Bridge River

Contributed by Claudia Schwab
What It's Like
Pool drop with big boulders + flat long scenic canyons
4-6 hours
When to Go
This description is from 2007 and may be outdated.

The run is almost entirely on the land of Bridge River First Nation (Xwisten). Make sure you respect property rights and find out what is required to access ahead of time.   

Scenery: Excellent, steep canyon walls, hoodoos, jade boulders, dry sagebrush country.

Length of Run: 25 km

Length of Shuttle (one way): 25 km

Special Considerations: This is a very long and remote run. For most of the run it is impossible or very difficult to get out off the canyon. Since the river rarely floods, logs don’t get cleared out. Watch for wood. The entire run is on land of the Bridge River First Nation (Xwisten). Make sure you respect property rights. In 2006 the band council has asked that paddlers contact them before paddling the river (, 250-256-7423).

Directions: Make your way to Lillooet. Drive north through town and follow the signs to Gold Bridge and Seton Portage for about 6 km until the road crosses the Bridge River. The best river access is on river left under the bridge. To the put-in continue on Bridge River Rd. towards Gold Bridge. You can get a glimpse of “Cranes Ledges” from a dirt track loop at about 15.5 km (N50 49.239 W122 05.219), and a full scenic view of the Coliseum at 21.5 km. The road drops down to Yalakom River after 25 km. The put-in is on the downstream, left side of the bridge. Make sure you don’t block traffic or private driveways here when you park.

Description: Since most of Bridge River flows are diverted into Seton Lake, Yalakom River contributes the majority of the water. The run starts with a short boulder garden on Yalakom River. Below the confluence with the Bridge more boulder gardens follow, including a nice 2-3 ft ledge. The first drop requiring serious scouting is located at the entrance of the coliseum (although this entrance may not be so obvious from river level). We usually avoid the mess of boulders and sneak the drop through a shallow, bushy side channel on the right but it is prone to collecting logs. A gravel road on river left leads to the east rim of the coliseum. Another noteworthy drop is encountered where the river leaves the coliseum (N50 51.464 W122 09.371). “Jade” consists of several ledges above a house rock. Scout on the right. The most commonly run channel is right of this house rock. At medium and high levels watch out for a sticky hole that forms next to the rock. Beware also of the undercut boulder on the right shore just below the house rock. Soon the rapids become easier. At kilometer 7 a bridge crosses the river at Camoo Creek. The canyon narrows again and after about 2.5 km and several easier drops you will approach a significant horizon line, the entrance to “Crane’s Ledges” (N50 49.043 W122 05.041). This rapid consists of several ledges and a big “stopper” boulder at the bottom. Scout and if necessary portage on the left.  Below “Crane’s” follow a few other attention demanding drops before the river mellows again. After several kilometers things get interesting again when VW bus sized boulders form a maze on the river. The rapids get progressively harder until you reach “Hard Hat Drop” shortly after a power line crosses the river. It is best scouted from the left but unfortunately best portaged on the right. The customary line is down the narrow slot on the left. Make sure you check the entire line for wood. One party had to deal with what appeared to be a foot bridge at kayaker’s head-height. After “Hard Hat” follow more drops through enormous conglomerate boulders. Enjoy the last kilometer or so through almost vertical-walled canyon before the take-out bridge comes into sight.

Camping and Food: Load up on all you need in Lillooet where you will also find an official campground. There are several spots to camp along Bridge River Rd. Please respect private property.

Non-paddling Activities: Check out the massive Bridge River Rapids on the Fraser. Follow a foot trail on the north side of the take-out bridge upstream on the Fraser. The museum in Lillooet is worth a visit – if it is closed, stop and have a look at the gigantic jade blocks in front of it. Check out the “Mile Zero” marker. It indicates mile 0 for the numbering of the mile houses along the Cariboo Wagon Road from the olden Gold Rush times. Drive past the put-in through a stunning canyon to the dam that diverts most of the Bridge River water and forms Carpenter Lake. There is also great (and strenuous) cross country mountain biking up the Yalakom Valley (Shulap Traverse, 9-Mile-Ridge and more).