Wells Gray Country Basics

    A Little History...
    Wells Gray Provincial Park was created in 1939, and is named after a former BC Minister of
    Lands, Arthur "Wellsy" Gray.

    The Park is over 500,000 hectares in area, has 5 major lakes within its boundaries, and is
    home to the headwaters of both the Murtle and Clearwater Rivers. Most of the park is classed
    as an inland temperate rain forest, one of very few in North America,  and is a lush green home
    for endless species of birds, plants and animals.

    How to get there...
    1. via Highway 5 from Kamloops to Clearwater
    2. south from Valemount on Highway 5
    3. Mahood Lake can be accessed off of Highway 97 North at 100 Mile via Forest Grove and
    South Canim Lake Rd. (note! you cannot access Mahood from the corridor area of the park,
    or vice versa!)
    4. The Murtle Lake Nature Conservancy is reached via Blue River, also on Highway 5.   
Why Visit Wells Gray?
Wells Gray Provincial Park is one of Canada's
hidden Jewels
    One of Wells Gray Parks' nicknames is "the Waterfall Park",
    because of Helmcken, Dawson, Rainbow, Osprey  and the
    other waterfalls that dot the Park... But really, that's just the tip
    of what there is to experience in Wells Gray.
When should you visit Wells Gray?
Wells Gray is a Park for All Seasons!
    Spring is time for Bears:
    Visit the Corridor to see Black Bears foraging along the roadways
    from mid May 'till late June.  On a good June day, it's not uncommon
    to see  6-8 different 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.
Wells Gray is Nature at its best!
    Common Questions about Wells Gray Park
    General Questions about Wells Gray (these only apply
    to areas actually in the park)

    How big is the park?

    OVER 520,000 Hectares… That’s roughly the size of the province of Prince Edward Island.

    What is the Elevation (how high above sea level are we)?
    The elevation varies considerably in the park, but good benchmark locations to give as references are
    the lakes: Clearwater Lake 680m, Murtle Lake 1067m, Hobson Lake 858m, Azure Lake 682m.  Trophy
    Mountain peak is 2577m, Pyramid Mountain is just 1094m.  O

    Where can I see a bear?
    Bears can be found in all of the parks. The best place to see a bear is probably on the road between
    the main entrance near Hemp Creek and Helmcken Falls.  Keep your eyes open everywhere else
    though, as bears are common along the sides of the roads just about everywhere in and out of the

    Where can I see a moose?
    Moose are a rare sight in the park due to the thick forest. The road between Clearwater Lake and the
    Park Entrance provides the most moose sightings, but  you have to get up early. The best time to spot
    a moose on the road is between 5 am and 7 am, and even then you have to be very lucky.

    Where can I see a beaver?
    Shadow Lake has a resident beaver, as do a couple of the creeks outside the park, in the valley.

    Are there any stores/gas stations in the park?  Only one - at Clearwater Lake Campground - just the
    Clearwater (North Thompson/ Spahats), Blue River (Murtle), and Forest Grove (Mahood) have the
    nearest amenities.

    Nearest phones?
    North Thompson - yes, pay phone in park
    Spahats - Clearwater (Flour Meadow Bakery)
    Corridor and Clearwater Lake - Helmcken Falls Lodge
    Mahood - ask the park operator on site
    Murtle Lake - Blue River

    Will cell phones work in the park?

    Are there hook-ups in the park (water and electricity for motor homes)? No.

    Showers? only pay showers at clearwater lake.

    Sani-stations for dumping septic tanks/ gray water? Yes, there are two; one at Clearwater Lake, and
    one at North Thompson Park. Cost is 5 dollars per use.

    Running water? All campsites that you can drive to have running filtered water, with the exception of
    Pyramid Campground which has a hand operated pump.   Boat access only campsites have no
    filtered water sources.

    Where can I get firewood?

    Firewood can be purchased from park staff at a cost of $6 per bin (approx. 2 cubic feet).
    Staff will be selling wood during evening collection shifts, usually between 5:30 and 10 pm.

    If you wish to purchase firewood during the day, contact park staff at the service yard in Clearwater
    Lake Campground.

    Burn only firewood you have brought with you or that you purchase from Park Staff. Removing trees
    and branches from the forest floor is a violation of the Park Act and will result in a fine.

    Are dogs allowed in the park? Yes dogs are allowed, but must be kept on a leash,**** EXCEPT at
    Murtle Lake!**** Dogs and all other pets are banned form Murtle Lake and are grounds for Immediate
    Eviction from the park and possibly a fine under the Park Act.

    Other things banned from the park include but are not limited to:
    Personal water Craft i.e.Jet skis, Sea-doo’s
    Unlicensed/uninsured MOTORBIKES i.e. Quads, dirt bikes, ATV’s
    Glass bottles on Murtle Lake.
    Horses without a permit (some exceptions)
    Guided commercial  groups on Murtle and Clearwater/Azure Marine (contact Clearwater Info Centre
    for allowable guiding companies)

    How much does it cost to stay in the park?

