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(Photo courtesy of Destination BC/Andrew Strain)
(Photo courtesy of Destination BC/Andrew Strain)

Wells Gray Park: Canada’s true wilderness

One of the absolute best examples of true Canadian wilderness can be found in central British Columbia at Wells Gray Provincial Park.

Visitors seeking nature at its best will come in anticipation of wildlife viewing, camping, hiking, photography, white-water rafting, and canoeing – all without the crowds. There’s room for everyone here!

The waterfalls of Wells Gray Provincial Park

Exploring more than 3,200 squares miles of wilderness may seem daunting, but visitors who come to Wells Gray Provincial Park are up to the challenge. The rivers, forests, mountains and lakes all provide an opportunity for adventure, but the 139-plus waterfalls within the park add a dimension that can’t be properly described.

Jaw-dropping, awesome or mystical have been used, but visitors who come to see these majestic cascades of water are usually speechless. That’s because Wells Gray Park, the land of the waterfalls, is special and the waterfalls themselves are so very incredibly beautiful.

Only 39 iconic waterfalls within the park have been named, but exploring the park will lead visitors to over 100 unnamed falls that are still worth searching for. Listen for the roar of the water crashing down over the rocks below as the first indication you’re heading in the right direction on your hunt.

The most popular access into Wells Gray park is the road north of Clearwater with easy approach to three campgrounds, picnic areas, and trails. Stop at the information center at the junction of Hwy. 5 and the Wells Gray Park Road for maps, information on camping and trail conditions. This is the best way to arrive when in search of the most popular waterfalls.

(Photo courtesy of Destination BC/Andrew Strain)
(Photo courtesy of Destination BC/Andrew Strain)

Helmcken Falls

With water plunging over 350 feet down into a canyon below, Helmcken Falls is the most well-known waterfall and the fourth highest waterfall in Canada. It’s just steps from the road and the viewing platform hanging over the canyon provides a fantastic view of the Murtle River below. During the winter the raging water turns into ice crystals that hang in mid-air.

Dawson Falls

Another waterfall just a short walk from the main road is Dawson Falls, stretching 295 feet across ancient lava beds. It’s only one of seven waterfalls that also tumble down into Murtle River.

Moul Falls

Not right near the road, but it’s only an hour’s walk to Moul Falls and an experience not normally available to waterfalls enthusiasts. Step between the canyon and the falls to enjoy the cool mist at the base of the falls. For those who aren’t quite up for that adventure can enjoy the scene below from the viewing platform above.

Spahats Creek Falls

Photographers will want to stroll along the short trail to find Spahats Creek Falls where the water plunges from a small keyhole in the rock face down 262 feet to the Clearwater River below. It’s dramatic and beautiful.

A small word of caution when viewing any of the waterfalls. Stick to the trails and the observation platforms and follow any safety instructions posted at each waterfall and trail. Be careful not to lean over the top of the falls since it is dangerous and when taking photos watch your feet.

Wet or damp ground can be slippery so be extra vigilant when visiting with children.  It’s not a good idea to visit any of the waterfalls alone so bring a friend and enjoy the scenery together.

(Photo courtesy of Destination BC/Andrew Strain)
(Photo courtesy of Destination BC/Andrew Strain)

Activities within the park

What can’t you do at Wells Gray? That’s probably a better question than asking ‘what can you do at Wells Gray Provincial Park?’ It seems like opportunities are unlimited as to what visitors can do, see or enjoy. Explore on your own or sign up with an experienced guide or tour operator so you don’t miss anything important.

This is a year round destination with activities available 12 months of the year. Exploring on foot or in the car can lead visitors to ancient volcanic fields, lakes fed by glaciers, meadows filled with the colors of wildflowers, all kinds of wildlife and old abandoned homesteads.

Hiking the back country or taking a leisurely walk along a groomed trail will lead to scenes and sights that will ensure the photos taken will be memorable and amaze the people back home. Joining an interpretive hike with a local naturalist will give visitors a better understanding of the history of the volcanic fields, types of abundant wildflowers, and learn how the massive waterfalls were formed.

There is no shortage of wildlife here. It seems that almost around every corner there is something to see whether it’s a moose crossing a trail, a black or grizzly bear fishing in a stream, salmon spawning in the rivers, or an eagle flying overhead. Keep your eyes wide open as you drive through the park since many of the wildlife can be seen from a vehicle – they’re that close.

Fishing

Hook a trout or salmon after you’ve thrown your line into the waters of one of the many lakes or rivers within the park and take your catch back to the campsite to fry up for dinner. Don’t forget to get a fishing license before you get to the park since it’s mandatory to have one in British Columbia.

Winter activities

Bring your snow shoes!  Snowmobiling, snowshoeing, dog sledding, hockey, curling and downhill skiing are just a few of the unique activities and sports visitors can enjoy during the colder months. Try your hand at ice fishing on Dutch Lake.

Carol - Wells Gray Clearwater
(Photo courtesy of Destination BC/Andrew Strain)

Be a cowboy for a day

Ride the wilderness trails on horseback, learn about driving cattle or herding sheep, and live like a cowboy. It’s easy to do in Wells Gray Park when you stay at one of the ranches, go on a guided trail ride, spend the night under the stars and eat a hearty meal cooked on the chuck wagon. Since there are no cell phone towers near any of the ranches it’s a great opportunity to unplug and relax.

Campgrounds and RV Parks

There’s every type of campground imaginable. Set up the RV in a rustic wilderness site and enjoy the quiet, park at a golf course, a fishing resort, a ranch, near a lake or along a river. Listen to the water lapping nearby, relax next to a crackling bonfire and sleep well surrounded by the quiet of the night.

Bring the whole family to Wells Gray Provincial Park for an experience you will have difficulty forgetting. Canada’s wilderness is well represented here with majestic scenery, abundance of wildlife, outstanding camping facilities, and activities everyone will enjoy. Whether Wells Gray is your destination or a stopover save enough time to thoroughly appreciate everything the park has to offer.

Resources

Wells Gray Provincial Park — http://wellsgray.ca

Campgrounds and RV parks — http://wellsgray.ca/site/accommodations/camping-and-rv-parks.html

About Carol Ann Quibell

Carol Ann Quibell is an RVer currently living in beautiful British Columbia. She is a freelance writer and columnist who enjoys sharing her travel tips and information. You can view her websites online at http://roamingrv.com and http://writefortravel.com

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