Yoho National Park – There is a Reason This is Known as a Place of Wonder & Awe!

Searching for the perfect place to to spot wildlife, photograph nature, and experience all the natural wonders and holiday destinations of Canada’s British Columbia? You might want to try checking out Yoho National Park, over one thousand three hundred square kilometers of stunning natural paradise located in the Canadian Rocky Mountains of southeastern British Columbia, resting along the British Columbia’s western slope of the Continental Divide.

Yoho National Park

Yoho National Park

The National Park got it’s interesting name “Yoho” from the Cree expression that means awe, and wonder. Once you’ve arrived in beautiful Yoho National Park, you’ll quickly be able to see why the moniker suits this park so well!

Yoho National Park might be the smallest of the four contiguous national parks, but it packs a powerful punch when it comes to incredible sights and activities. Yoho National park is a part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, along with Jasper National Park, Kootenay National Park and Banff National Park, and the three British Columbia provincial parks of Hamber, Mount Assiniboine, and Mount Robson.

The national parks of Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho are all found relatively close to one another, as well as the Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine and Hamber provincial parks that make up the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site which has been scraped and formed by glaciers, dotted with mountain peaks, adourned with crystal clear lakes and majestic waterfalls, carved into canyons and caves of limestone, all coming together to create the unique Canadian mountain environment.

In the town of Field, British Columbia, located next to the Trans-Canada Highway you’ll be able to find Yoho National Park’s administrative and visitor centre. Yoho National Park is open to the public in every season of the year. The park has a peak season throughout the summer months of July and August, but it’s a popular place to come no matter the season. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to plan ahead for some activities, – some of the Parks Canada services are only available from the middle of May to early October, closing down through the winter season. You’ll be able to obtain information pertaining to Yoho National park from the visitor centre, which shares its establishment with the Friends of Yoho and Travel Alberta.

Visitor Centre Hours:
October 13, 2015 to April 30, 2016: Closed
May 1 to June 16, 2016: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
June 17 to September 5, 2016: 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
September 6 to October 10, 2016: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
October 11, 2016 to April 30, 2017: Closed
*You’ll be able to obtain National Park passes Friday through Sunday at the Friends of Yoho store, which you’ll be able to easily find in the Yoho Visitor Centre.

The Burgess Shale fossil site is one of the most tremendously exciting attractions in Yoho National Park for anyone who gets a thrill out of peering into the prehistoric past! The area is a popular spot for the discovery of various fossil remains of soft-bodied marine animals. Come see for yourself, and unravel the story of the Burgess Shale fossil site. The tale begins over five hundred million years into the past; not too long before the Burgess Shale animals lived there, there was an evolutionary boom which was called the Cambrian Explosion. Strangely enough, after close to two billion years of only very simple, single cell life forms on our planet, suddenly a whopping variety of complex animal forms appeared our planets seas in only  10-20 million years! That many years might seem like an unbelievably long time to us, but from a geologic standpoint it was an incredibly rapid progression – a blink of an eye for the earth! The reason why and how this happened is still debated among scientists who have some interesting theories. One thing is certain: It got the ball rolling and Yoho National Park’s Burgess Shale fossil site is said to contain the prehistoric ancestors of basically every single form of life on Earth.

Researchers have come to the belief that each living thing, existing or extinct, can be found in or traced back to the Burgess Shale. Since this place is such an important part of understanding how life on Earth came about, it can also help scientists understand what might happen in our future. Many of the specimens have been discovered to be very early ancestors of later, more complex life forms, from simple algae to the chordates which are a group of animals that we are the most familiar with which includes primates. Even more intriguing is the existence of many other specimens that seem to be completely unrelated to any current life forms on Earth, and their disappearance is a mystery.

You can come see the Burgess Shale site for yourself, a place that is considered so important that it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, helping to ensure the site’s preservation. In 1984 the Burgess Shale was added in to The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks and Assiniboine, Hamber and Robson Provincial Parks. Approximately 175 million years ago, the natural forces that created mountains managed to move the fossils from their ocean bed several kilometres to the east and up into their current position, resting high on a mountain ridge in Yoho National Park.

