Yellowhead From Edmonton to Vancouver

Yellowhead From Edmonton to Vancouver

Winter driving the Yellowhead from Edmonton to Vancouver (or Vancouver to Edmonton) is spectacularly beautiful but can be tiring. Winter weather can change quickly especially in  mountainous areas, daylight driving hours are less and driving in the winter can be more tiring. Fatigue is a major cause of accidents when winter driving.

To make your trip more pleasant, and safer, consider a stopover in Clearwater, BC. We are located approximately half way between Vancouver and Edmonton on the Yellowhead Route. At Valley Hideaway Guest House we are open year round to meet your accommodation needs and even offer reduced rates in January and February. A good night’s rest and a great breakfast will make your trip both safer and more enjoyable.

If you can spare the time take an extra day or two to enjoy the natural beauty of our area.

 

Highway 5 - Yellowhead BC signage - Edmonton to Vancouver

Yellowhead Highway - travel Edmonton to Vancouver

What To Do In Clearwater in the Winter

Many of our world famous waterfalls are accessible in the winter. They have a beauty all their own this time of year. Both Spahats Falls and Helmcken Falls can be driven to with a 5 minute walk from the parking area to the viewing platforms. You drive right over the Mushbowl enrolee to Helmcken. Dawson Falls is but a short hike.

Snowshoe into Moul Falls. Or enjoy one of many miles of groomed cross country ski trails. The confluence of the North Thompson and Clearwater Rivers is a short hike from town. When there is sufficient snow, the local downhill ski slope is a lot of fun. Its an inexpensive way to spend the day.

Fish for Kokanee and Rainbow trout through the ice, right in town, at Dutch Lake. appropriate BC angler’s licence is required.

Sit back, relax, enjoy a good book in front of our cozy fireplace.

Winter Driving Tips From BCAA

 

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premisesCannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest House

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Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

 

Sarlaac Pit

Sarlaac Pit – Newly Discovered Cave

We are excited to learn of the discovery of a previously unknown cave system, tentatively named the Sarlaac Pit (a formal name will be given after consultation with appropriate stakeholders including local first Nations people). This deep cave is located in a very remote part of Wells Gray Park.

The exact location of the newly discovered cave/cavern is being kept under close wraps until such time as it can be explored properly. It is protected by its location (in Wells Gray Provincial Park) and the remoteness of the terrain.

It is believed to be one of the largest caves in Canada and may have never been seem by human eyes before. Informal surveys of long time residents reveal no knowledge of the cave, nor is their any mention in the journals of explorers in the area.`Geoscientist Catherine Hickson, part of the initial exploration team said the team believes no one has explored it previously, and that it may also be unknown to local First Nations due to the fact that it was likely covered by snow year-round until some point in the last 20-50 years.

 

 

Sarlaac Pit – newly discovered cave in Wells Gray Park

 

How Big is It?

It’s humungous … the cave is 100 metres by 60 metres — virtually the same dimensions of a Canadian football field. It’s also extremely deep, extending more than 100 metres underground, with the first 80 metres of that being a straight vertical drop.

Geologist Catherine Hickson said it was luck that the aerial crew happened to fly over the cave when it wasn’t covered in snow. Hickson and a team that included cave experts John Pollack and Lee Hollis spent months studying satellite imagery and preparing to visit the site, before flying into the rugged alpine on Sept. 9 to confirm the cave’s significance.

A huge volume of water flows into the cave from area snow melt, making the lower water flow of  September the prime time for exploration. A more in depth exploration trip is likely in September 2020.

“My immediate reaction was that there can’t be a cave there, it’s impossible,” geoscientist Catherine Hickson, who conducted an expedition to the site in September, told Global News. “It is huge. It is enormous. When you first see it, you just gasp because it’s just this huge hole in the ground.”

Can we Visit it?

The cave is not likely to be readily accessible for tourists because of it remoteness and difficulty of access. The remoteness means that even helicopter flights into the area require special permits. A hike would be a massive undertaking to be done only by people with advanced technical mountain climbing skills.

It does serve as a wonderful reminder though that we are located in one of the few areas of the world that still contains unexplored wilderness. Even some of our world famous waterfalls are relatively recent discoveries. Helmcken Falls was only seen the first time just over 100 years ago. Canim Falls and Mahood Falls were not known until into the 20th century, except for a few First Nations People.

 

Other Things to See and Do

This is the Canada you come hoping to see. Wild, untamed and unspoiled. We are surrounded by pristine and near pristine wilderness. Experience our clear rivers, our many fishable lakes. Stand under waterfalls. Be awed by the height and width of the falls (more than 40 named falls in Wells Gray Park). See the remnants of more forms of volcanic activity than anywhere else in the world.

