Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia – High trees, deep waters

Wells Gray Provincial Park is with 540.000 km2 one of British Columbia’s largest provincial parks, the main part is undeveloped wilderness. It is regarded as one of BC’s highlights and free of charge at the same time. The park is known for its connected lakes, rapids and waterfalls between the alpine appearing Caribou Mountains. Canoe fans as well as white water rafters find a paradise here. There are even rapids of category 5+ – something like a dark-black ski run. Many attractions are accessible by car or short hikes. E.g. the Spahat Falls where the water of a brook falls from a cave-like canyon deep down, and continues its journey in a deep canyon with huge steep faces. A view platform does not only offer glances to astronomical depths but over the green forest scenery of the park.

The sharp bends of the feeder track to the more than 1000 m high Green Mountain are problematically narrow for motorhomes. A view tower was erected up there from where we have a great view to the surrounding mountains beyond the treetops. Dawson falls are less worth seeing due to their only 18 m height than because the immense water masses at 91 m width. The spectacular signature spot of Wells Gray Park is Helmcken Falls. Water shoots from a defile in free fall 141 m deep where it lands in a huge semicircular bowl that must have been created thousands of years ago. The river flows on as well between canyon walls rising as straight as a die.

In August and September of every year you can watch a special spectacle of nature at Bailey’s Chute Rapids. Chinook salmon – up to 22 kg heavy – try with vast leaps to overcome the rapids. None of them makes it to more than the half. In the end of their journey they have to realize that they miss power for this last act of strength. They have to turn and drift downstream where they spawn in calmer waters and die. Clearwater Lake is situated in the end of the 70 km long park road and rightly carries its name due to its crystal-clear water. It offers access to diverse – non-motorized – water sport options. In the whole park very old huge red cedars stand out. The conifers can grow up to 30 m and their stems are up to 180 cm thick; further south they can grow even bigger. They achieve an average age of 300 to 700 years, but can become up to 1000 years old.

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