Glacier kayaking in the Cascade Mountains of British Columbia is a surreal experience. Most of us don’t put snow and kayaking together, but Nick Drader of Compass Heli Tours makes the connection. Nick has been a professional pilot for the forest industry —- seed collection and wildfire suppression —- for over 10 years, but he also wanted to show others the epic “Super Natural” backcountry of British Columbia the way most people never see it, so he created Compass Heli Tours.

In late spring, the glacial lakes start to thaw, creating aquamarine meltwater highways which are perfect for kayaking. Eventually the entire lake melts, yielding a pristine water playground for kayaking and paddleboarding with ice and snow surrounding you. The best time to go is June -— when the waters are that unmistakable glacial blue (they turn clear later in the season).

The tour includes a 60 minute round trip sightseeing flight over waterfalls and ever changing landscapes that most people never set eyes on, photos, 4-hours on site, all your gear, and a gourmet picnic lunch. The only way to visit is via helicopter. Compass Heli Tours runs this operation from June-September.

How to get there

Tours are available from June to September. The base price departs from their home base in Abbotsford, but they can also pick up from the Vancouver Heli-Port for an additional cost.

What to consider

  • A 4-person tour costs $5000 CAD and lasts 4 hours on site — gourmet lunch included.
  • Everything is provided for you.
  • The meltwater is only that vibrant blue in June.
  • Tours run from June to September.
  • You have to take a helicopter to access the kayaking.
  • Nick is your pilot and your guide on every tour, so the helicopter never leaves the site.
  • The governing principle of Compass Heli Tours is “small private group adventures in a sustainable, isolated wilderness only accessible by helicopter.”
  • He only offers one tour per day per location.