Current Travel Information Helmcken Falls


Wildlife Viewing

Owl in tree

A Naturalist’s Paradise

Watch in awe as black bears graze by the roadsides. Count vibrant red spawning salmon swimming up Bailey’s Chute waterfall every August. Spot massive moose roaming snow-covered meadows. We can’t predict where the wildlife will roam… they just naturally appear on the banks of the Clearwater and Murtle Rivers as you paddle past, in wildflower meadows as you hike mountain trails, or floating in thermal updrafts over lakes and campsites. Fill your Wells Gray adventure with your own wildlife experiences, right here where the wild things are.

Wildlife Viewing | clearwater lk salmon school 1200

The Story of the Salmon

Witness one of nature’s most spectacular feats as the Sockeye Salmon return to their spawning grounds between August and October each year. The arrival of the vibrant red salmon marks the end of their three-year, 4,000-kilometre journey that takes them from their spawning grounds on the Raft and Clearwater Rivers in Wells Gray Country to Alaska and back again. You can take the short hike to Bailey’s Chute and watch in awe as thousands of Sockeye Salmon jump their way up the waterfall, narrowly escaping the jaws of bears who like to fish from the shore.

You can also see the salmon spawn in the town of Clearwater in Raft River from the viewing platform. Here the Simpcw First Nation hold an annual first fish celebration each year which you can take part in. Or year-round, you can catch glimpses of Kokanee (lake salmon) through the clear waters of Dutch Lake at the heart of Clearwater.

Fox close up

Bears, Oh my!

You’ll always remember your first bear sighting. The Park’s healthy population of both Black bears and Grizzly bears means there’s a very good chance you’ll encounter them emerging from the forest, grazing the grasses and berries on the roadside, wandering through campgrounds and on hiking trails, especially in early summer and again in the early fall. Avoiding an encounter is the best way to protect yourself and keep the bears safe. On the trail when hiking, be sure to stay together, supervise children and keep your pets on a leash. Make noise by talking loudly and carry bear spray. If you spot a bear while driving along the park road, be sure to stay in your vehicle and keep your windows closed. Consider not stopping but if you must stop, traffic safety comes first (don’t stop in the middle of the road, on a corner or crest of a hill). At your campsite you can prevent getting a late-night visit from bears by storing your food safely and out of your tent.

Moose and calf
Moose are often seen year-round

With all the amazing wilderness that Wells Gray has to offer you’ll be sure to take in a good dose of wildlife on your trip. One unwanted wildlife encounter in Wells Gray Park would have to be the mosquito! Mosquitos are a fact of life when traveling rural Canada so come prepared with bug spray and it willl make your experience in Wells Gray Park much more enjoyable.

Grizzly on a rock
This is bear country