Nature Healing in the Harrison River Valley, British Columbia

This autumn, I headed off to Harrison River Valley on assignment for explore with the intention to breathe in the wild, as Tourism Harrison’s mantra proposes.

As a digital nomad who is now based primarily in South Africa, I’ve spent most of my recent years chasing summers and running from rain—but it has only made me appreciate Canada’s changing seasons more. Fall in the Fraser Valley to me epitomizes self-care: coziness, fuzzy socks, scented candles, warm sweaters, baths, tea and cuddles with the pup. It’s a time to decompress after the flurried activity of summer, recharge and align as we head into the home stretch of the year.

deep soaking tubKellie Paxian

Harrison has a natural setting that inspires and soothes: the ancient forest, deep emerald lake and river and mountains overlooking the valley create a special kind of hush. This type of tranquility is best felt and experienced in a shoulder season like fall. It’s a place and time that is rooted in nature, not tainted by skyscrapers or street traffic. Arriving in Harrison, I felt immediately at peace.

For me, healing experiences stem from nature, and Harrison has an abundance of activities to enjoy outside.

forest bathingKellie Paxian

I spent a magical morning indulging in a new experience, forest bathing, led by the lovely Kim of Ya Doma Nature and Forest Therapy. I am accustomed to the practice of nature therapy, but my healing typically comes from hikes or journeys with a destination—what I loved about this forest therapy was how present I felt. I wasn’t rushing to a viewpoint or finish line; in fact, I had no idea where I was but just allowed Kim to lead the way as I followed barefoot along the path, feeling the earth’s connection to my body and soul. We engaged in four invitations: pleasures of presence (a guided meditation through the senses), what’s in motion (a slow and mindful walk), befriending a tree and a tea ceremony, and by the end, I was so filled with peace and gratitude I truly couldn’t imagine a better way to connect with nature.

forest bathing outside cozyKellie Paxian

An afternoon of kayaking with Harrison Eco Tours took me to the Harrison River, which glowed with a deep emerald colour I didn’t know existed. It was truly beautiful gliding through the water, chatting and observing the forested shorelines. We even saw three harbour seals popping their heads up to say hello.

kayaking the riverKellie Paxian

For those looking to explore the unknown, buckle up for a wild ride with Harrison Lake Nature Adventure on their Sasquatch Tour, where you’ll head deep into Sasquatch Provincial Park as you hear stories about sightings in the area. The word Sasquatch is thought to be a mispronunciation of the local Sts’ailes First Nations word ‘Sasq’ets’, meaning ‘hairy man’. The Sts’ailes believe the Sasquatch is a spiritual being that can vanish into the spirit realm at will, but you never know, you may be one of the lucky ones that spot him so keep your eyes open…

I was lucky enough to stay in The Lodge on Harrison Lake. I was blown away upon checking into the Carriage House, mostly because of the standalone bathtub with a view of the lake, which is the true definition of self-care. The two-storey cabin features two bedrooms downstairs and a full kitchen, a murphy bed and a cozy couch upstairs, and when I say I had to drag myself out of there for check-out in the morning, I mean it. The uninterrupted views of the lake are unbelievable, there is nothing to disturb the peace, and the beautiful grounds with a barrel sauna, private beach, campfire pits and private boat dock could keep the whole family entertained no matter how long the stay.

the lodgeKellie Paxian

Drive 20 minutes outside of the town (a stunningly scenic drive, might I add) to Sandpiper Resort, where you can stay in the 1920s colonial-themed Rowena’s Inn on the River or one of the classic rustic cabins that have endearing names, like my second-night accommodation called Phyllis who offered views of the pond, surrounding golf course, river and mountains, while keeping me warm and cozy on a blustery evening. The cabins are equipped with everything you need, from the kitchen to a wood-burning fireplace to a king-sized bed to a deep soaker jacuzzi tub.

soaking tubKellie Paxian

Harrison is also full of quaint local gems to grab a bite.

Morgan’s Bistro had me drooling (too much?) over the entire menu, and if I could dedicate this entire article to that bread I would. Soft, doughy, dense, with salted seasoning on top, baked fresh every day, my fellow bread-lovers better rush there immediately. Each of the farm-to-table dishes is made with care and best enjoyed with a glass of wine on the leafy oasis of a patio overlooking the lake.

Morgan's Bistro patioKellie Paxian

Muddy Waters Cafe is a perfect spot to stop for breakfast, with fresh breakfast options and the perfect cup of coffee to start your day. Enjoy Greek cuisine at Milos Greek Taverna, grab a delectable treat from Rocky Mountain Chocolate, and stroll the town for other local eats that will fuel your adventures and your self-care in every way you need. During my stay at Sandpiper, I enjoyed dinner and breakfast (eggs benny for the win) at the River’s Edge Clubhouse Restaurant overlooking the golf course and river, with eagles soaring overhead.

kayakingKellie Paxian

Spend the rest of your time browsing through the quaint village, strolling along the picturesque lake or enjoying the signature hot springs for the healing effects of the mineral and sulphur waters. You are guaranteed to leave Harrison feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

Note: The author was hosted for this trip. Her opinions are her own.