Headwaters - Mount Robson Provincial Park
The mighty Fraser River begins near Mount Robson in the Rocky Mountains as a fast stream of clear, mountain water. As it moves through the province, it picks up more and more water as streams, creeks and rivers empty into the Fraser. The Fraser River watershed acts like a large sink and the Fraser River functions as the drain. In fact, one quarter of all the streams, creeks and rivers in BC drain into the Fraser!
Upper Fraser - Prince George to Quesnel
Leaving the mountains for rolling hills and flatlands, the river enters the Upper Basin. Lush, green forests of evergreen trees line the banks of the Fraser. The water has started to change to a brown colour as the strengthening river picks up sediment – dirt, sand, soil and other debris.
Middle Fraser - Quesnel to Williams Lake
This area is also known as the drylands. The Middle Fraser is quite flat, with the Coast and Rocky Mountain ranges far on either side. The mountains push any clouds heading towards the region high into the sky, where they drop all of their moisture before reaching the Middle Fraser. Once those clouds move into the area, they no longer have any rain, creating semi-arid desert.
Fraser Canyon - Williams Lake to Hope
The Fraser Canyon is one of the most famous places along the river. In particular, Hell’s Gate, so named by Simon Fraser, is famous for its white-water rafting and fish ladders, built to help the salmon get upstream to spawn. The Canyon is formed as the Coast and Rocky mountain ranges come together, squishing the Fraser between them and forcing all the water to go through the narrow passageway.
Lower Fraser - Hope to Vancouver
The Lower Fraser is an estuary, which is where the freshwater of a river mixes with the salt water from the ocean. In the Lower Fraser, the mountains no longer constrain the river and so the water begins to spread out and slow down. As it does, it begins to drop the tonnes of sediment it has been carrying. Each year the Fraser deposits 20 million tonnes of sediment into the Pacific Ocean. Over thousands of years, this sediment has built up to form the landscape we are now familiar with.

Photos courtesy of Rick Blacklaws