Chasing WaterfallsUncover the mystical places that romantics, adventurers and photographers come here to find! With 39 named waterfalls, and hundreds more tucked into the wilds, discover why Wells Gray is also known as the land of waterfalls.
Few things in the natural world are as awe-inspiring as the sight of water surging off the side of a rocky ledge & frothing into a churning pool below. Your first inclination may be stand & marvel, but you might not want to spend too much time at any one waterfall. Not when there are 38 others you may want to visit. When it comes to chasing waterfalls, Wells Gray can’t be beat!
Ancient volcanoes and slow-moving glaciers carved the rivers and lakes that fuel the Park’s waterfalls. You’ll hear the roar of the Falls, long before you can see cascading water tumbling over lichen-drenched boulders, making its way downstream. Almost half the named Falls are found in the Corridor , mere minutes from Clearwater Valley Road. Follow the signs to Helmcken, Moul and Spahats Creek Falls and discover the mystical places that romantics, adventurers and photographers come here to find!
Helmcken FallsSeven of the Park’s waterfalls originate on the Murtle River, but perhaps none are more famous than Helmcken Falls, and the very reason Wells Gray Park exists. Cascading 141m to the canyon below, Helmcken Falls is the fourth largest waterfall in Canada. The fact you can access it just steps from the road is really an added bonus.
The viewing platform hangs over the lip of the canyon providing a panoramic view of the Murtle River tumbling in the distance. If you’d rather a more up-close-and-personal view of the falls, strike out on a one-hour hike along the Rim Trail where you’ll find waterfall views seen mostly by birds.
Visit Helmcken Falls in winter and you’ll marvel at what you find. What was once a raging torrent of water has frozen in time and place. Ice crystals hang in mid-air. A frozen cone of water climbs 50 metres up the canyon, and glimmers in the bright winter sun, sometimes for two months.
Dawson Falls, one of seven waterfalls tumbling down the Murtle River, stretches its watery veil 90 m (295 ft) across ancient lava beds creating a shallow, but broad cascade of water. Feel the cushion of pine and cedar needles beneath your feet and inhale the heady mossy green scent of the forest, en route to your best vantage point. Although you’re walking mere meters from the Clearwater Valley Road, the dense forest mutes all but the sound of rushing water. You’ll spy Dawson Falls after about 10-minutes in – stop – snap a selfie with the waterfall behind, then continue along the trail for a different vantage point at the top of the falls.
Moul FallsIf you’ve ever wondered what lies behind the veil of a waterfall, you’ll want to explore Moul Falls. A one-hour hike from Clearwater Valley Road, a moss and roots covered trail delivers you to the edge of Grouse Creek where Moul Falls spills into the Clearwater River. You can stop at the viewing platform above, but if you’re really adventurous, you’ll continue down to the base of the chute where you can slip between the falls and the canyon revelling in the cool mist of its cold, rushing waters.
Spahats Creek FallsVolcanic rock deposits left centuries ago form the layer-cake-like canyon at Spahats Falls, making it one of the most dramatic waterfalls to photograph in the Park. You’ll find the turn-off to the Falls just inside the Park’s gate. Stroll the cool hemlock and cedar forest for about five minutes and you’ll see the Falls cascading from a keyhole in the rock face, 80 metres above the Clearwater River.
When to Go
- April – June – Spectacular viewing when waterfalls are swollen with spring run off
- July – September – Still lots of water flowing over the main attractions, but some of the small waterfalls will be running more slowly this time of year
- October – December – As mountains start to be covered with snow, waterfall production diminishes
- January – March – The best time to see Helmcken Falls under its ice cone
Need to Know
Waterfalls are so mesmerizing it’s easy to get caught up in their beauty and forget where you’re standing. The following tips will help keep you safe while you drink in the sights.
- Stay on trails and don’t stray from observation decks and platforms.
- Follow safety instructions posted at all waterfalls and trails.
- Watch your footing. Dry and wet rocks can be slippery, especially those covered with algae.
- The top of any waterfall is the most dangerous. Do not lean over a ledge at the top of a falls.
- Watch children carefully. Children should always be under the immediate supervision of adults when visiting any falls. Pets should also be supervised. They can easily underestimate the slickness of rocks and the flow of water.
- Be especially careful when photographing the falls. Often, photographers become more focused on taking a photo rather than securing their footing. Make sure you are in a safe, solid location before taking photographs.
- To insure your safety on the rocks and trails, never visit waterfalls or hike alone.