Lytton: A post-fire visitor's guide

What to see in Lytton in 2024

Visitors are welcome back in Lytton—and though the town has not yet been rebuilt, its surrounding still has 📷 Tyler Olsen; 2 Rivers Remix; Karamysh/Shutterstock; Kumsheen Rafting Resort/Facebook

This story first appeared in the June 26, 2024, edition of the Fraser Valley Current newsletter. Subscribe for free to get Fraser Valley news in your email every weekday morning.

It’s finally time for tourists to return to Lytton.

Saturday will mark three years since the devastating fire that destroyed the village. It will be a reminder of how little rebuilding has taken place, and locals will mark the day with a ceremony and barbecue.

But the weekend will also be the best chance tourists have had since the disaster to acquaint themselves with Lytton and the surrounding area.

With a day-long Indigenous culture festival nearby, a re-opened major provincial park to the west, established food and tourism businesses in the surrounding area, and a less-apocalyptic townsite, local residents and leaders say visitors are welcome to return.

A visitor’s guide to post-fire Lytton

The summer of 2024 marks a crucial moment for Lytton—and a time when residents and community leaders are ready to welcome tourists back to a community that had long been a road-trip destination and one of BC’s most-unique small towns.

For 18 months following the 2021 fire, driving through Lytton meant intruding on the wreckage of peoples’ lives. “Tourism” was neither tasteful nor particularly welcome. But today, the debris is gone and the townsite is largely a prairie of gravel, punctuated by increasing numbers of rebuilding projects.

A dozen or so development permits had been approved by the village as of late June, and more are expected. Those include several homes, along with the rebuilding of the . The town is also set to embark on an economic development project that hopes to emphasize the area as a draw for tourists.

📷 Tyler Olsen

‘Come see us’

Mayor Denise O’Connor says that visitors are now welcome to visit, observe the townsite and see the rebuilding progress.

“Come see us,” O’Connor said. “Come see where we’re at and what we’re doing. Don’t forget about us. I think that’s really important. Lytton is not gone…Stop in, ask people who are on the street—because there are people out walking—and find out what Lytton is about.”

The townsite itself is small, but in a spectacular location within a rock’s throw south of the meeting of the Thompson and Fraser River. Benches overlook the confluence and offer stunning views of the canyon to the north.

Local resident (and poet) Meghan Fandrich said locals would be fine with visitors walking through town, so long as they refrain from stepping on private property.

“That would seem a little like stepping on a grave at a cemetery,” she wrote in an email. “So as long as you’re on the sidewalk or on the street, you’ll be fine.”

📷 Tyler Olsen

Fraser Street, immediately next to the Fraser River, also includes several historical markers at its north end, including one commemorating the life of Lytton First Nations chief and peacemaker David Spintlum (Cexpe’nthlEm). Cexpe’nthlEm helped broker peace between gold miners and the Nlaka’pamux people in the 19th century, bringing 1858’s Fraser Canyon War to an end.

Meanwhile, halfway down the street, a property owner has built a tiny, heart-shaped garden next to the sidewalk, providing a glimmer of life, hope, and future for the area.

Lytton once had a bustling commercial core, with stores, a hotel, a legion, and a beloved coffee shop—owned by Fandrich herself. Artisans sold goods at farmers markets, and the area vibrated with small-town life. Those attractions are now gone. But Lytton bustled, in part, because it served thousands of people in the surrounding area. And there are still things to do, places to see, and even restaurants to eat at just minutes out of town.

Rafting and accommodations

The big local tourist draw is Kumsheen Rafting Resort. It offers rafting trips down a spectacular stretch of the Thompson River Canyon. The resort is the largest employer in the Lytton area and has remained open throughout the last several years.

The resort also offers accommodations in a variety of styles, from cabins to teepees to RV spots and tents.

📷 Kumsheen Rafting Resort

Lytton also serves as the gateway to Stein Valley Nlaka'pamux Heritage Provincial Park, a massive wilderness that is sacred to local Indigenous tribes. The park has been closed in recent years due to wildfires, but its main trail has re-opened as of late June. The park is an experienced hiker’s dream, but lacks amenities for more casual visitors. A tiny ferry that crosses the Fraser just north of Lytton provides access to the road leading to the park. Visitors will want to confirm the park’s status before heading out.

