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  • White Water Kayaking
  • Float trips to full white water.

Fernie is home to a large and active paddling community. As the snow melts each year the local rivers provide great paddling from early spring to late fall.

Fernie offers excellent kayaking, canoeing and rafting adventures for those experienced. From float trips to full white water, the Elk River and its tributaries offer a wealth of excitement, scenery and relaxation. Local rafting companies offer tours throughout the spring, summer and fall season, and are fully knowledgeable of the waters in the area. They will take care of everything so just turn up with your spirit of adventure!

The 3 main rivers of interest are the Elk, the Bull and the Wigwam. The best source of information for river levels, put-ins and take-outs, levels of difficulty and even for finding paddling partners check out the Fernie Paddling Website or contact a the local sport shop, such as Gearhub in downtown Fernie.

*River classifications vary depending on river levels, weather, and river conditions.

Elk River

The spectacular Elk river canyon is an excellent run for those looking for a playful, big water run. 

Elk River Lower (III) – The Lower Elk begins a few minutes outside Elko and finishes by flowing into lake Koocanusa. Both the Canyon Rafting Company and Mountain High Adventures commercially raft this section of river. This scenic section of river features fantastic canyon views, hoodoos, great wildlife watching opportunities, and excellent white water features. In high water the river runs like a ‘big water’ classic while in lower levels can expose more boulder gardens and stretches of calm water. The river features and difficulty changes drastically with river levels; therefore, first time boaters are recommended to check in with local paddlers for river beta.

See Paddling ABC for more river beta as well as information on the put in and take out: http://www.paddlingabc.com/riverwiki/rivers/elk_river_bc_-_lower

Middle Elk Canyon (IV-V) – The middle Elk Canyon draws white water enthusiasts from across Canada and the U.S. This technical, more creaky section of river can prove challenging for even the most skilled boater. This section of river extends from Leap of Faith, an excellent 36ft waterfall located in Elko, to the entrance of the lower canyon. Running the waterfall is not required to run this section, see the link below for alternative put in options. This section is typically run in early Spring and Fall; in high water this section is considered impassable.

See Paddling ABC for more river beta as well as information on the put in and take out: http://www.paddlingabc.com/riverwiki/rivers/elk_-_canyon_aka_upper_lower

Upper Elk River (V) – This highly technical section of river extends from below the Elko dam to the Leap of Faith waterfall. The Upper Elk features a 50m long slide, a 15 ft drop with adjacent cave feature, a continuous multi-drop rapid, and a mandatory portage. Considered an experts only river!

See Paddling ABC for more river beta as well as information on the put in and take out.

Bull River

The Bull River is about a 1.5-hour drive outside of Fernie, heading towards Cranbrook. This river also changes characteristics depending on river levels, going from big water classic to creeky boulder garden. The Bull is an excellent ‘after work’ got to, as it runs from early Spring often into late Fall. The Bull has two section of river:

Upper (II-III): The Upper has a number of put in locations depending on the length of river you wish to paddle. The highest put in is usually the Bull River campground, approximately 3km past the upper Bull River Bridge. Take out for this section and the beginning of the lower is at the bridge. The road runs next to the river so alternative put in spots are easily found.

Lower (III-IV): This short section of river can provide some intense big water paddling and includes rapids such as ‘Bubblicious’ and ‘the Canyon’. The Lower Bull starts at the bridge and finishes just below the canyon; there is a trail up the bank to the take out.

See Paddling ABC for more river beta as well as information on the put in and take out (for the lower section). 

Wigwam River

This remote section of river feature gorgeous purple rock canyons, hoodoos, wildlife, and drop pool rapids. It is because of the remoteness of this river and its technical rapids that the Wigwam demands preparation and paddler knowledge of the river; steep cliffs and zero roadside access make this river difficult for hiking off from or rescues. Having an emergency locating device/satellite messenger is advised.

See Paddling ABC for more river beta as well as information on the put in and take out.

For updates on local river levels, conditions, and paddling events visit the ‘Elk Valley Whitewater’ Facebook page.

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