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Clearwater, British Columbia is an outdoor paradise with mountains, waterfalls, lakes, and forests galore. The actual town of Clearwater is a cute small town with places to eat, stay and shop, but the real attraction is the wilderness here!
Nearby Wells Gray Provincial Park has more than 40 spectacular waterfalls along with some of the best hiking trails in the area. If you’re up for an adventure, there’s everything from whitewater rafting to paragliding or the chance to canoe to a backcountry campsite and sleep under the stars.
You can visit in the summer or winter (have you ever seen a frozen waterfall?!?) with plenty of activities for every season. We’ve put together our top things to do along with a complete guide to Clearwater so you’re all prepped for your journey to this gorgeous place.
About Clearwater, BC
Located along the drive from Vancouver to Jasper on Highway 5, Clearwater is a great road trip stop if you’re driving from BC to Alberta. There are also so many things to do here. It’s a good final vacation destination too!
Clearwater is surrounded by mountains, including Trophy Mountain, Raft Peak, Dunn Peak, and Grizzly Peak. It’s also considered the gateway to Wells Gray Provincial Park, as the town is located right at the entrance to the park.
Clearwater itself has a population of around 2,500 people in town, but you’ll find many more during the summer as this area fills up with tourists to see some of the best natural attractions in British Columbia. The good thing is that there are so many areas to explore. No matter when you come, you can find quiet spots.
Now that you know where Clearwater is, it’s time to start planning your trip here. We’ve put together our top things to do and see while you’re in this part of Canada.
Things to do in Clearwater, BC
1. Take a photo with the moose
Start your trip to Clearwater by taking a picture with its iconic moose statue – Jerry the Moose. Located just out front of the Wells Gray Park Visitor Center, Jerry has been welcoming people to this area for decades.
The statue is made of metal and is about the size of a normal moose. Jerry is actually based on a real moose! A rancher in the area found a baby moose wandering along railroad tracks in 1959 after its mother had been hit by a train. The rancher took the moose in, named him Jerry, and bottle-fed him with milk.
Jerry spent time living at the ranch (and eating hay beside the cows!) before living in a corral in Wells Gray Park as part of a research study. Jerry eventually went to the Calgary Zoo and lived there for many years. He was then chosen as the mascot of BC Parks and has this statue in his honor.
Related Read: If the moose in Clearwater isn’t quite big enough for you, visiting the world’s largest moose is one of the best things to do in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan!
2. Check out the visitor center
After you’re done seeing Jerry the Moose, head inside the Wells Gray Park Visitor Center to help plan your activities in Clearwater, BC.
This is a great place to start your trip, as the center is staffed with information specialists. They have all the maps you might need and can even help you book tours. If you have a certain waterfall or trail on your wish list but aren’t sure how to get there, they can help!
While you’re here, you can also tour through the interpretive displays showcasing the Indigenous, geological, and cultural history of this region – it’s like a mini-museum! There’s also a gift shop where you can pick up some beautiful handmade Indigenous crafts.
The Visitor Center is open daily from May until October from 9 am until 5 pm. If you’re coming outside of those months, give them a call at 250-674-3334 for visitor information.
3. Whitewater rafting
Thrill-seekers, this one is for you! Take on the rapids of the Clearwater River with a whitewater rafting adventure to remember.
For a fun guided tour, this rafting trip on the Clearwater River is a great place to start. You’ll explore 14 kilometers (8.5 miles) of the river, including Class III rapids. Keep an eye out for eagles, bears, and salmon as you paddle and get your pulse racing. The tour is $130 CAD for the 4-hour experience.
For families, I recommend the catch a wave rafting trip to try out some gentler rapids while still enjoying an adventure together. The guides here are great as they help you navigate the waves and even take you on a small hike to a waterfall. Snacks are included too! It’s $123 CAD per person and is for ages 7 and up.
If you want to go whitewater rafting at some point during your time in Canada Clearwater is definitely one of the best spots to do it so don’t miss out!
Related Read: If you’re Alberta-bound, Jasper has some of the best whitewater rafting tours to check out!
4. Chase waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park
Wells Gray Provincial Park is easily one of the top things to do in Clearwater, BC, and honestly, among the best places to visit in all of BC. It’s nicknamed “the Waterfall Park” because there are dozens of waterfalls here hiding among mountains, forests, and glacier-fed lakes.
While you can’t see all of the waterfalls in one day (there are dozens of them!), these ones are easy to get to or just along the main road here – a 68-kilometer (42-mile) paved road known as the Wells Gray Corridor or Clearwater Valley Road.