More less-experienced campers can try to get a spot at Skihist Provincial Park about 10km east of Lytton, on the hillside immediately above Highway 1. The park has a small picnic area on the opposite side of Highway 1 overlooking the Thompson River.

Lytton, in some ways, marks the northern terminus of the Fraser Canyon tourism corridor, and there are a range of amenities and natural attractions surrounding Boston Bar, about 40 minutes to the south. These include Blue Lake and Tuckkwiowhum Village, an Indigenous-run heritage site that also has a campground and local store. Other attractions nearby include the Hell's Gate Airtram, Nahatlatch Provincial Park, Alexandra Lodge, and Alexandra Bridge.

Food and restaurants

Lytton’s townsite might be devoid of places to eat, but you can still get a great meal if you know where to go or who to phone.

The most established nearby spot is Shaw Springs, a Chinese restaurant formerly known as Jade Springs. The restaurant is open 11am to 8pm most days, and has typical Chinese fare, along with a weekend buffet. You can check its Facebook page here. The restaurant is located along Highway 1 just east of the main turn-off to the village.

Nearby, Kumsheen Resort operates Cutting Board Restaurant, which offers more high-end options and caters to resort guests and the general public. As of June 28, it will be offering breakfast service from 8 to 9am and dinner at 6pm. Call head to confirm space is available and make a reservation.

Lytton also has a new local take-out operation: Spuds in Mud. Spuds specializes in poutines, and also offers hot dogs and burgers. A good-size poutine serving is $8. Pre-order at and expect your order to be ready in 20 to 30 minutes. The proprietor lost his home in the 2021 fire, so Fandrich notes that a purchase can both satisfy your fry-fix and lend a hand to a Lytton resident rebuilding his life.

If you want to pick up some food to make for yourself, the Two Rivers Farmers Market operates every Friday at G’wsep Gas off of Highway 12 just across the river from the townsite. Vendors sell an array of food and goods, including fresh, locally grown produce and some of the best bannock in the Interior.

The highways and Lytton’s unbeatable gas prices

Lytton sits at the nexus of some of the world’s most beautiful highway scenery. Highway 1 to the south and east, and Highway 12 north toward Lillooet are well-known as incredible road-trip routes. Highway 1 boasts multiple scenic viewpoint pullouts. Infrastructure on Highway 12 is more rudimentary, but the scenery is more open and potentially even more stunning. Make sure you check DriveBC before you plan your drive.

Since the 2021 landslides, Highway 1 between Boston Bar and Lytton experienced prolonged stoppages as crews work to rebuild a bridge that was wiped out during the atmospheric river. That work is now complete and the trip between the coast and Lytton is almost delay-free, though that can change with a major accident or natural incident.

Highway 12 toward Lillooet features a rough patch of road about 10km north of Lytton, but is easily passable by small cars, RVs and motorcycles. Just take care and pay attention to road signs.

Highway 1 east of Lytton still features significant construction work, though delays are less frequent and numerous than anytime since the 2021 landslides.

Wherever you’re heading, you’ll probably want to venture through Lytton and jump across the Chief David Spintlum Bridge to make a pitstop at G'wsep Gas & Food. The locally owned gas station is affiliated with Canco, and usually has the cheapest gas in the southern Interior. Gas prices can be between 7 and 30 cents cheaper than those in the Lower Mainland.

📷 2Rivers Remix Society

The festival

Despite the delays in rebuilding, Lytton’s recovery is finally starting to take shape and amenities in the area will likely only become more welcoming to tourists as the summer continues.

June 30 marks the third anniversary of the fire. In-town festivities are mostly for locals, just north of the village site, there is a special, free event taking place:: a day-long celebration of Indigenous culture, art, and music.

The event makes this weekend probably the best time to visit Lytton in the last four years.

This story first appeared in the June 26, 2024 edition of the Fraser Valley Current newsletter. Subscribe for free to get Fraser Valley news in your email every weekday morning.


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