Spirit Bear Rides BC’s White Water Rapids

Still with the Bella and water theme, I couldn’t resist sharing a blog written for the Society of American Travel Writers.  Bella and I had a terrific white water time together – proving that if a lil’ bear can raft, so can a whole bunch of wannabe brave hearts.  Honestly, Reo Rafting makes it THAT safe.

REO Rafting is located on the shores of the Nahatlatch River in the Fraser Canyon, about a 3-hour drive from downtown Vancouver.  Tip: pick up some farm-fresh blueberries in the Fraser Valley to eat on the journey — bears love berries!

And be warned. The last 8.5 km is on an active, gravel logging road so drive very carefully. Logging trucks always have the right of way.  Press on and you’ll come to a giant REO sign.

ImageBefore long we settled into our tent right beside the river

Image REO has been rafting for more than 30 years and is the only resort outfitter on the Nahatlatch — one of the best rivers for white water rafting in BC because the rapids are near-continuous. And they are terrific for all abilities and all ages …… as well as adventurous Spirit Bears.

With REO Rafting you get to ride The Classic section featuring 25 rapids (Class 2, 3 & 4) over a 10 km stretch, finishing right at the secluded river’s edge resort itself.  What an adrenaline rush. Far better than X-Box reality any day.

Image The Nahatlach River originates in the Coast Mountains, and flows from a series of three lakes: the Nahatlatch, Hannah and Frances lakes.  It is 20 km upstream from joining the Fraser River north of Boston Bar.

The river lies in the heart of one of BC’s newest protected areas, Nahatlach Provincial Park – 1,695 hectares of scenic mountain peaks and glaciers, old growth forests, and a lake and river system like no other. Nahatlatch protects one of the largest intact wetlands remaining in the Lower Mainland.


Safety is paramount and these folks take it seriously and have an impeccable record. But oh my, how to find a life jacket that fits a small bear like me!

It’s good to buddy up with a fellow paddler!

Image   and find yourself in a fun crew.Image  We called ourselves the Bella Babes.

REO doesn’t skimp on anything when it comes to safety from head-to-toe equipment to lessons on the lovely calm lake before the real action begins.


We practiced falling into the water and pulling each other back on board as well as learning how to paddle as a team.  With wetsuits and lifejackets, we didn’t feel the brrrrr of the water at all.


REO even has safety kayakers who scuttle around the rafts, ready to rescue any bear that might have a mishap.  A lot of rafting companies don’t take this extra step.


Then it began. Gently at first. And then ….


With rapid names like The Eliminator, The Meat Grinder and Lose Your Lunch, I wondered what mishap might be coming my way.  But look at the photos.  I’m there, right in the middle of the raft.  And I’m still here to tell the tale.


But I’m also quite small so thanks to REO owner Brian Fogelman who was at the helm, I got a captain’s view of the WOWeeeeeee excitement.Image    Image


High-Five for the Bella Babes

In addition to rafting, you can try rock rappelling, archery, zip lining,  hiking forested trails, and singing around the campfire.  I chose the hot tub.


And a little river side R&R with a friend, catching a few rays.

FUN is an understatement.  Geesh, if a Spirit Bear can raft, so can you and your family.

Check out www.reorafting.com.  Tell them Bella Bella sent you because Brian tells me I was one of his most memorable passengers!


About Chris McBeath

Travel writer Chris McBeath has worked aboard cruise ships, opened hotels, managed convention centers, marketed spas and spa resorts, and written guide books and travel articles on nearly every aspect of travel.
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