River Rafting BC
Also known as “the river of the grizzlies” the Babine River is considered one of the last unspoiled river rafting trips in British Columbia (BC). This is expedition rafting at its best. During our 6 day trip you’ll raft through thick BC forests and narrow, intimate canyons, keeping an eye out for the magnificent grizzly bear on the banks of the river. You’ll experience thrills and splashes as your guide navigates over big waves and through dramatically tight constrictions.
Rafting BC Highlights
BABINE RIVER RAFTING: 6 DAYS
The Babine River, also known as “the river of the grizzlies” is the best rafting that British Columbia has to offer. On the 6 day rafting expedition, you’ll raft through BC's stunning natural environment.
The Babine River is home to a variety of wildlife drawn to the area by the fantastic fishing; the river is teaming with salmon that you can see filling eddies as you raft downstream. This abundance of fish attracts large numbers of black and grizzly bears as well as bald eagles that you can often see fishing in the river as you raft by.
In addition to the wildlife, thrilling white water and natural beauty, the Babine River also has a deeply rooted native heritage. You will have the opportunity to hike to an abandoned village of the Gitksan people and further downstream you’ll witness some of the most visually impressive totems ever created before we end the trip at the native village of Kispiox.
Babine River Rafting Details
THE BABINE RIVER:
The Babine is one of the major tributaries of the Skeena and cuts through a wild and remote section of the Coast Mountain Range. It is narrower and more intimate than the Skeena; in spots, we squeeze through dramatic canyons little more than eight feet wide.
An easy and constant Class I and II current carries us for four days along the Babine River, interspersed with exciting Class III and IV rapids. The course broadens dramatically when we reach the Skeena, one of North America’s largest undammed rivers. Steamships plied its lower reaches near the Pacific coast as early as the 1860s, but the upper reaches remain largely unpopulated. The Skeena is less technically challenging than the Babine, and has several fun “rollercoaster” rapids.
ALONG THE SHORE:
In addition to the rivers’ natural beauty, we discover a deeply rooted heritage of native culture. The Gitxsan, also known as “People of the River of Mist”, have called the region home for thousands of years and have created diverse and colorful lifestyles, traditions and artistry. We visit abandoned and occupied villages of the Gitksan, housing some of the largest, most visually splendid totems ever created. Gitksan life along the river is pervasive and one cannot help but admire the legacy of their culture and determination to keep it alive.
As mentioned earlier, the Babine River is famous for its abundance of Steelhead trout and all five species of Pacific salmon. It is considered a Class I angling stream, one of very few in British Columbia, and the abundance of fish is amazing. The trout and salmon attract both black and grizzly bears, along with a diverse range of migratory wildlife. Hundreds of bald eagles, also attracted by the great fishing, can be easily spotted. Other birds of prey include the golden eagle, rough-legged hawk, red-tailed hawk and peregrine falcon. Mergansers are found throughout the river system and we might occasionally see migrating flocks of Canada geese. Towering cedars and hemlock rim the shore; beyond is a forest floor rich in mosses and ferns, home to other mammals including wolf, wolverine, lynx, marten, mink and moose.
The weather in the last half of August and early September is some of the best of the year. Temperatures can reach the high 20s (ºC) during the day and drop to 5-10 ºC at night. Please note that daily highs will cool significantly as the season progresses, but the wildlife and fish populations increase proportionately. Generally, late summer and early autumn are the driest times of the year, but we need to be prepared for anything. Mountain weather can be highly variable.
River Rafting BC Itinerary
You’ll need to arrive in Smithers the evening before the rafting begins. The guides will give you an overview of the rafting trip and will make sure any last minute questions you have will be answered. You will also receive your personal dry bags and rafting gear for use on the trip.
DAY ONE – START OF YOUR JOURNEY ON THE BABINE RIVER, BC
Your journey will start at 10:00am, we head out of Smithers and quickly leave paved roads and civilization behind. You will meet the rest of the guides and enjoy a deli-style lunch at the river’s edge. Before we launch, you'll be given a river orientation and safety talk, and by early afternoon you will be setting off for your journey down the Babine River. Shortly afterwards we’ll arrive at our first camp by the Nilkitkwa River where you can relax and enjoy the first of many delicious riverside dinners.
