Wells Gray Field Station

All education is environmental education… by what is included or excluded we teach the young that they are part of or apart from the natural world —David Orr

old Wells Gray Field Station
old Wells Gray Field Station
new Wells Gray Field Station
new Wells Gray Field Station


ince 1994,Thompson Rivers University (TRU) has owned and operated an outdoor education facility in Upper Clearwater, 26 km north of Clearwater, BC, on the Clearwater Valley Road en route to Wells Gray Park. Officially the facility is called the Wells Gray Education and Research Centre, but most people in the know refer to it as the Wells Gray Field Station. Your choice.

The Wells Gray Field Station occupies two adjoining parcels of land and associated buildings. The northern parcel is about 1 ha in size and is dominated by of Upper Clearwater’s one-room schoolhouse and teacherage, run from 1950 to 1964 and now repurposed to a meeting hall, cooking facility and small rustic cabins for rent. Immediately south of this is 4 ha of land donated in 1993 to Thompson Rivers University by Trevor Goward, and now, since June 2020, the site of the Wells Gray Field Station itself.

Bordering the Thompson Rivers University properties on the east is 500 ha of undeveloped land formally designated for education and research by the BC Government in 1999. Crisscrossing this land are 9 km of woodland trails – repurposed game trails – that encompass a wonderful diversity of forested habitats and periglacial features. From wetland to upland to streamside, and from dark cedar woods to spritely aspen groves, it’s all within a few minutes of the Field Station’s doorstep.

Nearly 1,200 user-days are logged at the Wells Gray Field Station each year. Come springtime, The Land Conservancy (TLC) and Edgewood Wild run their popular Deertrails workshops here, while TRU offers its Field Methods in Terrestrial Ecology course ever other year. At other seasons, the Field Station is used by students in botany, forest ecology, and wildlife biology weekend field trips. Groups from other universities and organizations comprise an ever-growing portion of the annual visitors here.

Loosely encompassing the Wells Gray Field Station lands are the southern reaches of its namesake, Wells Gray Provincial Park, a vast, 550,000-ha wilderness area visited by tens of thousands each summer.

A major goal of the Wells Gray Field Station is to promote deep learning about place, specifically the plants, fungi, animals and communities of life that inhabit this wilderness valley – as well as the geologic features and processes that underlie and sustain them.

Next up: Lichen Portal