Explore the Jewel of the Yellowhead

Folks have been calling Blue River the Jewel of the Yellowhead since long before roads marked it the midway point on the journey from Vancouver, BC to Edmonton, AB. With a history steeped in exploration – from Overlanders to railway barons, today Blue River is a cozy hamlet of around 280 people. Tucked into the northern reaches of the 328 km (204 mi) North Thompson Valley, where the landscapes morph from rolling ranch lands to the craggy, western slopes of the Rocky Mountains, Blue River sits by the shores of the Blue and North Thompson Rivers.

Blue River may be unassuming at first glance, but you need only get off the highway to discover some of our gems: sparkling glacier-fed lakes, breathtaking mountain peaks and intriguing wildlife are just some of the jewels in our crown. Discover our charms – Mike Wiegele’s Heli Ski Resort, River Safari Eco Tours, Murtle Lake, the largest canoe-only lake in North America and Eleanor Lake, the hub of family fun come summertime. You’ll realize, like travellers who’ve come before you, that there’s much more to Blue River and Avola than first meets the eye.

Explore our Mountains

Blanketed by a lush interior rainforest of cedar and spruce, the rugged and raw Monashee and Cariboo mountains surrounding Blue River and Avola just invite exploration, summer and winter. Even if you don’t have a lot of outdoor experience, guided excursions make our wilderness habitat accessible to most. For seasoned outdoor explorers, outfitters provide the local knowledge you need when backcountry hiking, skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling through our vast and dramatic mountain playground.

Pristine Wilderness – Murtle Lake & Wells Gray Provincial Park

Just at the point where velvet ranch lands give way to the Rocky Mountains, Blue River sits at the eastern gateway to the wilds of Wells Gray Provincial Park and Murtle Lake, the largest canoe-only lake in North America. Bounded by ancient lava beds, Wells Gray is 5,250 sq km (3,262 sq mi) of pure wilderness, borne from volcanoes and carved by glaciers; where your days are measured in vertical feet, and the number of strokes paddled. Point your boat north or west, exploring Murtle Lake the only way you can – by kayak or canoe. Experience the serenity of backcountry wilderness camping. Fall asleep in the shadow of fjord-like mountains on soft, sandy beaches. Hike the Wavy Range. Marvel that you can be on Murtle Lake for days and never see or hear another soul.

Wildlife Adventures – River Safari

Up-close wildlife encounters are well within your reach, just minutes from Blue River. Embark on a River Safari wilderness jet-boating tour, scouting out adventures that will leave you spellbound, breathless and hungry for more. Whether you sign-up for the River Safari or the Jeep Tour, simply relax and enjoy the ride, drifting in the current of Mud Lake, or riding through the alpine watching carefully for your own wildlife encounter.

Winter Adventures Skiing & Sledding

When moist, warm coastal air collides with the cold, dry northern climate of Blue River, it creates exceptional conditions for dry, powder snow, up to 10 m (32 ft) of the white stuff each year. Add two mountain ranges and 1.2 million acres of pristine wilderness – you’ve got ski conditions you cannot find anywhere else in the BC, making Blue River an internationally renowned destination for winter recreation.

Skiing

Make your mark. Break your own trail. Experience high alpine skiing in quiet solitude. Clip into your skis and slide through waist-deep powder so dry, it feels like you’re floating on air. Home of Mike Wiegele’s Heli Ski Resort, the original heli-ski experience, and Snowy Mountain Adventure Tours hut to hut ski expeditions, skiing in Blue River is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Snowmobiling

Feel the wind on your face as you race through the snow; skiing isn’t the only way to enjoy winter in Blue River. Experience the exhilaration of snowmobiling an entire mountain of powder on your own, or on a guided snowmobile safari. With more than 10 m (32 ft) of dry, powder snow each year, novice and expert sledders find plenty trails to explore here, a premier spot for snowmobiling in British Columbia.

All Trails Lead to Adventure

Take the path less travelled and discover a secret stash of trails just ripe for exploring on foot, by bike, snowmobile, or all-terrain vehicle. Simply step outside your door and into a mountain of adventure in Blue River.

Local Insights – the Blue River & Avola Top 25

  1. Explore Bear, moose, eagle and osprey habitat from the seat of a guided River Safari (Play/Tours)
  2. Hike alpine meadows (Play/Hiking), on a guided multi-day wilderness hike, exploring mountainside meadows and hidden lakes high in the alpine
  3. Paddle your kayak or canoe where there are no roads and just as few people at Murtle Lake (Play/Murtle Lake)
  4. Work on your tan, enjoy a picnic or a pleasure paddle, canoeing Eleanor Lake, (Play/Rivers & Lakes) the heart of Blue River
  5. Pack a picnic from the Rocky Mountain Deli or Janie’s General Store (Dining), then head to our lakes, angling for Rainbow and lake trout, Kokaknee, and Dolly Varden
  6. Combine geo caching (Play/Geo Caching) with other activities. Hiking, (Play/Hiking) driving, paddling (Play/Murtle Lake) – you just never know where caches are hidden
  7. Mountain bike (Play/Trails) the Green Mile and Chefs Mile, a 14 km (9 mi) loop of fast and flowing sections with 220m of vertical climbing
  8. ATV any of the trails (Play/Trails) on Groundhog Mountain – at 1,981 m (6,500 ft) elevation, this is easy riding, Blue River style
  9. Cheer on your favourite team at the annual Blue River Blues Slo-Pitch tournament (Play/Events) each August
  10. Amble the Red Sands Road or the Green Mile, picking blueberries, huckleberries, and mushrooms in season
  11. Savour dinner made over a campfire, beneath a star-filled sky
  12. Capture captivating images of your wildlife encounters (Play/Wildlife)…bears, moose, eagles, Great Blue Herons, and more, in our vast wilderness reserves
  13. Ski or snowboard (Play/Skiing) 1.2 m acres of backcountry bowls, high alpine glaciers and forested glades in the world’s best powder
  14. Put some thrills in your winter – sledding (Play/Snowmobiling) our legendary terrain
  15. Experience epic adventures heli- and CAT-skiing (Play/Skiing) with the group that pioneered the whole industry
  16. Channel your inner-adventurer, learning to backcountry ski with a customized backcountry ski tour (Play/Skiing)
  17. Embrace winter’s chill, cross-country skiing (Play/Skiing) Eleanor Lake and Blue River Pine Provincial Park
  18. Lace up your skates and go for a spin or play a pick-up game of shinny at the outdoor community skating rink
  19. Learn the critical skills needed to ski glaciated terrain at clinics provided by Snowy Mountain Alpine (Play/Skiing)
  20. Play follow-the-leader all the way to Pancake Creek for some free-styling sledding (Play/Snowmobiling)
  21. Ice-fish Eleanor Lake (Play/Rivers & Lakes) for lake trout, in the middle of winter at our annual Fishing Derby each February
  22. Hang out with other sledders at our local haunts (Dining) or the local Legion (business listings), reliving each day’s ride
  23. Make your mark, and break your own trail. Backcountry skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling is all about going where no one has gone before
  24. Try the “Mother of all Burgers” at the Log Inn Pub (Dining) in Avola
  25. Dance the night away with your favourite gal or guy at any of our six community dances (Play/Events), while helping fundraise for a worthy cause