Spahats Creek Falls – One of the most dramatic waterfalls here with water cascading from a break in the rocks. It’s a 76-meter drop (250 feet)! Only a 5-minute easy walk to get to the viewpoint.
Helmcken Falls – As the fourth-largest waterfall in Canada, you can’t miss seeing this one. I think Helmcken is one of the highlights of the park with its 141-meter drop (462 feet) and a viewing platform that puts you overtop of the canyon.
Triple Decker Falls – This waterfall with water drops off three tiers is an incredible sight! It’s less than 1 km (0.62 miles) from the parking lot along a somewhat steep trail that goes uphill along Candle Creek.
Silvertip Falls – The tallest waterfall in the park, Silvertip Falls drops an impressive 168 meters (550 feet) as it winds down a cliffside. Hiking here is relatively easy and should only take you 20 minutes to get to the first viewpoint, about 1 km (0.62 miles) from the parking area.
Moul Falls – About a 5.5 km (3.4 miles) round trip hike, one of the highlights, once you get to the waterfall, is going behind it! During the summer, you can hike behind the waterfall into the cave for a truly unique view.
Dawson Falls – A wide waterfall that will remind you of Niagara Falls, Dawson Falls stretches 90 meters (295 feet) across. The trail has two different viewpoints, one is when you first see it, but if you keep walking, you’ll get to see the view from the top of the falls.
NOTE – Many of these waterfalls are also spectacular in winter – think cascading frozen icicles and towers of ice Elsa would be jealous of, so this isn’t just a summer activity!
5. Enjoy the best hiking trails
With more than 200 kilometers (124 miles) of hiking trails, there is no shortage of areas to explore. Whether you’re interested in short, easy hikes to do in the afternoon or ones that will take all day (or multiple days!), Clearwater has it all.
One of our favorite easy but rewarding hikes is the jaunt to Triple Decker Falls. The three-tiered waterfall is only a 1.5-kilometer (1 mile) hike, but it can be steep in some areas. Look for a tiny parking lot off the road here and a small sign where the trail starts – it isn’t well-signed. Grab a walking stick at the start of the trail for the 45-minute hike, as it can get slippery on your way to the falls.
Hiking around Dutch Lake is another hike we love. It’s about a 4.5 km (2.8 miles) loop trail that is reasonably easy and takes about an hour. It’s mostly flat and well-maintained so it’s suitable for kids too. If you can, extend your hike from here to Triple Decker Falls. The hike between these two spots is scenic and not usually very busy.
Another couple of trails to explore include the 5.8 km (3.6 mi) out-and-back Placid Lake Trail starting at the base of Green Mountain Road. You’ll pass by giant cottonwood trees as well as old forest and new forest that has regrown since a devasting fire in 1926. For a longer summer hike with a stunning reward, hike to the summit of Trophy Mountain on the Trophy Meadows Trail. It’s a full-day hike that passes through incredible wildflower meadows.
6. Go skiing
With 3-4 meters (10-13 feet) of snow every year, Clearwater is a skier’s paradise! Head to the Clearwater Ski Hill for a day of skiing with the whole family. There are runs of all levels and a T-Bar lift system to get you to the top. Lift passes are only $25 CAD, and the bunny hill for kids is $5 CAD or free for little ones under 6.
Cross-country skiers can explore the 100 kilometers (62 miles) of groomed and tracks trails. Cross-country skiing here is so peaceful as you make your way through the forest, with the gentle swish of your skis being the only sound around you.
Backcountry skiing is also an option if you’re looking to make your own trail. There’s a good mix of terrain here for all levels of skiers to check out.
7. Relax at Dutch Lake
If you need a spot to cool off on a hot summer day, pop into Dutch Lake right in Clearwater. There’s a cute little beach here with a dock to jump off, a small playground, washrooms, and picnic tables. The water is warm here in the summer, so it’s perfect for little ones.
This is about the halfway point if you’re driving from Kamloops to Jasper, so it’s a nice spot to stop and stretch your legs. The parking can be limited during the busy summer months, so try to come earlier in the day if you can.
8. Go kayaking, canoeing, or SUP
Clearwater and the area around here offer some of the best spots to grab a paddle and head out on the water. You can rent a kayak or canoe from places in town and go explore on your own (but you’ll need a way to transport your boat!), or you can head to one of the lakes and rent from spots located near the water.
The easiest place is right in town at Dutch Lake. The small lake is great for beginners to try out a kayak or canoe, and there are rentals right along the beach.
To explore Clearwater Lake or Azure Lake, rent a canoe or kayak for the day from Clearwater Lake Tours for about $75 CAD. These two lakes are absolutely stunning for a quiet paddle. If you want to do both lakes, you can portage between them.
