The North Thompson Valley, Wilderness Just a Step Away
Accessibly wild or wildly accessible — whichever way you say it, the North Thompson Valley is where adventure unfolds. It’s here where our story becomes your story. They say the shortest distance between two points is rarely the most rewarding. While you’re here, why not take the road less travelled and explore the North Thompson’s 330 kilometres (204 mi) along the Yellowhead Highway. Travel from the South Thompson River south of Sun Peaks to Valemount, with small towns and hamlets in between. You’ll find three mountain ranges, magnificent rivers, and the world’s only temperate inland rainforest. It’s here you’ll find more pure get-away-from-it-all than most people can ever dream of.
Where Beauty Fills you with Wonder
Find yourself pulled in by the North Thompson’s natural wonders and panoramic beauty. It all slowly unfurls in ranch lands surrounding Barriere, at the rim of Helmcken and 38 other waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park. You’ll also find beauty in the snow swept alpine of Sun Peaks, Blue River and Valemount, or by the banks of the South Thompson, North Thompson, Clearwater or Fraser rivers.
The Allure of the North Thompson Valley
Travellers have long journeyed through the North Thompson Valley. Indigenous, nomadic Interior Salish First Nations people followed the seasons and their bountiful food supplies — rosehips in spring, berries in summer, and nutrient rich salmon in fall. Pioneering Overlanders, seeking their fortune in BC’s gold fields, traversed the North Thompson Valley. They came by foot and on primitive white-water rafts that hauled all their worldly possessions. Railway barons followed, seeking an interior route to the coast. Captured by the beauty of this place, many settled here. If you listen and look closely, you can still hear tales of their adventures to this day — on a guided white-water rafting trip, a scenic voyageur canoe ride, or hiking the historic homesteads of Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Raw, Untamed Adventures Await
This place was hand-crafted by nature, born of shifting tectonic plates, colliding land masses, and fiery, erupting volcanoes. Look beyond your dashboard and you’ll see the magnificence of Mother Nature on display. The Cariboo, Monashee and Rocky Mountain ranges frame this picturesque corridor. It’s then you realize that outdoor adventures are easily within your grasp.
Find a Trail Just Right for you
Find yourself on endless mountain, river and lakeside trails. Hike through interior rain forests, wildflower meadows, or windswept craggy trails high above the alpine. While you’re here you’ll uncover a timeless landscape that stays with you forever. The vast, wilderness of the North Thompson Valley combined with exceptionally easy-to-access trail systems means you can be off the flattop and traipsing through the wilderness in no time at all.
Trek your way along the peaceful slopes of Sun Peaks where the blossoms paint the mountainside with a kaleidoscope of colour. Allow time to hike the legendary Berg Lake Trail at Mount Robson Provincial Park near Valemount. There’s a 22 km (14 mi) hike that takes you to the shoreline of turquoise Berg Lake at the toe of the Berg Glacier.
You can also hike hut-to-hut through Wells Gray Provincial Park on the definitive out-of-bounds outdoor adventure. Trek through cedar and hemlock forests, over the unyielding ridge of the Trophy Mountains, and then bed down for the night in cozy, backcountry cabins.
Explore the trails on your companion horse at Jandana Ranch, then reminisce about the day’s adventures around the campfire. Bring your family and sojourn through Cranberry Marsh, an easy meander through a tranquil bird sanctuary — serenity at its best.
The North Thompson Valley is where immense water lives. Created from glaciers, rapidly flowing through the valley toward the coast, the South Thompson, North Thompson, Clearwater and Fraser Rivers feed the region. The thundering drum-beat of numerous waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park calls to you. Explore the wild where cascading waters tumble over hardened lava beds and basalt cliffs. Dip and glide your paddle through the tranquil waters of Murtle Lake — where no motors roar and you go where your own two arms will take you. Try to tame our rolling rivers rafting the Fraser, and Adams River, with the the mountains looming in the distance. Or slip into the Clearwater River with waterfalls as your companions. Paddle in unison with other explorers, keeping the rhythm on a Voyageur Canoe. It seems like you are paddling further back in time, into the history and settlement of the North Thompson Valley.
Meet the Locals
Untamed beyond borders, the North Thompson Valley is Canada’s wild kingdom, so catching a glimpse of wild game is expected here. Venture into the wilds of Wells Gray Provincial Park and keep an eye out because this is where the wild things are. Grizzly and Black bears, moose, eagles, mule deer, salmon and more. The only limit to what you see is your sightline. Travel through bear country in the comfort and security of a guided River Safari jet boat. Keep a watchful eye and you may spot the lumbering beasts along the shoreline of Mud Lake. If you prefer your wild encounters to be those of the winged kind, then stroll, bike or canoe Valemount’s Cranberry Marsh. This wetland wildlife sanctuary is home to more than 140 species of birds.
Our Story Might Give You Winter Chills
Marvel in the winter paradise that envelops you here. Breathe deep as the crisp air fills your lungs and snowflakes dancing on your skin. Balance on two skis on the crest of a mountain with oceans of snow in your wake. Trek through a timberland forest of white, to frozen lakes shimmering in the sun under wide blue skies. Weave your way through a pristine winter playground, chasing snow-bound exploits all the way. Fuel your adrenaline on a ski trip of a lifetime. Mike Wiegele’s Helicopter Skiing equals a day on the slopes like no other. Surround yourself with blankets of white untouched powder at Sun Peaks Resort. Zig zag on any one of their 126 downhill runs. Head to the hamlets of Valemount, Blue River and Barriere. In addition to the beauty here, there are some great places for you to steer your snowmobile through snow-filled open ranges and frost-dipped trees.
Celebrate in our Valley
Our communities know how to throw a great party, and we want you to join us. Giddy-up; tradition and community spirit is firmly rooted in the heart of Barriere. It’s also where the North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo has been fuelling raw bucking power for over 65 years. Jump in on the western action and feel the palpable excitement from the top of your hat to the toes of your boots. Feel the rhythm of the beat in Sun Peaks during the Summer Concert Series that fill the Village Square with soul-busting tunes. Savour the flavour of the region and toast your family and friends with the Sun Peaks Winter Okanagan Wine Festival.