Autumn Delights – Wells Grey and Area

AUTUMN DELIGHTS

Visit Clearwater in September and October and experience the Autumn Delights. The autumn season is less busy that the peak season and the wilderness has a beauty all its own.The water flow over our many falls is lower than the spring but they are still awe inspiring. Catch them on an early foggy morning for a surreal view you will remember forever.

The leaves are changing bringing new colour to the deciduous trees. The reds and yellows flash against the deep green of the coniferous trees.

Clearwater River in Autumn

Birds heading south for the winter will be passing through giving extra opportunities for adding to your life lists.

The cooler weather makes it ideal to try your hand at trail riding on horseback. Several local area ranches are available to guide you.

Fall weather is typically a little cooler than the summer but is ideal for hiking. In addition, the animals (particularly the Park’s black and Grizzly bears) are preparing for winter and moving around more, so wildlife, viewing opportunities are good. Remember though that these are wild animals so stay safe and don’t get too close. The deer, moose, wolves and more in the park are around all year.

Autumn at the Lake

 

Autumn is a great time to fish for trout and Kokanee in the many local lakes. Remember that a valid BC Angler’s Licence is required. There is even a local trout pond loaded with rainbows for free catch and release fishing. They have gear for you to borrow.

Need still one more reason? Off season rates are typically lower so you still get to enjoy the pristine wilderness but for less. Bonus!

Valley Hideaway Guest House

Make us your first choice for accommodation in Clearwater BC. We are ideally located for visitors to Wells Gray Provincial Park or travellers between Vancouver and Edmonton.

Book with us

Plan on spending a couple of days at least in the area. There is lots to do and plenty to see.  Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round to meet your Clearwater and area accommodation needs.

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

 

Book your stay with us

 

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

New Farmer’s Market

Upper Clearwater’s New Farmer’s Market

Last week marked the successful launch of the Upper Clearwater New Farmer’s Market. There were plenty of fresh baked goodies and farm fresh produce on hand. There were hand made sweaters, walking sticks and a yard sale. A raffle with great prizes was being held raising funds for the Upper Clearwater Fire Department. We took home some baking, some fresh corn and a few books. We also got to visit with some friendly local vendors.

While the launch was small, we expect it to grow as the weeks pass. The location is great for those coming and going from Wells Gray Park. Plenty of free parking is available.

In talking with the vendors we were impressed with their community spirit. Not only did the want to bless Upper Clearwater and its visitors, they set the time and day for the market to not conflict with our in town Saturday market.

Support your local farmer’s market. Quality local products and fair pricing.

Make a day of it, enjoy the world class scenery of Wells Gray Park and make a stop at the Farmer’s Market on your way back into town.

Upper Clearwater’s New Farmer’s Market

 

Location of Farmer’s Market

Upper Clearwater Community Hall

5276 Clearwater Valley Road
Clearwater, British Columbia

(about 25 km up the Park road) between Moule Falls and Dawson Falls.

Days and Times

Thursdays 3:00-7:00 PM (Summer season)

Valley Hideaway Guest House

Make us your first choice for accommodation in Clearwater BC. We are ideally located for visitors to Wells Gray Provincial Park or travellers between Vancouver and Edmonton.

Book with us

Plan on spending a couple of days at least in the area. There is lots to do and plenty to see.  Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round to meet your Clearwater and area accommodation needs.

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

 

Book your stay with us

 

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

 

 

Delicious Treats

Delicious Treats

Yesterday afternoon, Kathy and I took a road trip and stopped at some new places for delicious treats. The drive was a familiar one, up Clearwater Valley Road towards Helmcken Falls in Wells Gray Park. While the drive is familiar, it is never the same twice, the scenery varies from day to day, hour to hour year round and we never get tired of seeing it. There are some new snack stops in the first 30km, that we want to introduce you to.

Helmcken Chocolates and Waffles

Conveniently located in the parking area of Spahats Falls this is a great stop. Hot Dogs or sausages on a bun, Belgian Fries, Belgian waffles, and of course delicious locally made chocolates are a tasty, delicious treat.

Delicious hot dogs, waffles and Belgian fries

Grouse Creek General Store

Grouse Creek General Store  is your stop for fresh baking, local produce, cold drinks and souvenirs. They are located about half way to Helmcken Falls.

