North Thompson Valley British Columbia — Wilderness Just a Step Away. Discover a land of endless adventures — where rivers run wild and waterfalls thunder, where Canadian wildlife roam free and the snowfall is epic. Find yourself here, awed by Canada’s rugged beauty and charmed by the people who call this place home. Come play in an untamed wilderness — in the heart of British Columbia’s central interior.
Bear Viewing and Habitat Tour
Up-close and personal wildlife encounters are common-place in the North Thompson Valley. Abundant food sources and a temperate climate, make for a robust population of Black Bears and Grizzlies near Blue River, known locally as “Grizzly Bear Alley.” Leave time in your schedule to go bear watching on a guided River Safari or Bear Habitat Jeep Tour in the shadow of the Monashee Mountains.
Troll the shoreline in an environmentally friendly jet boat set in a diverse ecosystem. Various species of iconic Canadian wildlife can be found along the shores — moose, white tail deer, trout, eagles and osprey. After your tour enjoy a lunch at the Forest Table, River Safari’s dockside dining room. Sample local ingredients — salmon, wild greens and of course those berries the bears find so tempting.
There are several ways to access the North Thompson Valley, where wilderness is just a step away. Take your time and enter from the east via the Columbia Fields Parkway and Hwy 16 as you explore the North Thompson / Columbia Ice Fields Loop. You can also get here via the Gold Country Loop and the thriving city of Kamloops.
Bring your RV or your tent and stay along the way. There’s also electric car charging stations throughout the North Thompson Valley. You’ll find them in Kamloops, Sun Peaks, Clearwater, Valemount and Blue River.
Cranberry Marsh Birding
Explore a peaceful 6-kilometre (3.7 mile) spruce and willow-lined path that travels through this RW Starratt Bird Sanctuary the locals call Cranberry Marsh. See up to 140 species of birds travelling through, the Pacific Fly Way.
Walk or bike the tree-lined trails, gaze out from two viewing towers, or make your way around this quiet marshland by kayak or canoe. Tune out in nature, tuning in to the sounds of Cranberry Marsh where hawks, eagles, geese, ducks, swifts, woodpeckers, sandpipers, owls, finches, vireos, flycatchers, chickadees, bluebirds and warblers provide a calming soundtrack to your day.
Hike through Wells Gray Provincial Park exploring the 39 named waterfalls that it offers; from the height of Helmcken Falls, to the invigorating trek to Moul Falls, to the tranquil beauty of Dawson Falls, leave no stone (or path) unturned. Witness the circle of life at Rearguard Falls in Mount Robson Provincial Park as the Pacific Chinook salmon return to their spawning grounds.
Fiery volcanoes and chilled icy glaciers created the lush, rugged hinterland of Wells Gray Provincial Park where out-flowing rapids formed by their fight provides some of the most dramatic geological viewing in British Columbia. World-famous Helmcken Falls thunders 141m (463 ft) making it the fourth largest waterfall in Canada. Dawson Falls extends 90m (295 ft) across, and you’ll be astounded by the sheer width of these falls. The one-hour trek from Clearwater road to Moul Falls is an energizing hike. Spahats Creek Falls is perhaps one of the most breathtaking falls located in Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Discover Whitewater Adventure
Riding the rivers in the North Thompson Valley is an experience unmatched with any other. Ride it any way you can: whitewater rafting, family floating, or by kayak and canoe.
Flowing from hulking Mount Robson the mighty Fraser River is the longest in British Columbia. Climb into a raft for full-throttled action with giant Mount Robson as your backdrop and where class III rapids aptly named the Ejector and Grand Maw wait for you. With its hurried water and rolling rapids, the Clearwater River is found in the watery utopia of Wells Gray Provincial Park and whether you choose a three-hour tour or an overnight adventure, this is one river that will have you on your toes.
Hear stories of BC’s first explorers, and learn to paddle the French Canadian Voyageur Canoe near Sun Peaks Resort. Follow the same non-strenuous scenic route those explorers once travelled over 200 years ago. Hear stories of the original NorthWest Company whose take-over by the Hudson’s Bay Company diminished its historic accomplishments to tales of ancient history.
Learn about the First Nations people — the original architects of the voyageur canoes and how they paddled at 55 strokes a minute, carving the first paths through the mountains. This bustling eco-system is also home to the iconic Canadian wildlife — moose, elk, white-tailed deer. Once you’re ashore, gather at the McGillivray Lake Outpost; a rustic log cabin overlooking the water, where a gourmet meal awaits.
Fall Fair & Rodeo
The North Thompson Rodeo and Fall Fair in Barriere features roster of long-established rodeo events such as Bull Riding and Steer Wrestling, as well as the only BC fall fair still featuring the classic Pony Chariot and Chuck Wagon races. Get inspired as you walk through the rows of the fall fair and take in the colours, sights and smells of the locals’ handicrafts.
The North Thompson Agriplex is a 36,000 square foot 2.5 million dollar building almost entirely community funded through private donations and fundraising. Evening events feature the Family Dance, the Cabaret Dance and the Western injected Concert; cowboy poems, music and more will create more memories than you can handle.
Set deep in the North Thompson Valley the quiet and exclusive lodge of Tod Mountain Ranch is nestled amongst whispering pines and the stately Monashee Mountains, near Barriere and Sun Peaks. Formally a working cattle ranch, this full-immersion experience takes a rare hands-on approach to turn you into an expert horseman in no time. Numerous activities can be experienced nearby — fishing, canoeing, golf, bond in the great outdoors. Get back to nature as you trot along timbered paths and cattle trails. Stay at The Lodge — your home away from home.
