a day paddle.

Difficulty : The hardest part of this paddle is getting your canoe to the lake from the parking lot. It’s easy sailing from there.

Bowron Lakes

river canoe trips bc

Location : Outside Quesnel

How to get there : From Quesnel, travel about 80 kilometres down Highway 26 and turn left at the well-marked turn off for Bowron Lakes. You’ll drive another 30 kilometres down a gravel road to the registration centre and park office for the lakes.

Description : The Bowron Lakes circuit has been rated as one of the Top 10 canoe trips in the world. You can travel through 116 kilometres without backtracking, and end up exactly where you started. The scenery is beautiful and a combination of water hazards to keep you on your toes.

Distance : The entire chain of lakes is 116 kilometres long and can be done in a few days. There’s a maximum time limit of 14 days to complete the circuit.

Difficulty : The circuit is not for a beginner, as it takes more than one day to complete, you need to be experienced in camping from a canoe or kayak and parts of the circuit contain swift-moving water.

Have you paddled on of these routes? Share your pictures with us: Tweet us  or tag us on Instagram  

river canoe trips bc

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Kootenay River

Canoeing Skill Level: 2 of 4

Kootenay River BC (Black Feather)

The Kootenay River is an exciting whitewater run through the beautiful Canadian Rockies of southeast British Columbia. We’ll launch high in Kootenay National Park and paddle three “reaches” (sections) of the river. Park Reach offers an excellent introduction, with lots of swifts and easy rapids. Then, 40 km downstream we will enter the more-demanding Canyon Reach. The rapids are more challenging here and cut through 50 km of steep-walled canyons. Lastly, we’ll run the more-relaxing White River Reach and splash through amazing scenery in the westernmost ranges of the Rockies to our take-out point at Canal Flats.

Want to Learn More?

Click here to access a detailed trip package with an itinerary and a full list of inclusions and exclusions. To access a recommended packing list, click here.

Dates, Rates & Availability

Prices listed are per person. All trips listed are tentative until confirmed by the Black Feather Office. Click here for our booking, payment and cancellation policies. Please contact us to be put onto a waiting list if your desired trip is full.

What's included


  • 3 nights camping on the Kootenay River
  • 2 nights cabin style accommodation
  • all meals and snacks on the river

Paddling Equipment

  • whitewater canoes
  • paddles, PFDs, throw bags, paddling helmets

Camping Equipment

  • tents – free standing expedition dome tents
  • ‘kitchen’ – tarp, fire box, cooking stoves, utensils, dishes, etc
  • containers for food and group equipment

Safety Equipment

  • first aid, safety, river rescue, and repair kits
  • communications equipment (satellite phone)


  • shuttles to and from the Kootenay River
  • transportation of guides, group gear, food, etc. to and from the expedition

Have a Question?

Our team at the Black Feather Office looks forward to hearing from you!

river canoe trips bc

Out & Across

Find your adventure in canada and beyond, your complete guide to the bowron lake canoe circuit.

  • by Thomas Coldwell
  • Posted on October 1, 2023 March 21, 2024

Welcome to the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit! This 120-km paddling route in Northern British Columbia is praised as some of the best canoeing in BC. A rectangular chain of 10 lakes, 2 rivers, and 11 km of portages, you’ll find pristine campsites to choose from in this haven for backcountry paddlers. Here is a complete guide to planning your very own adventure!

Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit views

This past August, I had the chance to paddle the full Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit over five days. Initially, I had planned to complete the 120-km route over 7 days, but ended up solo paddling the entire circuit in 5 days / 4 nights. If you’re looking for an incredible backcountry canoe adventure, I would highly suggest adding Bowron Lakes to your list. It’s truly spectacular! Keep reading to learn how to plan your own trip.

2024 Update: Reservations for the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit opened for the 2024 season on October 24, 2023, at 7am PT.

This post includes affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of the links, I may receive a percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.

Table of Contents

About Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit

Paddling the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit

Location:  Beginning in Bowron Lake Provincial Park Distance:  120 km loop Difficulty:  Moderate to difficult. Depending on fitness level, trip itinerary, and paddling skills. Time:  5 – 10 days Campsites:  54 campsites and 4 cooking shelters Lakes:  Kibbee, Indianpoint, Isaac, McLeary, Lanezi, Sandy, Babcock, Skoi, Spectacle, Swan, Bowron Portages:  10 portages — 11 km total Season:  Mid-May to end of September Reservation:  Yes, reservations and backcountry permits are required. Dogs: Pets are not permitted on the circuit. Features: Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit is a backcountry paddling paradise in northern British Columbia, complete with several lakes, challenging portages, and multiple campsites to choose from. This paddling route features the spectacular Caribou Mountains and wildlife viewing opportunities in pristine Canadian wilderness.

Bowron Lake Provincial Park is located in the traditional territories of the Secwépemc, Lheidli T’enneh, Dakeł Keyoh (ᑕᗸᒡ ᗲᘏᑋ) and Dënéndeh.

Summer views of Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit FAQs

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Q. Where is the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit located? A. The Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit is located in Northern British Columbia. The route begins in Bowron Lake Provincial Park, located approximately 120 km east of Quesnel. Q. How long is the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit? A. Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit is officially 116 km (I clocked 120 km) and typically takes between 7 – 10 days to complete. Advanced paddlers may choose to complete the route more quickly. Create a custom trip to match your skills and desired duration. Q. Are there shorter trip options on the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit? A. Short answer – yes. However, this depends on your skill, fitness level, and preference for the length of your trip. When I visited, the dry and calm weather allowed for longer paddle days to complete the route in 5 days / 4 nights. For a shorter distance, you could also consider only paddling the west side of the circuit. Q. Is the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit difficult? A. Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit is a backcountry canoe route. Paddlers must be self-sufficient and experienced with wilderness canoeing. To some degree, you can determine route difficulty based on the length of your trip. You may need more days if cold and stormy weather rolls in. Portages add another challenge but canoe carts are helpful. Q. How many portages are on the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit? A. Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit has 10 portages, with three portages around 2 km each between the Registration Centre and Isaac Lake. Most portage trails are well-maintained. Total portage distance is about 11 km. Q. Should I bring (or rent) a canoe cart? A. Most paddlers will find a canoe cart useful. I brought an expedition canoe cart from Bowron Lake Canoe Rentals and used it on every portage. Highly recommend an expedition cart over a smaller cart option.

