Atnarko Scenic River Drifts



Time of year

Late June to Late August


2-3 hours

Minimum Age


Minimum Fitness Level Easy - Light walking with a few climbs that are more challenging than a flight of stairs. Easy does it, however, if you have mobility issues, this activity, or all our packages, may not be appropriate for you (call us to discuss).

To take part, you should be able to;
- Walk over uneven ground for several hundred metres for up to 3 hours
- Be able to step into a drift boat (3 feet high) on uneven ground

Activity Overview

Drift down the meandering Atnarko River between lush green forests and with the snow capped peaks of the Coast Range Mountains towering overhead. 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 activity for serious photographers. The Atnarko River features Class One waters. Our drifts are not about the thrill of running rapids, but are about the serenity of traveling at a slow pace in a pristine environment with plenty of opportunities to capture amazing memories and photographs.

Private Groups of less than 3 guests will drift in a McKenzie Drift Boat. These boats have comfortable seating for up to 3 adults + 1 guide and gear. Small Groups of more than 3 will drift in an Inflatable Raft. These boats have comfortable seating for up to 6 adults + 1 guide and gear. Both boat types include swivel seats for 360 degree views and provide a stable platform from which to capture photographs. There is a total guest weight restriction (including gear) of 800 lbs (362 kgs) for McKenzie Drift Boats. This also applies to Inflatable Rafts later in the season in low water conditions.

Whether on a McKenzie Drift Boat or an Inflatable Raft, guests will be accompanied by an experienced guide who is an expert oarsman. Guides are familiar with the river ecosystem, the flora and fauna that inhabit it, and have extensive knowledge of the local history and geography.

Quick Facts

  • Who Should Book?
    • This scenic tour is a ‘must do’ for all guests visiting the lodge during Bella Coola Explorer season as this is the best way to learn about the history and geography of the river ecosystems that make Bella Coola so unique

Note: River drifts commence in late June or early July subject to high water levels that vary from year to year. 

  • Safety & Mobility Considerations
    • This activity requires light flexibility and fitness in order to get in and out of the boat from the rock covered shoreline
    • Guests should exercise caution and not stand in the boat while underway as the Atnarko River has currents that are both cold and swift

Note: Children weighing less than 70 lbs (32 kg) are required to wear a child specific lifejacket.

  • Minimum Age
    • 4+ in a Private Group or 12+ in a Small Group

What to Bring

  • Comfortable layered clothing that is appropriate for variable weather conditions, wind protection, and possible rain
  • A small backpack for snacks, fluids, and other important personal items
  • A hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and bug spray are highly recommended
  • A camera to capture the experience and binoculars to view distant objects

Sample Itinerary

  • Start - This activity begins at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
    • Guests board one of our shuttles and transfer approx. 2 minutes East along Highway 20 to the boat launch at the Belarko Wildlife Viewing Platform
    • Prior to boarding the boat, guests are provided with a safety orientation and are equipped with a life jacket 
    • With the assistance of the guide, guests climb aboard the boat, are helped into position, and are instructed on where to safely stow their belongings
    • Guests enjoy an approx. 2 hours scenic drift down the Atnarko River with commentary provided by their guide along the way
    • Boats will eddie out to the shoreline when possible and will stop to view wildlife and to take photographs
    • Light snacks (baked goods) and refreshments (tea in the morning and lemonde in the afternoon) will be served at an appropriate time determined by the guide 
  • End - This activity ends at our dedicated boat launch approx. 2 kms south of Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
    • Guests collect their belongings, climb out of the boat, return their life jacket, and board one of our shuttles for an approx. 2 minutes drive East back to Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
    • Upon arrival back at the lodge, guests enjoy a delicious lunch (morning departures) or apres on the deck (afternoon departures) if they purchased one of our all-inclusive packages

Note: Capacity is limited in each of our activities and we prioritize space for guests staying at the lodge. That being said, we occasionally have space for guests not staying at the lodge. If you will not be staying with us and would like to book this activity, please contact us by phone at 604-905-4994 or by email at [email protected].