It’s known as the “waterfall park” and your experiences here will be in a region of the province that’s famous for outdoor adventure, clean air, blue skies and plenty of wildlife!
This magical spot is called Wells Gray Provincial Park and at 540,000 hectares or close to 1.9 million acres of land, is known as one of the finest wilderness parks in North America. It is here where you’ll be immersed in the staggering beauty of a land virtually untouched. Raging rivers, craggy peaks, ice fields, lava fields, isolated lakes and over 40 waterfalls make this a trip you won’t want to miss. Wells Gray Provincial Park also features spectacular Helmcken Falls and at 142 metres, is the fourth highest in Canada
Day 1 — Vancouver to Clearwater/Wells Gray
You start your day with an early departure from Vancouver on Highway #1. Your journey will take you along the Fraser River canyon, you will begin to notice a change in the land as the temperate forest makes way for a climate much drier and hotter. The town of Lytton, located at the confluence of the Fraser and South Thompson Rivers regularly claims many days in the summer as Canada’s hot spot. It is not uncommon for the temperature to be well over 40 degrees (over 100 Fahrenheit!)
As you proceed north, you will come to the town of Cache Creek. During the famous gold rush of the mid 1800’s, thousands of prospectors travelled the Fraser Canyon en route to the newly discovered Cariboo Gold Fields. During their exhausting journey, they often sought refuge near a small creek at the halfway point where they could store or “cache” some of their belongings and rest overnight. Beside a welcome stop from the heat of the Fraser Canyon, Cache Creek is also centre to many fishing resorts and dude guest ranches.
After passing through Kamloops, the fourth largest city in B.C. and into the North Thompson Valley, you arrive to the seclusion and serenity of the North Thompson. Here you’ll enjoy a pristine wilderness retreat for the next three days.
Settle in and kick off your shoes and relax with some western hospitality. After a beautiful lakeside dinner, you can venture out for a twilight back country hike or you may want to try your luck angling on trout-filled Hallemore Lake (the silent, electric powered boats don’t scare the fish) or simply relax after a long day with friends. Tonight will be the first night in a long time where the only sound you will hear is the call of a coyote echoing across the valley.
Overnight Clearwater / Wells Gray
Day 2 — Clearwater / Wells Gray
After a big alpine breakfast, your day begins with a trip into Wells Gray Provincial Park and a canoeing adventure on Clearwater Lake with Clearwater Lake Tours. You are more likely to see wildlife drinking along the shores of Clearwater Lake than in the surrounding forest. Caribou and elk are known to swim the lake to reach the other side. Many black bears and moose forage around the lake so keep your camera close by because a photo op may happen when you least expect it. If you’re looking for an adventure further into the park, Clearwater Lake Tours offers a combination jet boat and paddle day trip that transports you to adjoining Clearwater and Azure Lakes for lunch and an afternoon of fishing and exploring around Rainbow Falls. You can use their equipment or your own to spend several days camping and paddling back the route back.
As an option to the day, you may find more land based touring more to your liking. Kanata Wilderness Adventure Tours will escort you to many locations and serve you a decadent picnic in a pristine location! The food today will seem to taste better than anything else in recent memory. This is your first opportunity to sit back and soak up the warm sunshine and breathe deeply the mountain fresh air!
Your journey will lead you on hikes to several of the famous landmarks within the park such as Dragon’s Tooth, Dawson Falls, Helmcken Falls and Spahats Falls. There are also lava beds, mineral springs, extinct volcanoes, alpine flower meadows and glaciers to see.
Overnight Clearwater / Wells Gray
Day 3 — Clearwater/Wells Gray
Good sleep, fresh air and a clear mind make for a big appetite at breakfast. It’s onward to Helmcken Falls Lodge for a horseback adventure. Constructed with only hand tools in 1948, the lodge has seen many changes since then but foremost still retains its charm and rustic elegance. Climb into the saddle and be friends with your horse as it’s now time for a three hour guided trip to Hemp Canyon and the historic Bee Farm. You will learn of the original settlers and hardships endured and witness some of the remarkable biodiversity of the region. Vistas and scenic lookouts will provide amazing pictures as memories of your trail ride.
It is high noon and this means it’s time to travel down the road for lunch in the town of Clearwater. Don’t get too comfortable as you’ll be heading out soon on a wild and wet river rafting adventure. Don’t worry by the description because you’ll have a helmet, the best flotation and years of experience from Interior White-Water Expeditions. This 3-hour rafting trip will entertain you with classic rapids of the Lower Canyon of the Clearwater River. Highlights on this river safari include the Mosh Pit, the Wall, M-87, Tsunami and Pink Mountain to name just a few. Your guides will also take you to secluded Candle Creek Falls for a rafter’s shower and a laugh!
After floating to home base in Clearwater, you will disembark from your raft and travel back to Alpine Meadows Resort. You’ve worked up an appetite for a hearty meal after a busy day. It’s time to celebrate and reminisce about the day’s adventures under a canopy of stars during your last night in the Thompson Okanagan.
Day 4 — Clearwater to Vancouver
The last day of your Thompson Okanagan trip begins early to make your way homeward. The journey home could see you retrace your steps down the mighty Fraser River on Highway #1 or take the faster route to Vancouver on the Yellowhead Highway #5. As an option, there are daily flights from Kamloops Airport to Vancouver or Calgary International Airports.