What to do at Wells Gray Provincial Park
Updated: Aug 1, 2021
Wells Gray Provincial Park is dubbed as Canada’s Waterfall Park, consisting of 39 named waterfalls along with hundreds of others scattered throughout. Located only an hour and a half from Kamloops or 40 km from Clearwater, it offers a wide range of activates for all ages. The most obvious one-chasing waterfalls. Luckily for most, 3 of the major waterfalls (Dawson, Helmcken, and Spahats) are located only a short distance from the highway, with a 500m walk to the viewing platform.
Wi-Fi: Depending on your mobile network, the internet will be limited.
Bears: You are entering the bear country and should always carry bear spray with you, even for the shortest hikes. We saw 2 bears on the gravel road towards Pyramid Campground.
Mosquitos: and what an abundance of them! Bug spray is a must and if you’re camping, coils or an enclosed seating area.
Limited Facilities: make sure whatever you need, you pick/fuel up before you enter.
Road: Paved road from Clearwater to Helmcken Falls and suitable for all vehicles. *The paved road ends just after Helmcken Falls turnoff. The gravel road to Clearwater Campground is in good condition with a few potholes.*
Lodging: there are 4 campsites but also a few guesthouses just before the park entrance coming from Clearwater.
We spent 2 nights at this wonderful park and jammed in a ton of stuff. I can see why it is extremely easy to spend a week there. From camping to hiking to fishing to lake activities, it would not be hard to fill your day with activities not to mention, you can also make it in as a day trip if you are time-limited.
Arriving quite late the first night, we did a quick stop at Hop "N" Hog for supper. It's a smokehouse serving craft beer, with seating options outside and an obvious stop.
There are 4 campsites located in the park, along with Wilderness camping: Mahood Lake (32 units, 5 doubles), Clearwater Lake (39 units), Falls Creek (41 units), and Pyramid Campground.
We stayed at Pyramid Campground, which is centrally located and allows you to quickly access many attractions. Pyramid Campground has 50 sites (8 doubles), pit toilets, and one hand pump (bring a container to fill for drinking water). It is a first-come, first-serve, $20/night and always has spots. We were quite surprised how empty it was for the 2 days there. There are 2 hikes in the area: Dawson Falls (~3km loop) and Pyramid Mountain (~11km return). The parking lot for Pyramid Mountain is also the start for Majerus and Horseshoe Falls
Tip: This campsite is built on a marsh and is infested with mosquitos. Bring your bug spray, mosquito coils, and screen seating area if you have them.
The biggest attraction at this park is of course the waterfalls with Helmcken Falls (Canada’s 4 tallest waterfall) as the main attraction. Luckily for those non-hikers, day-trippers, 3 of the main waterfalls are accessible just off the highway with a 500m walk to the viewing platform.
Here are the 8 waterfalls we saw:
1. Helmchen Falls
Distance: 500m to the viewing platform
It is just as impressive as it is in real life as it is in the photos. I was told the best time to go is in the afternoon when you can see a rainbow. We went twice, the first time around lunch and the second just before sunset. Regardless of the time of day, you will certainly get an epic picture. There’s a parking lot for cars, trucks, and RV’s, along with 2 pit toilets, information boards, and picnic tables. It is a paved road all the way to the parking lot, easily accessible for all vehicles.
Helmcken Falls at sunset; views on Gatling Gorge Trail
Tip: For one incredible view (and fewer people), walk along the fence towards the ‘Gatling Gorge Trail’ sign and follow it for a few minutes.
Viewing Helmcken Falls just past the 'Gatling Gorge Trail' sign
2. Dawson Falls
Distance: 1.4 km roundtrip, easy
Another one just off the highway, follow the signs. The parking lot is a little smaller with 2 pit toilets and 2 more, near the upper viewpoint. Dawson Falls has 2 viewpoints worth seeing-the lower viewpoint shows the entire fall, and the upper viewpoint brings you to the top of the falls.
Lower and upper viewpoints
Tip: To see the falls from both sides, walk the Dawson Creek Trail (3km loop) in Pyramid Campground.