For the experienced paddler, Murtle Lake is a must-do. This is the largest paddle-only lake in North America – meaning no motorized boats are allowed. This glacier-fed lake is incredible, and you can rent from Murtle Lake Canoes for $65 CAD per day. It is a bit of a commitment to get to Murtle Lake though, as you’ll need to drive 27 kilometers (17 miles) along a gravel road and portage 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) through the forest to get here.
9. Camp under the stars
One of our favorite things to do in Clearwater, BC is go camping. There are so many amazing spots to pitch a tent and fall asleep to the sound of the river and wake up to an incredible sunrise. Plus, roasting marshmallows with a mountain view just makes them taste better!
Camping in Wells Gray Park is a great option as you can usually find a site (book in advance!), even during the summer, for around $25 CAD a night. Pyramid Campground is a great base to see the nearby Dawson Falls. There are around 32 sites here, and it’s at the end of a paved road.
The Falls Creek Campground is quite far down the Clearwater Valley Road but still has some services nearby, with a café and a place to rent canoes or kayaks. The campsites here are quieter and great to escape from the world as cell service is pretty spotty.
If venturing further into the forest to try out backcountry camping is more your style, Wells Gray is good for that too. There are campsites at Clearwater Lake, Azure Lake, or Murtle Lake you can only reach by canoe or boat. You can’t reserve these sites in advance, so you’ll pay cash at the lake with a self-registration system for $5 CAD a night.
10. Visit North Thompson River Provincial Park
Only 5 minutes from Clearwater, North Thompson River Provincial Park is located at the junction where two rivers meet. You’ll easily be able to see where the rivers meet as they are two different colors, with the green of the Clearwater River standing out from the brown of the North Thompson. There’s a great viewpoint to see this in the park!
There’s a nice campground here, trails along the river, a playground for the kids, and lots of peace and quiet. There are trains that run pretty consistently across from the campground even at night, but they don’t honk so it shouldn’t wake you up if you’re camping.
The park is typically open from the end of April until the end of September.
11. Check out the farmer’s market
One of the best ways to pick up some fresh fruits and veggies, yummy baked goods, or neat crafts is at the local farmers market. The Clearwater Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday from May until October from 9 am to 12 pm.
It’s located in the field near the Dutch Lake Community Center, where you’ll find a variety of vendors. The market is also close to a playground and an outdoor stage where there’s often live music playing.
12. Play golf
If you’re itching to get out on a golf course, there are a couple of good options to get you out playing a round or two near Clearwater. The golf season here starts early, typically in mid-March, and goes until the middle of October.
Wells Gray Golf – This challenging 9-hole par 70 golf course treats you to stellar views of Wells Gray Provincial Park. Golfing is super reasonable here at $30 CAD per person or $45 CAD for the full 18 holes.
Or try out the disc golf course for $10 CAD and if you need a frisbee you can rent those here too for an additional $10 CAD. This is also a really nice place to camp, with RV and tent sites set up along Hemp Creek.
Lacarya Golf has a 9-hole course that’s good for beginners or more advanced golfers. The course is surrounded by mountain peaks and forests, so you can sightsee while you play. It’s reasonable too with 9-hole for $25 CAD per person. If you have an RV, you can stay here for the night and have access to unlimited golf for two people for $129 CAD.
Get unbeatable views of the North Thompson River and the incredible mountains around Clearwater from the air! Gliding gently down from the sky while paragliding with Xsky Paragliding is one of those unforgettable activities in Clearwater, BC.
If you’re new to paragliding or are only in Clearwater for a short time, I recommend booking their two-hour tandem experience. You’ll be paired with a qualified pilot and spend 15-30 minutes flying! It’s $210 CAD per person and operates from April until October.
If paragliding solo is on your bucket list, Xsky offers courses to get you flying on your own. They start at $1,000 CAD and take 3 to 5 days with time in Clearwater and camping at a flying site near Kamloops. This can only be done in April, May, and June only.
14. Scenic helicopter flight
Get up close to the incredible scenery aboard a helicopter! Yellowhead Helicopters has a base in Clearwater that offers custom tours if you’re interested. From personal experience of doing helicopter flights like this, they are definitely worthy of being on your bucket list!
You can plan your own adventure whether you’re interested in sightseeing or having them drop you off at a backcountry camping spot of your choice and then hiking your way back out.
Helicopter tours are typically private tours, so they will be more expensive, ranging from $1,000-2000 CAD, depending on the experience you book.
