3 Incredible Rivers in Northern British Columbia

Category:  

Bucket List Worthy  

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Northern British Columbia is well known for its fantastic mountains and forests, but it also has stunning rivers and falls that have been the lifeblood of local First Nations for millennia. Next time you’re driving through the northern half of the province check out the Willow, Bowron and McLeod rivers. These three accessible areas provide unlimited outdoor opportunities and adventure!

The Willow River

 

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The Willow has great camping, hiking, paddling, fishing and swimming and it’s only 40 kms east of Prince George on Highway 16. Park at the rest area on the east side of the highway and enjoy a summer dip in the stream or explore the Willow River Interpretive Trails, to the north of the parking lot. Alternatively, drive down England Creek road on the east side of the highway (just opposite the rest area) and park at the bridge. Take the small trail east to the junction of England Creek and the Willow where you will find a nice campsite and access to the rocky shoreline. If England Creek is dry, explore upstream along the creek bed to the bridge. There are some cool rock formations to see.

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England Creek

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Willow River Campground north of the bridge

Only a few kms east of the Willow River Bridge, down the Willow River North Forest Service Road is another great campsite and boat launch. Pitch a tent, launch a canoe or explore the gravel bars and sloughs on the east side of the river.

 

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Looking up the Willow River Canyon

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The Willow River Canyon upstream from the bridge

The Bowron River

 

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Portage Canyon

The Bowron River is only a 20 km drive east of the Willow. Take the rest area access road on the north side of Highway 16 and park at the picnic area. Camp, eat your lunch or cast a line. Maybe you will get lucky and catch a rainbow trout. If you’re more adventurous, drive west for 6.5 kms and turn right on the Vama Vama Forest Service Road and drive for another 6.3 kms and stop at the small clearing on the right side (north) of the road. Follow the old road and single-track trail down to Portage Canyon. Be careful on the final steep ascent to the river: it’s a tough 100 meter scramble.

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Looking down a lazy run

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Don’t slip on the algae covered river stones

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The Bowron is magical on a hot summer day

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The McLeod River and War Falls

 

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If a wilderness river experience is what you’re after then put the McLeod River and War Falls on your bucket list. This is perhaps the most scenic and stunning falls in the Central Interior of British Columbia! This area is 3 hours northwest of Prince George and is part of Carp Lake Provincial Park.  Drive 138 kms north on Highway 97 to the First Nation community of McLeod Lake, then turn southwest on Carp Lake Road. Follow this narrow winding and rolling road for 21 kms and pull off at the parking area and interpretive sign on the right. Hike or ride the single-track trails a few hundred meters to the first set of falls, and eventually down to the viewing platform. These mesmerizing falls explode out of the earth like sweet champaign! Swim to the base of the falls and feel the power of thousands of gallons of water flowing over you.

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The first set of falls

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The second set of falls

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In the wet zone

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Northern British Columbia’s scenic rivers provide endless opportunities for outdoor recreation and adventure. Next time you’re driving north or east of Prince George take a detour and check out the McLeod River/War Falls, the Willow or the Bowron: you won’t be disappointed. To book a trip to northern British Columbia check out FlightNetwork’s Destinations and get great deals on hotels, flights and rental cars.

British Columbia’s forests and trees are iconic. Check out some of my favorites in my Ride the Wild blog post 7 Favorite Forests and Trees.

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About the Author: Matthew Greenspan

Matthew is a travel expert, writer, editor and digital marketer. He lives for seeing new places, learning new cultures and surfing new waves. He is based out of Toronto but travels the globe in search of the best travel stories and biggest waves.

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