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Nature’s spectacular wonders at Helmcken Falls Lodge

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Photos by Brent Cassie

After funnelling through a narrow gorge, the raging froth plummets one 140 metres (450 feet), from its steep precipice to a white water pool. The impressive impact creates a muffled roar that echoes in our ears, and from the promontory lookout, we are kissed by its feather-light mist.

While forging onward, the Murtle River snakes turbulently along the volcanic canyon floor far below, and we silently watch this spectacular wonder, mesmerized by its magnificence.

Ranked fourth tallest waterfall in the Canada, Helmcken Falls measures three times higher than Niagara, and is the crowning jewel of Wells Gray Provincial Park.

From remote sites like this, to soft adventures like canoeing, flightseeing, whitewater rafting, and horseback riding, the activity choices are abundant at nearby Helmcken Falls Lodge.

"We purposely keep the tour groups small so that our guests can enjoy nature at its best," informs our gracious host, Joyce Harrington. Since taking ownership in 1990, Joyce, and her knowledgeable staff, have created special year-round wilderness experiences for people to enjoy. And when the snow flies, in addition to hosting conferences and innovative theme weekends, the lodge’s surrounding terrain lends itself to excellent cross-country skiing, dogsledding and snowshoeing.

Steeped with as much history as the falls have height, we feel as if stepping over the threshold at Helmcken Falls Lodge transports us back in time.

When a devastating 1926 fire razed the surrounding homesteads and old growth forests, the McDougall cabin on the property was fortunately spared. It became home-base for brothers John and Henry Hogue for their trapping expeditions. Then, 22 years later, they constructed Helmcken Falls Lodge out of the stands of charred cedar. Because electricity was unavailable until the late 1960s, the logs were hand-hewn and the two-storey structure was built entirely with hand tools. It was designed with the intent of wooing a couple of wives, and although history reveals that only one brother was successful on that front, the intriguing tale lives on today. So does the lodge’s rustic charm.

Accommodations include 21 rooms (from the McDougall cabin to modern log chalets) and 17 RV sites, and although no accommodations are housed in the lodge itself, its quaint upper floor became our favourite haunt three times each day. Devoted entirely for dining, we enjoy panoramic vistas and exceptional cuisine such as succulent salmon doused in a delicate herbal sauce, and traditional rib eye steak. And while some guests head off after breakfast with a full picnic fare, others, like us, feast on lunchtime menu favourites served on the wrap-around deck, while the whir of hummingbird wings flit all around. The views are spectacular.

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