The Fraser Canyon at Springtime: BC's Best Kept Secret

The Fraser Canyon at Springtime
(BC's Best Kept Secret)

with Jan Lee

The Fraser Canyon

Spring is a special time of year in the Fraser Canyon. Home to the town that is best known as Canada's "Hot Spot", the Fraser Canyon has gained a reputation for enticingly hot summers and breathtaking vistas. Undoubtedly its best kept secret is its mild spring weather. The temperatures are warm at the height of the day, and chilly in the evening. Bring a sweater or a light coat, but prepare for plenty of sun.



We begin our journey in Hope, British Columbia's majestic entrance to the Fraser Canyon. Hope is just one and a half hours east of Vancouver on Highway 1, an easy drive from the coast or the U.S. border.

Known as the "Chainsaw Carving Capital" of Canada, Hope offers a curious mixture of old history and unusual artistry. Hope's carvings are known worldwide for their beauty and unique style. A tour of the carvings is well worth the stop and can be arranged by visiting the InfoCentre.

Approximately 26 km. (16 miles) southeast of Hope on Highway 3 is Manning Park, one of the largest and most popular provincial parks in the area. There are 4 full-service campgrounds located in the park, as well as a number of wilderness sites for the rustic traveller. There are also picnic sites for day use and hiking trails to suit every level of hiker.

For a stop at one of BC's less known parks, visit the Skagit Valley Park, 3 km (2 miles) west of Hope on Hope Flood Road. A fairly new provincial park, it also provides access to the Ross Lake National Recreation area in Washington State.


Continuing on Highway 1 takes us to Yale. In 1858 gold was found just two miles downstream from a Hudson's Bay trading post. The discovery transformed the tiny site into a boon town that later became the present day hamlet of Yale.

The beauty of this sedate historic site is well worth a visit. A museum and an historic Anglican church are among its attractions. Fraser River Raft Expeditions can assist you with planning a tour of the waterways, or a trip down the rapids. There are two motels in town and several others located between Hope and Yale on Hwy 1.

One of the Canyon's oldest bridges is located at Alexandra Rest stop, just north of Spuzzum. The Alexandra Bridge was first opened in 1863 to accommodate prospector traffic. It is now maintained as a heritage site.

Hells Gate

Known mostly for its breathtaking gondola rides, Hells Gate provides a fascinating opportunity to learn something about the ecosystem and history of the Fraser River. The home of an international fisheries project, Hells Gate is evidence of Man's best and worst feats of engineering. Unchecked blasting of the Fraser River in 1913 produced a landslide that wiped out millions of spawning salmon. Joint cooperation between the U.S. and Canada in 1937 led to the creation of a new fishway. Although salmon populations have still not returned to the pre-1913 level, the fisheries have managed to reverse the catastrophe that once threatened to wipe out the Fraser River salmon stocks.

Boston Bar/North Bend

At the entrance to the Nahatlatch Valley, Boston Bar and North Bend sit at the crest of a hiker's paradise. Known mainly as rail stops for the CN and CP railways, this area often goes unnoticed by the casual traveller.

Forestry service campsites are available at Nahatlatch Valley, located approximately 15 km. (10 miles) from North Bend, on the northwest side of the river. There are several lakes in the park and the Nahatlatch River is known for its excellent river rafting opportunities.

Boston Bar is also home of the second oldest May Day festival in BC. This year's festival takes place May 29-31. A variety of events will be featured and weather will probably be warm and sunny.

There is a wide variety of commercial accommodations in the area.

Blue Lake Resort, 15 km. (10 miles) north of Boston Bar, has cabins and campsites. The facility is located 1 km. up a steep gravel road that is traversable by a good front wheel drive vehicle.

Traditional Native Underground Lodging


Lytton is known for a number attractions, the most famous being its weather. The original site of a First Nations village, the town overlooks the joining of two rivers, the Fraser and the Thompson. Lytton is often called the "hot spot of Canada" and enjoys dry warm weather that is reminiscent of parts of the Southwestern U.S.

Both because of its weather and its location, Lytton is well known for its river rafting opportunities. Hyak Wilderness Adventures and Kumsheen Raft Adventures are both in Lytton, and Fraser River Rafting Expeditions is accessible by a 1-800 number.

The Siska First Nations Band (phone 250-455-2219) and the Lytton First Nations Band (250-455-2304) both have art galleries. For gallery hours, contact the Band offices.

Other attractions in Lytton include a heritage site, a museum and a May Day festival (Mid May). For information about these attractions contact the Lytton InfoCentre. It can also provide a list of campgrounds and motels in the area.

For hikers, a visit to Lytton would not be complete without a trip to the famous Stein Valley Park. There are no roads in the park and the area is unsupervised, so come prepared. Open fires are prohibited in the Stein. Contact BC Parks or the Lytton InfoCentre for information about trail conditions.

From Lytton, you have a couple of travel routes. Lillooet (referred to in gold rush days as "Mile 0") is 66 km. (43 miles) northwest on Highway 12. Note the advisory signs concerning road conditions. Highway 1 will take you along the Thompson River to Kamloops (2 hours travel time). Either direction promises great weather and stunning vistas.

Mid May: LYTTON - Lytton Days (250-455-2523)
throughout town
End of May: BOSTON BAR/NORTH BEND - May Day Celebrations
Fair Grounds (604-867-9614)
End of May: HOPE - Seabird Island Annual Festival
Location TBA (604-796-2177 or gen. info. at 1-800-663-6000)

Copyright Jan Lee

Jan Lee

Be sure to read other articles by Jan Lee in the BC Adventure Network

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The Fraser Canyon at Springtime: BC's Best Kept Secret