Wilderness Wells Gray

“Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?”
Aldo Leopold

On the map, Wells Gray Provincial Park is a large green spot centred on the Clearwater Valley of east-central British Columbia. On the ground, at 540,000 ha, it is a magnificent wilderness preserve – as large as, or larger than, one in every five nations on earth.

Helmcken Falls
Helmcken Falls
For sheer conservation value, Wells Gray is hard to beat. Not only are its boundaries rationally defined – they circumscribe nearly the entire drainage of a major river, the Clearwater – the park also encompasses tremendous geological and biologic diversity. East and north, Wells Gray bristles with unnamed peaks and icefields, interrupted here and there by long fjord-like lakes. South and west the landscape is more gentle, with rolling, flower-strewn highlands, some scattered summits rising above, and the broad, flat-bottomed lap of the Clearwater Valley itself. Periodic volcanic outpourings over the past million years have transformed this portion of Wells Gray into a wilderness showcase of lava flows, cinder cones and highly peculiar volcanoes that erupted under glacial ice! More recently, ice and glacial melt waters have carved canyons into the lava. At the heads of these canyons are the multitudinous waterfalls for which Wells Gray – the “waterfall park” – is justly renowned.

Wells Gray is essentially a wilderness park. Every year, thousands of visitors from around the world come to peer inward at that wilderness. We have designed this “portal on the park” in large part for those visitors – or at any rate for the ones who wish to learn about the wild living things – eagles, ancient trees, grizzlies, mountain caribou – that continue, even in the 21st century, to find safe haven here. Mostly this site is a collection of glimpses, a looking in from the edges. If at the same time it manages to be a statement about the signal importance of wilderness in our troubled time, so much the better.

The Clearwater Valley is a complex place. We hope you will enjoy, as we have, exploring its diverse natural history. To get you started, here are some popular magazine articles written some years back by Trevor Goward:

Valley of Fire & Ice
Burning Questions
Winter of Wells Gray