About Dawson Falls
Dawson Falls took us by surprise since we hadn’t planned on visiting it going into the Wells-Gray Provincial Park during our Canadian Rockies trip in September 2010.
We didn’t even know of its existence until we saw a sign at the Spahats Falls car park making us aware of its presence.
Nevertheless, when we saw how wide this waterfall was on the Murtle River, it stood out to us considering that the other waterfalls that we had encountered in the park were of the taller and thinner plunge variety.
Experiencing Dawson Falls
After parking the car (see directions below) and getting onto the trail, the first thing we noticed was that there was a view looking down towards the Murtle River where there was a small waterfall and bridge before it.
It took us a while to figure out that the waterfall down there was the Mushbowl (or Mush Bowl), which we passed by on the drive to the car park for the nearby Helmcken Falls.
During our visit, a faded sign made us think that it was called Mus’ Bowl.
Nonetheless, the walking path took us around 15-20 minutes to get to the fenced overlook of Dawson Falls.
At first we didn’t think we were going the right way because the trail strangely veered back towards the main road.
Fortunately, we saw a sign indicating the trail continued on (just as we were about to question the validity of the trail).
Curious to see where the main trail continued onto (as the fenced overlook wasn’t the end of the trail apparently), I walked for a few minutes in the upstream direction.
Eventually, I saw a trail junction where a primitive, steep, and slippery trail descended towards the base of the Dawson Falls.
Given the amount of rain that had fallen on the day of our visit, this trail wasn’t particularly easy due to its muddiness as well as the presence of fallen trees.
But once I got to the bottom, I was able to get right up to the base of Dawson Falls where I could appreciate its size from up close.
Since I was content with my experience with Dawson Falls this far past the main overlook, this marked by turnaround point.
Thus, I didn’t do any more exploration of the main trail as it continued on.
So I wouldn’t know if the main trail would yield additional ways to see the Dawson Falls.
In a bit of associative trivia, Julie tends to refer to the Dawson Falls as “Dawson’s Creek Falls”.
This was due to the TV show she used to watch around the time of our visit.
Obviously these things are unrelated, but Dawson Falls was actually named after a surveyor named George Herbert Dawson in 1913.
Apparently, it was he who also discovered the Helmcken Falls while doing his surveying work heading west of the Dawson Falls.
Dawson Falls resides in Wells-Gray Provincial Park near Clearwater in the province of British Columbia, Canada. It is administered by BC Parks. For information or inquiries as well as current conditions, visit their website.
Dawson Falls was one of a handful of waterfalls that we spotted in Wells-Gray Provincial Park near Clearwater.
From Clearwater, we drove about 42km north on the Clearwater Valley Road.
The signposted turnoff for the falls is on the right side of the road.
Shortly after the turnoff is a fairly large car park.
That said, the general context of Clearwater is such that it’s 318km (over 3 hours drive) southwest of Jasper, 562km (6.5 hours drive) west of Banff, and 478km (under 5 hours drive) northeast of Vancouver.
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