It was with mixed feelings that I rolled out of Jasper National Park in late June; sad to be leaving one of the most amazing places I’ve EVER experienced, but looking forward seeing more of Canada. While planning my route and reaching out to some Canadian friends for ideas, Wells Gray Provincial Park was recommended by several, and it was my next destination. I wish I could report yet another beauty filled travel day in Canada, but I can’t. I did the entire four-and-a-half hour drive in a downpour, blinding me from anything noteworthy along the way. And upon arrival at the Wells Gray visitors center I hit my first real snag on this Canadian leg of my journey. Not just a little snag either. For someone traveling in a monster size motorhome, this was a very BIG snag!
In brief; While planning my seven week route through western Canada I booked (online) three days at the Clearwater Lake campground in the park. THEN I discovered I had a one night gap between that reservation and the availability at my next destination, which took me back to the Wells Gray site to add another night. According to the information on their website all I had to do was change to a different campsite to pick up a fourth night, but when I tried to book it the reservation would not go through. When I called, the agent helping me said he did not show any availability and suggested the Mahood Lake campground as a good alternative. That seemed reasonable enough, and judging by the park map it looked relatively close, so I booked a site at Mahood Lake. What I didn’t know until I arrived at the visitors center after a brutal day of driving in the pouring rain, was that the Mahood Lake campground could not be accessed from the main roadway in the park. It was, in fact, accessible only from the west side of the park which meant at least another 160 miles of travel, AND (I discovered later) a good portion of that was OFF-ROAD!!
My only real option was the Pyramid campground which is first come-first serve only (and all w/o power). With high hopes of snagging a site I drove… roughly twenty miles into the park to get to that campground. Needless to say this is a very big park! There were plenty of sites available so I parked, and without even settling in the girls and I hopped in the car and I headed out to re-fuel myself on some of the beauty this park is best known for.
After seeing the main waterfalls I headed toward Clearwater Lake (my original campground) to see if any sites might have become available. I didn’t get far past the Pyramid campground before I discovered that most of that roadway was also unpaved. When I glanced at the map and realized how many miles I’d have to drive on this bumpy, muddy road I turned around. I don’t typically give up easily, but this day had defeated me and I was ready to pack it in. I came across this black bear on my way back to my campsite and couldn’t help but think he seemed just as annoyed as I was by the rain and mosquitos, and the day in general!
That night, for several reasons, I decided that I would move along the following morning and simply see where the road would take me. After a few hours of driving I found myself in a prime campsite on a hill overlooking the lake in Lac La Hache Provincial Park.
After settling The Beast into our new campsite I drove back down the highway to a town called “100 Mile House” where I stocked up on a few groceries and stopped into the visitors center to quiz the staff on what I should see while there. One suggestion was the 108 Mile Historical Site which I enjoyed strolling around for a bit. I always enjoy the nostalgia of places like this, as they take the romantic in me back to a time gone by.
I also ventured through the nature preserve located right behind the visitors center…
…and took the girls on a short hike to Bridge Creek Falls right on the edge of town.
I spent most of the following day driving the highways and backroads of the area just to see what I might find. No surprise that I was drawn to the old barns and pastures full of horses!
And on a whim, I decided to drive out to Mahood Lake, where I was supposed to have camped for four days. The drive from 100 Mile House took more than two hours, and much of it was indeed off-road… a muddy mess, complete with lots of big bumps and pot-holes. Not that I haven’t done it, but this is the kind of road most would avoid in a large motorhome. The campground was nearly deserted, and interestingly… when I found the site I was supposed to be camped in I was stunned to discover it would NOT have accommodated my motorhome despite the dimensions stated online! Continuing on to this lake the afternoon I arrived at Wells Gray would have been a complete disaster!
Please don’t get me wrong. Wells Gray Provincial Park (and the surrounding area) is beautiful. I just happened to hit it at the wrong time. I would highly recommend a visit, but I would not want anyone, especially my RV-travel friends, to venture out there without knowing what they were getting in to. (And remember… the best of this park cannot be accessed from Mahood Lake.) I have, of course, shared my thoughts and suggestions with some of the Wells Gray staff.
Although many of the images I’ve shared are bright and sunny, most of my time in Wells Gray and Lac La Hache Provincial Parks was spent working and reading and listening to the rain from the dry interior of my motorhome. That scenario did not change at my next destination… Purden Lake Provincial Park.
This was another very nice park with many spacious campsites, none of which actually have a view of the lake. I had the urge to drop my kayak in the water when the sun came out, but it never stayed sunny long enough to actually do it.
Much of my time there was spent working in the WiFi friendly restaurant of the family owned Purden Lake Resort. (Campground, cabins and restaurant) At the recommendation of the owners I ventured farther down the highway to take Jazzy and Sadie hiking in the Ancient Cedar Forest.
This is a beautiful forest and the volunteers (who were there working that day) have done a tremendous job with the trails. Definitely worth a stop if you’re up in that area, but it’s nothing like our Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks or our Redwood National Park here in the U.S.
While camped at Purden Lake I also took a day to drive west to Prince George knowing I was not likely to see much of the town while traveling through in my motorhome the next day. The gloomy weather didn’t let up, but I made the most of it.
The following morning I continued westward toward Prince Rupert, with one more camp spot in between me and that northern coast of Canada. With three weeks left of my journey through western Canada I still have much to share… more beauty, more wildlife, and thankfully… more sunshine, so stay tuned!
With the holidays upon us please remember that my 2015 Journey in Focus calendars are now available for order. And The Dogs of Central Park is a sure bet for any dog lover on your shopping list! Both can be seen and ordered here… Art, Books and More.