Q. How many people paddle the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit each season? A. According to BC Parks, up to 4,500 people paddle the circuit each year. Q. How much canoe experience do I need for the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit? A. Prior canoe-tripping experience is helpful before tackling the circuit. When you’re in it, you’re in it. Paddling isn’t overly technical, though river waters pose additional obstacles with dead heads and sweepers. “The Chute” is the most technical section but you can easily portage around the rapids.

Smoke on Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Who Should Paddle the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit?

Canoers on Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Wondering if the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit is right for you? While prior paddling experience is helpful, the circuit’s well-marked route and portages make it doable for advanced and novice paddlers alike. Beginner paddlers should be comfortable with basic paddling techniques and safety measures. If you’re new to paddling, Paddle Canada offers courses and resources to learn more. Experienced paddlers will relish the challenge of this iconic route, exploring pristine waterways and wilderness. It’s a slice of backcountry heaven.

Read next: Your Complete Guide to Canoeing in Kejimkujik National Park

Tenting on Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit Map

When To Paddle The Circuit

Scenery on Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

You can book the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit between late spring to early fall, specifically from May 15 to the end of September. During peak season in July and August , paddlers enjoy milder weather, warmer temperatures, and longer daylight hours. However, weather can change at any time in this inland rainforest. For me, I loved canoeing this route toward the end of August with minimal rain and calm waters. Book your trip well in advance if you plan to paddle during peak season. Remember, weather and paddling conditions can quickly change. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a few warm and sunny days!

Canoe at portage on Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

How To Book Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit

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Ready to make a reservation? Visit the BC Parks website to book your trip. If you haven’t already, create an account and sign in before reservations open. You can also contact the park’s reservation service at 1-800-689-9025   (toll-free in Canada and U.S.) or 1-519-858-6161 for international. For the 2023 paddle season, reservations opened in December 2022.

To book your canoe trip, select your desired orientation date and time, choose individual (1-7 people) or group (7 to 14 people) , and specify whether you will paddle the full circuit or west circuit. Backcountry orientations takes place at 9 am and 12 noon daily. If you miss your orientation, your reservation will be cancelled. Paddlers are limited to 14 nights on the route.

Only 27 canoes or 54 people are permitted to start the circuit each day. BC Parks strongly recommends individual parties as they can travel the full circuit or west circuit at their own pace. Groups are limited to one departure each day, and must camp at predetermined campsites. Groups must follow an assigned 7-night itinerary.

Tip: Have a few dates in mind before reservations start. Dates can book up fast for peak season, so having a few options can help avoid disappointment. Reservations can be booked up to 2 days prior to departure date.

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How Much Does Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit Cost?

Isaac Falls on Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

The cost to paddle Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit depends on several factors, including where you are travelling from, the number of people in your group, the length of your trip, and whether you are renting equipment or bringing your own.

Here’s a breakdown of potential costs:

It’s important to note that these costs are approximate and they can change over time. Contact the park and canoe rental companies directly for up-to-date pricing. Remember to budget for any additional gear or personal expenses you may need for your trip, such as camping equipment, clothing, and food.

Read next: Your Complete Guide to the Bagwa Canoe Route in Saskatchewan

Sandy Lake on Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Mandatory Orientation

Registration Centre on Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Mandatory orientation is required for all paddlers heading out on the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit. You can choose to attend orientation at 9am or 12 noon daily at the Registration Office before starting your trip. In about 30 minutes, park staff provide important information related to safety, route conditions, wildlife encounters, and Leave No Trace principles. During orientation, I found out that Unna Lake was closed due to black bear activity.

Following orientation, staff will issue your park permit and review the park regulations with you. You’ll need to weigh your gear prior to departure. I recommend bringing a dry bag with straps and a hip belt to carry on portages (I used this Level Six Algonquin 95 ). Anything over 60 lbs will need to be carried during portages. Attach the permit to your canoe and you’re good to go!

The Registration Centre is open from 8am to 6pm daily from May 15 to September 30.

Remember: Paddlers must attend an orientation session at the Registration Centre in Bowron Lake Provincial Park prior to starting your trip. Mandatory orientation is held at 9 am and noon daily. If you do not attend orientation, your reservation will be cancelled without a refund!

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Bowron Lake Canoe Rentals

sunset on Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Bowron Lake Canoe Rentals is an excellent option for renting a canoe and other canoe gear for the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit. You’ll find good-quality equipment conveniently located next to the Registration Centre — just don’t forget to book in advance. I highly suggest bringing or renting a heavy-duty canoe cart for portages. During my trip, one group’s personal canoe cart broke on the first portage so they returned to the Registration Centre for a replacement. Not all canoe carts are created equal!

Booking online through Bowron Lake Canoe Rentals is a straightforward process, or you can contact them directly. You can pick up your canoe rental beginning at 8am on the day of your rental. Rentals are due back by 4pm on the final day of your rental.

Psssst. Need a canoe rental? Check out Bowron Lake Canoe Rentals conveniently located in Bowron Lake Provincial Park. Reserve your canoe and canoe cart here .

Thank you to Bowron Lake Canoe Rental s for providing a complimentary Clipper canoe for my 5-day paddle on the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit!

river canoe trips bc

Directions to Bowron Lake Provincial Park

river canoe trips bc

To start the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit, head to Bowron Lake Provincial Park located about 120 km east of Quesnel. Drive north on Highway 97 through Quesnel and then follow signs onto Highway 26, which leads through Wells. Approximately 1km before the historic townsite of Barkerville, turn left onto the Bowron Lake Road. You’ll drive another 27km to the park entrance on a well-graded dirt road. Continue past the Bowron Lake Provincial Park sign and then find the parking area.

Tip: If you need supplies, Quesnel is a good place to stop before heading toward Bowron Lake Provincial Park.

