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Chasing waterfalls: A day trip through Wells Gray Park

Now that the days are getting longer and the nights are slowly warming up, summer is within our sights. Even if it's just for a day, sometimes getting away is just what you need. Knowing that the road conditions are more than likely okay and the snow is (knock on wood) behind us, it's time to start planning for spring. And what better way to kick it off than a road trip?

<who>Photo Credit: Eric Saukarookoff</who>

The best thing about hitting the open road from the Okanagan is that we are central to so much of B.C. Drive two and a half hours south and you'll find yourself in Canada's only desert. Head four hours west and find yourself along Canada’s spectacular coastline, and east will land you in our world famous Rocky Mountains–the choice is yours.

If you're undecided and need some inspiration, Wells Gray Park will give you everything you need to satisfy your adventurous side. A round trip can be done in a day, but you can, of course, take more time to explore. With numerous mountain tops to climb and even more waterfalls to see, not to mention camping if one day isn’t enough, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the amount there is to do in this park.

<who>Photo Credit: Eric Saukarookoff</who>

The first of the three waterfalls we made it to was the one I had been anticipating the most. Helmcken Falls plummets nearly three times the height of Niagara Falls into the canyon below. The canyon and falls have been in the making for the last 200,000 years, formed over time through incredible volcanic activity and erosion. After much time, what we see today started to take shape closer to the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago.

<who>Photo Credit: Eric Saukarookoff</who>Helmcken Falls

The second waterfall in our trio was Dawson Falls, which I found hard to capture in an image with the immense power of its output. The sheer beauty reminded me of Niagara Falls, just on a smaller scale.

Lava flow dating back as far as 200,000 years formed what we now call Dawson Falls. It spans the entire width of the Murtle River (107 metres) and drops 60 feet over the lava formations below.

Getting to the falls from the parking area takes about 10-15 minutes, but it's a pretty casual hike in.

<who>Photo Credit: Eric Saukarookoff</who>Dawson Falls

Third and final along our road of discovery was the magnificent Spahats Falls, which at the moment isn't seeing it's full flow from the spring run-off yet. Spahats is similar in features to Helmcken in that they both flow out like a funnel and shoot into the canyon below. The water originates from run-off in the Trophy Mountain and Raft Mountain ranges and flows west 15km down the Spahats Creek and out of the falls, then entering the Clearwater River.

<who>Photo Credit: Eric Saukarookoff</who>Spahats Falls

When it comes to parks, rivers and lakes, there really is no shortage in B.C. All you need to do is head to Wells Gray Park and you’ll have all the proof you need. Aside from the nearly 40 waterfalls in the park, there are also numerous lakes including Murtle Lake, North America's largest exclusively canoe only lakes, making for a great canoe camping trip. Multiple campgrounds, B&Bs and resorts in the area make your longer stays easy to plan too!

<who>Photo Credit: Eric Saukarookoff</who>

For more info head to their website.


  • Head to Kamloops via whatever route you prefer to take

  • Find your way to Hwy 5 North

  • Follow Hwy 5 North to Clearwater

  • When you arrive in Clearwater, take a left at the roundabout onto Clearwater Valley Rd.

  • Follow this paved road into Wells Gray Park where everything will be well marked to get you where you're going.

  • All falls will be found along Clearwater Valley Rd

Along your drive through the park, be sure to stop at Mushbowl Falls on the Murtle River as you cross the bridge above it (it’s easy to spot because they aced the name) on Clearwater Valley Rd. The roads are all paved, allowing access for any vehicle to all four falls!

<who>Photo Credit: Eric Saukarookoff</who>

Please enjoy our parks respectfully and responsibly.

Since the day I took my first photography course in high school I knew it would soon become my new-found passion. After finding some much-needed inspiration on Instagram, I slowly got into the adventure side of photography. Whether it’s climbing a mountain or shooting down a zip-line, off-roading or just simply doing some fishing in the backcountry, I’m always trying to find new ways to have a little fun while applying photography in the process. Raised in the Okanagan, I still find myself blown away with what I discover in our valley. Join my adventures on Instagram @theexpeditionist or contact me at

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