Nation Lakes Canoe Route. 5-8 days. FW+easy river. Upper BC.

Nation Lakes Canoe Route

Full blog with pictures and video:
The Nation Lakes Canoe Route (110km) is a one-way canoe route through four large lakes and three short rivers north of Prince George, B.C. (some 1000km north of Vancouver). This is a beautiful route in an area that receives few visitors (about 20-30 parties in July/August). The solitude is incredible. We saw only one other party during our 7-day trip and we saw no people for a 3-day segment. The camps are lovely, the lakes substantial but not too big, and there is good scenery, too. The logistics are more expensive because there is a 4-5 hour shuttle that needs to be arranged, but that helps keep the traffic down.

We rented canoes at $140 per week from Doug and Dolores French who run Nation Lakes Canoeing Camp during the summer. They shuttled us in their truck ($500 for the shuttle). They will also shuttle you in your car for $175. Why the difference in price? Wait till you see what the roads are like! The roads are fine for 2-wheel drive, but expect your car to take a beating and make sure your spare and jack are in good order.

You can download a basic map from and Doug gave us a more detailed map. I also downloaded the detailed map on the BC Parks website: BC Parks Map

This trip involves three river sections. Note we did this in late August during low water.   BRING A HAND SAW!
Tsayta-Indata (6.5km): This section was very tedious. Water was low, there are snags everywhere and the river is very twisty. We had to use a lot of river-technique to paddle most of this. We had to teach the girls how to do a strong river draw to be able to paddle the twists and avoid the sweepers. We could have lined the boats. The water was shallow and the river narrow. But that seemed both slow and boring, so we paddled as much as we could. There were 3 big log jams that we had to portage around. The jams were a hindrance not a hazard as the current was a trickle (when we did it).  It took us 4 hours to do this 6.5km section. A hand saw would have been handy for the first section. Ug.
Indata-Tchentlo (4.8km): This section was fine. It was wider, there was more water, and it was straighter. There were just two or three parts where we needed to use river techniques. At the end, there was one log-jam, but we were able to slide the boats over the one log that blocked out way. We took this jam on the right. The current was slow so there was no danger of going under the jam.  This section took us two hours.
Tchentlo-Chuchi (5km): The section was easy. Wide and straight. We zipped right through this in 1 1/2 hours.

We stayed at the recreation camps because it works better with kids to have a bigger area for them to explore and to have a privy. The recreation camps had tables, fire rings, privies, and sometimes "bear bars". The bear bars were logs put about 10 feet off the ground. I don't think they'd keep a bear away from your food, but they work for the smaller critters. All camps that we saw were placed where there was a nice sandy beach. The map on shows the locations of these camps that have big sandy beaches. There are other places to land too, but these are the better/bigger sites.


We saw signs of bears (tracks) only at one point (not a camp) near a big stream. Dolores said that people see black bears sometimes, but the bears are shy and there have never been problems.

My thoughts:
This was a really beautiful trip -- lovely large lakes, great views of the surrounding mountains, animals to see (from the boat), great camps with sandy beaches, and lots of solitude. I highly recommend the trip.


  1. Links for Doug Frnch and his shuttle service no long work...perhaps he's out of business now. Who does shuttles for this route? (12-11-2017) Did this route 15 years ago.

  2. Try the Chuchi Lake Lodge. They advertise the Nation Lakes Canoe Route and cater to Germans (who would need shuttles probably) so might be able to help you out.

  3. If you have $ to spare, you can fly in and out. Lake District Air advertises the Nation Lakes:

  4. And you might try calling the Nation Lakes Canoeing Camp (aka Doug & Delores French). Phn number here (it's a Prince George number I believe).