Paddling the Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit Itinerary

Selfie on Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

How long do you want your trip to be? Most people take between 6 to 8 days to complete the circuit. However, there are various itinerary options to suit different trip lengths and paddling preferences. Here are a few options to consider:

8-Day Itinerary

Day 1 — Registration Centre to Kibbee Lake Day 2 — Kibbee Lake to Isaac Lake (Wolverine Bay) Day 3 — Isaac Lake Day 4 — Isaac Lake to McLeary Lake Day 5 — McLeary Lake to Unna Lake Day 6 — Unna Lake to Spectacle Lake Day 7 — Spectacle Lake to Swan Lake Day 8 — Swan Lake to landing dock on Bowron Lake

A longer itinerary, this option will allow you to enjoy campsites on some of the smaller lakes. Why not spend more time in the backcountry?

Standard 7-Day Itinerary

Day 1 — Registration Centre to Indianpoint Lake Day 2 — Indianpoint Lake to Isaac Lake Day 3 — Isaac Lake Day 4 — Isaac Lake to Lanezi Lake Day 5 — Lanezi Lake to Unna Lake Day 6 — Unna Lake to Spectacle Lakes Day 7 — Spectacle Lakes to Bowron Lake (Registration Centre)

Consider paddling/portaging distances and put together an itinerary that works for you. You can extend your trip with a rest day, which might be especially enticing with nice weather.

5-Day Itinerary (My Trip):

Day 1 — Registration Centre to Isaac Lake (Site 18) – 25.7 km Day 2 — Isaac Lake (Site 18) to Isaac Lake (Site 26) – 23.9 km Day 3 — Isaac Lake to Lanezi Lake (Site 37) – 31.2 km Day 4 — Lanezi Lake to Swan Lake (Site 51) – 31.4 km Day 5 — Swan Lake to Bowron Lake (Registration Centre) – 12.8 km

I wouldn’t consider this an easy route, and is much quicker than most paddlers choose for the circuit. However, if you’re looking for a challenge, short on time, or simply enjoy long days on the water, this itinerary could be an option. I recommend an extra day or two buffer in case the weather turns sour.

Read next: 3-Day Milk River Canoe Trip in Alberta—The Ultimate Guide

Campsite views on Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit

Campsites on Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit

river canoe trips bc

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit features 56 designated campsites scattered along the route. There are 10 group campsites (7-14 people) and 46 individual campsites (1-7 people) . All campgrounds are first-come, first-served so you may need to change your itinerary depending on campsite availability.

Campsites are equipped with tent spots, outhouses, fire pits, and food storage lockers. Some campsites have covered cooking areas, including historic cabins that can be used for cooking or emergency shelter. Most campsites offer picturesque views of the surrounding wilderness, so don’t forget to bring your camera. My favourite site was #37 on Lanezi Lake.

If you want a campfire, pick up firewood at designated locations along the route. You won’t typically find firewood at your site. Ask parks staff about pick-up locations. Remember, check fire bans to ensure that you are burning legally. When I visited in August, I wasn’t able to have backcountry fires due to forest fire risk.

river canoe trips bc

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit Distances

river canoe trips bc

Here are the official distances from BC Parks:

Here are the distances I clocked on my GPS, varying slightly from the official BC Parks distances:

river canoe trips bc

Portaging on Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit

river canoe trips bc

The Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit includes several portages connecting the various lakes and waterways. More specifically, there are 10 well-maintained portages on the circuit totalling nearly 11 km . From my perspective, the canoe cart made portaging much more manageable, especially as a solo paddler. I highly recommend an expedition canoe cart with larger wheels, as smaller carts wouldn’t be as effective on the rugged terrain.

Tip: Don’t rush the portages. Take your time at the beginning of the portage trail to properly centre the canoe on the cart and then tighten the straps. Make sure your gear is centred in the canoe. Remember, no more than 60 lbs in the canoe during portages.

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Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit Navigation

river canoe trips bc

Navigating the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit requires planning and preparation. Before starting your adventure, check out the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit map and familiarize yourself with the route. I don’t always suggest using the AllTrails map , but campsite locations and distances are fairly accurate in this instance. Download for offline use to have another navigation tool in the backcountry. Bring a map and compass and know how to use them. You can purchase a waterproof map at the Registration Centre.

Read next: Your Complete Guide to Hiking the West C oast Trail

river canoe trips bc

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit Weather

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During the paddling season, spanning from late May to early September, visitors can expect a range of weather conditions. While the peak summer months of June and July offer the mildest temperatures and longer daylight hours, the early and late parts of the season can bring cooler weather and a higher chance of rain.

Regardless of when you plan your trip, it’s important to pack clothing and gear suitable for variable conditions , including rain gear and layers for chilly evenings. Check the weather forecast before your journey and be prepared for changes.

During my trip, the heavens opened up on my final night and rain continued for my last day of paddling. I was very thankful for my rain jacket , rain pants, water shoes , paddling gloves, and Buff to stay warm in the wind and rain. You should also bring a tarp to create shelter if (or when) the rain shows up.

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Safety and Emergency Rescues

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How do you stay safe on this canoe circuit? Prioritize safety precautions and be prepared for anything. First and foremost, make sure you’re not biting off more than you can chew. Have you paddled several days in a row before? Do you have backcountry camping experience? Have you completed a wilderness first-aid course? Consider your own preparedness for a multi-day, backcountry canoe adventure.

Before you reach the park, do your research and plan your route. Learn about the lakes, portages, rivers, potential hazards, campsites, weather conditions, emergency radio locations, and so on. Create your route itinerary and leave your plan with someone you trust , along with instructions for what to do if you don’t complete your trip on time. Check out AdventureSmart if you need help creating your plan.

Test your equipment beforehand —a backcountry trip is no place to learn that your new stove doesn’t work properly (!). Remember to practice safe paddling, including wearing your personal flotation device (PFD), bringing an extra paddle, and carrying other essential equipment such as a whistle, bailer, and painter rope.

Emergency rescues can be complex and time-consuming in remote settings. It’s essential to be well-prepared and make informed decisions to prevent emergencies. However, if an emergency situation arises, you can find one of six public two-way radios on the circuit (see map for locations). There is no cell phone reception on the circuit and I highly suggest carrying a sat comm device. Zoleo ( Buy on Amazon ) is an essential part of my backcountry kit.