    All drive in campsites are basically $16 dollars per night, per vehicle (see registration sign for details)

    Marine campsite fees (boat or canoe access on Clearwater/Azure/Murtle) are $5 per person (13 years
    or older) per night (see registration sign for details)

    Nonpayment of fees is grounds for eviction or fines under the park act.

    Can I pay with my Credit Card or Debit Card?

    No. Cash or Travelers Cheque are the only acceptable forms of payment. Personal cheques are not

    Can I reserve a Campsite?  
    Only at North Thompson and Mahood parks.

    If I come early, can I save a campsite for a friend?
    This is not allowed, Wells Gray is a long drive from anywhere, so saving sites is generally unfair to
    other park users.

    Can more than one vehicle/RV camp in the same campsite?
    Generally this is allowed, BUT you will be charged full rate for two RV’s, campers, etc…and  extra cars
    will be charged at least a half fee.   This is up to our, and BC Parks discretion, to allow.  More than two
    vehicles on a site are not generally allowed.

    Are there special areas for tenters?
    Some sites have sand tent pads.

    What’s a good short hike I can take (2 hours or less)?
    Foot Lake
    Placid Lake
    Helmcken Rim Trail
    Ray Farm - Alice Lake - Ray Mineral Spring
    Bailey's Chute - West Lake
    Sticta Falls - Dragons Tongue
    Osprey Falls viewpoint

    What’s a good medium hike I can take (1-3 hours)?
    Trophy Mountain
    Placid Lake (Green Mountain) to Whitehorse Bluffs
    Pyramid Mountain - Majerus Falls
    Clearwater Lake Lookout
    Whale Lake (Mahood)
    Henrietta Lake (Murtle)
    File Creek (Murtle)
    Shaden (Spahats)

    What’s a good long hike I can take(3-8 hours)?
    Trophy Mountain
    Battle Mountain
    Flat Iron
    Chain Meadows
    Horseshoe Falls (bug spray please!)
    Wavy Range (Murtle Lake)

    Trails only for the very experienced and well equipped
    The trail to be base of Helmcken Falls - steep and rocky
    Huntley Col - steep and lack of water
    Kostal Lake route - extensively grown in and hard to follow
    Hobson Lake route - same
    Zodiac Mountain - trail no longer traceable

    Can I walk to any of the Campsites on the Clearwater/ Azure Marine Circuit?
    No. All marine sites can only be accessed by boat or canoe, there are no trails to them (please be
    careful not to confuse Clearwater Lake Campground with the Marine Circuit).

    Can I walk to any of the Campsites on the Murtle Marine Circuit? Yes, but only campsite 1, all the rest
    must be accessed by canoe.

    It's also home to Black Bears, Grizzlies, Moose, Mountain
    Goats, Caribou, Wolves, Cougar and many other Animal

    The fishing is amazing, not just for the quality of the Rainbow
    trout and Salmon, but also for the astonishing beauty of the
    places you can choose to fish.  Anglers come from all over
    the continent just to fly fish in parts of Wells Gray.

    Flora?  How do 500 year old Cedars, Alpine Meadows
    carpeted in blooms of every color, and roadways lined with
    wildflowers sound?  

    Wells Gray is known for its wide range of natural
    landscapes; everything from glaciers to moose meadows,
    ancient cedar forests and extinct volcanoes, unspoiled lakes
    to recent forest fire burns coming back to life.
    World Class catch and release Fly fishing really gets going July 1st
    when the Clearwater River opens, but good trout fishing can be had
    in most of the park's larger lakes as soon as you can get access to
    them in May.  Check Freshwater Fishing Regulations for openings
    and restrictions.

    August is the busy season in Wells Gray, a time for canoe treks,
    sunny days on sandy beaches, day hikes and picnics in the flower
    meadows and along the river banks. It's also the beginning of the
    Bailey's Chute Salmon Run; wanna see a 40 pound fish fly/ this is
    the place to see one up close.

    September is quiet . The Salmon run tapers off around the 20th, and
    cooler nights bring on fall colours throughout the park, most notably
    around Mahood Lake and up the Clearwater River Valley.

    Winter unveils a whole new Wells Gray, with Cross Country skiing,
    the ice cone on Helmcken Falls, and a cold blanket of snow that
    covers the Trophies. Cross Country and Backcountry Skiing is
    popular, as well as guided dogsledding, and snowmobiling in select
    areas outside the park.
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,
About Blue River...

Blue River, halfway between Jasper and
Kamloops, and is the staging point for
Murtle Lake in the summers.

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.  
Thats 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.
Whitewater Rafting &Kayaking
Dog sledding
Horseback Riding
Guided Fly fishing
Guided Canoe Adventures
Cross Country Skiing
    Useful info:
    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.
    Rarer Birds:
    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
    Grays major

    Cranes and Herons are also
    often seen in the river channel
    between Clearwater and Azure
    Lakes, and in the Murtle Lagoon.