Waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park
The waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park are pretty amazing. My brother, George, had suggested we stop and visit this area on our way to Jasper. When I first started looking into it, I found loads of photos of iced-over waterfalls in April. So, I was worried it might be difficult to reach each of the falls (I thought we might need snowshoes to reach them.) However it turns out, spring is a fantastic time to visit! The roads and paths were all snow free. But each of the waterfalls was bolstered by melting snow, and we could see the remains of the large domes of ice that form over the winter when the waterfalls freeze over. It was awesome!
I will have the TLC Chasing waterfalls in my head all the time while I write this post! Anyway, don’t stick to the rivers and the lakes that you are used to! Go chasing waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Where to find tourist information
When you arrive in Clearwater, there is a tourist information office right next to the road that leads to Wells Gray Provincial Park. It looks like normally there will be plenty of maps and helpful staff to help you. However, we came just before the April bank holiday, and it was all closed up.
What should you do if Tourist Information is closed and you can’t get much signal? Have a cup of tea (of course!)
Opposite the tourist information is a cafe called the Pink Moose. They have a huge selection of tasty sounding teas, as well as a piles of leaflets about Wells Gray. The lady who owns the cafe was a total sweetie and told us about each waterfall, and how to find them. When I asked which was her favourite waterfall, she diplomatically mentioned that she thought each of them was special in its own special way.
Wells Gray Provincial Park waterfall Map
To be honest, even if you don’t make friends and drink tea, it is pretty easy to find the main waterfalls. The start of each trail is very well marked with big signs on the main road into the park. Plus, now you’ve found this post, you have extra information!
Wells Gray Provincial Park – the basics
Wells Gray Provincial Park is massive! The part of the park that I am about to describe is very easy to access via Clearwater Valley Road. However there is soooo much more! The vast majority of the park is a lake-filled wilderness that is a paradise for Canadian wildlife. You can only reach those areas with long hikes or with boats as there are no roads.
The geology of the southern area of the park was created by volcanoes, so as you can imagine, this is fantastic for waterfalls.
We were also told that we might spot moose! We didn’t, but that didn’t stop us hoping and watching out for them!
Spahats Creek Falls
I had not seen any photos of Spahats falls before we arrived, so I was not sure what to expect. Needless to say we were completely blown away as soon as we emerged from the trees to see the massive canyon. We could hear the falls, but you need to walk around a little before you catch the first epic view of Spahats Falls. The water thunders out from a keyhole-shaped hole, and plunges 72m down to the Clearwater River.
This is the view down the the Spahat creek canyon. It is pretty amazing even without the waterfall.
I also loved seeing the giant pile of ice.
Once you have been blown away by your first waterfall of the day, you can go on a mini hike from the falls, over to Shadden Lookout. This is an easy walk with little elevation gain that starts from the Spahats creek falls viewpoint. You’ll be rewarded with fantastic views down to the Clearwater river and the surrounding area.
We also got to meet a very pose-y Douglas squirrel.
Dawson Falls is another corker! This waterfall seems as long as Spahats Creek Falls is tall. Actually it is even longer! Dawson Falls is a whooping 107m wide. It may not have the height of the other waterfalls on this list, but it will still take your breath away.
Just be careful. The noise of Dawson Falls is muffled (slightly) by the surrounding forest, but once you get close to it, it is deafening. I couldn’t hear Marc or George, even if they were just a few meters away from me.
There are two viewpoints for Dawson Falls, so keep walking after the first view to reach a viewpoint right next to this gushing, raging giant of a waterfall.
A Mushbowl doesn’t sound particularly exciting, but this is also very cool to see! The Mushbowl is a little way downstream from Dawson Falls. It is also *right* by the road. You need to cross a teeny one-lane bridge, so you’ll have spectacular close up views of this waterfall, with virtually no effort at all.
Helmcken Falls is the superstar waterfall of Wells Gray Provincial Park. This is the waterfall that I’d seen the most photos of online, and I was pretty sure that we’d love it. This was also the only place where we saw more than one other group of tourists.
Helmcken Falls has a massive drop of 141m. It is hard to describe just how massive this seems up close, as photos don’t quite do it justice.
Helmcken Rim Trail
Once you have looked at the view points close to the Helmcken Falls car park, there is a pretty trail along the top of the canyon that has been carved out by the falls over millennia.
It is really humbling to see how tiny we are in terms of the history and power of this waterfall!
After hiking along the canyon, we took one last peek at Helmcken Falls. It’s pretty amazing, especially with all that steam.
Helmcken may be the most famous, but I had even more fun at Moul Falls. This waterfall requires a little more effort than the others on this list, as you need to hike for a couple of kilometers before you reach it.
However the payoff for this short hike is fantastic!
In winter, the river just beyond the falls is frozen, so if you have spikes or crampons, it is possible to cross the ice to see Moul Falls from the other side.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can walk right to the base of the waterfall and even go behind it! I climbed over a giant pile of ice (with my microspikes) so I did get to walk behind the waterfall. I also got pretty soaked, so if you are considering this, be sure to bring waterproof coat!
Why Wells Gray’s Waterfalls is fantastic in spring:
- Hotels are cheap
- Parking is super easy!
