Those who enjoy the waterfall tours in Wells Gray Park can now do so year round with better seasonal access beginning this winter.
The self-guided Winter Waterfall Tours pilot project gives nature enthusiasts a chance to view the various waterfalls in the park during the colder months, offering a unique viewing experience.
“There is something really special about seeing waterfalls in the winter; the ice changes depending on the temperature and snowfall,” said Stephanie Molina, marketing manager for Tourism Wells Gray.
“You get magnificent ice cones and huge icicles that form living sculptures in all shades of white, gray and blue; what’s amazing about our waterfalls is that they are so diverse. Each is a different shape and drop, and combined with the ice and snow that accumulates along the walls, it truly is unlike anything else in the world.”
Molina added with the new access it’s easier to see four of the park’s waterfalls on a driving tour and more if one is inclined to hike or snowshoe.
Another unique aspect about some of the local waterfalls is some of them never fully freeze during the winter months, so they give off a combination of mist and ice that Molina said is an amazing spectacle in and of itself.
“The self-guided winter waterfalls tour is similar to the most popular tour of the most well known falls in the park, which include Helmcken Falls—Canada’s fourth highest—Dawson Falls, which is similar in shape and form to Niagara Falls; Mushbowl Falls, which you can see if you’re near the one lane wooden bridge on the way to Helmcken Falls, along with views of the Murtle River, and now Spahats Creek Falls,” she said.
“Having more winter access to different features in the park has been a priority for some time; myself and the Tourism Wells Gray board of directors identified Spahats winter access as an important part of developing winter tourism a couple of years ago and this pilot project has been over a year in the making.”
Molina said she’s optimistic the pilot project will take off, especially with Spahats Falls being the most popular viewpoint in Wells Gray Park and conveniently located close to Clearwater, making it easy for tourists to get to.
While winter tourism in the area is in its early stages of development, she added she believes the close access and stunning winter ice, combined with marketing efforts, will make the project viable this year and going forward.
“Truthfully, having the platform and road access maintained is already a huge success in that it will provide safer winter access by vehicle and on foot,” she added.
The freezing of the waterfalls is dependant on the weather, so that’s something to take into account when deciding the best time to view the different waterfalls in their frozen glory.
With the especially frigid cold snaps, Molina said one is rewarded by gorgeous ice formations and shades of blue within the frozen water of the falls.
“In warmer snowy weather you get an amazing contrast with the snow on the lava rock walls, as well as larger snow cones. By mid-December, things start to look quite interesting,” she said.
“This project is for visitors and locals alike to get out and enjoy Canada’s Waterfall Park, which we are so fortunate to have at our doorstep. More information on visiting the Park in the winter can be found at wellsgray.ca.”
Tourism Wells Gray is leading the project, which is being funded through wildfire recovery funding and Argo Road Maintenance is maintaining road access throughout the winter as a Community Service Donation.
The pilot project is a partnership between Argo Road Maintenance, BC Parks, and Blackwell Park Operations.