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Meal Preparation

river canoe trips bc

If you’re like me, you’ll want meal options that are lightweight and easy to prepare. For breakfast, instant potatoes mixed with bacon bits and cheese is a delicious choice. For supper, I typically opt for freeze-dried meals which require only hot water to rehydrate. You can never go wrong with lasagna, in my humble opinion. These lightweight meals are packed with calories to replenish energy after a day of paddling. For lunch, wraps with peanut butter or pepperoni sticks are quick and tasty options. Additionally, I usually bring trail mix, granola bars, and dehydrated fruits for snacking throughout the day. Don’t forget to bring a compact camp stove, like the Jetboil ( Buy on Amazon ), and cooking utensils for meal preparation.

Read next: Keji Southern Lakes: 4 Days of Canoeing in Nova Scotia

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Outhouses are located at designated campgrounds and rest areas along the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit. These basic facilities help paddlers and campers with proper waste disposal and minimizing environmental impact. Don’t forget to close the door when you’re done.

If nature calls and you can’t find a toilet, it’s important to follow Leave No Trace principles. Dig a cat hole at least 6-8 inches deep for your business. Make sure the cat hole is at least 200 feet away from water sources and trails, and then cover it securely to minimize your impact on the environment.

river canoe trips bc

Wildlife On The Circuit

river canoe trips bc

Due to bear activity, Unna Lake Campground was closed during my trip. Sadly, previous campers didn’t use the bear cache and a hungry bear sought an easy meal. Human food kills bears. Habituated bears can become aggressive toward visitors and the bear often pays the price. I crossed paths with what I can only assume was the habituated bear. Thankfully, she continued on her way after we exchanged curious looks. I was ready with bear spray but didn’t need it.

Along the route, practice Leave No Trace principles to limit human impact on the environment and wildlife. If you pack it in, be prepared to pack it out. Use the food storage lockers (i.e. bear cache) to keep your food out of reach. Use designated campsites and avoid cutting down live vegetation.

In the event of a bear encounter, speak calmly, move away slowly, and make yourself look bigger by raising your arms. Carry bear spray as a precaution. If you see a moose, keep your distance and give them plenty of space. Moose can be unpredictable and moody.

river canoe trips bc

Packing List

river canoe trips bc

Here’s a list of items you should consider packing for the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit:

Camping Gear:

  • Waterproof dry bags, including 95-litre dry pack with straps (I use this one )
  • MSR Hubba Hubba ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Sleeping bag (I use MEC Talon )
  • Therm-a-rest NeoAir ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Sleeping bag liner ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Paracord ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Plastic Birkenstocks ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Rain shell (love the Arc’teryx Beta LT )
  • Jetboil Flash ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Campsuds soap ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Utensils (like this one ) and bowl (I use this )
  • GSI mug ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Petzl headlamp ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Moisture-wicking, quick-drying clothing (I used this one )
  • Insulating layers (fleece or down) (like this one )
  • Waterproof and breathable rain jacket (I use this one ) and pants
  • Warm hat and gloves (like these )
  • Sun hat or cap
  • Buff ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Sturdy, comfortable hiking or water shoes (I use these Level Six water shoes )
  • Socks and underwear

Personal Items:

  • Bug spray ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Sunglasses with UV protection
  • Toothbrush / toothpaste (I use Tom’s biodegradable toothpaste )
  • First aid kit ( Buy on Amazon )
  • PackTowel ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Mora Knife ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Toilet paper

Navigation and Safety:

  • Waterproof maps and compass (like this one )
  • Waterproof map case or bag
  • PFD (personal flotation device) for each person
  • Whistle (like this one )
  • Bilge pump/bailer (like this one )
  • Painter rope
  • Spare paddle
  • Lighter / matches ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Repair kit for your canoe / kayak
  • Satellite comms ( Zoleo – Buy on Amazon )

Food and Water:

  • Meals and snacks (plus extra)
  • Platypus GravityWorks 4.0L Filter System ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Nalgene water bottle ( Buy on Amazon )
  • Hammock (like this one )
  • Powerbank ( Anker – Buy on Amazon )
  • GoPro ( Buy on Amazon )

river canoe trips bc

Rules and Regulations

river canoe trips bc

Canoe Carts: You can use a canoe cart with a maximum axle width of 30 inches. Wide-track tires used on expedition canoe carts are recommended. If using a cart, the weight of cargo in canoe cannot be more than 60 lbs. You must backpack all gear in excess of the 60 lbs limit to prevent excess trail damage. I used the Level Six Algonquin 95 to carry gear. Worked great!

Pack it in, pack it out: Do not leave any garbage in campsites or along the route. You can burn paper in campfires, but do not burn plastics, tin foil, or other non-paper items. Remains left in fire pits can attract bears and other animals.

Leave cans and bottles at home: Commercially packaged beverage or glass containers (i.e. drink cans/bottles, liquor bottles, etc.) are not permitted on the route.

Use bear-proof lockers: Visitors MUST use metal bear-proof caches to store all items with any scents that could attract bears (i.e. food and garbage, cooking equipment, toothpaste, etc.). Bears become “problem bears” when they learn to seek out human food, and park rangers may be forced to destroy bears when they become aggressive. Remember, a fed bear is a dead bear.

Campfires: You can have a campfire in metal fire rings in designated campsites. Fires are not permitted on beaches. Limited firewood is provided at marked wood lots throughout the circuit. Find woodlot locations at the Registration Centre.

Camp stoves: Carry and use portable stoves for cooking, as firewood is limited and not always available.

No speakers: Music on external speakers is not permitted on the circuit, to maintain high-quality wilderness experience for all visitors.

No guns: Firearms and crossbows are prohibited in Bowron Lake Provincial Park.

No dogs: Dogs and other pets are not permitted on the circuit.

Fishing: Fishing is permitted on the circuit in compliance with BC Non-Tidal Sports Fishing Regulations . Licenses are not sold in the park. June and September are considered the best months for fishing.

Motor boats: Powerboats are permitted only on Bowron Lake and are not allowed on the Bowron River or other lakes along the circuit. You may see staff members use powerboats to travel throughout the circuit. Drones: Drones are only permitted with permit from BC Parks.

