Bowron Lakes Circuit

British Columbia Canada: (ZZ-Canoe-BC01)

British Columbia Canada

Bowron Lake Park, considered the quintessential lake canoeing experience in Canada, is a world renowned wildlife sanctuary - it is a rectangular chain of lakes and interconnecting rivers which forms this planet s most unique canoe circuit. Abundant wildlife and rich flora , set amidst a backdrop of azure lakes and high glaciated peaks, provide a truly inspirational setting for the canoeist, photographer and nature lover. Outside Magazine ranks this canoe trip as, “one of the top 10 canoe trips in the world.” Some of our canoe tours have been designed for special interest groups. Enjoy the trip of your choice. The canoe route through the ruggedly scenic Cariboo Mountains, is comprised of 6 major lakes and a series of connecting streams, rivers and portages. The portages are made easier through the use of specially designed carts which allow canoes and equipment to be wheeled between lakes.  Previous paddling experience is not necessary. Our guides will teach you the basic skills you need to enjoy one of the truly great wilderness adventures in British Columbia.
We compliment our canoeing with some short hikes to view the Isaac River cascades and the impressive Cariboo Falls.
Besides its natural beauty, the Bowron Lakes are a wildlife sanctuary. Paddlers may see beavers, bears, otters, and moose feeding by the waterways. The Bowron River estuary is a birdwatcher s paradise with an immense variety of bird life, including coots, mergansers, widgeon, mallards and Canadian geese.
Campsites along the Bowron Lakes, set aside for our sole use, ensure the solitude so necessary for a meaningful wilderness experience. 


Bowron Park has granted us prime reserved campsites, eliminating the competitive "first come first serve" syndrome. This allows us to enjoy a more leisurely pace each day and the security of a private site each night. Canoes and double-occupancy tents are top-of-the line models for comfort and safety. You need bring only your personal gear. Sleeping bags, pads and backpacks are available for rent. Each day, we cook and provide you with wholesome, hot meals.
Snacks:  If you are in the habit of snacking, we suggest that you bring your favorite trail mix or snacks to eat between meals.

Accommodation before and after 
We base all our canoe tours out of the Wells Hotel in Wells, B.C. 
This Cariboo Heritage Country Inn has been completely renovated with a ‘Gold-Rush’ flavour.  It’s an integral part of your visit to Wells, Barkerville and the Bowron Lakes.  The day before the trip begins (Day 0, Hotel overnight before trip not included with package rate) , we meet with the whole group in the lounge of the Wells Hotel at 4:00 P.M.  After breakfast at the Wells Hotel, the trip officially begins at 8:30 a.m. on day 1, when we drive to the Bowron  Lakes. There is also the government Lowhee Campground, 3 km. out of Wells, on the way to Barkerville.




Day 0 (Overnight at Wells Hotel not included):  Arrival at the Wells Hotel in Wells BC.  Your guides will meet you in the sitting room of the Wells Hotel at 4:00 P.M.  At this time, your guides will introduce you to the group, answer any of your questions and help you with any last minute gear problems.  We suggest you arrive in Wells, early in the day, to see the local art galleries and visit the neighboring gold rush town of Barkerville. There is also an option for clients to participate in a day hike with a local guide on this day.

Day 1: After a 7:00 A.M. breakfast at the hotel, we officially start the trip.  We all drive to the start of the Bowron Lake circuit, register and begin the trip with a portage.  A 2.4 km. portage, over varied terrain, takes us to Kibbee Lake, where we dip our paddles for the first time and canoe a short distance to camp. The afternoon is for canoe instruction, exploration and relaxation. (3.4 km day)

Day 2:
We start the day with a 2.2 km portage to Indianpoint Lake and then paddle across the lake (1 1/2 hours).  We do a 2.0 km portage to Isaac Lake, where we have lunch.  We then paddle to our campsite where we have a superb view of Wolverine Mountain.  We often hear our first owls here.
(18.2 km day & approx. 3 1/2 hours paddling)

Days 3&4: Majestic mountains, waterfalls and snow avalanche areas guide us down Isaac Lake to the ‘chute’.  An exciting afternoon of introductory grade 1 moving water ends day 4. (15 &  16.2 km days & approx. 4 1/2 hours paddling each day)

