Created in 1886 when 500 square miles were set aside to preserve its beauty, the word “Yoho” is an expression of awe and wonder in the Cree Indian language. And it’s very apparent why the park got its name! Twenty-eight picturesque peaks topping 9,000 feet (2,743 meters) and many waterfalls, including the third highest in Canada—833-foot high Takakkaw Falls (254 meters)—will keep your camera clicking all day.
The true gem of Yoho National Park is Emerald Lake. The water gets is dazzling color from silt that washes down from melting mountain top glaciers. Hikers will love the three-mile level trail that encircles the largest lake in Yoho National Park, and paddlers need only rent a canoe for a waterfront view of the surrounding snowy mountains reflecting on the blue-green surface. The hand-hewn timbers, massive stone fireplace, and formal dining room inside Emerald Lake Lodge are extraordinary, but with so much beautiful scenery outdoors, a lakeside lunch at Cilantro’s Restaurant can’t be beat.
Just off the road leading to Emerald Lake, see the awesome power of Kicking Horse River. Over time, torrents of water, sand, and gravel have worn through the solid rock to form Natural Bridge. The river is appropriately named—once upon a time, an unpredictable packhorse kicked an early explorer in the chest while he was setting up camp. Be glad you’re not relying on that kind of horsepower to see the Canadian Rockies today!
For train buffs, the Spiral Tunnel viewpoints are a must-see. Completed in 1909 after 1,000 workers labored on the project for two years, this engineering marvel reduced the original 4.5% steep grade of Big Hill at Roger’s Pass (the steepest grade of any railway in North America) to a safer 2.2% grade. No more brake failure and runaway trains! From the viewpoints, watch trains corkscrewing through figure-eight tunnels. Lower Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint has an informative display that explains the history and operation of these unique spiral tunnels.
One of the world’s most important fossil finds, the Burgess Shale, is located in Yoho National Park. The Burgess Shale Formation contains the 510-million-year-old fossilized remains of 120 species of marine animals, many previously unknown to scientists. Access to the fossil quarry and the Trilobite beds is protected and available through guide-led hikes only (hikes are long, strenuous, and very limited), but you can still see some of the fossil finds in the park’s visitor centers.
World Heritage Site: Kootenay, Yoho and the five neighboring national parks of Banff, Jasper, Hamber, Mount Robeson, and Mount Assiniboine are recognized as the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). That means these parks have the same international distinction and protection as does the Pyramids, Great Barrier Reef, and Great Wall of China. With such a claim to fame, you know a trip to explore Kootenay and Yoho National Parks in the Canadian Rockies is truly something special!
Yoho National Park of Canada Phone: (250) 343-6783Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com