Note: Regulations may change over time, and it’s important to verify the current rules and regulations for the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit by visiting the official BC Parks website or contacting Bowron Lake Provincial Park directly.

river canoe trips bc

Have you paddled Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit? What was your experience like? Is anything missing in this guide? Let me know in the comments below.

Save this for later? Hover over the image to add to Pinterest!

river canoe trips bc

Thomas Coldwell has always been fond of the outdoors. He loves hiking, paddling, and camping, and thoroughly enjoys creating outdoor adventure resources for people like you. Originally from Nova Scotia, Thomas has lived in four Canadian provinces (NS, NB, ON, AB) and has travelled in 20 countries and counting.

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Very good guide, however it’s the Bowron Lake Circuit, no S required at the end of ‘lake’. It drives me crazy when people get this detail incorrect.

The Bowron Lake Circuit contains lots of lakes, but it’s named after the Bowron Lake area, even the official map is titled The Bowron Lake Circuit. No S.

Hey there, glad you like the guide. And good catch! I want these guides to be as accurate as possible, so the small details matter. Thanks for letting me know!

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Put-in: Minto Take-out: Dawson City We wanted to create a trip that embodied the Yukon. We think that our Yukon River canoe trip meets that goal. Minto is the starting point because here the Yukon River leaves its parallel course with the RV and tour bus studded Klondike Highway, and enters the remoteness and serenity of Yukon's wilderness. Chances are very good that we will see an assortment of wildlife from Dahl sheep to bears. Isolated campsites, many of which are located on islands in the Yukon River, offer a solitude that one must experience to understand.

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Pathways Canada Tour Company. Guided Canoe trips on Bowron Lakes and Yukon River

Bowron Canoe Trips

To build on your skills in the small canoe, visit our friends at ridge wilderness adventures in the lower mainland, pre trip meeting (day before trip starts).

We will meet as a group at 5:30 PM at the Wells Hotel in Wells, BC. We recommend staying on site the night before your trip! The hotel has great accommodations + includes a light continental breakfast!

Our Bowron Lakes guided canoe trips begin by picking up our canoes at Bear River Mercantile, a restaurant and general store with cabins, run by Dick & Sandy Phillips. Then on to the Park Registration Centre where canoeists register. There is also a park campground for RV’s and a parking lot for canoeists arriving by car.

Our trip starts with a portage to Kibbee Lake, named after Frank Kibbee who guided hunting parties and became the first long-term game warden in the early 1900’s. He was also instrumental in having the interior of the lake chain set aside as a game reserve in 1925. We pass pretty Thompson Lake, on our way to our first night camp at the start of the portage to Indian Point Lake.

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Shelter, Equipment, Food

Bowron Lakes Provincial Park has granted Pathways prime reserved campsites, eliminating the competitive “first come first serve” syndrome. This allows us to enjoy a more leisurely pace each day and the security of a private site each night. Canoes and double-occupancy tents are top-of-the line models for comfort and safety. You need bring only your personal gear. Sleeping bags, pads and backpacks are available for rent. Each day, we cook and provide you with wholesome, hot meals.

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Exploring Canada’s waterways in a canoe is one of the most unique and meaningful ways to experience the outdoors.

In fact, it’s an  iconic Canadian activity !

Our  canoeing expeditions  are designed as much as a school as a typical guided trip. In welcoming full participation from our clients, our intention is that paddlers will emerge from our multi-day trips fully prepared, knowledgeable, and capable of leading their own personal river-canoeing expeditions.

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Enjoy some of BC’s best whitewater canoeing rivers in this fun skill building trip. Book early -these ones fill up fast!

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Turnagain River Expedition

Remote trip for skilled paddlers and confident backcountry adventurers, explore this gem of a playful river running through the northern Rocky Mountains!  Next trip 2025. Contact us for details!

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Upper Stikine River Expedition

Experience northern BC’s true rugged beauty in this 13 day wilderness adventure. Next trip 2025. Contact us for details!

Why Choose a Guided Canoeing Trip instead of Exploring On Your Own?

  • Treat yourself  to slow down and take it all in. There is great freedom and value in having someone else be responsible and constantly vigilant about what may await around every corner!   Joining a guided trip allows you more space and energy to fully participate  in your trip, enjoy the people you’re with and truly take in every breathtaking moment of your adventure.
  • Relax and know that the meal planning and preparation is being taken care of. Our guided expeditions include all meals. After a long day of paddling, it can be a truly marvelous thing to sit by the river and relax while dinner is being prepared for you.
  • For the majority of people,  the river environment is the largest surprise on a canoeing trip . Our certified guides will ensure that everyone is comfortable with the environment and learn necessary skills to confidently navigate the river.
  • Play   more!   Stop and surf the fun waves and play with river features a bit more than you might on your own self-guided trip. It is  easier to truly play knowing that that you have skilled guides as back-up to rescue you in the event that you dump.
  • Canoeing can be tricky sport to learn, and each river has many new things to teach us.  Our guides are great teachers  that are happy to pass on canoeing knowledge so you can improve your skills. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions or ask to spend half a day in a boat with them!
  • Thinking about buying your own outfitted whitewater canoe? Want to try out that Canyon, Dagger or Prospectueur on a trip before you buy your own?  Rent one of our high quality boats  for your scheduled excursion!

More Information about Canoeing Trips

Learn more about our trip locations, equipment rentals, transportation and more in our Frequently Asked Questions page. 

Starting off a river adventure from the headwaters Jennings Turnagain

Join Us to Explore the North

Since 2014, Elements Adventure Company is pioneering  guided river canoe trips in Northern British Columbia  – a vast wilderness region with hulking mountain ranges of the Coast, Cassiar, and Northern Rocky Mountains – and countless clear, fast, and continuous  rivers.  These dramatic, remote landscapes provide us with the solitude, natural beauty, and adventure that we are delighted to share with you.  We invite those people with a deep respect for our planet and a spark for adventure, to partner with us to explore these special places.

Our excellent  canoeing school  can help you build any prerequisite skills for our Northern paddling adventures, but what’s most important is to visit these wild places with the right people.

