Winter at Helmcken Falls

Helmcken Falls is certainly one of the most spectacular, accessible waterfalls in British Columbia. Located in Wells Gray Provincial Park, you can access the waterfall by paved road. Of course road accessibility in winter is impacted by snow- the region receives a great deal of snow! We were fortunate in that when we traveled to the park this past week the road into the falls viewing area had just been plowed, and when we arrived we were the only people there. (Subsequently we saw two other vehicles on the road- certainly not crowded!) It is also the location of one of the most dangerous and difficult ice climbs on the continent, and the 141 metre climb was made in February by a renowned climber from Alberta. (I don’t think I would want to watch such a climb!) The waterfall is about two and a half times the height of Niagara Falls, but in winter, a significant part of the falls is concealed by a gigantic ice cone that forms around the base. The drive into the falls is beautiful, and we were fortunate to see crossbills, a black-backed woodpecker, a Cassin’s finch, a ruffed grouse, eagles and numerous other birds. In the summer, we have seen black bears and a moose on this same road.

The sign welcoming you to Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Red crossbill (male).
View from the lookout. This photo shows the very large ice cone that has formed from the frozen spray.
Helmcken Falls and canyon.
Ice formations at the edge of the falls.
The top of the falls.
A bridge on the way to the falls. We watched the snow plow exiting the bridge. It is pretty tricky for the operator as the plow is wider than the bridge, so he had to angle the plow significantly!
Pine siskin.
Cassin’s finch.
Heading south to Clearwater after visiting Helmcken Falls.
Ruffed grouse.

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