Raft raging white waters. Ride horseback in the forest. Canoe. Kayak. Ride miles of mountain bike trails. Snowshoe and cross country ski in the winter. Paraglide. Fly over Wells Gray Park. Take in the Farmers Market and local arts and craft vendors.

Soak up the sun and swim at spring fed Dutch Lake beach. It’s conveniently located right in Clearwater. Or try Dunn Lake for a more rugged swim. It’s just a 20 minute drive.

In season see one of the largest subalpine wildflower meadows in the world when you hike the Trophy Mountain Trail.

Fish … more than 50 lakes within an hours drive (appropriate licences required).

Be amazed by the depth of  our local history when you visit the Aboriginal Centre.

 

Are extreme sports your thing?   There are mountains still to be climbed.  In winter there are waterfalls to climb (not to be undertaken by the novice)

 

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premisesCannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest House

Book your stay with us.

 

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

 

 

 

Mountains, Mounties, Moose and Maple Syrup

The 4 M’s – Mountains, Mounties, Moose and Maple Syrup

If you are a tourist coming to Canada, you are likely expecting Mountains, Mounties, Moose and Maple Syrup. The good news is that we have all of them.

Mountains

Now, Canada is admittedly more than mountains. Still the mountains range from rolling hills in Quebec and Ontario (the northern part of the Appalachian Mountains) to the stunning heights of the Rockies out west.

Three oceans lap at our borders. The prairie provinces stretch out in plains further than they eye can see … to the horizon and beyond. Our lakes are beyond counting, estimates say there are more lakes in Canada than the rest of the world combined. Forests of many types. Rivers than run from raging torrents in the wilderness to great seaways.

Deserts? We have them too. Tundra? Polar ice? You bet. Volcanos? We have them. In fact, Wells Grey Park (Clearwater BC) has move types of volcanic formations than any other place in the world. A lifetime isn’t long enough to see it all.

 

Mountains, Mounties, Moose and Maple Syrup. Mount Robson, Canada's highest free standing peak

Mount Robson, Canada’s highest free standing peak

Mounties

You might hope to catch a glimpse of the iconic mountie or member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The mounties still patrol most communities but the red serge uniform you likely envision is for ceremonial purposes not daily duty wear. Still in almost every community you will find a member or detachment of the RCMP.

Moose

Moose? Yes we have moose. We also have deer; antelope; caribou; elk; bison; mountain sheep and mountain goats. There are bears (black, grizzly, polar) and lions (okay, mountain lions or cougars but still lions). 195 species of Mammals, ranging from tiny shrews to polar bears and grizzly bears call Canada home.

There are also more than 600 species of birds, 1000+ species of bird, over 150 reptiles and amphibians. If you want to count insects, molluscs, sponges and other assorted critters there are more than 20,000 species. Whatever kind of wildlife viewing you want to do, we have something for you to see.

Mountains, Mounties, Moose and Maple Syrup. Bull Moose

Bull Moose

Maple Syrup

Cooked down from the sap of ample trees, Maple syrup is a delight. It is used as a condiment on pancakes, waffles, French toast (pain perdu) and more. It is used to flavour cookies, make fudge and other delightfully sweet foods.

Canada produces about 90% of the world’s supply (about 70% comes from the Province of Quebec). Maple syrup can be found in most grocery stores in a variety of grades.

If you are fortunate you may also find birch syrup (syrup from sap of the white birch). Light than maple syrup it adds its own unique flavour to cooking.

Mountains, Mounties, Moose and Maple Syrup. Unlabelled jar of maple syrup

Unlabelled Maple Syrup

More

Cosmopolitan cities, quaint fishing villages, ghost towns and more await your exploration. Indigenous (first nations) cultural centres can be found in many places. Museums, galleries, sporting fields and arenas are here aplenty to be enjoyed.

 

The people… oh the people. Canada is a nation of immigrants and together they have woven a cultural tapestry that must be experienced. The words I hear most often to describe Canadians are “nice” and “friendly”. Visit us. Meet the Locals.

 

Clearwater

Visit Clearwater BC and Wells Grey Provincial Park. We have mountains, moose, mounties and even maple syrup. In the Clearwater BC area we have airplane tours; parasailing; white water rafting; horseback riding, canoeing and kayaking; hiking; snowshoeing; cross country skiing; mountain biking and more to enjoy. We have so much more for you than you can imagine. Make sure to plan at least a couple of days here. You won’t regret it.

