For 40 years, REO Rafting and Yoga Resort had called the magnificence of the Nahatlatch Valley home. On August 18, 2023, the monthlong burning Kookipi Creek Wildfire exploded in growth. High wind fueled it across the Fraser River and up the Nahatlatch Valley toward REO. Those in the valley, including everyone present at REO, were forced to evacuate quickly as wind pushed the flames through the forest. When the gray ash had settled, the rafting operation that had grown within the valley over decades had been consumed.
“By the time we realized the severity and the speed of the fire that was approaching, it was too late. Everyone at REO grabbed everything they could and evacuated before the fire was at our doorstep,” Bryan Fogelman, founder and president of REO Rafting, and the REO team shared in a statement through the B.C. River Outfitters Association.
REO Home For Decades Instantly Destroyed By Kookipi Creek Wildfire
REO is just one place lost in the widespread fires overwhelming the province of British Columbia this summer, with over 2,000 fires occurring so far in 2023, burning nearly five-million acres.
The business Fogelman founded in 1983 just over a two-hour drive from Vancouver was known as a gem of a retreat along the jade-green rapids of the Nahatlatch River. REO offered rafters river experiences on the Nahatlatch, Fraser and Thompson, as well as served as a yoga retreat and family camping destination. Fogelman operated REO with his wife Karen—whom he met while she was a rafting guest there in 1993—and their three children. The outfitter was truly family-operated with plans for their daughter Sierra and her husband Matt to one day take over.
According to Fogelman, 80 percent of REO Rafting was destroyed by the Kookipi Creek Fire. Following the flames passing through, he and a group of employees were able to travel back to the resort briefly. While there, they put out numerous fires still smoldering around the property and collected any gear that wasn’t destroyed. The fire is still burning in the area, limiting their ability to access the REO property.
“All we can do is watch the fire’s progression and hope we can save what’s left,” they went on to say in the statement.
Hopes To Rebuild On The Nahatlatch River
The Fogelmans aren’t quitting on REO or the Nahatlatch Valley with plans to rebuild as soon as possible. There is a hitch though. Due to their business location, REO has been unable to secure wildfire insurance for the property in recent years, and will have to shoulder the financial burden of rebuilding.
REO was the entire livelihood of Bryan and Karen. With the devastation of the resort, loss of bookings, and lack of insurance coverage for the fire, the family faces a difficult path ahead. The Fogelmans have set up a GoFundMe campaign for past guests and members of the paddling community who would like to support the family in restoring the outfitter in the river valley they’ve seen themselves as stewards of for decades.
“This valley is our home and it has always been our passion to preserve its natural beauty. Over the years, we have worked endlessly to protect the Nahatlatch; from our role in the creation of the Nahatlatch Provincial Park to the continued effort in preserving the natural wildlife, improving the facilities on our property, and bringing awareness to the land,” the Fogelman family expressed on the fundraising campaign site.
View this post on Instagram
“For all of those who have been to REO, and even those who may have seen it from afar, you’ll agree when we say that there was something so special about it. We hope that one day in the near future it’ll return to this state, but there is a long road ahead.”
If you would like to contribute to REO’s rebuilding effort, visit: gofundme.com/f/help-save-reo-rafting-yoga-resort.