Their giant ginger snap cookie is the best I have ever had (I confess I ate it before thinking to take a picture). Delicious muffins, cupcakes, tarts and more await you. The selection varies daily.

 

Delicious looking tarts (photo courtesy of Grouse Creek General Store)

On Thursdays from 3-7 PM, you will find them at the Upper Clearwater Farmer’s Market (more about that another day)

Murphy Mountain Ice Cream – More Delicious Treats

At about the 30 Km mark you will fine a delightful little vintage travel trailer, home to Murphy Mountain Ice Cream. Easy access, ample parking. picnic tables and a wide lawn, combined with delicious ice cream and friendly service make this a summer afternoon must stop. open afternoon, weather dependant.

A must stop for a midafternoon summer treat.

Valley Hideaway Guest House

Make us your first choice for accommodation in Clearwater BC. We are ideally located for visitors to Wells Gray Provincial Park or travellers between Vancouver and Edmonton.

Book with us

Plan on spending a couple of days at least in the area. There is lots to do and plenty to see.  Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round to meet your Clearwater and area accommodation needs.

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

 

Book your stay with us

 

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

 

The Kettle Cafe – A Clearwater Classic Reopens

The Kettle Cafe

The Kettle Cafe, a classic Clearwater summer cafe has reopened under new ownership. Kathy and I dined there this evening and were impressed. The new owners Alain and Evelyn Bouckaert offer great service, a classic menu (with a Belgian twist) and delicious food.

The Kettle Burger and Kettle Pizza

We shared the Kettle Pizza and the Kettle Burger, both were freshly made and delicious.

The Kettle Buger

1/4 lb 100% beef burger, topped with cheddar, tomato, lettuce, onions, pickles, burger sauce served on a warm toasted bun with Belgian Fries.

The Kettle Pizza

A Homemade crust with salami, fried ground beef. slices of ham, fresh green peppers and slices of ham topped with an extra layer of cheese. There is also a special secret blend of house spices atop the cheese … quite unique and definitely worth having again. A nicely sized 8 size pizza (I brought home 4 slices of it for tomorrow).

The Menu

Choose from a variety of Dutch Pancakes/crepes and Belgian Waffles. Ice cream and milkshakes. Try one of a variety of pastas; pizzas (on homemade crust); burgers; sandwiches or grilled sandwiches (on fresh homemade bread). The menu is select but if our meal is any indicator of quality and flavour it should all be good.

Check out their facebook page.

Location

Conveniently located at

73 Old North Thompson Highway

Clearwater BC

in the Interior Whitewater Expeditions building

Within close walking distance of Valley Hideaway Guest House

Summer Hours

Sunday-Saturday 8AM- 7 PM, call in orders for takeaway available (250-674-7824)

Book with us

Plan on spending a couple of days at least in the area. There is lots to do and plenty to see.  Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round to meet your Clearwater and area accommodation needs. Make the Kettle one of your lunchtime choices.

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

 

Book your stay with us

 

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

 

 

Hiking the Kettle – Off the Beaten Track.

Hiking the Kettle

The Kettle Rapids, on the Clearwater River, in Wells Gray Park (Clearwater, BC), are off the beaten path and missed by many of the tourists who visit the area. A series of surging, boiling rapids, they are unsafe even for whitewater enthusiasts to run until late in the summer when the waters have subsided, but they make for beautiful sightseeing all summer long. The Kettle is accessible by a short well marked walking trail through old growth cedars. There are several steep stairs so it is not recommended for people with mobility issues but otherwise is an easy trip.

Old Growth Cedar

 

Getting to the Kettle

Travel west off of the Old North Thompson Highway onto Camp Road 2 (adjacent to the Clearwater River, right in Clearwater). Travel .8km until you see the sign for Wells Gray Air on the right. Turn right and travel 7.2 Km where you will see a sign advising travellers with RV’s to turn back. Park at this pullout area. The road in is gravelled but up to this point generally well maintained.

Narrow Road Ahead – Go no further

When the road says “Narrow Road Ahead” … heed the sign travelling past that point is not recommended. The washout just past the sign (where the road narrows to a single lane) is just beginning. At times in places the road can be completely washed out, or strewn with boulders from rock slides, travel past here at your own risk. Travel without a 4 wheel drive vehicle from this point on is not recommended. Up to this point the road is fine.