When in Clearwater, be sure to stay with us at Valley Hideaway Guest House. If we happen to be full we would be glad to refer you to another one of Clearwater’s many fine B&B’s.

So, come to Canada for the Mountains, Mounties, Moose and Maple Syrup. Be prepared for so much more.

 

Contact Us

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Book your stay with us

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day

Happy 151 birthday Canada, Happy Canada Day. I know that 151 is like a teenager compared to many nations, but still, we are excited. The past 150 years has been a wild and wooly adventure and I am sure the next 150 will be even more so.

Happy Canada Day

When you ask people about Canada you may hear … Mounties, moose, mountains and maple syrup. Perhaps it would be beavers, hockey and “nice”. You might hear Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. Someone might mention zippers, baseball, basketball and the telephone (all Canadian inventions).  Someone might think of Tim Horton’s. Those are all Canadian (or started in Canada) it is true but we are so much more.

I suppose if you tried to encapsulate it all in one image there might be a moose being ridden by a beaver, wearing a mountie cap, drinking a Tim Hortons coffee while carrying a hockey stick and talking on the phone. I couldn’t find that image anywhere .. but I did find something

Happy Canada Day

 

Canada has a proud history and heritage. We have a great culture and live in a great big beautiful nation. Canadians might not seem wildly patriotic and enthusiastic when stacked up next to some countries but don’t be deceived. WE LOVE CANADA.

If Canada is more than Mounties, moose, mountains and maple syrup … what its it? So much more than I can say in a few words. Come see for yourself.

 

Come Celebrate

From coast to coast and from coast to the world’s longest undefended border, most (all?) communities will be celebrating the day in some way.

If you are Canadian, have been to Canada, know a Canadian or have heard of Canada join us in celebrating Canada Day.

Happy Canada Day

 

Contact Us

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Book your stay with us

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

 

Bears

BEARS

If you go down to the woods today     You’re sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today,
You’d better go in disguise! For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain,
Because today’s the day the Teddy Bears have their picnicTeddy bears, bears, Wells GRay, Clearwater, Valley Hideaway

 

Well, despite the lyrics to this old children’s rhyme, you probably won’t see any teddy bears in the wild.

 

Here in the Clearwater BC area, Tthis is the season to see real bears. You may see them feeding on roots and berries but not carrying a picnic basket.

Late spring, early summer and early fall are the best times to see bear in the Clearwater, Wells Grey Park area. Watch for them along the side of the roadways or in the fields. There are plenty of places to see them and at this time of year you are quite likely to come across a mother with cubs. There are two species of bears in the area.

 

Black Bear

The American black bear (Ursus americanus) is a medium-sized bear native to North America.Despite the name “black” bear, this species actually come in a variety of colour patterns. I have seen blacks, browns, cinnamons and even a black bear with a huge white spot on his chest. Last year Kathy and I spotted a mother black with three cubs, one was black, one was brown and the third cinnamon. They took off back into the woods from the roadside before we could get a photo.

One biologist recently told me that there are more black bears in this area than anywhere else in North America. That means the chances of seeing one (or more) are very good.

Black bears are the most common bear species in the world, but that does not make seeing one an everyday occurrence, even in bear season. They are different and it is a special treat to see them in their natural habitat.

Black bear

It is the continent’s smallest and most widely distributed bear species. Black bears are omnivores, with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in search of food. They can be seen fishing in the creeks and rivers, particularly during the salmon spawning run. The rich fishy diet helps put on needed weight for winter hibernation.

 

Grizzly Bear

The Grizzly bear is the much larger cousin of the black bear. The hump is a good way to distinguish a grizzly bear from a black bear, as black bears do not have this hump. Aside from the distinguishing hump a grizzly bear can be identified by a “dished in” profile of their face with short, rounded ears, whereas a black bear has a straight face profile and longer ears. A grizzly bear can also be identified by its rump, which is lower than its shoulders, while a black bear’s rump is higher.

Grizzly bear

Grizzly Bear – “griz”

Bear Safety.

The Government of Canada has some great tips on being bear safe. While bears generally avoid people, they are not pets and can be dangerous. Take appropriate precautions.

Contact Us

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Book your stay with us

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

 

Clearwater Spring – in Wells Gray Country

CLEARWATER SPRING

Spring is here … okay Clearwater Spring. That means the calendar shows spring as being here and winter has almost fully retreated. There is still snow in the high country and some down here in the valley but it is rapidly melting. If the weather stays as forecast the valley should be relatively snow free in the next week to ten days.

