Top Ten Canada Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Backpack Wells Gray Provincial Park
By Bill McRae
Grizzly bear at Wells Gray
Grin and hike it: One of the Wells Gray locals

Backcountry hiking in Banff and Jasper National Parks might remind you of midtown Manhattan during the summer. But one mountain range west of the Rockies is little-trafficked Wells Gray Provincial Park. The mountains here share the same dramatic beauty of the Rockies, but chances are that on a long-distance backpacking trip, you'll meet only a handful of hikers from B.C.—not a guided League of Nations invasionary force.

Established in 1939, Wells Gray is British Columbia's second-largest park, encompassing more than 1.3 million acres of virgin wilderness. Hikers can explore lush alpine meadows, trek glaciered peaks, and enjoy excellent birding and wildlife viewing (including moose, caribou, grizzly and black bears, and timber wolves). Outfitters offer horseback riding, canoeing, river-rafting, and fishing. The history enthusiast can learn about the early homesteaders, trappers, and prospectors.

While most of Wells Gray Park's backcountry is remote wilderness that you can only view after a vigorous hike or canoe, in the southern quarter of the park, a scenic road—simply called the Corridor—runs from the park entrance to Clearwater Lake. Along the way, casual visitors can view Helmcken Falls, an awesome 450-foot-high cascade, as well as enjoy boating and fishing on the park's many lakes.


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