Off the Beaten Track :: Magic Carpet Ride

rafting in BC + off beaten track[trip style = glamping + active & adventure] {Photos: Ryan B. Robinson/Downtime Photo}

{Editor's note: This month we’re doing a four-part feature on the Pacific Northwest's off the beaten track destinations. See below for this month's earlier selections that sit in the shadow of bigger, fancier or legacy locales. This week we’re taking a magic carpet ride off the grid.}

Driving up BC's Fraser Canyon Highway, you pass through tunneled mountains, and when you emerge back into daylight, it's as though you've teleported to another time. Shops like "Barry's Trading Post" with "your one stop shop" written in script underneath, and your phone proclaiming the dreaded NO SERVICE signal make it more than apparent you're going off the grid. And what better way to spend a summer weekend?

Last weekend I drove three hours from Vancouver to overnight in a Moroccan-themed tent beside a frothy, raging river. I was a guest of REO Rafing's whitewater rafting, glamping and camping operation. After driving over the wide and chocolate milk-like Fraser River---which is lucky given the only way over used to be via a one-car, elevated cable tram---you reach a 14.5km half-paved, half-rocky residential-meets-logging road which escorts you down a semi-steep incline to REO's base camp.

The carefully selected headquarters are literally beside the Nahatlatch River, serving as a strong and constant reminder of what you're about to conquer the next morning. You can camp or glamp, but given my love for all things glamping, I glamped. The two nicest tents on the property are named after their themes: "Country" and "Moroccan." Luckily, I scored one of them and settled under a silky overhang into a carved wooden bed with linens and beaded pillows that made me want to break into song like Jasmine from Aladdin.

If I were Jasmine, I'd ride my magic carpet down the Nahatlach, but I was without Aladdin and his carpet, so the next morning, after a suiting up like a seal and listening to a 20-minute safety talk, my raft guide Mark instructed us on the ups and downs of charging class 3 and 4 rapids. In my humble opinion, we needed him more than he needed us. Like many of the other REO guides, he'd be rafting for 13+ years, so I was more than willing to battle one of BC's wildest rivers with him at the helm.

He yelled commands and each paddler on the eight person raft repeated them so the other members could hear the instruction over the roar and splash of the whitewater rapids. Paddle, back paddle, hold on, get down, on the job and high-five were a few rafting terms we became more than familiar with during our mastery of the 20km/hour wet rush. Crashing atop an overzealous wave, a member of our raft did a backwards somersault off the raft and became one with the river. No problemo. We were trained for this, and her rescue was quickly expedited by two willing men at the front of the raft. If she were to have stayed in the water for any length of time, there was a whitewater safety kayaker---who attends every river dance---to sweep her off her feet {and back into the raft}.

To say the Pacific Northwest's weather has been a little angry this year is an understatement. July has been more like Jul-ebruary. Driving up to REO in some of the worst rain we've had this summer, I was reminded that river rafting in BC---which incidentally has the most navigable sections of raftable river in the entire world---is the perfect cure for a wet summer. You're going to get wet anyway and there's always a hot chocolate and hot tub waiting at the end!

What to know

  • REO has been in operation for 29 years and has a pristine safety record
  • Because of the unseasonably cold and wet spring, this summer has delivered optimal whitewater rafting conditions throughout BC
  • Overnight whitewater rafting packages start at $219/person
  • If you want something a little closer to home, check out REO's Whistler options
  • See my detailed review of REO on Trip Advisor here

Photos farting the nahatlatch {Photo: Ryan B. Robinson/Downtime Photo}

{Photo: Ryan B. Robinson/Downtime Photo}

glamping at the nahatlatch


{River rafting is a signature adventure in British Columbia that attracts guests worldwide. For more information, or to find a safety certified member company anywhere in the Province, go to}

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[Rafting photos by Ryan B. Robinson/Downtime Photo, grounds photos by @tripstyler]