Our waterfalls are spectacular any time of the year. They have a special beauty in late spring and early summer. Water levels are at their peak in that season increasing stare volumes over all the falls. Clearwater Spring has its own brand of beauty.

Buds are popping out on some of the trees. In areas where the snow has left things are greening up. Tulips and other bulbs are peeking out at the side of Valley Hideaway Guest House. Soon more perennials will show and by the end of May the garden will be in.

BIRDS AND WILDLIFE

The spring birds are returning in droves. Once again the back yard is filled with the songs of robins, nuthatches, chickadees and more. In the evening sky you can often here the honk of the Canada Geese or flights of mallard flying overhead. Some will nest here and other will travel many hundreds of miles further north before settling in. The drumming of woodpeckers can be heard as they begin searching for insects that nestled under the tree bark for the winter.

 

Canada Geese in Flight. Clearwater spring is a birder's paradise

Canada Geese in Flight

Clearwater is a birder’s paradise.

The wildlife is beginning to move around, by next month bears will be visible. You can catch sight of bears any time in the spring, summer and fall, but the prime season is mid Mid through June. In the back country you can see both grizzly bear and black bears. Black bears are black by name but come in a wide range of colour varieties including black, brown, cinnamon, black with white chests and more.

 

Black Bear. Clearwater Spring is an excellent time to see both black and grizzly bear

Black Bear

Remember that bears are wild animals and deceptively fast. Be sure to take any photos from safely inside your vehicles and do not approach bears, particularly cubs or mothers with cubs. While bear attacks are relatively uncommon, they are nasty when they do happen. Stay safe.

In addition to spotting bears keep a sharp lookout for a wide range of game animals both large and small. The North Thompson Valley and Wells Grey Park play host to a large number of animals.  Watch for moose, deer, coyotes, foxes, wolves, cougars and more. Also be on the lookout for squirrels, marmots, weasels, beavers, muskrats, rabbits and more.

 

Contact Us

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Book your stay with us

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Retreat … Rest… Restore… Explore

 

The Mushbowl – small but powerful

The Mushbowl

You will find the Mushbowl located between two of the most popular falls in the park, Dawson and Helmcken. Located at a narrowing of the river, under a one way bridge, the Mushbowl highlights the raw power of the river.

At this point, the otherwise broad Murtle River narrows to about 50 feet wide immediately below a set of side-by-side falls about 15 feet wide. A boulder in the river centre splits the stream in half. As the river narrow the waters churn and roar in a breathtaking display of unrestrainedwater power.

Off to one side is a cave that gives a unique view of this little powerhouse. Although accessible only during times of low water, the cave is small but interesting. Be safe though, the water can be treacherous.

Mushbowl in high season, waterfalls of wells grey

 

Why the Mushbowl?

To be honest no one is certain why the name was chosen. From the 1940’s on it has been Mushbowl. . It is speculated that the falls are named for the violent churning pooling above the falls that keeps even huge logs from moving downstream.

Mushbowl, Wells Grey Park, Clearwater BC

Directions to the Mushbowl

Follow Clearwater Valley Road (main park access road) 42 kilometers north from the Highway in Clearwater to the one-lane bridge spanning the Murtle River. There is little room to park and observe the falls – a small turnout on the north side of the bridge has room for  2 or 3 cars.

 

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round.

Book your stay at Valley Hideaway

Valley Hideaway is a non smoking property.

 

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

 

Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater

Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round.

Spahats Falls – Waterfalls of Wells Gray Park

SPAHATS FALLS

In the third instalment of our series “the waterfalls of Wells Gray”, we examine Spahats Falls. Spahats is sometimes known as Bear Falls or Bear Creek Falls Spahats and Bear are the same word in different languages.

Spahats Falls

Spahats Falls, Wells Gray Provincial Park

 

According to the World Worldfall Database ….”Spahats Creek is the first major stream which is crossed along the Clearwater Valley Road in Wells Gray Provincial Park. Like every stream that flows off the Trophy Mountains into the Clearwater River, Spahats Creek intersects the area’s ubiquitous basalt formations and plunges over the rim of the Clearwater Valley. What stands out with Spahats Creek, however, is the sheer size of the canyon the creek has managed to create. As one approaches the falls from the parking lot the creek churns along in a gorge maybe 75 feet deep, but at the falls suddenly and spectacularly expands and deepens to 400 feet in dramatic fashion, with the waters of Spahats Creek pouring out of a keyhole slot in the amphitheater, plunging over an impressive waterfall. The falls stand approximately 240 feet tall, with drops of 40 and 200 feet respectively, but only the 200 foot drop can be seen due to the shape of the gorge.”