Day 5&6:
These two days take us down the grade 1 Cariboo River, through Lanezi Lake, the lake with the highest peaks in the park, and into Unna Lake.  The scenery is magnificent and varied.  Unna and Rum Lakes, in contrast to the larger lakes, are intimate and home to moose and loons.  We take a short hike to the spectacular, 24 meter (80 ft.), Cariboo Falls.  As we sit around the campfire, we hear the haunting call of the loon and search the shores for wildlife.
( 13.2 & 16.8 km days- approx. 3 hours & 4 1/2 hours paddling )

Day 7: Today is a long day but the prospect of sighting wildlife along the way makes it all worthwhile.  We have a 1.6 km portage and 2-100 yard portages and then it is all downhill paddling to our last campsite at the scenic Bowron River.  As we celebrate our last evening on the lakes, we keep a watchful eye on the Bowron River and the surrounding marshes where birdlife abounds and where we regularly spot moose with their young and the always busy beaver hard at work. ( 18.8   km. day-  approx. 5 hours paddling )

Day 8:
At sunrise, we paddle leisurely down the river, watching beaver building and repairing their lodges and witnessing the marsh awakening.  We cross Bowron Lake and beach our canoes at Bear River Mercantile, where we enjoy a complimentary celebration breakfast.  It is the perfect time to relive the highlights of the trip, exchange addresses and say good-bye to our new friends and tripping partners, before we head for home.
( 6 km. day- approx. 2 1/2 hours paddling )

Our 8-day tours are designed for adults of all ages, including active seniors.  Children capable of making the trip (generally 14 years and older) are welcome.  You will be accompanied by professional, certified canoe guides who are always willing to help you learn or improve your paddling skills and who are dedicated to making your trip safe and enjoyable   Life jackets are mandatory and all participants will be required to wear them while in canoes.
The journey consists of 106 km of paddling and 10 km of portaging.  On the portages, some uphill, you will carry your pack, put your share of the group gear in the canoe and pull the canoe on 2-wheeled carriers.  Although the portages are hard work, we take frequent rest stops and set a pace which is comfortable for all participants. Good health, reasonable fitness and a positive attitude towards the possible inconveniences of inclement weather and wilderness travel are the main components of your self-evaluation.  Even though no previous canoeing experience is required, we do encourage you to grasp the basic canoe strokes before the trip by taking a flat water canoe course with a local canoe club or association, or by referring to reference books and videos such as those produced by Bill Mason.  This will give you some confidence and enable you to take greater advantage of the leaders’ instructions. 

Map Legend
1.  Bear R. Mercantile
2.  Park Registration
3.  Thompson Lake
4.  Kibbee Lake
5.  1st night campsite
6.  Indianpoint Lake
7.  2nd night campsite
8.  Wolverine Mountain
9.  Isaac Lake
10. Betty Wendle Creek
11. 3rd night campsite
12. 4th night campsite
13. Isaac R. & The Chute
14. Trail to Isaac Falls
15. McLeary Lake
16. Cariboo River
17. 5th night campsite
18. Lanezi Lake
19. Sandy Lake
20. 6th night campsite

21. Unna Lake
22. Cariboo Falls
23. Babcock Lake
24. Skoi Lake
25. Spectacle Lake
26. 7th night campsite
27. Bowron River & marsh
28. Bowron Lake

Rates and Dates for Bowron Lakes Circuit

Rates include:

Professional guides, canoe instruction. Canoes, paddles, life jackets and tents. Park fees, prime private campsites. All meals and group camping gear. Celebration breakfast on day 8 at Bear River Mercantile

Packages and Options

  • SeasonYearDescriptionCan$ ~US$
    20238 day trip, AP CampingCan$2460$1895
The US Dollar Rate is Based on Exchange Rate of 0.77
Minimum Deposit: ~$400.00 per person

GST (VAT): 6% (12% for Canadian Resident) * prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy
    GST (VAT) 6% (12% for Canadian Resident)

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2023 06/11 - 06/18 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP Camping 6 /12 Reserve
A 2023 07/02 - 07/09 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP Camping 6 /12 Reserve
A 2023 07/12 - 07/19 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP Camping 6 /12 Reserve
A 2023 08/06 - 08/13 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP Camping 6 /12 Reserve
A 2023 08/16 - 08/23 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP Camping 6 /12 Reserve
A 2023 09/03 - 09/10 8d / 7n 8 day trip, AP Camping 6 /12 Reserve

