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Helmcken Falls, Wells Gray Provincial Park

Visit Spectacular Wells Gray Waterfalls, British Columbia

By Kimberly Walker

Plan to travel to Wells Gray Provincial Park this summer – a mecca for outdoor lovers located in the east central region of British Columbia. From remote and extreme backcountry to roadside opportunities to get up close and personal with nature, Wells Gray is guaranteed to delight travellers no matter the weather or season.

One of the most well known features of Wells Gray is the abundance of waterfalls. From quick roadside stops to lengthy backcountry trips and from falls that plunge dramatically over a cliff face to falls that cascade over a wide but low falls, Wells Gray truly has a waterfall for everyone.

Spahats Falls, Wells Gray Provincial Park | Kim Walker

At just ten kilometres from Clearwater, Spahats Falls is the first signed waterfall destination on Clearwater Lake Road. From the large parking area, two trails lead to the viewpoint. We preferred to follow the trail along the edge of the gorge on the way to the viewpoint, and loop back on the interior route. The vertical drop of Spahats Falls is beautiful, but in my opinion, the truly spectacular part of visiting this waterfall is the incredible gorge visible from the viewing platform.

Moul Falls, Wells Gray Provincial Park | Kim Walker

A further ten kilometres along Clearwater Valley Road, the Moul Falls Trail should be the first real hike of your waterfall adventure. A six or so kilometre round trip, the Moul Falls Trail follows old road before turning to trail. The trail eventually starts to descend into the canyon, then stairs take hikers right down to the water level. We visited in early July, and the falls were pounding ferociously against the rocks. Later in the summer, when the flow decreases, it is possible to get extremely close, and even to venture behind the waterfall.

Dawson Falls, Wells Gray Provincial Park | Kim Walker

40 kilometres from Clearwater, Dawson Falls is another excellent roadside waterfall. Dawson Falls is dramatically different from either Spahats or Moul Falls in that Dawson Falls is significantly wider than it is tall. The trail to Dawson Falls has a lovely viewpoint that allows an overall picture of the falls, and then the trail continues until you are standing just meters away from the brink of the falls – an incredibly spectacular and massively intimidating experience when the water is high and rushing past you just a few feet away. Just a kilometre or so up the road, another trail leads to the north side of Dawson Falls from the Pyramid Campground, providing a different perspective on the same falls.

Helmcken Falls, Wells Gray Provincial Park | Kim Walker

At just under 43 kilometres from Clearwater, the turn off to Helmcken Falls marks probably the most popular waterfall in Wells Gray. At over 140 metres tall, Helmcken Falls is well deserving of its popularity. A short trail leads from the enormous parking lot (this is an extremely popular destination, after all) to the canyon rim. Heading towards the falls, you can take in the views from the purpose-built viewing platforms. Heading away from the falls, you can follow the trail along the lip of the canyon as far as the safety fencing and then continue beyond the fence along the Gattling Gorge trail. The trail continues for four kilometres one way, so simply walk until you are halfway tired, then turn around and enjoy the views of Helmcken Falls drawing you closer upon your return. If you get the timing absolutely perfect, late afternoon sunshine lights up Helmcken Falls with the most spectacular rainbow, making it a picture perfect way to end your waterfall tour of Wells Gray.

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The excellent book Exploring Wells Gray Park by Roland Neave is a must-get for anyone interested in the overall natural and human history of the park and is an excellent accompaniment to any waterfall excursion to Wells Gray.

For accommodation in this area and elsewhere in BC go to travel-british-columbia.com

Share your BC travel photos using hashtag #TravelinBC

Published: March 10, 2022

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About the Author

Kimberly is a Special Education, Elementary School teacher in Hope, BC. Previously having worked ten years at the Hope Visitor Centre & Museum promoting tourism in Hope and British Columbia, Kimberly worked on many local history projects in the museum as well as researching and writing articles for the local newspaper. Kimberly loves travelling with her husband Dale and their dog Alpine. In the fall of 2014, they spent the first 78 days of married life travelling and camping their way across Canada - just the two of them and the dog - travelling in a Hyundai Elantra! Kimberly loves various outdoor recreation types and exploring our beautiful province.

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