08/02/2015 09:24 EDT | Updated 08/02/2016 05:59 EDT

Where to Go Whitewater Rafting Right Outside Vancouver

Jerry Bowley/Flickr
A short hike along the Widowmaker Trail in Kananaskis. The first of a few rafts we saw.

Hot weekends call for escaping, and we know just the place. Not 45 minutes from downtown Vancouver, Brackendale's Sunwolf cabins dot five cool, grassy acres of serene, riverside land. Cabins are unique, having been carefully restored by husband-wife proprietors Jess and Jake, who live on the grounds with their toddler, Flynn, and have executed an admirable example of Japanese Shou Sugi Ban wood burning on the main cabin's exterior sliding (the building itself dates back to the turn of the century. Imagine Brackendale then!). Sleep close enough to hear the river churn and awake with a cool breeze blowing through your cozy cabin's screened window. Head over to Fergie's Cafe for the best breakfast in the Sea to Sky strip (we had a bowl stuffed with yams, avocado, beans, house-made sausage and eggs laid right down the street), taken under the site's massive, shady-canopied black walnut tree.

Then, hop aboard the Sunwolf bus for the real adventure. Sunwolf offers $169 white water rafting expeditions that roll you down the rollicking Elaho river, which, if you have not tried, should go straight onto your summer bucket list. Not only is the scenery beautiful, but the adrenaline-spiking rapids make for an exciting afternoon, and the cool glacier sprays are refreshing and welcome. As is a mini cliff dive opportunity, when guests can scramble up a little rock face to plunge off into the invigorating milky turquoise water below. Midway, stop at a sandy, alder-studded bank where your guides will whip you up a a lunch of smoked potato salad, greens, barbecued salmon, and super fudgey brownies for dessert, before you float back like a contented little butterfly (who happens to enjoy rapids).


But no summer jaunt up the Sea to Sky is complete without a trip up the new Squamish Chief Gondola, which suspends you over treetops and up into the cool mountain air. The top sees beautifully appointed lookouts and trails, which can either act as a starting point for some ambitious, high altitude hikes, or be the perfect spot to watch the sunset and nip at wild blueberry shrubs. (If so inclined, patio beers are definitely available). Head back into city before the workweek thinking that easy weekend away was just what you needed. --Adrienne Matei


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