Maybe it’s the longer days or the warmer weather—there’s something about spring that makes us want to hit the road. Just a 1.5-hour drive from Kamloops, Wells Gray Provincial Park is a worthy destination.Known as Canada’s waterfall park, it boasts 41 named waterfalls, which are at their most impressive in May and early June, after the spring thaw. Spring is also an ideal time to visit since the park is quieter than during peak summer season.
Here are four reasons to hop in the car and enjoy Wells Gray for a day.
It’s not just about impressive numbers: the waterfalls in Wells Gray are remarkable because they’re easy to access. Almost half the named falls are found in the Corridor, a road that starts at the park’s entrance outside the town of Clearwater.
Take a self-guided tour, and don’t miss the star attraction, Helmcken Falls. It’s the fourth-largest waterfall in Canada, dropping 141 m, and you can see it from a viewing platform accessible from the road. In early spring, you may still be able to see remnants of the ice cone that forms at the Falls’ base in the winter.
Dawson Falls is another highlight. Described as a “mini Niagara Falls”, its broad veil stretches 90 m (295 ft) across lava beds. You can see these falls after just a 10-minute walk from the road.
Spahats Creek Falls lies just inside the park gates and a five-minute walk through the forest.
If you’d like to get some exercise, the park has over 200 km of hiking trails. These lead to falls including Moul Falls, Silvertip Falls, and a closer look at Helmcken Falls via the South Rim Trail.
Or, you can get an aerial view of the falls and gape at the 5,250 km2 (1.3 million acres) of park wilderness on a scenic flight with Wells Gray Air. The 44-minute flight departs from Clearwater, near the park’s entrance.
The spring thaw means the rivers are running at its peak, which is ideal for the ultimate rafting adventure. The water on the North Thompson and Clearwater Rivers is the highest from mid-May to mid-July with Class I to VI rapids. Riverside Adventures offers a three-hour, family-friendly trip on Clearwater River in the park.
Spring is the best time to spot wildlife along the Corridor in Wells Gray. Bears come out of hibernation in April; later in May, they feed on new grass and dandelions along the park road. This is the best time to view them on the drive to Clearwater Lake. Follow these guidelines to view bears safely and responsibly. The park is also home to grizzly bears, moose, deer, coyotes, wolves, and over 250 species of birds.
Guided horseback riding tours provide a leisurely perspective of the park. Wells Gray Guest Ranch offers rides from an hour to almost all day or Battle Mountain Equine Enterprises offers two-hour trail rides through the forest that depart from Helmcken Falls Lodge and lead to the waterfall at Hemp Creek and Canyon.
Fuel up at The Painted Turtle overlooking Dutch Lake, or dig into a platter of smoked meat at Hop n Hog before hitting the road for the 1.5hr return drive to Kamloops.
No matter what outdoor activity you are planning, be prepared. AdventureSmart and Leave No Trace are great resources to help you get informed before heading outdoors. Follow the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials.
Consult Drive BC for up-to-date information about road conditions before heading out.