We choose  our guides  for their diverse backgrounds, extensive experience in river guiding and teaching, and their values – which infuse these journeys with rich cultural insights and a spirit of adventure. They embody qualities of authenticity, openness, gentleness, and effective communication, ensuring a safe and fulfilling experience for all participants.

Are you interested to join us?  We’d love to hear from you!  Contact us here  to chat.

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Journeys of discovery

Under the midnight sun, spectacular river journeys on the most iconic rivers in the north. expertly guided by raft or canoe. wildlife, hiking & stories..

Since 1972, we’ve been guiding adventure vacations on the top rivers in northern Canada and Alaska. Our trips are 5 to 21 day premium-class raft and canoe based expeditions.  The rivers we travel are conduits for exploring some of the last wild places in North America.

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River Journeys

Our river journeys are a continued exploration of the finest wilderness regions on the planet. Using the river as a conduit to travel through the land, we take time to hike, explore, learn and savour the beauty of these wild places.

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Raft & Hike

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Canoe & Hike

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Private Expeditions

Almost anyone can enjoy one of our river journeys.

Our guests come alone, in couples, as a family or in groups. They range in age from 8 to 80 years. There is literally nothing like floating through canyons, camping out in the wilderness, and totally disconnecting from the modern world.


We lead canoe and raft based expeditions on the best rivers in Northern Canada and Alaska. Every river we travel is stunningly beautiful, with world class features, great hiking and richly colourful histories.

Nahanni River

Nahanni, NWT, Canoe, Nahanni Park, Angela Gzowski

Tatshenshini River

The Tatshenshini River is one of the most magnificent river systems on earth, flowing through one of the world’s most pristine wilderness areas.

Alsek River

Credit: Yukon Wild / Taylor Burke

Firth River

Descending the Firth River through a canyon. Firth River Rafting, Ivvavik National Park, Yukon Territory.

The rivers we paddle are wilderness icons

Many of the rivers we travel are Canadian Heritage Rivers, several are part of  the largest areas of protected land in the world, and all of them are perfect for a wilderness experience you’ll never forget – we guarantee you’ll return home with a great story to tell .

Why Choose Us?

We understand our guests are looking for a once in a lifetime experience , with a treasure trove of great stories to take home.  Our job to make that happen, and we take that responsibility seriously – without cutting corners. Words like average and good enough just aren’t in our vocabulary. All of our efforts add up to the best experience and greatest value.

Our reputation speaks for itself

More than 40% of our guests each year are repeat guests or were referred by a past traveler.

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What you can expect from us

What sets us apart from other adventure companies? Passion, expertise and – most importantly – attention to the special details. We’ve been perfecting our trips since 1972 and it shows – our guest return rate of over 40% speaks for itself.

Low ratio of guides to guest

Experience has taught us that one of the most important factors for a high-quality and safe adventure is the ratio of staff to guests – we operate with one guide per four guests maximum.

The north is not a mass-market destination ­– thank goodness! It’s not the cheapest region to visit, but the experiences found here are like nothing else in the world.

It’s our goal to have the most consistently knowledgeable staff in areas of local interpretation, such as: Flora and fauna, Geology and geomorphology, Human history, Unique details, stories, features of each region.

Safe travels

We maintain the highest standards for river safety and we are proud to have a reputation for excellence in this area. We employ comprehensive and well-rehearsed emergency procedures and trip contingency planning in line with wilderness camping experiences.

Your Experience

Imagine the “land of the midnight sun” , a country of diverse land forms, wild flowers and new delights to the eye, every day. Imagine rivers that flow through these lands in a sinuous manner, serving as a conveyor to move you from one delightful experience to the next. Imagine rewarding hikes, with a range of distances to choose, to pick the one that’s right for you.

Your adventure begins before you even make it to the river

After meeting your guides and fellow travellers at the rendezvous point, you will make your way to the river. This usually requires a charter aircraft to fly in, out or both. The flights take you over truly spectacular wilderness. Have your camera handy for the flight!

Nahanni, NWT, Canoe, Nahanni Park,

Relax, You’re in Great Hands

Our talented wilderness guides deliver our trips with an authenticity that mirrors the unspoiled wilderness we travel through. Their passion for living, learning and teaching regional geology, wildlife and history is matched only by their sense of adventure, paddling skills, and leadership acumen.

Each day of your river journey will be memorable and will inspire stories to tell your friends for years to come.

Your time on the river each day will vary, leaving plenty of time for other pursuits such as hiking, fishing, and photography. Many trips have one or more “lay-over” days when we stay put and enjoy camping two nights in a particular spot.

Nahanni-River-Canyons - 12

You’ll be fed meal after meal of impossibly fresh food, all prepared with a portable camp kitchen and open fire.

The crowning touch of our river journeys are the meals. Forget those old images of freeze dried backpackers fare. At the end of an active day in the fresh mountain air, you deserve to be rewarded by the aroma and taste of a great meal with fresh ingredients, perhaps with a wine you selected. You’ll be continually amazed at the variety and quality of the meals.

Learn More >

You'll have opportunities to view northern wildlife and plants

The North is rich with some of the most abundant and diverse plant and wildlife anywhere in the world. Each of our river adventures is scheduled to allow for maximum opportunities to see the plants & wildlife of that particular area.

Nahanni Park - Angela Gzowski _ NWT TOURISM

Give us a call at 1-800-297-6927

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Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Park : Canoeing

The Spatsizi/Stikine River trip is recommended for intermediate to advanced canoeists and takes a minimum of 6 to 9 days to complete. While the Spatsizi River is Grade I, the Stikine portion of the trip has many Grade II rapids and sections of Grade III and IV. There are no regular patrols on the river so once on the river you are on your own. 

There are two guide-outfitter camps on your route that may be of assistance in an emergency. The first is Hyland Post, 10km upstream of the confluence of the Spatsizi and Stikine Rivers, and the other is Upper Stikine Lodge, which is 2km downstream of the confluence. These camps are not always staffed so visitors should not depend upon them.

Spatsizi/Stikine River Canoe Route

Canoeing season.

Tuaton and Laslui Lakes are not usually ice-free until mid-June. River levels can be very high at this time and the canoeing much more difficult. By mid-July river levels have usually dropped and the prime canoeing season has begun. The most reliable weather is usually during July and August while the best time to see wildlife is during September and October.


