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Yoho National Park

Updated on July 19, 2014
Mist rises over the Rocky Mountains in Yoho National Park
Mist rises over the Rocky Mountains in Yoho National Park

Welcome to Yoho National Park

Yoho National Park is one of Canada's hidden treasures. Located in the Rocky Mountains of South Eastern British Columbia, Yoho is the smallest of the four national parks (Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho) that make up the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Yoho National Park is named after the Cree Indian word for awe and wonder and is appropriately named. Contained in the park are many lakes and rivers. Among them is The Kicking Horse River. The Kicking Horse River flows from the Wapta and Waputik Ice Fields that are located in Yoho Park. The Kicking Horse River was named by James Hector in 1858. Hector was a surgeon and geologist to the Palliser Expedition which surveyed the land from what is now Winnipeg, Manitoba to Vancouver Island, British Columbia. During Hector's visit to the Yoho region he was kicked by his horse. Hector managed to survive the incident and named the river to remember the occasion. Hector is also credited with discovering the Kicking Horse Pass.

Kicking Horse River and Takakkaw Falls

The Kicking Horse River is home to many species of fish making it a popular fishing destination. The River is also very popular with white-water rafting enthusiasts who ride the waves in canoes, kayaks and traditional white-water rafts. There are three major waterfalls along the Kicking Horse River, The Kicking Horse Cascade, Natural Bridge Falls, and Wapta Falls which is one of Canada's largest waterfalls in both height and volume

Takakkaw Falls is also located in Yoho National Park. Takakkaw Falls is the second highest waterfall in British Columbia. The highest point is 1,260' or 384 Metres from its base making this water fall a sight to behold. Takakkaw loosely translates from the Cree word for "magnificent" and the falls are at their most magnificent during the late spring as winter snow melt increases the flow of water significantly. Takakkaw Falls are fed from the Daly Glacier which is part of the Wapituk Icefield. There are developed hiking trails through Yoho Park which will take you to the base of the falls.

Mount Burgess home of the Burgess Shale Fossil deposits can be found in Yoho
Mount Burgess home of the Burgess Shale Fossil deposits can be found in Yoho

The Icefields and Mount Burgess

The Wapituk Icefield is located within Banff and Yoho National Parks. The Wapituk Icefield covers 40 square Kilometres or 15 square Miles and as it melts feeds many lakes in the area including Hector Lake and the Yoho River and Kicking Horse River along with Takakkaw Falls. The Icefields are a marvel to behold and are open to mountaineers and hikers alike. The Wapta Icefield which is located to the North can also be accessed by tourists all year long.

Famous Mount Burgess is located in Yoho National Park as well. In 1909 the Burgess Shale deposits of fossils were discovered by Charles D. Walcott. These fossils were remarkably preserved and even contained appendages and soft parts of prehistoric animals that are rarely preserved. So many new and unique species were discovered fossilized in the Black Shale rock that even today some remain unclassified and are still a mystery to scientists. Access to this region is limited but can be arranged in the town of Field. In part, this discovery led to the region receiving it's UNESCO designation.

Emerald Lake is the largest lake in Yoho National Park
Emerald Lake is the largest lake in Yoho National Park

Field, BC

The only town in Yoho National Park is Field, British Columbia. Located 27 kilometres (17 miles) west of Lake Louise the town of Field is accessed by the Trans-Canada Highway. Field contains the Yoho National Park Visitor's Centre and has many hiking opportunities nearby. These include the Burgess Pass trail which shows off Emerald Lake and the Wapta Icefield, the Emerald Lake trail which circles the lake of the same name, and among others the Wapta Falls trail which allows hikers to visit the largest waterfall by volume in Yoho National Park.

Some places to visit while in Field are Takakkaw Falls, Spiral Tunnels which explain how the CPR (which founded the town) bored through the mountains to allow trains to accommodate the severe drop in elevation, and not to be missed on your visit to Yoho National Park is the spectacular Emerald Lake. Emerald Lake is the largest of over 60 lakes in Yoho National Park. Emerald Lake's unique turquoise colour and shape are most vivid in July as the high altitude of the region causes the lake to freeze from November until June. Tourists can stay at the elegant Emerald Lake Lodge year-round located on the lake, however reservations are recommended.

Takakkaw Falls is the second highest waterfall in Canada at over 1200' tall
Takakkaw Falls is the second highest waterfall in Canada at over 1200' tall

Yoho's Forests

Yoho's forests consist of the Western White Pine, Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock and Western Yew trees. These trees are typical of British Columbia's wet interior forests. There is an abudance of unique plant life in the British Columbia interior. There are so many plants and animals that one has to visit the area several times to fully appreciate everything from tiny tree frogs to large bears.

The weather in Yoho is similar to that in the other national parks in the region. Although temperatures are pleasant in the summer, be prepared for anything from surprise snow storms in the spring or fall to frequent rain during the summer months. Temperatures and conditions are perfect for cross country skiing in the winter. Forest fires are also possible in the British Columbia interior so listen and watch for updates to road closures in the local media before venturing out.

Yoho National Park is one of the many pristine places within Canada that must be seen if you want to experience the outdoors at their best. The spectacular scenery of Yoho should be on every family's bucket list for a once in a lifetime vacation.

Where to find Yoho National Park


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    • Mike Outdoors profile image

      Mike Outdoors 3 years ago from Somewhere in Canada

      Yoho is full of bears, wolves, big horn sheep, deer, elk, possibly moose, raccoons, rabbits, birds, frogs, and insects of all kinds. Tf you can name a North American mammal it is probably found in the rockies. Trout are in some lakes or rivers. Plants abound in the summer as do coniferous trees and deciduous trees.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Informative indeed! Can you let us know what wildlife is found in this national park?

    • susi10 profile image

      Susan W 4 years ago from The British Isles, Europe

      This is a wonderful article. I love the photographs. Well Done!