Continue to walk down the road 100 meters or so from the parking area and you will see the trail head sign. Follow it down to the river and prepare to be awed.

Kettle Rapids Trailhead sign. Turn left here and follow to the river.

 

The Rapids …

My pictures do not do the rapids justice. The Kettle Rapids are a simply stunning must see.

Kettle Rapids on the Clearwater River

Kettle Rapids, Clearwater BC

Book with us

 

Plan on spending a couple of days at least in the area. There is lots to do and plenty to see.  Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round to meet your Clearwater and area accommodation needs

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

 

Book your stay with us

 

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

 

 

River Safari – Experience an inland temperate rainforest

RIVER SAFARI

The words “river safari” brings to mind exotic rainforest locations. It’s true in this case too, but not the way you might think. In the heart of the planet’s largest inland temperate rainforest (that’s a topic for another day), just about an hour from Valley Hideaway Guest House, you will find Blue River Safaris.

Tour lake and river by jet boat, eco friendly Haida catamarans, or  go off road by jeep into some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Kathy and I took a tour with them last week and were delighted with the knowledge, professionalism and friendliness of the staff. Even though we live in the heart of Wells Gray country we were blown away by some of the scenery we saw on the tour.

Experience Mud Glacier or take in …. Parberry Falls.

At the base of Parberry Falls

While we didn’t see any of the abundant wildlife, we saw plenty of birdlife and the sights were worth the trip. You can easily imagine that there is no one else in the world except your group. Seeing the bears would have been a bonus. There are no guarantees that you will see bears or other wildlife, but this is phenomenal bear habitat and during the season sights are common. The solitude and natural beauty make the trip a joy.

Black Bear

THE RIVER SAFARI TOURS

Blue River Safaris offers a variety of tour packages (please confirm with them for current pricing etc)

RIVER SAFARI

Eco Safari – Catamaran

This one hour plus tour starts out on one of the 40 foot catamarans and finishes up on a jet boat. Experience beautiful tranquil lakes and time on the river. Time? 1 hour plus.

ECO SAFARI

For great sightseeing and photo ops enjoy a quiet and stable trip on one of the 40′ Haida made catamarans. A tranquil experience with good chances of seeing bears and other wildlifeTime? 1 hour plus.

JEEP SAFARI

Off road up Parberry Mountain in a 4X4 Jeep to experience the temperate rainforest in a different way. Get a great overview of the area. Time? 1.5 hours plus.

SUPER SAFARI

Combine the Eco Safari and boat safari. See a little of both worlds. Time? 2.5 Hours plus.

SUPER DUPER SAFARI

Do it all by river boat eco-friendly Haida Catamaran and Jeep.  Time? 2.5 hours plus.

How To Get There

Blue Rive Safaris is conveniently located about an hour east of Clearwater BC on Highway 5, just outside the village of Blue River. It is a great spot to stop when travelling between Clearwater and Jasper. It is well signed.

AMENITIES

The safari base has a gift shop and boasts a great little restaurant on the water. The Forest Table restaurant lives up to its name with live edge giant tables and solid wood carved seating serves first class food and beverages. Check out their menu.

 

Forest Edge Restaurant

 

 

Book with us

 

Plan on spending a couple of days at least in the area. There is lots to do and plenty to see.  Valley Hideaway Guest House is open year round to meet your Clearwater and area accommodation needs

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

 

Book your stay with us

 

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

 

 

Trophy Mountain Glacier Lillies

Trophy Mountain Glacier Lillies

It’s June and one of the most spectacular sub alpine flower meadows in the world, the Trophy Mountain Glacier Lillies are in full bloom. There is still some snow on the hiking trail (to the knees by latest report, but the view makes it worthwhile. It’s a hike you will remember.

Trophy Mountain Glacier Lillies June 2019 – Photo courtesy of Marco Bokor. Used by permission

The Trophy Mountain meadows are one of the most easily accessible sub-alpine meadows in British Columbia. The meadows bloom twice each year, in early June it is the brilliant yellow of the glacier Lillies. The same meadows are transformed into a rainbow of colour when mountain daisy, Indian paintbrush, arctic lupine and a myriad of other flowers bloom in late July to early August. Both blooms are breathtakingly beautiful.

