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bootlegga Wells Gray Provincial Park - A travel report by James
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Wells Gray Provincial Park,  Canada - flag Canada -  British Columbia
13096 readers

bootlegga's travel reports

Waterfalls o’ plenty

  22 votes
Page: 1 2
Wells Gray Provincial Park is located north of Kamloops in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. In the park are dozens of different waterfalls, from the spectacular Helmecken to the amazing Angel Falls.

Helmecken Falls
Helmecken Falls
Wells Gray Provincial Park is a waterfall lover’s dream. Located in the interior of British Columbia, it is about a 7-hour drive from Vancouver, Edmonton or Calgary. It is about 1 hour north of Kamloops. Because of its relative isolation, it receives fewer visitors, but is still no less spectacular.

Check out the following websites for more info;

Wells Gray is open year round, but most visitors stop here between June and September. The climate here is mild, dry summers and sharp, cold winters with lots of snow.

Favourite spots:
Helmecken Falls
Helmecken Falls
Without a doubt, it would have to be Helmecken Falls. While the park has several dozen waterfalls to visit, this one is the park’s signature waterfall. One of the tallest in Canada, it is almost 4 times higher than Niagara. While it is not as wide, the view is still spectacular. The water tumbles 141 metres into the splash pool below.

What's really great:
On the Whitehorse Bluff trail
On the Whitehorse Bluff trail
Even though Wells Gray is well known internationally, it is still quiet and generally does not have hordes of tourists tramping around like in Banff. Once we left out from our campsite, many times we spent the hours without seeing anyone else. Indeed, large parts of the park are accessible only by foot or canoe, or a combination of both.

Spahats Falls
Spahats Falls
Before entering Wells Gray, you actually drive through Spahats Falls Provincial Park. Be sure to stop and see this set of waterfalls. It is almost 75 metres tall. It is only moments from the highway and a great place to stop and have a snack.

Dawson Falls is located in the middle of the park and runs the entire width of the Myrtle River. It’s nickname is ‘Little Niagara’. It is about 90 metres wide and 20 metres high.

Clearwater lake is one of 5 big lakes in the park. It is long and narrow and to many feels like a very wide river, as it has a fairly strong current. Because it is glacier fed, it can be cold, even in summer. Still, once you jump in and swim a bit, you’ll adjust. It is dotted with beaches and back-country campgrounds. A company at the boat launch rents canoes for about $20 a day, so you and your friends can rent them, paddle around the lake and camp for a few days, usually in total isolation.

Canoeing on Clearwater Lake
Canoeing on Clearwater Lake
Most accommodations here are campgrounds. There is one hotel, the Helmecken Lodge in the park, but otherwise, those wanting to stay in a hotel, must stay in Clearwater, about a 30-minute drive from the park entrance.

Depending on where you plan on hiking, canoeing, etc, you’ll need to choose a campground. Clearwater Campground and Falls Creek Campground are located on or near Clearwater lake, the northern most point in the park accessible by car. If you prefer to be closer to civilization, you can stay in Spahats Campground, on the southern edge of the park system. We chose Pyramid Lake campground because it was centrally located and would allow us to get to most trailheads in the park quickly. From this campsite, there are also trailheads running to both Dawson Falls and Pyramid Mountain.

Mahood Lake as seen from Green Mountain lookout.
Mahood Lake as seen from Green Mountain lookout.
Warning: If you plan on visiting Myrtle Lake or Mahood lake, they can only be accessed from either an eastern highway (Hwy 5) or a southern highway (Hwy 100) respectively, and it is not possible to drive to the central part of Wells Gray without a long (100+ km) detour around the edges of the park. Check the following link for a map of the park.

Two major lakes, Azure and Hobson can only be reached via canoe and/or a quick portage. Hobson Lake is a further 15 km hike from the northernmost point of Clearwater Lake. Azure is a shorter portage.

The Dragon's Tongue is overrated as a hike.
The Dragon's Tongue is overrated as a hike.
Bring a cooler full of your favourite beer and build a big fire!

Pyramid Mountain
Pyramid Mountain
Sights II

While I was there, we rented a couple and paddled to Diver’s Bluff and hiked around for a bit, then crossed the lake and went to Ivor Campground, where we took a dip in the lake. Only a short walk/drive from the Clearwater Lake boat launch is the trailhead for Sticta Falls and Dragon’s Tongue trail.

You can drive to the top of Green mountain and climb a small observation tower that gives you and incredible view of the park. From it, you can see Pyramid Mountain, an old extinct volcano, the entire valley, and both Mahood and Clearwater lakes. Also, halfway up Green Mountain is the trailhead for the Whitehorse Bluffs trail.

Other recommendations:
Sticta Falls
Sticta Falls
Just to the southeast of Wells Gray is Shuswap lake, one of BC’s biggest lakes. In the shape of a letter ‘H’, it offers all forms of summer recreation, from boating to swimming to fishing to camping.

Another interesting sight is the Clearwater valley, which runs north to Mt. Robson, the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. The drive is easy, as it runs along the valley floor, and it very beautiful.

Kamloops is only about an hour away by car. One of BC’s larger cities, it has plenty to offer visitors. It’s Canada Day festival in Riverside Park is a lot of fun.

Published on Saturday April 16th, 2005

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Thu, Sep 07 2006 - 06:02 PM rating by mrscanada

Fabulous review, James. Did you see the houseboats on Shuswap Lake? When our children were younger we rented one a for a few summers.

Mon, Mar 27 2006 - 11:18 AM rating by terje

I would have gone here tomorrow if I could! :-)

Fri, Dec 02 2005 - 08:05 PM rating by jorgesanchez

so goooodddd! I wish I was now in Canada!
Excellent report!

Mon, Apr 25 2005 - 09:36 PM rating by ravinderkumarsi

wonderful report

Mon, Apr 18 2005 - 01:25 PM rating by femika

Great report!
Makes me want to go out camping.

Mon, Apr 18 2005 - 04:18 AM rating by spaceout

Great Article. It makes me want to cancel my next trip (to Austria) and head for BC instead. :-)

Sun, Apr 17 2005 - 04:02 PM rating by rangutan

A lot of good tips!

Sun, Apr 17 2005 - 03:50 PM rating by bear495

Those are some nice waterfalls. How about more.


Sat, Apr 16 2005 - 11:43 PM rating by davidx

I know people like different things - and I'm glad of it - but for this to be rated as three star after two votes is way beyond my understanding. A fine report - genuinely well into the 5* range.

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