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Sleeping bag, ground mat, Meals and accommodation in Wells; Transportation from Quesnel to Wells (for those flying or busing to Quesnel)

Other Info
Meeting: Wells, BC
Airport: Quesnel
Transfer: Quesnel

Climate: WEATHER: 
Bowron Lake Park is up against the Cariboo Mountains and, thus, weather is varied.  Paddlers must be well-prepared to meet up with cold, wet weather as well as sunshine and warm temperatures.  Good RAIN GEAR (rubber is suggested) and rubber boots or water shoes are essential. VERY IMPORTANT! Refer to the clothing list.

What To Bring:

The following is a list of the clothing and equipment you will need for your expedition.  It is of the utmost importance that you follow this list accurately for your own comfort, well-being and effectiveness in the group. The proper preparation is a vital factor in the expedition’s success.


When selecting your clothing, keep in mind the following principals about staying warm and dry:.

LAYERING:  It is very effective to wear layers of clothing to stay warm, as the air trapped between the layers, acts as an insulator.  Layering also allows you to regulate your body heat by adjusting the number of layers depending on the temperature and your activity level.  There are three main layers:  ‘Transfer’ which is the layer next to your skin; ‘Insulating’ which is the main warmth layer(s); and ‘Protective’ which is the outer layer that protects you from wind, rain and other elements.

KEEPING DRY:  Wetness increases the loss of body heat and is uncomfortable, so it’s important to stay as dry as possible.  Some clothing is hydrophobic and, therefore, stays dry (i.e. synthetics such as polypropylene, polyester and capilene and natural fibers such as wool and silk).  Cloths made of these materials make great expedition clothing.  Be careful of other materials( e.g. cotton and down) because they are absorbent and stay wet.  Also, avoid overdressing as it can cause excessive perspiration and, therefore, wetness.
Some of the clothing terminology may be unfamiliar to you so here is a short glossary:

Polypropylene:-A lightweight, synthetic fabric that transfers moisture away from your skin.

Capilene:-Another polyester material similar to polypropylene, manufactured by Patagonia.

Pile:-A polyester fabric that is lightweight and soft.  It is warmer, per pound, than wool, insulates even when wet and dries quickly.  It is also referred to as fleece, Polarplus and Synchilla.

Gore-Tex:- A laminated fabric manufactured to be both waterproof and breathable.  It is a very good fabric for foul weather protective gear such as rain jackets and pants- although prolonged exposure to salt water, smoke or dirt may reduce its effectiveness.  Also, in heavy downpours, it may not be 100% waterproof.

…  this list is only a guideline for you


Travel documents and Voucher
Flight tickets
Visa (check with your consulate)


1 pair  running shoes, walking or light hiking boots
1 pair of water sandals (e.g Teva) or second pair of running shoes
1 pair rubber boots or water footwear - a must (for loading canoes in water)
4 pairs of wool socks
Sun Hat or Wool Hat
Sunglasses with attached safety string - important of glare off water
1 pair of wool or pile gloves or mittens (worn on bad weather days)
2 pairs of pants-wool blend, pile or quick dry cotton (no blue jeans)
1 pair of shorts, long johns
1 pair waterproof rain pants


Camping Gear
Sleeping Bag (COMPACT 3-season sleeping bag. Synthetic bags (e.g. Polarguar Hollofil  or Quallofil ) are preferable)
Backpack (hip belt or river bag with straps - for carrying on portages.)


Personal Toiletries
Moisturizing Cream
Insect protection
Personal medications
Sore cream (for the emergency)
Sewing kit
Camera and enough extra films and batteries
Sun glasses with strap
Sun tan lotion and lip balm 
Flashlight, extra Batteries


 Tents: We will supply 2-man tents for the clients. However, if you would prefer to use your own personal tent, you are welcome to do so as long as it is a good one. You should let us know if you plan to bring your own tent and if you would be prepared to share it with someone else.

Optional Gear: 1 pair of field glasses for wildlife, 1 camera and film, 1 collapsible fishing rod, reading material

Please leave behind cosmetics: strong scented deodorants, perfumes and anything else with a strong scent. They attract bears. NEVER TAKE FOOD OR ANYTHING WITH AN ODOR INTO YOUR TENT.