Blue River, located between Kamloops and Jasper and nestled in the Cariboo and Monashee mountains, has long been known as the Jewel of the Yellowhead, and for good reason. This town is famous for its prime outdoor adventure territory, and it certainly will not disappoint snowmobilers in the mood for exploration. The wide variety of terrain and trails, easily accessible and right close to town, is cherished among local sledders.
Salmon and Groundhog
“My favourite place to ride generally is probably the Salmon riding area,” said Russell Critchlow, lead guide and owner of River Safari, a popular guided river tour business in Blue River. “It’s so big and vast, you can go back so many times and ride completely different country every time. That’s probably the biggest thing—just the size and the vastness and the variety of the terrain. Literally everything you can imagine, you can go back every single day of the week and each time get a different kind of valley or terrain.”
The Salmon riding area is located approximately 15 kilometres south of Blue River and includes a large parking area at the start, as well as a groomed access trail. If you’re in the mood for a shorter ride, you can also check out Groundhog, a slightly smaller riding area that you can find about halfway into Salmon.
“Something unique about Groundhog is that it’s a special open area inside of the caribou closure,” said Critchlow. “It’s a traditional riding area, and because we’ve taken care of it for so many years we’ve gotten to maintain the core riding area, while closing the riding area all around.”
Local riders are protective about this riding area in particular, and in order to keep it open for sledding they do their best to ensure that all visitors follow the proper guidelines.
“We ask anyone who rides there to be really careful and respectful about staying inside the boundaries,” said Critchlow.
Big Blue and the Holy Grail
No, not a Monty Python movie, but two trails that are certainly just as memorable.
Critchlow noted that the the trail he and other local riders call the Holy Grail is another one of his favourite Blue River rides.
“I love it because it’s challenging to get to and when you get there, it’s literally like… I would have to say God was a snowmobiler and he carved out a terrain park for us,” said Critchlow. “It’s absolutely beautiful out there.”
Though this trail might not have as much variety or as many trees as sledders might find at Salmon, the view and open beauty make up for it tenfold. On a day when the weather isn’t cooperating, head back down through the tree-covered trail and you can still get in a fantastic day of riding.
“Another thing I love about the Holy Grail is that it’s right next to Big Blue, and when you get there on a no-cloud day, you can explore both areas in the same day,” said Critchlow. “You can’t see all of the trails in one day, but you can go to all different places, and all of them are just unbelievable and spectacular.”