Wells Gray Park 2016 – Regular park services start beginning of May!

Sightseeing

Local wildlife
Looking for birds? Small birds are common around the Ray Farm, loons and other ducks abound on all the lakes, and grouse are a daily sight on the roadways. Osprey are common near Clearwater Lake Campground, which is also home to a nesting pair of Merlin falcons. Several osprey and eagle nests can be found on each of Wells Gray’s major lakes. Cranes and herons are also often seen in the river channel between Clearwater and Azure Lakes, and in the Murtle Lagoon.

Spring is time for bears. Visit the Corridor to see black bears foraging along the roadways from mid May until late June. On a good June day, it’s not uncommon to see 6 – 8 bears up close on a drive from Clearwater to Helmcken Falls.
Summer is wildflower season, with the roadsides blooming in mid-June and early July, with the Trophy Mountain Flower Meadows following suit in early July through the end of August.

Birdwatching
All areas of Wells Gray seem to get a good selection of smaller native species, among them varied thrushes, grosbeaks, swallows, etc., as well as larger birds like Spruce grouse and Ruffed grouse. Specific areas get more impressive birds, here’s a few locations and species of note:

Osprey: at least 4 nesting pairs on Clearwater and Azure Lakes every year. Murtle Lake has over a dozen nesting pairs.

Bald Eagles: seen in the fall on the Clearwater and North Thompson Rivers during the salmon run. Nesting pairs on Murtle Lake.

Herons and Cranes: often sighted at the Ray Farm, in the river channel between Clearwater and Azure lakes, and in Murtle lagoon.

Owls: Greys, Great Horned, and Screech owls have all been spotted or heard, a very wild sight or sound to experience! Mostly found in the old growth areas of the park.

Rare Waterfowl: Harlequin ducks and Wood ducks make nesting season appearances on Murtle Lake and in the Azure River channel.

Loons, Grebes, and Mergansers are common on all park lakes, especially Murtle. What do you call a flock of Loons? We don’t know either, but you can see groups upwards of 70 birds floating together on Murtle Lake, apparently very rare behavior for this bird usually only seen in pairs.

Hummingbirds: Rufous and Calliope species can be found. Good places to spot them are around Helmcken Falls Lodge, and at the Ray Farm.

Mammals, Big and Small

Bears: Bears are everywhere! Keep your eyes open for black bears from dawn to dusk in every part of the park, and along local roads in the North Thompson Valley. I can honestly say that I have seen bears in every part of Wells Gray, from the high alpine to the middle of lakes…so, be Bear Aware. Our black bears are not all black! They range in colour from blonde, to cinnamon, to chocolate brown, and several shades of black. Some look almost dark blue in the right light.

Grizzly bears are rare and much harder to encounter. Alpine meadows are the most common areas to see one, like the Trophy, Battle, and Phillips Lake areas. Even then sightings are rare. A recent count placed the Grizzly population in Wells Gray at well over 100 animals.
Deer: Deer are also common throughout the park, mostly Mule Deer (big ears), with a few Whitetail Deer now moving into the area.

Moose: Moose are common in the park, but hard to spot. They are a very reclusive animal compared to the deer, and to see one, you usually have to catch them by surprise. Seeing a moose in Wells Gray is a lucky experience, treasure it if you do.

Caribou and Mountain Goats: Both are found in Wells Gray, but both are very rare sights. Goat populations exist on the mountain tops on both sides of Azure Lake, and in select areas around Murtle Lake.

Foxes, Wolves, and Coyotes: All three are common to the park. Foxes are seen frequently along roadways and come in colours from red to black, plus many shades in between. Coyotes are generally grey and are comparable in size to a medium dog, like a Springer Spaniel. Coyotes hunt mice and ground squirrels, often in the farmers fields near the park. Wolves are common in the park, but are most often only heard howling at night. Several resident packs live around Murtle, Clearwater and Azure Lakes, and on the highlands in between the three. I’ve seen well over 2 dozen wolves in 20 years working there.

Cougars and Lynx: Both cats reside in the park, but are very rare sights, consider yourself lucky if you see either.

Beaver, Otters, and Muskrats: All three reside in Wells Gray and area. Several beaver ponds and lodges can be seen along the North Thompson River, in Shadow Lake, Alice Lake, and the Stillwater area.
Otters can occasionally be seen playing on the big lakes and rivers.
Muskrats can be found almost anywhere in smaller lakes. Muskrat houses (piles of matted grass) are common in Murtle Lagoon.

Smaller Mammals: Snowshoe hares, pine martens, fishers, mink, ground squirrels, packrats, skunks, porcupines, various mice, and voles all inhabit Wells Gray and Area. Keep your dog on a leash for its own safety.

Flora: Towering Cedars to Avalanche Lilies
Wells Gray is a botanist’s heaven. Entire books can, and have been, written on the botanical life of Wells Gray, so I won’t go into huge detail here.

There are the Trophy and Battle Mountain alpine meadows, which flower in two waves between late June and August.
The sides of the roads throughout the region have some form of wildflower in bloom from June until August.
Marshlands like Placid Lake, Murtle Lake and the Ray Farm are home to both Ladyslipper (June 25th at Placid is good) and Fairyslipper Orchids, plus dozens of other flower species and interesting plants.

There are old growth cedars at Spahats, Bailey’s Chute, Placid Lake, the Clearwater Lake boat launch, and Rainbow Falls, just to name a few locations. Plus, you have every other tree species from Birch to Hemlock to Pine to Sub-alpine Fir. Interesting tree mixes can be found on the Placid Lake Trail (monster Cottonwoods, Spruce, and Cedars), on the Bailey’s Chute Trail, and around Ray Farm.

  • Clearwater Lake Cabins

    Cabins are located in adjacent sites 34 and 38 in Clearwater Lake Campground and include the campsite for parking a car, truck, or an RV at no extra charge.

    Click here for more info.

  • Clearwater Lake

    New! There is now a small store at Clearwater Lake Campground with pay per use showers, and two cabins for rent. Ice, basic groceries, and some camping type stuff is available.
  • Good To Know

    There are several picnic stops along the Clearwater River, including Red Springs and Deer Creek.

  • About Clearwater

    About an hour and 20 minute drive north of Kamloops, Clearwater has one or two of everything; a small supermarket(Safety Mart), a hospital, a library, a couple of hardware stores, several auto mechanics, fine dining, and lots of excellent hotels, B and B's, and motels.

    The town is also a hive of outdoor adventure. You can try just about every outdoor activity imaginable, including:

    • Whitewater rafting & kayaking
    • Dog sledding
    • Horseback riding
    • Guided fly fishing
    • Guided canoe adventures
    • Cross country skiing
    • Hiking
  • Blue River

    Blue River is a good place for a pit stop, but don't look for much in the way of facilities. There are several motels and restaurants, a couple gas stations, two general stores, and a medical station. That’s about it. There's no bank, so if you need cash get it in Clearwater or Valemount. The same goes for most groceries and camping supplies.