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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Towns: Fraser Lake,
Fort Fraser, Fort
St. James, Vanderhoof,
Prince George, Yellowhead
Lake: Fraser Lake
Nechako Canyon Protected Area
Stuart River Provincial Park
Beaumont Provincial Park
Eskers Provincial Park