ACCESS TO SPAHATS FALLS

Access to this waterfall is an easy drive off of Clearwater Valley Road (the main artery for Wells Gray Park). The access road off of Clearwater Valley is not plowed into Spahats in the winter but it is a short hike, snowshoe or cross country ski trip into the viewing platform. It is a spectacular visit year round.

If you are passing through and have just a short time, Spahats Falls is only about 15 minutes off the main highway and well worth a side trip.

 

 

Book Your Stay With Us

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Equine Skijoring

Skijoring

Skijoring, what in the world is skijoring? Its is a winter sport where a person on skis is towed behind a horse, dog(s), or motor vehicle. While many countries have sports involving being pulled on skis, the name is derived from the Norwegian skikjoring. (ski driving)

Equine Skijoring

The popularity of this sport has ebbed and flowed over the years. Skijoring rose to the level of demonstration sport in the 1928 winter Olympics. The sport has been seeing a resurgence of popularity in North America over the past decades. People;e are reconnecting with the skill and excitement of skiing behind a galloping horse.

 

Equestrian skijoring consists of a team of a single horse, generally guided by a rider, pulling a person on skis who carries no poles and simply hangs onto a tow rope. The North American Ski Joring Association holds competitions in which a rider guides the horse with skier navigating a series of jumps and obstacles. More informal competitions are held on flat ground over short courses, often as simple sprint races on a straightaway, sometimes with turns on the course.

 

The sport requires sound horsemanship, skilled skiing, a sense of adventure and a quick mind to adapt to the challenges of a high speed winter sport.

Wells Gray Skijoring

On Feb 24, 2018, the Wells Gray Riders Association is providing a demonstration of this exciting nordic equine sport. Where? Right here in beautiful Clearwater BC.  This promises to be great winter fun for the whole family. Come on out and cheer the spectators on. Be prepared for high speed thrills, spills and chills.

Wells Gray Skijoring event poster. Feb 2018. Clearwater BC. A family event. Stay at Valley Hideaway Guest House.

Wells Grays Riders Present – Skijoring

 

 

For more information, or to register a team 

 

Winter, spring, summer, and fall …. it takes all year to do it all in Clearwater.

We are offering a special rate for this event, contact us to book.

 

Book your stay

 

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

The Birchleg

The Birchleg is coming February 3, 2018

What is the Birchleg?

The Birchleg is a family fun cross country ski event. It begins with a mass start at 10:00 AM at the Candle Creek Cross Country Ski Trails. You can expect expert skiers, families and novices out for a good time. Ski all 28 km of trails or ski just a bit, its up to you.

Its your chance to dress up like a viking or ancient Norwegian. There are prizes for the best costume. It’s followed by a hot Norwegian Style lunch (or vegetarian lunch). Its a fun filled community event.

Whats it all about?

According to the Wells Gray Outdoors Club (Clearwater, BC, Canada):

Rescue of-Haakon-Haakonsson-painted-by-Knud-Bergslien

Rescue of Haakon Haakonsson. Painted by Knud Bergslien

 “The Birchleg is a fun ski event in early February re-enacting a cross country ski trip made by two Viking warriors in the 13th Century. King Haakon of Norway was murdered in 1204 during a time of civil war. The King’s infant son was in immediate peril of the same fate. Two Viking warriors loyal to their dead king and his heir took the baby to safety in Trondheim. Their flight was in midwinter, skiing 55 kilometres across the mountains. Holding the child secure behind a shield, these warriors were armed with a battle-axe and spears. Young Haakon Haakonson grew to adulthood in safety, returning to Norway to claim his father’s throne.”

There was even a movie made recently about the rescue of King Haakon based on the mythic historical story. The Last King is worth watching, whether you plan to ski the Birchleg or not.

A scene from the rescue as depicted in “The Last King” – Image Courtesy Norwegian Film Institute

Follow this link for waiver and entry form.

Busy BirchLeg day? No problem, there’ re still lots of opportunities to cross country (nordic) ski here through the rest of the winter.  More than 25 km of groomed trails at Candle Creek await you at. There are still more groomed trails at North Thompson Provincial Park and there are miles upon miles of unbroken trails through the wilderness.

If you are looking for a place to stay while here, book your stay at Valley Hideaway Guest House, we are open year round.

Valley Hideaway Guest House is a non smoking property

No Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises