Lytton is a village of about 250 people (2016) in the Fraser Canyon in the Thompson-Nicola region of British Columbia. Another 1,700 people live in the immediate area in rural areas and on reserves of the neighbouring six Nlaka'pamux communities. It overlooks the convergence of two of British Columbia's largest rivers -- the Thompson and the Fraser -- and is a centre for white-water rafting.
The community includes the Village of Lytton and the surrounding community of the Lytton First Nation, whose name for the place is Camchin, also spelled Kumsheen ("river meeting").
The single main employer in the Village was part of the forestry industry and was forced to close in 2007.
Tourism is of ever increasing importance as Lytton is the self-proclaimed "River Rafting Capital of Canada".
The area has been inhabited by the Nlaka'pamux (formerly the Thompson Salish) people for over 10,000 years. It is one of the earliest locations settled by non-natives in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. It was founded during the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush of 1858–59, when it was known as "The Forks".
Lytton was on the route of the Gold Rush in 1858. The same year, Lytton was named for Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the British Colonial Secretary and a novelist. For many years Lytton was a stop on major transportation routes, namely, the River Trail from 1858, Cariboo Wagon Road in 1862, the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s, the Cariboo Highway in the 1920s, and the Trans Canada Highway in the 1950s. However, it has become much less important since the construction of the Coquihalla Highway in 1987 which uses a more direct route to the British Columbia Interior.
During summer heat waves, Lytton is often the hottest spot in Canada, despite being north of 50° in latitude. Due to the dry summer air and a relatively low elevation of 230 m (750 ft), summer afternoon shade temperatures sometimes reach 35 °C (95 °F) and up and occasionally top 40 °C (104 °F). Hot summer temperatures are made more tolerable by low humidity. However, the heat can be intense with usually clear blue skies and blazing sunlight – heat also radiates from the valley's slopes, and forest fires are not uncommon during the summer.
Lytton's climate is also characterized by relatively short and mild winters (although December and January average monthly temperatures are just below freezing), with Pacific maritime influence during the winter ensuring thick cloud cover much of the time. Cold snaps originating from Arctic outflow occur from time to time, but tend to be short-lived, and mountains to the north block extreme cold from penetrating the Fraser Canyon.
Lytton is much drier than communities to the south, but certainly wetter than some of the driest spots in the British Columbia interior such as Spences Bridge, Kamloops, and Osoyoos. However, Lytton has the driest summers in the interior of British Columbia, and indeed, one of the driest summers of all places in Canada. Maximum precipitation occurs in the cooler months, with the late autumn and early winter constituting the wettest time of the year.
Althpugh railways pass through Lytton, Via Rail's closest train stops are Ashcroft, 80 km to the north, and North Bend/Boston Bar, 44 km to the south.
The Lytton Ferry, a free reaction ferry, crosses the Fraser River at Lytton. On the river's west side are Indian reserve communities of the Lytton First Nation and the Stein Valley Nlaka'pamux Heritage Park via trails from the confluence of the Stein River with the Fraser. From the ferry, a route known as the West Side Road leads through the Nesikep and Texas Creek areas to Lillooet and British Columbia Highway 99; the route south from the ferry is much more difficult but leads to North Bend-Boston Bar. When the ferry is out of service due to ice or low water levels on the Fraser River, pedestrian access is available via a walkway on the Canadian National Railway bridge crossing the river.
- 1 Skihist Provincial Park (Highway 1 - 6km North of Lytton), ☏ (May to September). A convenient overnight camping spot for travellers on Highway #1, this is also a popular base camp for visitors enjoying river rafting, fishing, and exploring the Thompson River area. Awe-inspiring views of the Thompson Canyon and quiet strolls on the old Cariboo Wagon Road bring to mind the difficulties encountered by early travellers traversing the western mountain ranges. An introduced herd of elk thrives nearby. Arrangements for guided river rafting trips may be made in Lytton or Spences Bridge.
- 2 Skihist Mountain. Skihist Mountain is the highest mountain in the Cantilever Range and in southwestern British Columbia.
The village stakes claim to the title of Rafting Capital of Canada, and with three rivers nearby, it offers many white water options. The biggest of the companies operating from Lytton is Kumsheen Rafting Resort. Hyak is very close behind and Fraser River and Reo Rafting are the smaller rafting companies.
- Hyak River Rafting, 176 Trans Canada Hwy, Lytton, B.C., toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. White-water rafting down the Thompson River, and absolutely insane parties if you want to camp with them.
- Kumsheen Rafting Resort, 1345 Hwy 1, ☏ , toll-free: , ✉ email@example.com. River rafting & tubing, tours, outdoor activities, boat tours & water sports. Accommodation options: Anishinabe-style teepees, canvas cabins, RV sites, and tent sites.
- 1 Hell's Gate Airtram, 43111 Trans Canada Hwy, Boston Bar (48 km south of Lytton), ☏ . Mid-Apr to May 31 and mid-Sep to early Oct: daily 10AM–4PM; Jun to early Sep: daily 10AM–5PM. Gondola ride over the white water of the Fraser Canyon. It has a gift shop, cafe, fisheries exhibit and other small activities. Adult $24, seniors (65+) and students (19+) $22, youth (6-18) $18, children 5 and under free.
- Lyl'Towne Deli & Sandwich Shop, 437 Main Street, ☏ . Daily 6AM-6PM. Diner.
- Jade Springs Restaurant, Trans Canada Highway, ☏ . Chinese.
- Kanaka Inn Restaurant, Trans-Canada Highway, ☏ .
- Totem Motel, 320 Fraser St, ☏ . 12 cottage-style units; some have kitchens and family suites. From $75 single, $85 double + $10 for a kitchen.
- Rest Inn Lytton, 223 Main St. From $75.
- A provincial campsite, Skihist Provincial Park, is adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway six kilometres north of the Village, with space for tenting as well as RVs and enjoys one of the few views available of Skihist Mountain, the highest summit of the Lillooet Ranges, across the Fraser to the west of Lytton.
- The Jade Springs Restaurant, also east of the Village on the Trans-Canada, offers a full service campground.
- Hells Gate Airtram, 43111 Trans Canada Hwy, Boston Bar (48 km south of Lytton), ☏ . Open daily April to mid-Oct, 10AM-4PM (open until 5PM from mid-May to early Sept). Gondola ride over the white water of the Fraser Canyon. It has a gift shop, cafe, fisheries exhibit and other small activities. $11/$17 (youth/adult).
|Routes through Lytton|
|Vancouver ← Hope ←||W E||→ Cache Creek → Kamloops / Prince George via|
|END ← Lillooet ←||N S||→ END|