Wilderness River Drifts

Float peacefully down the river by drift boat or raft



Time of year

June 8 - August 22


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

Wilderness River Drifts in the Great Bear Rainforest 


Note: Wilderness River Drifts take place from between June 8th and August 31st. While we prioritize spots for our guests participating in the Bella Coola Explorer packages, we occasionally have space for non-guests. If you would like to join us within 5 days of making a reservation, please email the lodge directly. If you would like to book a tour more than 5 days ahead of time, please contact our reservations office (note: we cannot accept reservations for non-guests more than 2 weeks out).


River Drifts

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 River 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  

Wilderness River Drifts take place from June 8th to August 31st. If you are planning to be in Bella Coola between September 1st to October 16th,  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. 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 Wilderness 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
  • Binoculars
  • Personal medication if applicable


Important note:  Guests will be required to sign a waiver prior to this tour.

Booking Info

Choose a Private Drift where it is just your small group and the guide, or a Small Group Tour if there is 1-3 in your group.

  • Drift - Private

    Float the Atnarko River in a private McKenzie Drift Boat. Maximum 4 people if there are children, or maximum 3 adults. Rate is for the group.


    See Itinerary

  • Drift - Small Group

    Float the Atnarko River in a raft with a maximum 6 people. Rate is per person, plus tax.


    See Itinerary

* Drift Boats have a maximum weight limit of 750lbs/340kg. This is also dependant on river water levels. Rates are exclusive of tax.


We strongly recommend pre-booking this tour prior to your arrival to ensure there is availability.

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