Natural Wonders of the North Thompson Valley
The North Thompson Valley’s natural history created a land made for adventure. Heated by volcanoes and cooled by glaciers, mighty rivers rage, waterfalls cascade and open blue skis call to you in the shadow of mountains.
Rustic badlands and soft, rolling mountains in the Lower North Thompson slowly careen upward as you travel north. It’s here where three mountain ranges collide, creating a visual masterpiece against a blue sky. Born of fire and ice, shifting tectonic plates created this place where you’ll find storied waterfalls, alongside a lush and aromatic inland rainforest. Relax by fresh-water lakes fed by ancient, receding glaciers. The mighty Fraser, North Thompson and South Thompson rivers bind it all together.
Where Mountains were Born
As you travel the Yellowhead Highway 5 north from Kamloops your eyes are automatically drawn to the sweeping and stately beauty of the Monashee, Cariboo and Rocky Mountain ranges. This is where you’ll find the creation story of British Columbia.
Eons ago, this was a part of a large super-continent known as Pangaea. Then the Earth’s surface separated into smaller land masses which drifted apart. The North American Plate collided with the Pacific Plate Terrane around 175 million years ago. The sheer force of this was so great that it forever changed the landscape. Pacific Plate Terrane. Huge masses of rock fractured and slid over one another creating the mountains you see today. These ranges sit like weather-beaten soldiers with a hidden tale woven within their rocks.
Fire and Ice in Wells Gray Park
Ten thousand years ago, fire and ice left their mark on Wells Gray Provincial Park. Look closely as you explore the waterfalls, rivers, and hiking trails and you’ll see lava beds, tuyas (a volcano once covered by a glacier), crater lakes and cinder cones.
Four separate glacial periods iced-over this wilderness region. Bubbling beneath the frozen mantle of the Earth’s crust was seething, hot magma, waiting to explode. When the churning hot molten mass eventually escaped its icy realm, hot air travelled up the surface causing violent steam explosions. Fragmented rock pieces were cooled by flowing over the ice. Successive explosions created the layer-cake landscapes you see throughout the park. Receding glaciers carved gaping canyons and flowing rivers where lava once flowed. Today, extraordinary waterfalls plummet downwards. Take your time and notice the hardened volcanic rock layers, lichen-drenched boulders, surging waterfalls, and lush, forested corridors.