Whitewater rafting in Lytton, BC’s Fraser River

British Columbia is an outdoor-lover’s haven. For those who love the water, Lytton, BC is the best location to get wet. Whitewater rafting trips are offered by Kumsheen Rafting Resort, a friendly company run by the Fandrich family and their passionate staff.

Bernie Fandrich started Kumsheen 36 years ago with $8 whitewater rafting trips and a van on the side of the highway. He was the only one doing rafting on the Thompson River at the time. Now the company runs daytrips, overnight packages, camps and operates a resort for those who want to stick around.

Whitewater Rafting Trips

Choose from a large selection of excursions during the May to end-of-September season.

  • Daytrips: The Thompson River and Fraser River Hell’s Gate Run are both full day trips. A shorter half-day excursion along the Thompson, called Devil’s Gorge Run, passes Nicomen Falls and 18 rapids.
  • Overnight Packages: From one to three days, there are numerous options that include both rivers, time at the resort and trips for both the beginner and advanced traveller.
  • Vacation Packages and Camps: Kumsheen has also drawn up camps for families with children (these are appropriate for those seven and up), teens, families with teens and for teens who want to learn how to become a rafting guide. Each camp is five nights during set dates in the summer.
  • Check with Kumsheen for mountain bike tours, kayaking, rock climbing, rappelling and hosting special events like dry grad and weddings.

Whitewater River Rafting or Power Rafting

There are two ways to experience the river: by paddling for dear life or powering for dear life.

Power Rafting: A guide controls the raft by motor, so passengers must hold onto the ropes and be prepared to get completely soaked. This is a good way for children and first timers to test their adventure level.
Paddle Rafting: More of a team effort, these rafts are smaller and powered by paddles that passengers use. Paddle rafting starts July 1st.

Lytton Hotel

For those who want more than a quick stopover in Lytton, stay at Kumsheen in their unique accommodations (located 6 km/ 4 miles east of Lytton). On-site is a swimming pool, nine-hole golf course, restaurant, hot tub, showers, walking trail loop, sand volleyball courts, a basketball court, mountain bike trails, campground and a common area to hang out.

Rooms are either Anishinable-style Teepees, with a double and two single beds, or Cabin Tents, with double beds, a wooden floor and a propane light ($96 CAD per night, four people max.). Both types of sleeping arrangements include linens and towels. Note that the resort is family-friendly, so lights out at 11:00 pm.

Lytton, BC (Canada)

Located on Trans Canada Highway #1, Kumsheen Rafting Resort (1-800-663-6667) is an approximately three hour drive northeast from Vancouver and Whistler, and two hours southwest from Kamloops.

River Adventure Travel in British Columbia

The Fraser River forms a natural and cultural spine that spans the length and breadth of central and southern British Columbia. In the early days, feuding First Nations communities settled different sides of the river, and traded with white trappers, traders, and explorers who made their way up and down the river. Today, the plateaus above the river gorges are terraced with farms, mills, and small towns, and much of the trade is in experience and encounters. Both the Fraser and the Thompson, a Fraser River tributary in southern British Columbia, are highly prized by travelers looking for waterborne adventure.

Jetboating on British Columbia’s Fraser River

The roiling silt laden waters of British Columbia’s Fraser River wind their way through deep canyons laced with patchwork quilts (of brown desert and emerald green ginseng farms) and broad lush valleys as the mighty river makes its way to the sea just outside Vancouver. Traveling over 800 miles on its voyage from the Fraser Pass on the continental divide, the Fraser River offers whitewater adventurers and paddlers numerous opportunities to test themselves.

One of the more exciting experiences that can be had on the Fraser River involves riding a jet boat through deep rock-walled canyons and rushing rapids. Jetboat Adventures operates metal-hulled boats with twin jet engines that nimbly power their way up, down, over and around the river’s powerful rapids and slack water sections, creating a ride that is exhilarating and rewarding while never feeling out of control. Jetboat Adventure guides use their lengthy experience working on the river to season the journey with historic anecdotes and natural history lessons at appropriate moments during the trip. They are quick to point out petroglyphs, abandoned mining and fur trader’s cabins, and notable First Nations sites, including a possible stop at Xatsull Heritage Village, a restored and preserved First Nations dip net fishing camp along the banks of the Fraser River near Soda Creek and Williams Lake.

While jet boating is a powerful and exciting way to experience the Fraser River, both J-boat and paddle rafting excursions (with scheduled and custom itineraries) are also available from numerous outfitters along the river. Select tours include passage through the stunningly beautiful, but notably difficult Hell’s Gate section.

Rafting the Thompson River

Deep in the British Columbian interior, as it passes the town of Lytton, the muddy brown waters of the Fraser River are met by the glacial blue waters of the Thompson River. Though it is smaller (by volume) than the Fraser, the Thompson River’s relatively narrow canyon and cool waters offer excellent rafting and kayaking possibilities for beginners and experts alike.

Located just north of Lytton, Kumsheen Rafting Resort offers not just expertly guided river tours, but also pleasant accommodations (in unique teepee and tent bungalows) excellent dining, a pool, and a gift shop for that last minute dollop of sunscreen or a lanyard for sunglasses. Bernie Fandrich, Kumsheen’s founder, is responsible for much of the early mapping and route pioneering on the Thompson. This company, which started operating out of the owner’s van offering rides on an inexpensive Avon raft, now employs state of the art equipment and highly trained guides in providing a turnkey river experience from coffee and an early morning paddle to a warm bed at night.

First Nations People Along the Fraser & Thompson Rivers

First Nations communities existed along both the Fraser and Thompson Rivers long before Simon Fraser and others mapped the area. Today, the region’s rich history and First Nations roots are evident in every community and in clothing, food, and artwork seen up and down the rivers. Jetboat Adventures and Kumsheen guides are well-trained in the history of the region, are respectful of local traditions, and do an excellent job of relating the conflicts, struggles, lore and history of Simon Fraser and the early residents and pioneers who settled the land and marked the trail for the rest of us.

For anyone interested in whitewater adventure of any sort, British Columbia’s Fraser River and Thompson River must be given serious consideration. They are easily accessible, offer a broad range of whitewater experiences, stunning scenery and are serviced by a host of experienced guides and outfitters who share First Nations history of the region with their clients and weave the journey into a larger context.

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