At over 200,000 hectares, the PWC is the largest intact ecosystem in SE British Columbia. The goal is to leave it wild with no trail signs, bridges or any facilities. Visitors must be completely independent. Because of the size, remoteness and length of the trails, day hikes are not common. Most visitors are hunters, guide outfitters and their clients and horse-packers. Mountaineers and backpackers are increasing. Motorized access to the park is not allowed.
Geology: Very old (1.5 billion years old) rock. Sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous formations.
History: In 1909, Earl Grey traversed the Purcell Mountains. He proposed a national park but it wasn’t until1974 that some protection was offered by conversancy rules. In 1995, the boundaries were extended on both east and west and Class A provincial park status was granted. Full protection of true wilderness was finally achieved.
Boundaries: North – watershed between Glacier Creek and Hamill Creek (Archduke, Truce 3250m (10,660’) and Mt Earl Grey). It buts against the quasi-wilderness around Jumbo Pass.
East – An eastern extension includes Ben Abel Creek, Mt Abel and a large part of Findlay and Dutch Creeks. The peaks are typically eroded and rounded and have long natural valley ecosystems.
South – On the south is St Mary’s Alpine PP, Dewar creek and Wesley Creeks.
West – The park touches Kootenay Lake south of Johnson’s Canyon and encloses Fry Creek and Carney Creek. Hamill Creek encloses an extensive old growth hemlock and cedar forest.
Road Access. Toby Creek – road ends at Jumbo Creek. Findlay and Dutch Creeks – the end of the road is 30kms from the park boundary and trails are maintained by guide-outfitters. Dewar and Wesley Creeks – St Mary’s River Rd extensions end at the park boundary. The road down the NE end of Kootenay Lake ends at Fry Creek and extends to Campbell Creek north of the Kootenay Bay ferry.
Features: Incredible diversity of wilderness. The highest summits over 10,500’ are in the north above the Horseshoe Glacier. Active glaciation still dominates many upper basins. The east has long valley ecosystems.