Encounter more of the western pride of this region. Step back in time at Wells Gray Guest Ranch where the old west comes alive on guided trail rides, over a hearty dinner at the Black Horse Saloon, or around the glow of a campfire. Try something different and take in the spring lambing tour at Aveley Heritage Sheep Ranch where you can cuddle and bottle feed a newborn lamb, or hop on a wagon for a hay ride through the countryside. You’ll leave the North Thompson Valley feeling like a true horse whisperer.
Wells Gray Park
Explore Wells Gray Provincial Park on a three, five or seven day hut-to-hut adventure by foot or on cross-country skis. Play in nature, climb Trophy Mountain’ peaks. Embark on a guided excursion that will lead you through cedar and hemlock forests to sub-alpine meadows, over the rigid spine of the Trophy Mountains. Amble along, over rocky crests, building an appetite and a sweat as you gain elevation. Picnic along the shores of a cool, mountain lake, and bed down for the night in cozy, backcountry cabins, sharing this exceptional experience with your guides and newfound friends.
Exploring the ridgeline above Wells Gray isn’t limited only to summer. Intrepid travellers and backcountry skiers put hut-to-hut CAT-skiing at the top of their list of British Columbia “must do” experiences. Pack your skis for the backcountry trip of a lifetime. Glide from hut-to-hut in a winter wonderland. Propel yourself through winter canvassed trails, bright from the gleaming winter sun. Strap on snowshoes and plow through the fresh blanket of snow on the forest floor.
Mike Wiegele’s Helicopter Skiing, in Blue River, BC provides an unabashed climatic experience unique to anywhere else in the world. The warm, moist air from BC’s west coast combines with the dry cold air from the north in the Cariboo and Monashee mountain ranges, creating ideal powder conditions. With 10 metres (33 feet) of snow fall annually and over 1.2 million acres of terrain to conquer, the slalom opportunities are endless.
Enjoy the thrill of being taken by helicopter to your own private ski-scape. Cut and carve downhill through epic, open passes and forested spaces, untouched and boundless. Slip through the gentle slopes of Saddle Mountain after a one-of-a-kind snowcat ride through the Canadian wild. Ramble through the forest to uncharted terrain aboard a Snowcat, with Mike Wiegele’s pros by your side. Indulge in a gourmet dinner, spa treatments, and yoga classes.
The snow in the North Thompson Valley is one of a kind: created by the collision of warm, ocean breezes and the chilly, northern environment, Valemount, Blue River and Sun Peaks Resort each offer their own oceans of powder-fuelled thrills. The Rockies, the Monashees, and the Cariboos, are all epic riding areas in Valemount Ride rolling hills, grasslands blanketed with snow; low-elevation trails for first-timers; or, high mountain passes.
Blue River is where more than 60 kilometres (37 miles) of groomed and tracked trails (and even more snow-covered thrills above the ridgeline) combine with up to six metres (20 feet) of annual snowfall. Family filled snowmobile runs dominates at Sun Peaks Resort, where guided two, and four-hour snowmobile tours are offered.
Sun Peaks Skiing
Downhill Skiing and Cross Country at Sun Peaks
Three mountains, hundreds of kilometres of alpine and Nordic trails, a centralized village and no lift lines to stall your on-mountain fun — Sun Peaks Resort is Canada’s second largest ski resort, and the ultimate location for a family-friendly ski holiday.
4,200 acres of skiable terrain and 126 runs means there’s no shortage of slopes for downhill skiers. Enjoy the unhurried tranquility of our winter oasis; your snow-filled vacation can stretch on for an eternity, just like our alpine slopes! Choose your run — novice, intermediate or expert and ski all day long without having the same experience twice, or strap on your skis and grabby your polls for over 30 kilometres (19 miles) of Nordic skiing through groomed snow-canvassed paths.
Mt. Robson Heli-tour
Berg Lake sits in the shadow of Mount Robson, which, at 3,954 metres (12,972 ft), is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. A well-worn trail winds some 22 kilometres (14 mile) each way, gaining 800 metres (2,624 ft) in elevation from its base at the mouth of the Robson River to the quiet, still shores of Berg Lake. Along the way see snow-capped mountains and the Valley of a Thousand Falls, Emperor Falls and Berg and Kinney lakes. Your schedule and hiking abilities dictate how you can experience Berg Lake: by roundtrip helicopter tour, by a one-way helicopter tour and hike out, or by a roundtrip hike from the trailhead at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
Try the full Berg Lake trail — all 44 kilometres (23 miles) of it by foot. This wilderness trail climbs a quad-burning 800 m (2,624 ft) to the heart of Mount Robson Provincial Park. Capture in your mind’s eye the unrivalled scenery as you pass through; glacial lakes gleaming like jewels in the sun, wildflowers in full bloom bursting with colour, tumbling waterfalls with trembling outpours, and the commanding Mount Robson, standing as protector over the valley. If you’re a really intrepid trekker, you can hike well past Berg Lake and into Jasper National Park — a seven day expedition and the hike of a lifetime.
Sun Peaks Resort’s mountains once covered in snow come alive with a tapestry of colour in the summer. With 16 exceptional hikes that range from meandering passageways to climbing mountain slopes, Sun Peaks has a trail for every level of hiker. From the West Bowl to Tod Mountain Peak, from Gil’s Trail to Juniper Ridge, the mountain is awash in a rainbow of colour. The wildflowers make their appearance as early as July — but come from mid-July to mid-August to walk through the tapestry of blooms at their most exquisite.
The colours peak at the beginning of August, just in time for the annual Alpine Blossom Festival. With entertainment as vibrant as the wildflower meadows themselves, this family-friendly festival celebrates the very best of summer in Sun Peaks.