Want to go to a place that has a bunch of amazing waterfalls with most of them being within only about 100 yards from where you park? Then Wells Gray Provincial Park is the place for you. With cooler than normal temperatures this spring our alpine start was somewhat delayed. We had been itching to get out camping so the idea came to mind why not car camp and take in the waterfalls at low season before all the crowds arrive.
We drove up to Clearwater and checked into the KOA Campground. It is open year-round, centrally located and even has hot showers. A bonus if you camp there in the warmer months is the in-ground pool and mini golf. Their tenting sites are not to be frowned upon. They are large with many trees so you get that wilderness feel. We selected a site with no other campers around us. We had brought the girls’ strider bikes so they enjoyed riding all around, over the rocks and roots and even the small snow pile at our site entrance that remained from the previous season.
As we had thrown this idea into our minds the morning of, we just enjoyed easy quick meals we had around home for the two nights away. We have all of our camping stuff very well organized so when we come up with an idea such as this it makes for an easy pack and go. We also decided to just bring the car so almost all of our camping items were from our backpack camping box to fit in the limited space we had, not to mention needing to cram in the two strider bikes.
The days were warm with the sun out, +12°C, but the evenings and nights were fairly chilly. Getting to freezing at night. We were using our Sea to Summit Ether light sleep pads on top of the Z-Lites, combined with our Rab Expedition 1000 sleeping bags. The girls have their own sleeping bags, but they are only rated to zero degrees so by around 4 am we found them waking up chilly and crawling into our bags to snuggle us.
We awoke to a nice sunny morning and ate a big breakfast of oatmeal and bagels with peanut butter. We made some wraps for lunch and headed up the road to check out the falls. First stop was Dawson Falls. The parking lot still had snow, and with us being in the car we couldn’t really drive in there so we parked just at the entrance and started walking the trail. This trail is only a kilometre and a half but there was about six inches of snow on it still making it slippery and challenging for the girls to navigate. We ended up putting them on our shoulders for the majority of this walk in. On the way back we hopped onto the main road and walked that way back to the car.
Next stop was the famous Helmcken Falls. The road was plowed into it but the parking lot was gated closed. There was a pullout place for about six vehicles to park safely to go view the falls. This walk is very short. First you are greeted with multiple picnic tables in a nicely treed area and just beyond that are the falls which you can take in from a viewing platform on your left. We also walked the fence line for more spectacular views. This is where we enjoyed our lunch as the sun was shining and we took in the sound of the water crashing down. The path to the outhouse and garbage cans was shovelled out for use also.
Our final stop for the day was to Spahats Falls. The road was still snowy and the parking lot gate locked. We parked nearest the gate we could, then took the Forest Loop Trail to the falls. This trail wove amongst the trees with no snow at all. We had the whole place to ourselves and enjoyed the peacefulness and beauty of the sun rays shining.
Back at the campsite the girls rode their striders while I cooked dinner and Tyson started a fire. We were all pretty tired with the full day of fresh air so called it a night and climbed into the tent for bed.
Woke up to the sun shining and already +2°C. I made breakfast while Tyson took down camp. We ate, packed the car and headed back up the road to hike Moul Falls. This is a six kilometre out and back trail that is very doable with our girls. We always do bring our Trail Magik as backup just in case someone gets tired legs. Our girls were very excited to see these falls so were very motivated to get there. Once we got to the top of the falls we followed the little trail to the left, down a steep trail and eventually turning into a large staircase landing at the bottom of Moul Falls. All of us stood in awe taking in the beauty these cascades hold. At this time of year there was still a snow pile spanning the creek. We were able to use that as a bridge to get across and have some snacks in the cave. From here we ventured behind the falls. This is a very magical place where you could spend hours relaxing and taking it all in. Again, we were the only ones here and it was spectacular. Our girls hiked all the way back out and to the car.
The weather was perfect in every way for this weekend getaway and the bonus was that it felt like we had the entire park to ourselves.
Have a quick look at our previous trip to the Park, and be sure to check out the video at the end.