Category   BC Rivers - Nechako River
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The Nechako River originates on the Nechako Plateau east of the Coast Mountain Range in North Central British Columbia. The river flows northward toward Fort Fraser, where it crosses Highway 16, before turning to the east and running through Vanderhoof and flowing into the Fraser River in Prince George.

The Nechako River is one of the largest tributaries of the Fraser River. The main tributaries of the Nechako River are the Stuart River, the Endako River, the Chilako River, the Nautley River, and the Cheslatta River.

Paddling: The Nechako River in the Lakes Forest District once boasted one of the strongest salmon runs in British Columbia. Since the building of the Kenney Dam, stocks in the Nechako have been in decline, in part due to an insufficient and inconsistent amount of water released annually from the dam into the river. That being said, the Nechako Reservoir is still a popular place to fish. A freshwater fishing licence can be obtained at Burns Lake.

The Nechako River is paddleable well above its confluence with the Stuart River. From the Cheslatta River Forest Service Site (about 68 miles/110 km south of Vanderhoof and Hwy 16 via the Holy-Cross Forest Road) to the mouth of the Stuart is about 87 miles (140 km), the first mile (1.6 km) of which is on foot to the base of Cheslatta Falls. Most of the river is Class II, with some rapids. Expect to take five days to reach the Stuart River, and another day to reach Prince George, 30 miles (50 km) beyond.

Donít have a time for a weeklong trip? You donít have to do the entire route, you know. For detailed maps of these routes, contact the Vanderhoof Forest Service District, (250) 567-6363, and the Forest Serviceís Prince George Regional Office, (250) 565-6100.

In 1952, Alcan Aluminum built the Kenney Dam on the Nechako River, creating the Nechako Reservoir, a series of interconnected lakes that runs nearly 125 miles (200 km) east/west in two broad arms that connect near the dam at the easternmost end of the reservoir.

The Nechako Canyon Protected Area includes the 7-km-long Grand Canyon of the Nechako. The canyon was created by the raging Nechako River cutting through volcanic rock, but is now a dry riverbed since the construction of the Kenny Dam diverted the water to the Pacific Coast. This impressive gorge with sheer rock walls, towering pinnacles, and overhanging cliffs is now considered a special feature, providing a rare opportunity to observe these erosional features.

Canoeing or kayaking the Nechako Reservoir is not recommended, as the area was not logged out before it was flooded. Still, people do it, and no wonder. This is one of the longest circuit routes in the province, with only two portages (or one, if you travel counterclockwise and are comfortable shooting Class III). Prominent are the ghostly stands of trees, rising silent from the water, a legacy of the 165-foot (50-m) climb in water levels when the dam was built. Redfern Rapids (which can be navigated safely by powerboat) is one of the highlights of the trip, as are the glaciers at Eutsukís western shoreline. With the deep green of the surrounding foliage, the white snow, and the blue sky, the reservoir is a photographerís dream.

The landscape surrounding the eastern section of the reservoir, particularly the stretch between the settlement of Ootsa Lake and Redfern Rapids, consists of the rolling, heavily forested slopes of the Fraser Plateau, but the western half features vast glacial expanses of Coast Mountains, for which Tweedsmuir Provincial Park is renowned.

The best time of the year to visit the Nechako Reservoir is in late summer, once water levels and insects have declined. Early autumn is a particularly beautiful season, when leaves turn the Fraser Plateau pure gold.

Nearest Towns: Fraser Lake, Fort Fraser, Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Prince George, Yellowhead Highway 16,

Nearest Lake: Fraser Lake

Nearest Parks:
Nechako Canyon Protected Area
Stuart River Provincial Park
Beaumont Provincial Park
Eskers Provincial Park

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