Big Bar Reaction Ferry

Day trip in 4x4 country to the legendary ferry crossing the Fraser River

GPS Coordinates are N51 11.032 W122 07.937.
Link on Google Maps

We didn't make it to the Big Bar Reaction Ferry 3 years ago, so this was very high on our to-do list. The Big Bar Reaction Ferry is a "Rare Beast", it uses the rivers current to move the ferry from one side to the other.

Big Bar Reaction Ferry on Fraser River

But that is not the hole story. The ferries location is not easily accessible. And since we try to combine our fascination for dirt roads and interesting places, the ferry is the perfect spot.

Road Sign all terrain vehicle We left the camp site in Whistler early to have the hole day. It is a 2 hour drive from Whistler to Lillooet, our start and end point for the trip. In Lillooet, we continued on Hwy 99 to Pavillion and turned onto the Pavillion-Clinton Road. This is a hard packed gravel road which leads to Kelly Lake in the Downing Provincial Park.
Kelly Lake

We took a break to go for a swim in the frigid cold water. Less than a kilometer after we took Jesmond Road to the ferry. Not packed gravel anymore, but more exciting as the big sign points out.

The road follows the Edge Hills Provincial Park and eventually joins the Fraser River valley. This is a 50 km stretch in mostly rugged country. We were passing through a few cattle farms along the way.

Road sign to ferry We reached the Big Bar Reaction Ferry. The ferry is free, it is part of the BC highway system.

After reading and hearing many cautionary stories about land slides and closed roads, we were not sure if there is a road back to Lillooet after we cross the Fraser River. The operator had no knowledge of closed roads, so we followed his advise.
There was however a massive rock slide about 1 kilometer up the Fraser that created a very turbulent and fast flowing passage. This happened early this summer and made it extremely difficult or impossible for salmon to head up the Fraser River. This story is all over the news. There are great efforts being made to get the salmon passed this obstacle. Buckets filled by hand with salmon are carried up by helicopter, about 1,500 per day. An estimate of 6,700 salmon made it up on their own. They are building a salmon ladder to get them moving up on their own for next year.

Jeep on the ferry

After crossing the Fraser, we passed some farms high above. The only way to get something growing here is to constantly water the fields. Some fields were a perfect circular shape as a result of the irrigation system.

Farms with irrigation Systems

Road along mountain side Switchbacks

Sand in Jeep The road was hugging the mountains with countless switchbacks. We lost count of the ups and downs, but every climb was well worth the view.

A long stretch of the drive was through fine sand. Plenty of it made it inside the Jeep.

Two deer
Grizzly SignThey taunted us with the promis to maybe see a grizzly, but the sign was as close as we got to them.
At least for now, we still have Bella Coola ahead of us.
Two black bears crossed a few meters in front of our Jeep, but these were very brief encounters. The road didn't encourage a high speed, so the bears were perfectly safe.
We did see cows in every shade of cow-colour, none of them fenced in. There were frequent cattle guards in the road to keep them contained.
We were puzzled by the fact that there are supposed to be grizzlies in the area and cows and calves roaming the mountains. Hmm, I guess the grizzlies prefer tourists.
Towards the evening, we saw the two deer. They posed for a picture but didn't bother to turn around to show their better side Smile
Cows on road

First published on August 30, 2019 Contact Us  Help