After a fairly long drive in to the park from the main highway we had been following in BC since we left Jasper, and a wonderful stop for Ice cream and directions, we found the falls. They were not a disappointment.
Helmcken Falls is 141 m (463 ft.) high. It is located inside of Well Gray Provincial Park. In fact, the park was created partly to highlight the falls. And I am glad they did!
Helmcken Falls is the 4thhighest waterfall in Canada measured by total drop without a break. The three higher falls are Hunlen Falls in T in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park and Della Falls in Strathcona Provincial Park. Interestingly, all of these water falls are found in British Columbia and we have a chance of seeing the Takakkaw Falls. It is found on the Murtle River. The falls were easily accessible by a drive of about 47 km out of our way. I felt this was a small price to pay for such spectacular falls. Chris was not totally convinced. It did not help that we approached them sort of late in the day and were a little worried about a hotel in this area as a result of the Labour Day Weekend starting today. I figured it was worth the risk. Of course, I am a waterfall guy (just like I am a wild flower guy, a bird guy, a lighthouse guy, a bog guy, a….
The falls were named after John Helmcken, a physician with the Hudson’s Bay Company who was instrumental in bringing British Columbia into Confederation in 1871. He never actually saw the falls, so I consider this an inapt designation. But, of course, I am a waterfall guy, not a guy trying to honour politicians.
The falls drop over the western escarpment of the Murtle Plateau. The escarpment consists of a huge lava deposit that occurred about 200,000 years ago and filled the Clearwater River valley. At the end of the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago, the massive floods that occurred when the continental ice sheets started to melt, carved out a huge canyon in the area. When water gets trapped behind ice if the ice damn later dissolves, as they tend to do, they can emit an awesome deluge. This happened many times in North America creating astonishing canyons. The canyon here is called, of course, Helmcken Canyon.