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Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park
About This Park
The Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Park and Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Corridor Protected Area embraces six large drainages flowing east to the Columbia River system and three flowing west to Kootenay Lake. All of which emanate from the rugged and glaciated backbone of the spectacular Purcell Mountain Range of southeastern BC. It is a challenging, undeveloped nearly pristine mountain landscape encompassing five biogeoclimatic zones and the only intact ecosystem in southeastern B.C.
Visitors to the Purcells should be experienced, self-sufficient wilderness travellers capable of interpreting topographical maps and route-finding. Wilderness recreation values include hunting, fishing, hiking, cultural sites, climbing, horseback riding (on the east side of the Park only) and wildlife viewing. A special feature also in the park is the Dewar Creek Hot Springs.
The Conservancy is a non-mechanized area. This means that the use of vehicles, ATVs, snowmobiles, bicycles and helicopters to access the Park are prohibited.
A number of guide-outfitters offer hunting, hiking and wildlife viewing multi-day excursions.
Established Date for the park: December 12, 1974; for the protected area: February 14, 1996
Park Size: 198,115.6 hectares for the park; 1,990 hectares for the protected area
Know Before You Go
Trail Condition Reports
- Trail Conditions Report for the east end of the park [PDF] (October 19, 2021)
- Trail Conditions Report [PDF] (September 20, 2021)
- Persons visiting the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park, are reminded that the park is a wilderness area, without supplies, public shelters, improved trails, or equipment of any kind. All arrangements for supplies, rescue and transportation must be made beforehand.
- All park visitors should wear strong waterproofed, lug-soled boots and carry a daypack with raingear, extra warm clothing and food. Weather conditions can change suddenly in this area and lightning storms with hail and snow are common in summer. For overnight trips a sleeping bag, groundpad, waterproof tent or bivouac bag and lightweight stove are essential. Only experienced climbers practised in crevasse rescue and properly roped, should venture onto snowfields and glaciers.
- Loaded logging trucks and other industrial traffic may be encountered while accessing this park. Drive with extreme caution and for your safety, always yield to industrial traffic.
- Public communications are not available at this park.
- The Purcell Wilderness Conservancy is home to a healthy resident grizzly bear population and visitors should be prepared for sightings. Recognizing recent signs, maintaining clean camps and remaining alert while travelling, are import for the visitor and bear safety.
- Most of the stream crossings in the park are un-bridged and must be forded. The major drainages may be in flood until the end of July and are at times not negotiable either on horse or foot. The exceptions are the 5 cable cars on the Hamill Creek portion of the Earl Grey Trail, the cable car over Carney Creek near the bottom of the trail to Kootenay Joe Ridge, the bridge over Westley Creek on the Dewar Creek trail, and the bridge over Fry Creek Canyon. Note that gloves are useful for pulling on the cable on the cable car crossings.
- Historical structures exist: use caution.
- Giardiasis, commonly known as “Beaver Fever” exists throughout the backcountry of British Columbia. Water should be boiled or filtered before drinking. For more information on Giardiasis, please read the BC Healthfile
- Enjoy your visit to the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy and the Earl Grey Trail, but please leave it as you have found it so that future visitors may enjoy it as you have. Please practice no trace camping.
- Please be extremely careful with fire. Primus-type stoves should be utilized for all cooking.
- You will need a British Columbia angling licence if you plan to fish.
- Firearms are prohibited except during a valid hunting season. Please consult British Columbia Hunting Regulations for dates.
Location and Maps
Please note: Any maps listed are for information only; they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Acquiring a backroad mapbook for the area is recommended.
Maps and Brochures
- Management Planning Information
- Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Management Planning Information
Activities Available at this Park
Visitors should be able to read maps and be capable of route finding. Because this is a wilderness conservancy, the park has no facilities or marked trails and is not regularly serviced. Visitors should be self-sufficient and proficient in backcountry travel practices. For more information please see the Trail Information Page.