Cast a line in one of the 50 lakes within an hour’s drive of Clearwater! The fishing here is great whether you’re hoping to spend an afternoon fishing or head out on a multi-day fishing trip. The freshwater lakes and rivers are full of fish to catch.
Head to Murtle Lake for its legendary rainbow trout fishing – they tip the scales at 7-11 lbs each! Or go to Clearwater River to stand on the shores and try your luck. Remember, wherever you decide to fish, you’ll need a BC fishing license first! They cost $22 CAD for non-residents and $10 CAD for B.C. residents.
If you have kids along on your trip to Clearwater, visit the Clearwater Trout Hatchery. This hatchery stocks more than 300 lakes in BC with 3 million fish every year! The hatchery is free to visit and offers self-guided tours or guided tours during the busy summer months. The best part is you can try out or rent a rod here for free and learn/teach your kids how to fish.
The area around Clearwater gets A LOT of snow, so it’s a snowmobiler’s dream. Rip through the powder bowls at Raft Peak north of Clearwater, which is easily one of the most popular places among sledders.
There are tons of groomed trails in the area to spend the day on, and you can even spend the night at the Willis Snowmobile Cabin for a backcountry stay.
The sledding season starts in mid-fall and lasts until spring, so you have lots of time to try out this activity.
Where to Eat in Clearwater, BC
With all that hiking around Clearwater, you’re going to get hungry, and luckily, there are some excellent spots to eat. While there are fast-food options in town, there are some local restaurants in Clearwater that are SO good with meals you’ll be craving once you’re back home.
- Hop and Hog – The highest-rated smokehouse in BC, they specialize in Alder and Birch smoked beef and pork that is slow-cooked for hours. Try a bit of all their specialties with a Meat Platter for Two (it’s a ton of food!) and pair it with a glass of locally-sourced craft ale or lager. The service here is top-notch, and the food’s so good that you’ll want to come more than once!
- Wild Flour Bakery Café – Just off the Yellowhead Highway, this is a cute spot for breakfast, lunch, or to satisfy that craving for something sweet. They make everything from scratch, including the milled ancient grain flour used in their baked goods. Start your day with a French Press coffee and a slice of the amazing carrot cake, or check out the keto, gluten-free and vegan options.
- The Painted Turtle Restaurant – For a meal with a view, head to this restaurant right next to Dutch Lake. If you can, get a table on the patio to look out onto the lake and mountains during sunset (there are even heaters on the patio for cool nights). This is a seasonal restaurant open from the end of April until October.
- Double R Pizza and Subs – This small-town pizzeria really delivers! It’s a local favorite for its pizzas with crispy light crusts, cheese cooked to perfection, and lots of other options like subs and poutines. It can get busy during the supper rush, but it’s totally worth the wait.
Where to Stay in Clearwater, BC
Clearwater, BC is a very small town so the places to stay are somewhat limited. Luckily, if you plan ahead and book in advance you should have no problem booking one of these great hotels in Clearwater below:
This is the perfect hotel for anybody looking for a reasonably-priced stay right in the center of town. All rooms have queen beds, air conditioning, coffee-making facilities, a private bathroom, as well as a TV. Ample parking is available on site and it’s free, plus, there is a restaurant here too so there’s no need to hunt for dinner.
Choose between a standard queen room, a queen room with a balcony, or a room with two queen beds that sleeps up to 4 people. The nightly rate averages around $118 CAD.
You can check prices and book the Ace Western Motel on Booking.com.
$$ – Grizzly Paw B&B
Conveniently located just a 5-minute drive north from town this bed and breakfast features two bedrooms with 1 king and 1 queen bed, 1 bathroom, a fully-stocked full-sized kitchen, and a living room.
In the mornings you will be served a delicious and warm homemade breakfast and at other times during the day, you can access a private entrance to grab snacks like fruit and cookies.
For the price of just $250 CAD a night, the value of the place is huge! This home is the perfect wilderness escape for small families or friend groups.
You can check prices and book Grizzly Paw B&B on Booking.com.
This is hands-down, the best hotel in Clearwater, especially for the low prices as low as $155 CAD! If you’re looking for a comfortable stay with a touch of luxury, the Best Western in Clearwater is exactly what you should book. This modern hotel offers everything from standard rooms to suites with full kitchens. There is an onsite fitness center and breakfast is included in the room rate.
You can check prices and book the Best Western Plus Gateway to the Fall on Booking.com.
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
Hopefully, after reading this blog, you’re excited about your own trip to Clearwater, BC. Whether this is your ultimate destination or just a stop along an epic Canadian road trip, you won’t regret spending some time here. There is so much to do in and around Clearwater!