The Trophy Mountains

“The Trophy Mountains rise 2,575 metres into the sky, with nine peaks towering over the Shuswap Highlands of southern Wells Gray Provincial Park. Their northern slopes are steep and cloaked in glaciers, while their southern slopes are gentle and dotted with alpine lakes and flower meadows.” BC Parks.

Getting There

From the junction at Highway #5 and the Information Centre, drive north along the Clearwater Valley Road (Wells Gray park Road) for 11.8 km and then turn right onto the gravel road. Travel along this road for 1.7 km and then turn left onto Road 10 (Road 80 on the right leads to an alternate route; for experienced persons only). Continue on Road 10 for 3.1 km before turning right onto Road 201. This road soon enters and skirts up and around a large logging clear cut area. Ignore small branch roads as you travel 4.4 km along Road 201 to where it dead-ends in a parking lot. The trail to the meadows begins to the left of the parking area.

Hiking

From the parking lot a gently ascending trail takes you on a relaxed 45 minute, 1 km., hike to the sub-alpine meadows of the Trophy Mountains. The elevation gain is 200 metres.

The trail winds its way through an old-growth forest of fragrant Engelmann spruce and sub-alpine fir. The small size of these 250-year-old trees attests to  the harsh living conditions at this altitude.

The trail passes several small streams before breaking out into the open expanses of the sub-alpine meadow. In July and August the endless waves of vibrant coloured wildflowers make this one of the most popular hikes in the area.

From the meadow, the trail continues a further 1.25 hours across lichen encrusted rocks to Sheila Lake. The trail ends at the lake, however, an additional hour of uphill climbing will get you to the panoramic views of Skyline Ridge (12 km round trip from the parking lot). These ridges are over 2,500 metres and weather can change quickly, therefore, you should be sure to carry a topographic map, compass, warm clothing and extra food. Maps can be purchased at the Wells Gray Visitor Centre.

Above the treeline, weather can change without warning. Sun fog, rain and snow are all possible, even in July or August. So dress accordingly, and watch the weather. (All directions courtesy of BC Parks. More information and maps are available here.)

Where to Stay

When travelling the North Thompson, when visiting Wells Gray Park and area or when going to Vancouver to Edmonton (or vice versa) stay at Valley Hideaway Guest House. We are open year round.

Book your stay with us. We are open year round.

 

Cannabis Free Zone - Valley Hideaway Guest HouseNo Smoking inside the guest house or on the premises

Valley Hideaway Guest House is non-smoking and cannabis Free

 

Winter Summer, Spring and Fall

It takes all year to do it all

In Clearwater

 

 

 

Hiking Wells Gray Park

Hiking Wells Gray Park

Are you looking to explore world class wilderness? Then you should consider hiking Wells Gray Park. With over 1.3 million acres of protected wilderness, there is something for everyone, from a simple self guided half day hike to full scale wilderness excursions and mountains yet unclimbed. Much of the park remains unexplored. A giant cave was discovered this year. The cave is  presently closed to visitors at the moment but who knows what the future holds?

Fire and ice  formed and molded this incredible landscape. There are volcanoes to explore, waterfalls to be awed by, gorgeous lakes, unpolluted rivers and more. See one of the largest alpine meadow blooms in the Trophy Mountains. Check out an incredible variety of wildlife and birdlife.

How to see it

There are a number of liscenced guides in the area who will help you explore. Dr Guy Ovenden, a professional wildlife biologist and his team can guide you. Tourism Wells Gray  also maintains a list of contacts for many of the activities in the area.

For those who prefer self guided tours we highly recommend Roland Neave’s book, Exploring wells Gray Park , now in its sixth edition. If you plan on spending more than a day in Clearwater (and we do recommend you stay several days at least) this guidebook is the one you must have. This is the book that Kathy and I use for our exploring. It is available locally, or can be ordered from a variety of sources.

 

Exploring Wells Gray book by Roland Neave. Your guidebook to Hiking Wells Gray Park

Do you have mobility issues?  If so, two of our two most beautiful waterfalls are easily accessible. Both Spahats Falls and Helmcken falls have good accessible access with parking nearby.

In the winter, you can explore on snowshoe or on nordic skis (we have some of the best nordic ski trails in Canada (they are truly an under utilized gem). If mountain bikes are more your thing we also have many kilometres of groomed mountain bike trails to suit the tastes of any style rider.

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

 

Book your stay with us

 

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

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

Book your stay with us.

 

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