Heritage - Remnants of the Past

You may believe that Wells Gray is nothing more than forested mountains and wondrous waterfalls. But scratch beneath the surface of our forests and mountains and you’ll uncover a history deeply rooted in First Nation mythology and pioneering legends. Hike on ancient trails long used by Simpcw First Nation people.

Explore the Ray and Majerus wilderness homesteads. Witness the ravages of the Great Wells Gray Fire of 1926. Sleep in a pioneer log cabin at the Aveley Ranch. Follow in the wake of the first Overlanders, rafting the North Thompson River. Our heritage is not out of reach; it surrounds you the moment you step into the Park!

Ancient Trails

Step out on almost any valley trail and you’re hiking (or snowshoeing) in the footsteps of the Simpcw First Nations people. A nomadic band, they travelled river’s edges hunting, fishing and gathering berries since before time was recorded. Discover Simpcw Pictographs lining the shore at Mahood Lake.

Fish for salmon along the Raft River, as our First Nations have always done. Search for remnants of ancient kekulis, now fading into the earth. Sign up for a guided wilderness hike or snowshoe tour and you’ll uncover our whole First Nation story.

SIMPCW First Nations first fish ceremony (filling the pit oven)   Interpritive sign for the SIMPCW First Nations   SIMPCW first nations salmon viewing platform

Walk Through History – Ray Family Farm

Well before the park was created, pioneering families staked their claim, cleared the land and built their homesteads in the shadow of Pyramid Mountain. Long abandoned and now being reclaimed by the forest, you can still catch a glimpse of the Ray Family Farm and the Majerus Homestead by hiking trails just off the Clearwater Valley Road in the Corridor.

Trail head sign   Dawson Falls close to Majerus and ray farm   Remains of Majerus farm

Both homesteads are a short hike from the main road. Trillium dotted paths wind through the forest leading to open meadows and relics of pioneer farms. You can only imagine the strength and determination it took those pioneers to make their homes a seven-day horse ride from civilization. Bring your cameras and lots of bug repellent – the overgrown vegetation at both farms is a Mecca for mosquitoes!

Live Like a Rancher – Trail Rides and Retreats

Follow in the hoof prints of our earliest explorers. Cross alpine meadows painted with wildflowers. Ride into the coolness of the forest on a hot summer day. Go for a gallop with a real cowboy. Hear the local legends that colour our history. At the end of the day, bed down in an authentic pioneer log cabin.

Enjoy a cowboy trail ride in Wells Gray Park   Relics of Homesteaders long gone at Wells Gray Ranch   Cooling off with a beer after a long day in the saddle at Wells Gray Guest Ranch

Aveley Ranch, just north of Clearwater, is one of Canada’s oldest and largest working sheep ranches and an ideal spot for a secluded retreat in their heritage log cabins.  You can live the life of a rancher herding sheep, hiking the alpine, milking cattle or lambing ewes.

Follow in the Wake of the Overlanders

Enjoy a relaxing float down the Clearwater ot Thompson RiverSlip on a lifejacket and follow in the wake of the first Overlanders, floating the North Thompson River. Soak up the sun. Experience the grandeur of the great outdoors, scanning the horizon for grazing deer and bear. Watch eagles fish from treetops. Learn how to paddle the right way! Listen to legends of the fur trade and gold rush as you navigate past a whole shoreline of inspiring scenery. Create warm summer memories floating in the coolness of the North Thompson with expert guides at the helm.

Each outfitter offers a different family-friendly floating experience – which one you choose is up to you. Just remember: a keen sense of adventure and a waterproof camera are all you’ll need to create a lifetime worth of memories.

When to Go

  • Hike, raft and horseback ride in summer and ski or snowshoe in winter

Need to Know

  • Local outfitters can customize a guided hike or snowshoe tour to your specific interests
  • The Ray Family Farm and Majerus Homestead sites are slowly being reclaimed by the forest; making them unsafe for visitors to go inside the buildings. Remain on the designated trails/walkways.
  • Aveley Ranch is run by the fourth generation of the family – one of the oldest families in the valley