Explore Our Wild Places
Discover a world of sky-piercing peaks, thundering waterfalls, sun-drenched beaches and watchable wildlife. Take your time. Explore. Savour the wide-open space of Murtle Lake. Bask in the quiet of the wilderness at Wells Gray Provincial Park. Disconnect for the day, soaking up the sun at Eleanor Lake. Picnic by a waterfall at Little Hell’s Gate. Beat winter’s chill snowshoeing and cross-country skiing Herb Bilton Way Community Park. No matter how long you have to visit, you’ll soon find there are plenty of pristine and wild places to explore in our regional and provincial parks.
Wells Gray Provincial Park
Blue River is the eastern most gateway to Wells Gray Provincial Park, at 5,250 square kilometres (3,263 sq mi) a rugged, raw and vast wilderness, just ripe for exploring. Experience the serenity of backcountry wilderness camping. Fall asleep in the shadow of fjord-like mountains on soft, sandy beaches. Hike the Wavy Range through a kaleidoscope of colour in wildflower season. Watch moose migrate through marshy meadows. Marvel that you can be in the park for days and never see or hear another soul.
Murtle Lake, just 27 km (17 mi) west of Blue River, is your staging ground for a Wells Gray adventure, where accessing the park means paddling your canoe, the only way you can explore the area. Put in, head out and decide where you will travel – to Henrietta Lake, one of the most beautiful hikes in BC? A full- or multi-day trek through the Wavy Range; where postcard-like views unfold from the alpine? Or is it something in between, like McDougall Falls, a 5-km (3-mi) hike from Murtle’s Diamond Lagoon? Is it a day visit with a 5 km (3 mi) walk to picnic at campsite #1? Or a quiet beach where you can pop your tent and unwind in perfect solitude. You decide – the options are almost as vast as the landscape itself!
Eleanor Lake, Blue River Community Park
Disconnect for the day, soaking up the sun at Eleanor Lake broad, sandy beach in Blue River Community Park. Go for a stroll on the beachside trail. Spread a blanket and catch up on the latest beach book. Work on your tan. Unplug. Picnic. Paddle a canoe. Teach your kids how to fish. Beat the heat with a cool dip in the water. Bury your toes in the sand and remember how easy it is to make warm summer memories when you make the time.
Eleanor Lake is not only in the heart of Blue River; it is the heart of Blue River. It’s where we gather on hot, summer days, to cool off in the water, or just to chill out. Completely outfitted with a full concession stand, bathrooms, a shower, and summer lifeguard, it’s where families can enjoy playtime together for a morning, afternoon, or just a welcome break from a day on the highway.
When blanketed by snow, Eleanor Lake is transformed into a winter playground. Breathe in crisp alpine air, gliding along a shimmering trail in winter sunshine. When you click into your bindings, head to Eleanor Lake where set track trails provide plenty of cold weather exercise to keep you warm all winter.
Explore Herb Bilton Way
You need not leave town to explore the wilderness in Blue River. Simply lace up your hikers or slip into your snowshoes or skis and amble over to Herb Bilton Way Park. In summer, explore moss and lichen covered forested trails rambling along the Blue, and North Thompson Rivers. In winter, get your workout in, cutting new tracks skiing or snowshoeing beneath a fragrant canopy of spruce and pine.
Little Hell’s Gate
Little Hell’s Gate Regional Park is the perfect picnic spot on your Yellowhead journey, just 17 kilometres north of Avola. Watch in wonder as the mighty North Thompson River narrows and surges through a 9 m (30 ft) gorge, creating seething rapids churning through the narrow gorge. In late summer and early autumn, watch salmon complete a four-year journey back to their spawning grounds, from the viewing platform above the gorge.
Wildness rules in the parks and protected areas surrounding Blue River. Pristine habitat for both plant and animals, much of the valley and wetland areas have been put aside to ensure their survival. Take a deep breath of fresh mountain air and savour the possibilities of exploring Mud Lake Delta Provincial Park where you can canoe and fish a mosaic of wildlife habitats, angling for trout or Coho Salmon. Whispers of our homesteading past come alive at Finn Creek Provincial Park, 22-km south of Blue River, where unmaintained trails lead to former trapper homesteads. Gather blueberries on a quiet summer hike at Blue River Pine Provincial Park. Locally maintained trails make this one of our favourite spots for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter. Other protected areas in the region include the North Thompson Oxbow Manteau Park and the Blue River Black Spruce Provincial Park, both designated wilderness habitats for wildlife viewing and nature studies.
When to Go
- Murtle Lake is staffed by park rangers from mid-May to the end of September, although backcountry campers often access Murtle Lake through the end of October
- Due to the steepness of the gravel road leading into Little Hell’s Gate Park access is restricted to summer and early fall
- Blue River Community Park (Eleanor Lake) and Herb Bilton Way Community Park are both open year round
Need to Know
- There are no day-use facilities or campsites at Mud Lake Delta Provincial Park, Finn Creek Provincial Park, North Thompson Oxbow Manteau Park or the Blue River Black Spruce Provincial Park
- An picnic site and outhouses are located near Mud Lake Delta at a forestry site – check in at the Blue River Campground for directions before you go
- Be prepared for wildlife encounters. Bear bells can be purchased locally.
- Many of the best trails in Blue River’s parks are unmarked and most are not maintained. Explore with caution, or ask for directions from any of the locals you may encounter around town – they’ll be happy to point you in the right direction
- There are no “easy” strolls on any of our trails. Most trails provide a good workout; many have elevation gain
- Mosquitoes are a fact of life in the Interior of BC. Prepare for mosquitoes in summer – bring light-weight, long-sleeved clothing, repellent and netting for protection
- If planning on cross-country skiing in Blue River, bring your own gear. There are no local ski rental outfitters
Top 10 Park Experiences
Work on your tan, enjoy a picnic or a pleasure paddle, canoeing Eleanor Lake, the heart of Blue River
- Canoe/kayak and camp on Murtle Lake, the largest lake in North America to prohibit motorized watercraft
- Embrace winter’s chill, cross-country skiing Eleanor Lake and Blue River Pine Provincial Park
- Explore above the alpine, hiking the Wavy Range at Murtle Lake
- Camp on Murtle Lake’s wide, sandy beaches, in the shadow of fjord-like mountains
- Pull in for a rest on your Yellowhead journey, picnic at Little Hell’s Gate Park
- Put in at the Mud Lake Forestry site to paddle the Mud Lake Delta and explore Parberry Falls, beneath soaring mountains and distant glaciers
- Chat up the locals you’ll meet cross-country skiing at Eleanor Lake
- Fish for trophy size Rainbow trout, canoeing Murtle Lake
- Capture captivating images of your wildlife encounters…bears, moose, eagles, Great Blue Herons, and more, in our vast wilderness reserves