Wells Gray Provincial Park is a large wilderness park located in east-central British Columbia, Canada. The park protects most of the southern, and highest, regions of the Cariboo Mountains, covers 5,250 square kilometres and is British Columbia’s fourth largest park.
Wells Gray is known as ‘Canada’s Waterfall Park’ and is home to 39 named waterfalls. The largest waterfall is Helmcken Falls and is a 141 m (463 ft) waterfall on the Murtle River. Helmcken Falls is the fourth highest waterfall in Canada, measured by total straight drop without a break.
History of Wells Gray Provincial Park
History of Wells Gray Provincial Park from the BC Parks Website.
History: Established November 28, 1939, the park was named for the Honourable Arthur Wellsley Gray, Minister of Lands for British Columbia from 1933 to 1941. As a result of the Kamloops Land and Resources Management Plan, several land additions have been incorporated into Wells Gray Park. These include the Clearwater River Corridor Addition of 3100 ha and the Trophy Mountain addition of 6934 ha, both designated in April 1996.
Conservation: Wells Gray Provincial Park offers a variety of topographical features. Extinct volcanoes, lava beds, mineral springs and glaciers are just a few of the wondrous natural attractions at the park. A number of spectacular waterfalls also exist, including the famous Helmcken and Dawson Falls. Dense forest cover characterizes the lower elevations, with excellent examples of Douglas-fir, western red cedar and hemlock. Wildlife abound with larger animals, such as the grizzly bear, and smaller animals including beaver, wolverine and timber wolf. A wide variety of waterfowl, although not numerous, can also be found in the park.
Wildlife: Wells Gray is noted for a wide variety of wildlife, including black and grizzly bear, wolf, cougar, lynx, bobcat, wolverine, moose, deer, mountain goat, caribou, plus a host of smaller mammals such as fisher, marten, mink, weasel, squirrel, etc. The bird checklist notes 219 species.
Date Established: November 28, 1939
Park Size: 541,516 hectares
Camping at Wells Gray Provincial Park
Wells Gray Provincial Park has a total of 164 vehicle accessible campsites in 3 campgrounds. The two most popular campsites are Clearwater Lake Campground & Falls Creek Campground. Camping at either of these two campsites will give you access to the many waterfalls and hiking trails in Wells Gray Park. Reservations are accepted and there is also first-come, first-served sites available.
You can make reservations through the BC Parks Website. From experience I’ve found that weekends in the summer can book up fully but even being there with a reservation there was always first-come, first-served sites still available.
Things to do at Wells Gray Provincial Park
Wells Gray has something to offer every outdoor interest: lush alpine meadows, excellent birding and wildlife viewing opportunities; hiking for every ability as well as canoeing and kayaking. I have been to Wells Gray Provincial Park many times over the past few years and still haven’t come close to visiting all of the waterfalls or hiking all to the trails in the park.
If you are planning a trip to Wells Gray I recommend picking up the book – Exploring Wells Gray Park by Roland Neave.
As BC’s fourth largest park, Wells Gray is a prime place to do some exploring and this extensive guide is perfect to find all the trails, lakes, campgrounds and access routes. It includes information about the remote northern area of the park, and detailed descriptions with GPS data for 48 trails. There is also in-depth guides to canoeing Murtle Lake, climbing Garnet Peak, and exploring Trophy Mountain. The book also includes 250 photos and 12 maps.
The book is available from Amazon – https://amzn.to/2LLXVUV