Wells Gray Provincial Park
The Canada You ImaginedImagine a place where the wild things are, free of crowds, with plenty of wide, open, spaces. The home of Helmcken Falls, Canada’s fourth highest waterfall, just one of 39 named falls you’ll find here.
It’s where the Murtle and Clearwater Rivers roar and wildlife sightings are as common as sunrise and sunset. Visualize yourself in this place where there’s plenty of room to breathe, and to dream, and room for you too.
The place you envision is Wells Gray Provincial Park – 5,250 square kilometres (3,262 square miles) of alpine wilderness, borne from volcanoes and carved by glaciers; where your days are measured in vertical feet, big game sightings and the number of waterfall shots on your camera.
It’s here, among old-growth interior rainforests and soaring mountain peaks that you’ll find serenity paddling Murtle Lake, North America’s largest canoe-only lake. A place where you can watch in wonder as bears graze just metres away, where you can be drawn into the forest by the thunder of Helmcken Falls, and hike through a kaleidoscope of colour in the wildflower meadows of the Trophy Mountains. It’s your staging ground for wilderness adventures…camping, hiking, white-water rafting, canoeing, dog-sledding or touring; by car, on foot, or from high in the saddle…in the Canada you imagined.
Clearwater – Gateway to the Park and Visitor CentreWells Gray is the fourth largest park in British Columbia. Is size alone means you’ll need some expert advice to make the most out of your get-away. Start at the Visitor Centre at the gateway to the park in the town of Clearwater where helpful folks are happy to point you in the right direction, make recommendations and let you in on some of our best kept secrets
Start at the CorridorWhile you can access the park from three different directions, the easiest and most-travelled route is straight through the Corridor, on Clearwater Valley Road, 34-kilometers north of the town of Clearwater. A combination of paved and well-maintained gravel roads provides the backbone of the southern quarter of the park, where making a right or left turn will deliver you to outdoor adventures both serene and extreme in no time at all.
Chasing WaterfallsYou’ll often hear the roar, long before you see cascading water tumbling over lichen-drenched boulders, making its way downstream; and with 39 named waterfalls in the park you can explore almost any trail or lake in the Corridor and come across waterfalls and plenty of non-stop photo ops.
Helmcken FallsThe grandest and most visited waterfall is Helmcken Falls, the fourth highest waterfall in Canada, where the roiling Murtle River narrows to 23-metres and surges 140 metres down into the canyon below.
Stand at the observation platform at the lip of the canyon and prepare to be humbled watching the river carve out a magnificent amphitheatre-like bowl a mile in the distance, or strike out on a one-hour hike along the Rim Trail where the views from above the Falls can only be described as magnificent.
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.
Trophy MountainsRising 2,575 metres above the Shuswap Highlands are the glacier-cloaked peaks of the Trophy Mountains. Journey to their southern slopes, near the Clearwater Valley Road and you’ll be met by a kaleidoscope of colour when the wildflowers bloom each summer. One of the most easily accessed sub-alpine meadows in all of BC, the Trophy Mountains are where you’ll find hikers, photographers, backcountry skiers and snowshoers exploring each month of the year.
Peak Bagging at its Best – Hiking Wells GrayClimb, scramble, sojourn or hike a skyline worth of mountain trails. From an easy-to-meander stroll to abandoned pioneer homesteads, or a quad-burning hike to a distant mountain – the length of your stay dictates the number of places you can trek to in Wells Gray Park.
You’ll find plenty of peaks to bag here, many accessible right from the Corridor. Collect them all, one at a time…venturing out on your own or with a guiding outfitter, one thing is certain, you’ll have plenty of stories to share when you return…tales of breathtaking vistas, up-close-and-personal wildlife encounters and waterfalls so powerful they take your breath away.
Wildlife in the ParkThere’s nothing quite like the heart racing feeling that comes with unexpected sightings of wildlife in the wild. Grizzly and Black bears, moose, eagles, mule deer, salmon and raptors – there’s no shortage of wildlife here, and you can easily enjoy all of it, without admission, feeding times or fences. Simply head out by car or on foot and chances are, you’ll find lots of evidence of big and small game – making sightseeing just that much more exhilarating here.
Wilderness AccommodationsPitch a tent or drive an RV – our pristine wilderness accommodations are reserved exclusively for those who want to fall asleep in the great outdoors with the nocturnal sounds of the park lulling you to sleep. Of course you can bunk down at a guest ranch, or rest up and relax at a wilderness B&B just minutes outside the park gates – spending a night, a week, or even longer un-winding in ways you just can’t experience in the city.
Disconnect and RechargeThere are no cell phone towers in the Park, so when we say you can really disconnect and unwind here, we mean that quite literally – no cell phones, no TVs and select WIFI spots mean you really can get away from it all and recharge!
When to Go
- May & June are the best time to see wildlife at lower elevations
- Cascading waterfalls are at their peak in May and June with reduced flow from July to October
- July and August offer the warmest temperatures and are peak season for water activities and wildflower meadows
- Hardly crowded at any time of year, the Park is even less so in the shoulder months of May and early June and again in September and early October
- Winter snow sports are best between the end of December and the end of March
- Helmcken Falls ice cone is formed by January and melts again in March
Need to Know
- The entrance to the Park is 34km north of the town of Clearwater, accessed by the Clearwater Valley Road, a paved two-lane road suitable for all vehicles
- Clearwater Lake is 68km north of the town of Clearwater accessed by the Clearwater Valley Road. The final 34km of the Clearwater Valley Road are unpaved but well travelled. Check your rental agreement to confirm whether you can drive on gravel roads
- Weather can change quickly in the Park – plan ahead and wear layered clothing
- The Visitor Centre in Clearwater is a good starting point to plan your time in the Park
- Explore the Park on your own, or enlist the aid of any of our local outfitters for a real insider’s experience of the Park