Time of year
June 8 - August 22
Scenic River Drifts in the Bella Coola Valley
Note: Scenic River Drifts take place from between June 8th and August 22nd. While we prioritize spots for our guests participating in the Bella Coola Explorer packages, we occasionally have space for non-guests. Contact the reservations office for availability.
We recommend these eco-friendly tours as a 'must do' for all of our guests. They are appropriate for all ages and abilities.
Experience a scenic drift down the meandering Atnarko and Bella Coola Rivers between lush green forests, and with the snowcapped peaks of the Coast Range towering overhead. For long stretches there is simply no evidence of any human impact on the land.
Types of Trips
Scenic River Drifts take place from June 8th to August 22nd. If you are planning to be in Bella Coola from August 22nd to October 16, please visit our Grizzly Bear Viewing page instead. Note: it is still possible to view bears between June and early August, though they are more prominent in late summer and fall when the rivers are teeming with fish! If your specific reason for visiting us is to see grizzly bears, we STRONGLY recommend booking a trip in September or October. See our blog post on why October is a great time to visit us: Bella Coola Grizzly Bear Viewing in October.
Our Private river drifts are in McKenzie drift boats. These boats have comfortable seating for up to 3 adults (weight restrictions apply) and provide a stable platform from which to take photographs. The boats are non-motorized, which means we do not disturb the wildlife. Yes, relax and enjoy the scenery, but keep your eyes open for bald eagles, river otters, and bears, as well as five species of salmon which call these waters home. This is the best option for serious photographers.
Our Small Group drifts are on a raft where a maximum of 6 guests and one guide can sit. Whether on a raft or a McKenzie boat, you will have an experienced guide who is an expert oarsman with many years of experience on coastal rivers. They know the wildlife and the fauna well and have extensive knowledge of the local history and geography.
The rivers are Class One waters. This means our drift trips are not about the thrill of running rapids, but about the serenity of traveling at a slow pace in a pristine environment with lots of time to enjoy the scenery and wildlife.
What you will see on a River Drift
June and July are the perfect time to see the lush light green valley, and the snowcaps peaks above. You will experience migrating and resident birds as well as a very small chance of seeing a few of the early bears of the season. Late August to October is the optimum time for Grizzly Bear viewing and the scenery is stunning. All the greens of the summer are changing to gorgeous autumn colours. Salmon travel up the rivers to spawn, and ultimately die. This attracts the Grizzly Bears to these rivers from a large region. For tours during bear season see the Grizzly Bear Viewing page.
What to Bring
- Good worn in hiking shoes. Low or medium cut shoes are suitable for most hikes
- Small backpack for lunch, snacks, fluids and personal gear
- Comfortable pants
- Shirt, fleece or sweater
- Fleece or knitted hat, baseball cap or sun hat
- Thin gloves
- Change of socks
- Wind jacket and pants or thin rain gear
- 1 litre water bottle
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- Camera with a large memory card for all those great shots
- Personal medication if applicable
Important note: Guests will be required to sign a waiver prior to this tour.