Helmcken Falls – The Jewel of Wells Grey
It is no exaggeration to call Helmcken Falls the “Jewel of Wells Grey Park“. Rated by Readers Digest as one of “Canada’s 10 most Beautiful Waterfalls”. Helmcken Falls is the centerpiece to Wells Gray Provincial Park, one of the most powerful waterfalls on earth and one of BC’s prime tourist draws,” says the World’s Waterfall Database. This is truly a must see when you are in the area.
The Murtle River narrows from 300 feet wide just a few kilometres upstream (Dawson Falls) to 75 feet and roars over the lip of the canyon. The water hurtles 462 feet to create a large amphitheatre (one of North America’s largest natural amphitheatre). The bowl is more than 500 feet wide and carves back over 100 feet into the cliff behind the falls.
Further downstream there is a second 50 foot drop which isn’t counted in Helmcken’s official height. The two drops make Helmcken over 500 feet. The volume of spray is sufficient that under the right conditions it can be seen well above the canyon rim.
The view point is some distance from the falls making it difficult to truly appreciate the power and size of the falls. Still, the view is nothing short of awe inspiring. The World Waterfall Database says, “Simply put, Helmcken Falls is unquestionably one of the best waterfalls in all of North America.”
Helmcken Falls in Winter
The water plunges over the canyon rim year round. The spray bowl in winter can exceed 200 feet tall. In recent years ice climbers have discovered the falls and it is rated as the world’s most difficult mixed climb. The falls are accessible year round.
Helmcken – the name
The falls were discovered in the summer of 1913 by by Canadian Government land surveyor Robert Lee in July of 1913. The falls were named for Dr. John Sebastian Helmcken who was active in the early governance of Vancouver Island and British Columbia.
Getting to Helmcken
Take the Clearwater Valley Road (main park access road) 42 kilometers north from the highway in Clearwater, then turn left at the signs for the falls and follow 4 kilometers to the end of the road. A short well maintained trail will take you to the viewing area from the parking lot (approx 5 minutes).
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall … it takes all year to do it all … in Clearwater
Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round.