The Spatsizi River is accessible from the BC Rail Grade, via the 5 km Didene Portage Trail. The Didene Portage Trail can be reached from Hwy 37 (near Eddontenajon Lake) via the Ealue Lake Road. The Ealue Lake Road is a 22 km gravel road that leaves Hwy 37 and heads east towards the Klappan River. Once you have crossed the Klappan River, you are on the BC Rail Grade. Turn right (south) onto the BC Rail Grade and the Didene Portage Trailhead will be approximately 93 km south of the Ealue Lake Road and Klappan FSR junction. The Didene Portage Trailhead is approximately 115 km from Highway 37, all on gravel road. 

Please note that the BC Rail Grade is not maintained and natural slides and washouts may close this access route at any given time. 

Spatsizi River Portage Trail 

This is a well maintained trail that travels down to the confluence of the Spatsizi, Didene and Kluayetz Rivers. There are several canoe rests along the trail. Once at the river, facilities include a fire ring, a bear-proof food cache, a pit toilet, a creel survey registration box and a visitor registration box (located on the visitor information shelter). This site is user-maintained; please pack-out what you pack-in.    

River boats

Please note that river boats are permitted on the Stikine River year-round. River boats are more commonly seen during the hunting season. The use of river boats is restricted on the Spatsizi River, upstream of Hyland Post, from break-up until September 1st of each year.

Safety in bear country

This is prime grizzly and black bear country. You should not leave any packs or food boxes unattended along any trial or waterway you travel. When camping over night, be sure that you have put your food items in a safe place, well away from your sleeping area. All garbage must be packed out. Do not bury garbage as animals will just dig it up again.

Spatsizi River portion

Once on the river you will find that it has many short, fast runs over gravel bars, with many braided channels. This braiding occurs mainly on the first 10 km of river below the put-in location. The canoeist must always be on the look-out for gravel bars and rocks and try to pick the best channel with the most water. Also, you must be watching for sweepers, trees that have fallen out over the river with branches hanging down into the water. Sweepers are very common on the upper Spatsizi. 

From the junction of the Spatsizi River and Buckinghorse Creek downstream to where Kliweguh Creek flows into the Spatsizi, the river grows much larger and the valley becomes much wider. This section offers some of the most scenic views along the entire waterway. This area is ideal for spotting wildlife such as moose, black bear, grizzly bear, wolf, mountain goat, caribou and the occasional stone sheep high on mountain slopes. 

From Kliweguh Creek to the Stikine River, the Spatsizi River flows through a wide valley of lodge-pole pine flats and semi-open grasslands, with many good camping areas along the shoreline. The river is much larger here and some braiding occurs downstream from Kliweguh Creek to Hyland Post. The river is somewhat faster in this area and the canoeist should always be reading the water, watching for rocks, gravel bars, sweepers, etc. The river traveler must keep in mind that long periods of rain or heavy storms can make a significant increase in the water volume. This brings swifter currents and less time to avoid any hazards and few places to land a canoe. 

Stikine River portion

Located 15km below the junctions of the Spatsizi and Stikine Rivers is Jewel Rapids. This section can be extremely hazardous, especially during high water, with ratings from Grade III to IV depending on the water level. There are many large boulders scattered through the channel that you must pick a route through. These rapids should be scouted from shore before attempting to run them. There is a sign located on the right bank of the river shortly before you arrive at Jewel Rapids. There is no portage trail to avoid Jewel Rapids. 

As of June 2, 2004, there is no warning sign indicating the start of the Jewel Rapids.

At Beggerlay Canyon, 20 km below the McBride River, there is a set of rapids that should be portaged during high water. There are 3 signs warning you of the rapids. The 3rd sign is located at the pull-out at the head of the portage trail on the right bank. All canoeists should land at the pull-out and scout the canyon thoroughly before making a decision whether to run the rapids or to portage around them. 

Shortly after leaving the Beggerlay Canyon, you will pass under an old railway bridge and you are now only 17 km away from the end of your trip. But there is still one more challenging section of the river to navigate. This area is located some 15 km downstream from the old railway bridge and should be approached with caution. After passing this area, you will soon reach the Highway 37 bridge. There is easy access to the vehicle parking area on the right bank just below the bridge.

Upper Stikine River Canoe Route

The Stikine River canoe trip is only recommended for advanced canoeists with considerable wilderness experience . There are many rapids, rocks and sweepers that must be avoided. Although most of the Stikine River is Grade I, there are several Grade II rapids and sections of Grade III and IV rapids that must be run. There are no regular patrols on the river; once on the river you are on your own. 

There are two guide-outfitter camps on your route that may be of assistance in an emergency. The first is located on the west end of Laslui Lake and the other is Upper Stikine Lodge, 2 km downstream of the confluence of the Spatsizi and Stikine Rivers. These camps are not always staffed so visitors should not depend upon them.

The trip length is 225km from Tuaton Lake to the pull-out at the Highway 37 bridge. You should allow a minimum of 8 days to complete this trip. It is possible to be picked up by floatplane at Upper Stikine Lodge (guide-outfitters camp). This must be arranged prior to starting your trip. Late season pick-ups may not be available due to low water levels.

The Stikine River route can be started at either Tuaton or Laslui Lake, both of which are accessible to float planes. Please note only permitted air charter companies are permitted to fly within. The canoe route starts off easily, going down Tuaton and Laslui Lakes and the section of river between them. Approximately 1.5 km downstream of Laslui Lake are the impassable Fountain Rapids, which must be portaged. There is a sign located at the pull-out on the right hand bank. A 1 km long portage trail goes around the rapids on the right bank. From this point the river changes character and the canoeing becomes much more challenging and strenuous. White water and standing waves are nearly constant.

Eight km downstream is the second portage around the Grade III Chapea Rapids just below Chapea Creek. Look for the sign located on the left bank indicating the pull-out for the portage trail. The portage trail is 1 km in length and is located on the left bank, which takes you around the Chapea rapids.

As of July 24, 2015, there is no warning sign indicating the start of Chapea Rapids.

