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?
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