DAY TWO – INTRODUCTION TO WHITE WATER
Like all of our rafting mornings, we begin our day with a serving of coffee, tea, juice, granola and fruit salad. For the perfect start to our first day of rafting, you'll be served a warm breakfast such as eggs benedict, banana nut pancakes with maple syrup or scrambled eggs with freshly baked bread.
After breaking down camp, we all start rafting at about 10am and continue the journey downstream. Today you’ll raft through some deep canyons and enjoy the thrill of white water as we navigate through some fun, splashy rapids surrounded by thick Northern forest. Beyond the forest to the north you can see the mountains and glaciers of the Sicintine Range
DAY THREE – DRAMATIC CANYONS AND REMOTE WATERFALLS
After a gentle start to the day the river pace picks up giving you a hint to the exciting whitewater waiting downstream. We stop for lunch at Gail Creek where you can view fossils just a short hike up the creek. After lunch we raft through some big waves and tight canyons where the river intensity builds and the rapids become increasingly more exciting and sustained. We stop for the night in a deep, tight canyon at the remote waterfall camp. If you are feeling brave you can enjoy a refreshing shower in the waterfall before you relax by the campfire and reflect on the day’s rafting adventures.
DAY FOUR – GRIZZLY BEARS AND RAPIDS
On day four the whitewater continues. The first definable feature we’ll encounter is the famous Class IV ‘Grizzly Drop’ where it is quite common to see Grizzly Bears fishing! Luckily the bears are more interested in Salmon than they are in us and this gives you a great chance to observe these amazing animals in their natural habitat. Downstream the Babine Riverprovides some more world class whitewater and you will raft through canyons and tight constrictions; some barely wide enough for the rafts! After travelling through the dramatically tight Kisegas Canyon, the river valley opens providing you with vistas of Mount Thomlinson as the Babine River pours its contents into the much larger Skeena River.
DAY FIVE – THE SKEENA RIVER
Day Five begins with big volume splashy rapids which have a very different character from the tight canyons you experience on the Babine. The sinuous waters and rock-lined canyons bordered by coastal cedars create a mysterious ambience. Our campsite on the Skeena River provides a perfect setting for our final night in the wilderness together.
DAY SIX – TOTEM POLES AND HEADING BACK TO CIVILIZATION
On our final day of rafting we begin to see the signs of civilization along the shores. On our way to our take-out we pass the confluence of the Kispiox and Skeena rivers, next to the functioning native village of Kispiox. Here you can see the giant totem poles that pay silent tribute to generations past. From the take-out it’s a short drive back to your hotel in Smithers. After you enjoy a well-deserved hot shower, we’ll get together for a final dinner to reminisce and plan the next adventure!
Babine Rafting Difficulty
The Babine/Skeena River Trip has a CLASS III/IV classification. There are only three CLASS IV rapids we encounter on the first day and this is still a trip that can be enjoyed by almost any skill level.
CLASS I Easy. Moving water with ripples and small waves.
CLASS II Novice. Straightforward rapids with wide, clear channels.
CLASS III Intermediate. Some maneuvering required, large waves may be present but are easily avoided.
CLASS IV Advanced. Powerful but predictable rapids requiring precise boat handling.
CLASS V Expert terrain!
CLASS VI EXTREME!!!
LEVEL OF ACTIVITY
We generally raft for 3 - 4 hours a day, with the pace of the river increasing each day. The most exciting rapids occur on the third and fourth day with rapids graded up to Class IV. The Skeena is a much larger river than the Babine, with bigger waves, but is not as technically demanding.
There is limited opportunity for long hikes on this trip. Shorter interpretative walks will be incorporated into most days, including a visit to Gail Creek fossil beds.
Babine River Location
It is the responsibility of each individual to ensure they have a valid passport and any necessary visas for their expedition. Requirements for travel visas vary widely depending on nationality. It is important that you check and apply for each of the visas you need whilst in your home country and consult the relevant embassy if you need more information.
You must be eligible to clear customs in Canada at the time of your expedition.
Should you fail to clear customs Canadian Rafting Adventures powered by Canadian Outback Rafting is not at liberty to offer a refund for the booked expedition outside of the cancellation policy.
For more information, this website can be helpful with up to date immigration rules.