The 2016 Schedule of the guided hikes that will take you to the Burgess Shale Walcott Quarry begin in July: Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday starting Friday July 1; August: Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, and September: Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday until Sunday September 11. Ensure that you’re prepared to make the hike, which is considerably harder than leisurely hikes around Yoho National Park simply due to its elevation and the duration of time spent hiking. The distance is a round trip 21 kilometers (13 miles), with elevation gain of 825 m (2,710 ft). Remember that entry to the area is permitted only to groups being led by guides who are licensed to enter these protected sites. It’s definitely not a finders-keepers type of exploration, you’re simply there to learn, to see, and to enjoy the experience – not to pocket fossils to take home as souvenirs. You can reserve your spot for this hike, get any questions answered, and get the updated fee list by calling 1-800-343-3006.

You can’t make a trip to scenic Yoho National Park without seeing the beauty that is Emerald Lake. Discovered in 1882 by guide Tom Wilson who had been tracking down some horses that had escaped, Emerald Lake was like a shining gem in the area of Yoho National Park.

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Emerald Lake

You can lace up a good pair of hiking boots and make the trek all the way around Emerald Lake, a hike that will take roughly one hour’s time and provide you with all sorts of impressive views. It’s considered to be one of the easiest hikes in Yoho National Park, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. You’ll be able to see the Burgess Shale Fossil site, the Michael glacier, and perhaps even catch a glimpse of some moose coming to graze along the avalanche slope where meadows have grown, making the entire place dreamy and velvety green. Come see the wildlife as they come to Emerald Lake for their source of water. Osprey and bald eagles are quite often seen, as are loons bobbing along the lake’s surface letting out their iconic cries.

If you’d rather get out onto the water than hike around it, you’ll be happy to know that hiking isn’t the only activity you can do at Emerald Lake. You can rent rowboats and canoes from Emerald Sports (Emerald Sports is also a great place to grab cross country skis and snow shoes throughout the winter season) and you can even take along a fishing rod as fishing is a popular Emerald Lake activity throughout the summer.

If you can’t wait to dive in, go for it! Just bear in mind that the lake is cold – it certainly makes for a refreshing and fun experience however.  If you’ve jumped into the chilly waters, take a break alongside the lake and warm up in the beautiful sunshine while you enjoy a picnic lunch at the lakeside patio. Pop unto the Emerald Sports gift shop and poke around, or find one of the picnic areas and take a break. You’ll find that Emerald Lake is easily accessed from the town of Field in just a short ten minute car ride. You can always get there by bike, on cross-country skis along the Tally Ho trail in the winter season.

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Natural Bridge

While you’re on your way to Emerald Lake, you should definitely stop at the Natural Bridge, a site that’s a favourite for all travelers to Yoho National Park. The Natural Bridge is west of Field, and it’s a cluster of natural rock formations that span width of the Kicking Horse River. It’s here that the more tranquil waters of the Field Valley flats begin their journey down the river and through a canyon before becoming a part of the Amiskwi River. You can stand from many different vantage points at the Natural Bridge, and take in the sights as you marvel at how the river seems to simply flow right underneath your feet. Yoho National Park is definitely the place of “wonder and awe” and you’ll be able to experience it first hand when standing above the rush of the river.

Another incredible natural feature of Yoho National Park that you won’t want to miss out on, is the spectacularly beautiful and powerful Takakkaw Falls. Found just under forty kilometers northwest of Lake Louise, AB and seventeen kilometers northeast of Field, B.C on Yoho Valley Road, you’ll be able to experience these incredible falls as the water is sent pouring 254 meters or 830 feet in one long go, and 384 meters (1,260 feet) in total. Not only are the falls themselves a wonderful place to stop and admire, there are also plenty of other photo opportunities along the way to see them. The Takakkaw Falls are some of the highest waterfalls that you can find in Canada, and the getting there is a beautiful hiking experience that you can choose to continue on around Yoho National Park. You can get misted by the water’s spray at the base of the falls on a hot day, or keep your distance and stay dry as you see the Takakkaw Falls from a greater distance.  The falls can be accessed from the middle of June until the middle of October via smaller vehicles and bikes only – no RVs or larger vehicles can be permitted due to the road conditions.

Whenever you embark on a hike or excursion in Yoho National Park, just as you would anywhere, be respectful of the environment and be prepared. Let someone know where you’re going to be, and when they should expect you to return. With so many extraordinary attractions, you’ll be able to be looking at Yoho National Park in awe and wonder for a long time to come.

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