Why Visiting Wells Gray’s Waterfalls may be less good in spring:
- Tourist information was all closed
- Some of the good restaurants will be closed. I read that in summer there is a stand selling Belgium chocolate in the car park at Helmcken Falls. There was no sign of that when we visited!
- The weather might be rubbish
I hope you like the look of the Waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park as much as we did! Have you visited this less famous corner of the Rockies? Would you like to?
If you like them, please click on the images below to pin them on pinterest.
34 thoughts on “Waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park”
Wow, those waterfalls look fantastic, particularly with the snow alongside them! It definitely looks like it was worth wrapping up warm to hike to them. Was it quieter as it was winter? I love hiking but I definitely prefer it when there’s fewer people around!
Oooh you would love it then! It wasn’t even cold (although we did arrive on a grey, rainy day)
We didn’t see any other people when we were walking, and there were hardly any other people at each waterfall (although there was a big family group at Helmcken Falls.)
I think this might be different in the summer, when bus loads of people visit Helmcken Falls…
Pretty pictures !!!! Love the outdoors
Thank you! Me too!
So beautiful!!! And I want to be best friends with that little squirrel! 🐿
She was such a cutie. She also wasn’t quite as swear-y as the squirrels we meet near Vancouver, she had a totally different voice.
Oh my! Reading my comment with so many spellings mistakes! 🤦♀️🤦♀️ Lol I’m glad she was a nice squirrel
Okay, so I don’t want it to stress you out, so I logged into my dashboard and fixed them. 😉
I totally understood what you meant!
Haha!! That’s so sweet of you! They wouldn’t have bothered me lol
Did you make the little stone sculpture? V neat
Nope, I don’t normally make any (I try to leave no trace.)
I did love that little rock dude though. It’s an inukshuk; Lots of people seem to make them here in Canada!
My goodness, did you see all of those waterfalls in one day? All on one long hike? That’s spectacular. I love the blue ice.
w/a Jansen Schmidt
We had planned to see them all in a day (it is easily do-able) but in the end it was raining when we planned to hike to Moul Falls, so we returned the following morning for that one.
I reeeeeally wanted to try and make time for Wells Gray! One day! Moul Falls actually looks really cool as well, I love how it’s split out. So pretty!
I think it’s okay, you did fit in a huuuuge amount in your last months here! This way, you have an excuse to come back! 😉
Wow – gorgeous! I am a sucker for a good waterfall, and I can only imagine what these look like in person.
Me tooo! I promise, they are all even more impressive in person when you have the noise, the sogginess and whoosh of wind coming from the falls!
I couldn’t really capture their epic-ness in photos!
Jeez, this place looks unreal! Like some kind of CGI movie scene. I love how Spahat and Helmcken are crashing through the still-frozen ice below. When you do these hikes are you freezing? I’m learning more about winter hiking so I can hang in there in environments like this, I don’t want to miss these views because I’m a baby about the cold. Y’all don’t look like you overdressed much though; I guess with proper layers and by keeping your blood pumping it’s really not that big a deal?
This wasn’t even cold! There is still a bit of snow around, but the air temperature was not too chilly at all, like 10-15 degrees centigrade.
To be honest, until i moved to Canada I was a total wimp about the cold. However, if you ever do snowshoeing, you’ll often find you end up too warm from all the layers! It’s mad, but being out on cold days is not as horrific as I thought it would be!
p.s My husband works in VFX, so if I really wanted a fake waterfall, I bet he could make one. 😉
I love that name, Pink Moose! The waterfalls do look amazing, Josy. The layers of melting snow patches make them all the more interesting! Which one was your fave?
We all *really* wanted to meet a moose, but that cafe was the closest we got!
Hmmm…it’s a tough choice, but I think i liked Moul falls best, mostly because it was so cool to get right up behind it.
I love being able to go behind falls, too. You should make the drive down to Oregon some day and visit the Trail of Ten Waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park. It has some of the best for that!
Wow! That’s lots of great waterfalls and they are so pretty with the ice around them. I don’t think I have ever seen frozen waterfalls before so this is an experience I am interested in dong sometime.
I’d seen one half icy waterfall near Whistler, but I’d never seen giant ice domes like that before! They are sooo cool!
After this we went to Jasper, so i now feel like a bit of an expert on iced-up waterfalls! 😉
Ive never heard of this park so thank you so much for this!!! Excited to add it to my list!
Yay Thanks Pamelard, I hope you make it there too.
These waterfalls are marvellous! I particularly like your pictures of Spahat creek canyon. I love chasing after waterfalls. Two weeks ago went chasing one in Ecuador. Never knew Canada was blessed with so many!
I was sooo impressed with Spahat creek canyon, especially as I saw so little about it online. We loved the crazy geology even before we set eyes on the waterfall!
I never knew about Gray provincial park but some of the waterfalls are amazingly beautiful here. Spahats Creek Falls really looks unique and also the canyon. Good to know about some offbeat destination.
I find that often less famous places are just as epic as the famous sights! Although, I think Wells Gray Park *IS* famous, just not as much as Banff and Jasper!
I’ve only visited in the fall when the flow of the falls is lower. I’d love to visit in the winter some time to see the falls with ice!
I remember seeing your post about these falls aaaages ago (before we had a car or even considered going on such long road trips!) The falls do look amazing in the summer too – I guess we’ll have to swap. I’ll head back in summer, and you can visit in winter. 😉