The canoeing continues to be challenging until Moyez Creek. Once at Moyez Creek, you have covered the most difficult section of the river. The rapids downstream from here are more widely spaced and the canoeing easier. For details on the remainder of the canoe route, see the Stikine River Portion of the Spatsizi/Stikine Canoe Route.

The rivers are generally quite muddy during June & July, but some good Arctic grayling can be had if you fish where the smaller streams flow into the main rivers. In late August and September the fishing improves. The Spatsizi and Stikine are home to numerous rainbow trout, arctic grayling and dolly varden char. All persons angling in BC must have the appropriate licence.

There are no designated campsites although there are several campsites in and around the area. In addition, there are some rustic campsites located at Tuaton Lake, Fountain Rapids Portage, Chapea Portage, Beggarly canyon Portage and the Stikine River bridge on Hwy 37. If possible, camp on a sand or gravel bar as this has the least effect on local vegetation. This allows the rivers to reclaim your sites during high water.

On the Spatsizi River Canoe Route, there are two trails that permit the canoeist to get off the river for a few hours.

Mink Creek Trail to Cold Fish Lake Camp

The first trail leads to Cold Fish Lake Camp via the Mink Creek Trail. The trail is located on the downstream side of Mink Creek. To find the trailhead, go past Mink Creek and take the back channel on river left. From here you should be able to spot flagging to indicate the trailhead. The trip to Cold Fish Lake camp is approximately 20 km one way so several days should be allowed to make this trip.   

Spatsizi Plateau Trail

The Spatsizi Plateau Trail begins at Hyland Post. Please note that Hyland Post is private property so please respect it and ask permission to pass though this area. It takes approximately two hours to hike up to Spatsizi Plateau. From here you can spend several hours or several days on the plateau. Caribou can often be seen on the open rolling hills and Stone sheep may be seen on the rock escarpments.

On the Stikine River Canoe Route, aside from limitless bush-whacking trips to alpine areas, there are two short hikes.

Shreiber Canyon Trail

2 km below the Pitman River is Shreiber Canyon. This canyon is not on the Stikine River but on a small side creek. An interesting short hike can be done up the canyon and for the adventurous, on to the cliffs overlooking the Stikine.   

Adoogacho Falls

A short hike up Adoogacho Creek leads to Adoogacho Falls.

Other considerations

  • File a trip plan and estimated time of arrival with a trusted friend or relative.
  • A number of cabins and active camps will be seen along the rivers. You should not use these facilities unless prior permission has been obtained.
  • In order to carry a firearm, you are required to have the appropriate licence(s): a Possession Only Licence (POL) or a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL).
  • A British Columbia angling licence is required if you intend to fish. Please consult current Freshwater Fishing Regulations.
  • Topographic maps should be obtained before arriving at the park. These maps are available from an authorized dealer. Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park is covered by map sheets 104H and 94E at a scale of 1:250 000.
  • If you would like larger scaled maps (1:50 000) or plan to do some hiking, the maps required are:
94E 12, 94E 15, 104H ,7 104H , 104H 9, 104H 10, 104H 13, 104H 14, 104H 15, 104H 16,
104I 4
  • The following companies offer a ferry service from Tatogga Lake to the Spatsizi River Access Trail (Didene Portage): Red Goat Lodge (250) 234-3261, Tatogga Lake Resort (250) 234-3526, or Rick’s Outdoor Rentals (250) 771-4243.
The Stikine River downstream from the Highway 37 bridge is un-navigable by any craft!

BC Kayak Tours & Rentals in Desolation Sound | Powell River Sea Kayak

Powell River Sea Kayak – Desolation Sound, British Columbia

Offering Eco Resort Packages, Multi-Day Kayak Tours, Day Tours and Kayak Rentals on BC’s west coast

Experience the warm waters of Desolation Sound, towering mountains of Toba Inlet & prolific marine wildlife of the Discovery Islands

We have been running kayak tours in Desolation Sound, British Columbia since 1995 and our passion and expertise are unbeatable when choosing to kayak BC’s largest Marine Park

Experience Desolation in True Comfort

Cabana Desolation Eco Resort

All-Inclusive Guided Sea Kayak & Unguided ‘Chill & Immerse’ eco resort accommodation packages on an uninhabited island in the heart of Desolation Sound, British Columbia.

Experience the wonders of Desolation Sound in style on one of our kayak tours with cabana-style lodging nestled amongst the trees of a west coast rainforest.

light on in the cabana

Vacation & Expedition Style Kayak Camping Tours

Multi-Day BC Kayak Tours

We offer all-inclusive, guided, multi-day BC kayak tours into Desolation Sound, Toba Inlet and the Discovery Islands.

Choose a relaxed yet active ‘vacation-style’ Desolation Sound tour, or travel deep into the Coast Mountains of British Columbia on a rugged and remote sea kayak expedition. This is kayaking in BC at its very best!

A group of campers on a desolation sound kayaking expedition tour in British Columbia

Sea Kayak Day Tours from Okeover or Lund

Kayak Day Tours

Full day kayaking tours paddling into Desolation Sound Marine Park via the protected Okeover, Malaspina & Lancelot Inlets.

A popular option is one of our ‘combo snorkel & kayak tours’ into Desolation Sound Marine Park. On days with low tides, get up-close and interact with the intertidal marine life of Desolation Sound and Snorkel with the Stars!

pair of kayakers near rocks

Explore Desolation on a Self-Guided Adventure

Sea Kayak Rentals & Lessons

We also rent sea kayaks and equipment for self-guided day and multi-day kayak trips into Desolation Sound and the surrounding inlets and waterways of Desolation Sound Marine Park.

Please follow the links on our rentals page for detailed planning information and safety requirements before planning self-guided kayaking trips in BC’s Desolation Sound.

Sea kayaks staged for a day of kayaking in BC in Desolation Sound

With gratitude, we acknowledge that we work, live and operate on the traditional territories of the Tla’amin, Klahoose, and Homalco Nations.

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river canoe trips bc

Powell River Sea Kayak Ltd.

10676 Crowther Road Powell River, BC V8A 0G4

(604) 483 2160 1 (866) 617 4444   (toll-free)

[email protected]


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