Nahatlach River – Francis Lake to Apocynum Campground

Contributed by Claudia Schwab
What It's Like
Medium volume, continuous boulder gardens, big holes, lots of fun.
Scouting / Portaging
Check out Rosegarden and Meatgrinder on the drive to the put-in.
3-4 hours
When to Go
July and August
50.1cms↓ (Apr 21 14:10)
Description may be outdated.

Character: Medium volume, continuous boulder gardens, big holes, lots of fun.

Gauge and Levels: A gauge is at Reo Rafting. The levels posted on the sign by the road are not always up-to-date. To get first hand information, walk down to the resort and check the stick gauge on a cliff just upstream of the raft take-out. Low: 1.7 (this is off the gauge in its present state), Medium: 2.2, High: 2.7. Not sure what the correlation to the online gauge is.

Scenery: Moderate use by kayakers, lots of commercial rafting. Dry forest, excellent camping by the river, a beautiful spot to spend a weekend. 

Length of Run: 8 km

Length of Shuttle (one way): 8 km

Special Considerations: Watch for log jams and big holes.

Directions: From Hope take Hwy 1 (Fraser Canyon) to Boston Bar. Turn left (west) before the Husky station onto Chaumox Rd. Continue to the bridge over the Fraser and zero your odometer. Following the signs to Reo Rafting Resort, take the left fork at 10.3 km and right at 13.1 km. At 14.7 km the road crosses the Nahatlach River. A side road at 15.4 km leads to the river left Canyon take-out. Pass the entrance to Reo at 16 km and continue to Apocynum CG at 17.7 km. This is the take-out for the upper run. It is possible to scout some of the bigger rapids on the drive to the put-in. “Twisted Sisters” is 500 m upstream of a pull-out at 21.6 km (20 km sign). Downstream from 23.6 km (22 km sign) the “Headwall” drop can be seen. At 24.6 km (23 km sign) “Meatgrinder” and “Rose Garden” can be scouted from the top of a cliff above the river. If you don’t like what you see, drive back downstream 0.6 km to a driveway blocked by a cable and put in here. The normal put-in is at Frances Lake - 25.7 km on the odometer. Park out of the way – the rafting companies use this area to turn around their bus and trailer.

Description: Use the lake for a warm-up, there isn’t much time before you get to “Rose Garden”, a long and busy class III (IV-). Depending on water level it is either a hole garden or boulder garden. “Meatgrinder” (IV) is immediately below where the river makes a right turn. This rapid can be scouted from the left or right, but portaging is only recommended on the right side. The river descends over several steps through ledge holes and boulders until it drops into “Meatgrinder”, a big hole that extends from the left bank to the middle of the river. A possible line is to start on the left and move right above the hole. One kilometer below is “Headwall” (III+/IV-) recognizable by a tall cliff the river seems to run into. 2 km later, after a few easier drops the river makes a left turn into “Twisted Sisters” with two big pour-over holes on the middle-left. The following drops are easier but there are still plenty of holes to catch the unsuspecting boater.

Camping, Food and Non-paddling Activities: There are plenty of forest service campgrounds along the river. Fill up with everything you need in Boston Bar since there are no services once you are at the Nahatlach River. For après paddling, check out the canyon on a short trail starting at the Reo Resort. Explore Nahatlach Lakes or one of the many back roads. Some of them lead to the edge of the alpine for great views and excellent hiking. Inquire about road conditions beforehand – 4WD may be required.
Apocynum cannabinum (Dogbane or Indian hemp) is an herbaceous plant that is used as a source of fibers by Native Americans. It is poisonous and its milky latex can cause blisters.