This is a great low volume river in an excellent spot and is certainly worth a trip, if not a stop on the way to another western slope river. The crux of the paddle is the first 500 metres below Numa Falls. Numa Falls can be run, apparently (according to Stuart Smith) goes at V to V+., if you’re up to it this might be a good start to this run. At the put in the canyon is tight and the water pushes over a number of ledges before spitting out in a wider, tree lined, valley. The largest feature is a river wide v shaped ledge about 400 metres from the put in, this might go at III during high flows, probably II+ at lower flows. There isn’t any great way to scope the canyon section so if there is a lot of wood, or your tentative to run the canyon section I probably would try and find an alternative entrance (probably about 500m further down the access trail). After the canyon section, the river widens out and meanders through a scenic valley, occasionally entering areas of wide gravel flats. These sections are prone to collect wood, so keep an eye open. There are a couple of small, partial river wide, ledges and some bigger waves in these sections however most things could be avoided if necessary. After Floe creek enters the Vermilion, the river tightens up enters a smaller canyon again. In this section there may be some ledges during low water, however at higher flows big waves are the only challenge. Apparently a lower levels there may be some substantial undercut ledges so be aware. At the end of the canyon is the take out bridge, pull out on river right or carry on downstream. Stuart Smith's white water book has an excellent discription of this run if you can get your hands on a copy!
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The symbols can be clicked on and provide some simple explanations of why they are there. You can also use the symbols to get directions from Google Maps to the put in/takeout. A handy thing!
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The take out is at the Floe Creek Parking lot along Hwy 93 from Radium (72km) to castle Junction (34km) . From the parking lot take the Rock-wall trail about 500 metres to where the trail crosses the Vermilion River. Alternatively you can park 200 metres south of the parking lot on Hwy 93, leaving a shorter, less defined and steeper exit from the river. A longer paddle can be done by parking at Vermilion Crossing.
From the take out drive North on Hwy 93, 8.2km to the Numa Falls parking lot. From the parking lot, hike the trail across the Vermilion River (scope out the canyon while you are on the bridge) then take an immediate left and down an established trail for about 100 metres. At this point there will be a well defined trail heading towards the edge of the canyon, lower your boat to the river from the upper ledge, then walk around a tree and down a sloping ledge to the river. At higher waters dont expect to have much room to get into your boat.
Low volume river with great scenery
There isn’t a gauge on the Vermilion River, however there is a gauge on the Kootenay River at Kootenay Crossing (about 20 river kms downstream). When we paddled the river it was flowing at just over 20 cm/s which would be high. This was a pretty fun level, I suspect that the river would be run-able at half of this flow, however there may be some challenges paddling where the river braids. This river is mostly fed by snow run-off, so spring and early summer is probably the best time to paddle.
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