A trip through the Fraser Canyon would not be complete without a stop at Hell’s Gate. In 1808, explorer Simon Fraser terrifyingly described this section of the river as: “A place where no human being should venture, for surely we have encountered the gate of hell.”
In addition to breathtaking gondola rides, Hell’s Gate provides an opportunity to learn about the ecosystem and history of the Fraser River. Hell’s Gate is evidence of man’s best and worst engineering feats. Blasting during the construction of the Canadian National Railway in 1913 resulted in a landslide that wiped out millions of spawning salmon. In 1937, joint cooperation between Canada and the U.S. led to the creation of the International Fishways.
The Fraser River’s entire flow of water from its 135,185 square kilometer watershed, rushes through the narrow gorge at 757 million litres per minute. At 40 km/h, twice the volume of Niagara Falls roars through during spring run-off.
At Hell’s Gate, Highway 1 passes 244 metres above the Fraser River and it’s here where your family’s adventure begins as you board the airtram.
The lower terminal features educational exhibits showcasing Simon Fraser, the Fraser River Gold Rush, and the life cycle of spawning salmon. There is also gold panning, observations decks and a suspension bridge.
For the 2013 season, a new exhibit called “Chinese Legacies – Building the Canadian Pacific Railway” will depict the life of Chinese labourers during the construction of the CP Railway in the 1880s and the lasting impact it had on their lives, as well as their contribution to Canadian national development.
Simon’s Café offers homemade salmon chowder prepared fresh every morning, while the Fudge Factory serves up 30 different flavours made on site. The shop has become famous for its fudge-dipped waffle cones.
Adding to all of these adrenaline-teasing experiences is the belief that the property is haunted. Information about these friendly spirits can be viewed throughout the site.
Hell’s Gate Airtram is a 35 minute drive east of Hope. Parking is free and pets are permitted. The attraction is open daily April 26 to October 14, 2013.