Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Pyramid Mountain Campground, Wells Gray Provincial Park

Helmcken Falls
Location: 30 mins north of Clearwater
Website:  BC Parks or Wells Gray Tourism
Map: Park Map or Google
Camping Facilities: Car Camping (Backcountry available in park)
Grade: B
Stargazing: Light pollution low, but mostly obstructed
Summary: Decent privacy, basic services, close proximity to nice scenery
Canyon beyond Helmcken Falls
Thoughts: My experience in Wells Gray park was limited to the corridor, since I was on an extended car camping trip.  While I'm sure Murtle Lake is probably worth the trip to the park on it's own, I can't speak to that yet.  What I can say is that the very short hikes to many spectacular waterfalls gives you a pretty good reason to make the trip to the park for the day.  On top of that, a reasonably well designed car campground at Pyramid Lake is a good enough reason to stay the night so that you can spend more time here.  For a mere $16 dollars, you'll have a hand pump for water and basic bathroom facilities.  If that's all that you crave, then you're golden.  Sorry folks, no showers here.  We were also warned of a black bear roaming around the second campground loop (which was closed at the time), so it's important to behave like you're in bear country (food stashed away in your car, odour free campsite). 

While we wanted to do more hiking while we were here, the trails were deserted on this particular September weekday.  It was making my wife very nervousm, and made me a little nervous too, seeing as all my BC friends were telling my about the necessity of carrying bear spray ("This ain't Ontario, fella!" they'd say).  So we opted to keep to the shorter trails and enjoy the easily accessible scenery.  Fortunately, that isn't a bad thing in this park, with some beauty trails just off the roads.

Dawson Falls
The Pyramid campground itself was pretty nice for car camping, with decent understory, but were positioned directly across from each other at some points which was just strange. Come on guys, stagger them a little!  Still the spacing was good, the picnic tables are rock solid (a common feature in BC parks) and there was only a single loop, not a grid of sites, so you'll only see two or other three other campsites, tops.  The park operations contractor came by around 9pm and picked up our fee, and even had firewood for sale.  Pretty good service and very friendly as well.  The canopy cover is generally pretty thick, and we couldn't really find a nice open area for star gazing, but it didn't matter, we had a great time just sitting by the campfire with a mug of wine.  One final note is that Trophy Mountain would probably be worth a visit if time allows, given that you can drive most of the way up the mountain, then it's a 12km round trip to the panoramic look out above Sheila lake (at Skyline Ridge).  From the Green Mountain Viewing Tower, this seems as though it would provide an outstanding view of the surrounding area.

Wells Gray is a  great destination, though venture deeper into the park if you have the time. 

Sunset over Mahood Lake, Green Mountain Viewing Platform

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