I had never heard of Wells Gray Park until I was searching for a route between Jasper National Park and the Okanagan Valley, then I spotted a big green patch on the map and thought I would look into it a little more.
It turns out that this provincial park is just a 3 and a half hour drive from the town of Jasper itself. For those of you who live in the UK, 3 and a half hours if a fair distance, however I can assure you it does not feel this long, the drive is extremely beautiful and you will actually be sad once it has ended! For those of you who live in Canada, well that is just a walk in the park!
We set off from Jasper around breakfast time and hit the road, arriving at the base of the park just before lunchtime. We found a picnic spot at Spahats Creek Falls and soaked up the valley views whilst eating strawberry jam sandwiches before setting off on the short walk to the falls themselves.
Our main reason for visiting the park other than it being a convenient stopping point was the wealth of waterfalls that are so easily accessible. There were some we couldn’t do due to time constraints so we stuck to those that were a short distance from the main road.
Spahats Creek Falls is just 10km from the Yellowhead Highway and passes through Raft Mountain and Trophy Mountain before thundering down over 75m into the Clearwater River. The creek was originally known as Bear Creek but changed its name to Spahats which is the First Nations term for bear.
The falls were formed by deposits of volcanic rock, first produced by eruptions over 300,000 years ago, creating layers upon layers of rock deposits that can be seen all over Wells Gray Park. The Clearwater River has cut through the rock formations, particularly during Pleistocene periods in which the ice sheets carved through the rocks, creating canyons and making way for the meltwater to tumble over the rock as a stunning waterfall.
Next on the list was Helmcken Falls, this was the main event for me, I had seen photos of this waterfall on Instagram and I had to stop myself from getting my hopes up, I assumed it could never be as beautiful in real life.
I was wrong. The Helmcken Falls are also very convenient to reach, just a short walk from the car parking area you hear the falls before you see them. As you walk closer and the landscape opens up you are met by the most breathtaking sight. This is by far the most jaw-dropping slice of mother nature I have had the pleasure of viewing.
The only downside is that the walkway and viewing platform slightly takes away from the natural aspect of the area but it also provides a wonderful place to relax, one in which I did not want to get up from. Watching the thousands of gallons of water cascade over the rock was extremely peaceful and mesmerising, we ended up staying here a lot longer than planned, we really didn’t want to leave.
After leaving the Helmcken Falls we drove towards Dawson Falls, a very different experience to the first two. The falls are wide rather than tall and this is another one easy to reach, just a 10-minute walk from the roadside and carpark. The drop in which the water tumbles over dates back approximately 200,000 years, it is another mesmerising experience, I just could not get my head around the volume of water that was flowing past at such a fast rate. Unfortunately me being me, I left my camera in the car, however, this at least meant I could just live in the moment.
Tired but accomplished we made our way to the Clearwater Springs Ranch, a luxury wilderness lodge on the Wells Gray Park boundary. We were immediately greeted by a very friendly Flemish couple, Kurt and Tania, who own and run this cosy lodge.
Upon arrival we were shown around the property and encouraged to make ourselves at home, which we did straight away! We unpacked and showered before heading downstairs to the open plan living room.
The living room quickly became our favourite spot, this was due to the huge windows that looked out over the decking, garden and meadows beyond. Along the windowsill was a fantastic pair of binoculars, there was also a telescope available to us. Tania came into the room to let us know there was a bear in the meadow so we picked up the binoculars to have a look for ourselves, and there he was! We could have spent hours watching the black bear roll around in the field, playing with the bumblebees, it was fascinating, but time was ticking on and we had a dinner to tuck into.
Guests have the option to dine at the ranch and enjoy a homecooked dinner, or they can head out into nearby Clearwater instead. We thankfully chose to dine in so grabbed a chair around the table and introduced ourselves to the other guests. Lucky for us the weather was spectacular, meaning we could eat al fresco amongst the hummingbirds that kept us company. The food was fantastic, the wine flowed, and we all shared tips and stories about our time in Canada, it was a lovely evening.
After a good night sleep in a very comfy bed (with the world’s softest sheets!), we treated by a delicious breakfast before we headed off towards Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley!
If you are interested in staying at the Clearwater Springs Ranch you can book here.