Blink and you will miss it! Luckily I pinned it to my Google Maps and it was the only reason I knew it was there. This waterfall is located right next to the little single-lane bridge and if you are like me, your only focus is hoping you fit across that bridge! When driving towards Clearwater Campground, just after the bridge there is a little turnoff spot you can park and walk back to take some pictures.
4. Moul Falls
Distance: 6km roundtrip, easy
Did you know you can walk behind the waterfall? During the summer, a thin curtain of water flows over allowing you to venture behind. For the first 2 km, the trail is on a wide-open path before it narrows between the trees. Looking over the falls is a viewpoint or walk another 35m (steep and slippery) to the base of the falls. They have just redone the parking lot, allowing for more vehicles/RV’s and there is a pit toilet at the start.
Tip: The spray becomes heavier the closer you are to the falls. Leave your bags to the side and have a waterproof case for your camera/phone before getting to the bottom.
5. McDiarmid Falls
This is on the same hike as Moul Falls. There's a sign that will direct you in the correct direction, unfortunately, we only saw the falls from the top as we were limited with time.
6. Spahats Creek Falls
Distance: ~500 m to the viewing platform
Another one just off the highway and equally as impressive as Helmcken Falls. Some trails loop around from the falls to the parking lot and Shaden's viewpoint. The best view of Spahats is on the viewing platform but if you walk back towards the parking lot, you can also get some good shots in. The parking lot is massive and there are wheelchair-accessible toilets at the start.
Tip: Drive or hike to Shaden viewpoint where you will overlook Clearwater Valley and River and enjoy your lunch at one of the many shaded picnic tables (pit toilets available).
7. Candle Creek Falls
Distance: 4km roundtrip, hard
Candle Creek Falls was one of my favourite waterfalls so far BUT it is not for the faint of heart! It is a steep decline for 2km, one section even had ropes to help you down. Hiking sticks are a good option. The trail ends at the bridge (or keep going if you want a longer hike) where you can cross and get a good view of the waterfall. If you want to be up close and personal with it, instead of turning onto the bridge, walk straight and you will see a well-worn path leading up to the waterfall.
8. Triple Decker Falls
Distance: 0.8km roundtrip, hard
Candle Creek and Triple Decker Falls are on the same trail. You will hit the turn-off for Triple Decker Falls first, but it is a steep decline just like Candle Creek. There are even poles offered at the beginning of the hike for anybody who needs them. You can get closer to the base of the falls depending on how low or high the creek is.
There are numerous hiking opportunities in this park! Just look on All-Trails and you can find anything from under 1km (to the waterfalls) to 20km. We ended up doing 3 hikes: Moul Falls, Candle Creek Falls, and Pyramid Mountain.
there is limited Wi-Fi, download maps beforehand or take pictures of trail maps located at the start of the trail.
you are in Bear Country and should be caring bear spray with you.
for tips on hiking in hot weather, click here.
Distance: ~11km roundtrip, moderate
The starting point is in the parking lot just before Pyramid Campground. On this trail, you can also reach Majerus (7km one-way, wilderness camping) and Horseshoe Falls (16km one-way). A fork in the trail (with a sign), leads you to either Majerus waterfall, or to the top of Pyramid Mountain. The first 3.5 km is a flat trail, through trees and infested with mosquitos. Once you start ascending at the fork, you will become more and more exposed to the sun. Sunscreen, hats, and water are recommended for this portion. Follow the trail until you come to a bench where you get much-needed rest and a view of the valley.
Tip: Bring bug spray! The mosquitos are insane at the bottom portion of the trail.
Ray Farm & Mineral Spring
Distance: 1km roundtrip to Farm, easy
This is the only family homestead in the park from 1932-1946. Remains of the homestead buildings (barn) still stand but are slowly starting to decompose. Venture towards the mineral spring and onto the viewing platform to learn more about the farm.
Viewing platform over mineral springs
If Wells Gray Provincial Park is not on your bucket list, it should be! There are a ton of activities to do for any length of stay.