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Canoe, Emerald Lake, Visit Yoho National Park

Emerald Lake, © Can Stock / tashka

Visit Yoho National Park – Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake is a favorite for those who visit Yoho National Park. The lake has a beautiful glacial blue color even on a cloudy day, so everyone loves to take pictures of Emerald Lake. Visit the Emerald Lake Lodge and walk along the shoreline or rent a canoe at the lodge. The access road to Emerald Lake is 4 minutes south of the town of Field and it takes 15 minutes to get there. The parking lot is at the lake, so you don’t need to hike to get there. Stop at the Natural Bridge on the drive in.

Beautiful shore of Emerald Lake, Visit Yoho National Park

Beautiful shore of Emerald Lake

Visit Yoho National Park – Spiral Tunnels

The Spiral Tunnels are on the Trans Canada highway a few miles east of the town of Field. You can easily see the Lower Spiral Tunnel from the viewpoint parking lot along the Trans Canada Highway. The Upper Spiral Tunnel has an access road off the Trans Canada Highway on the opposite side of the valley from the Lower Spiral Tunnel.

Spiral Tunnels, Visit Yoho National Park

Spiral Tunnel

The Spiral Tunnels were built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to gain enough elevation for their trains to climb over the continental divide. The tunnels are like doing a switch back inside a mountain. Since the tunnel openings are close to each other, you can see the same train disappearing in one end of the spiral tunnel while the other end of the train has already come out of the spiral.

Lake O'Hara, Banff Hiking Tour, Yoho National Park

Lake O’Hara, Odaray Mountain, Yoho

Visit Yoho National Park – Lake O’Hara

Lake O’Hara is one of the best reasons to visit Yoho National Park and also one of the hardest placed to get to in the park. The parking lot for Lake O’Hara access is only about a mile east of the Great Divide Lodge on the Trans Canada. That might sound simple, but after that private vehicles can’t use the 7 miles of gravel road to Lake O’Hara. There’s a locked gate to make sure you don’t drive in with your own car. To get to Lake O’Hara, you need a reservation on the park shuttle bus. The National Park Service sells shuttle reservations once a year in the early spring and reservations sell out in a few minutes.

Lake O'Hara, Schaffer Mountain, Banff Hiking Tour

Lake O’Hara, Schaffer Mountain

If you can’t get a shuttle reservation, you still have two options to get to the lake. You can book a room at the expensive Lake O’Hara Lodge, which includes space on the shuttle. Your other option is to hike up the access road for 3 hours one direction. The hike is completely on the access road. In summer, start hiking early in the morning, so you enjoy the cooler temperatures.

A reservation is not required for the trip out, but space isn’t guaranteed. Mountain biking is not allowed on the 11 km access road. Check out our Banff Hiking Tour blog for further information on hiking in to Lake O’Hara when you visit Yoho National Park.

Emerald Lake Lodge, Visit Yoho National Park

Emerald Lake Lodge, © Can Stock / donyanedomam

Visit Yoho National Park – Other Sights

  • See spectacular mountain views and the glacial braiding of the Kicking Horse River at Field. The Trans Canada Highway drives right through these views, so you don’t even need to get out of your car to enjoy it.
  • Takakkaw Falls – a 25 minute drive north of Field off the Trans Canada Highway. No access during the winter.
  • Make a reservation for a Burgess Shale Hike. The Burgess Shale hike is all about seeing fossils embedded in the mountain side.
  • Sherbrooke Lake is a 4 mile round trip hike from the Trans Canada Highway, near Wapta Lake. This area is known for its wild flowers and the Wapta Icefield. You can also hike up to Paget Lookout here.
Mount Burgess, Emerald Lake Lodge, Visit Yoho National Park

Mount Burgess, Emerald Lake, © Can Stock / donyanedomam

Sights near Yoho National Park

Travel an hour west of Field to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden, BC. Ride their gondola up to the Eagle’s Eye restaurant. Look for grizzly bears during the ride. Then visit the Grizzly Bear Refuge. Ride a mountain bike on the trails in summer or ski in the winter.

Take the Mountain Lakes and Waterfalls Day Trip from Banff. The tour includes Takawkkaw Falls, Kicking Horse Pass and the Spiral Tunnels in Yoho National Park.

Takakkaw Falls, Visit Yoho National Park

Takakkaw Falls, Wikimedia / Quiatech

Visit Yoho National Park – Hotels

  • Cathedral Mountain Lodge
  • Emerald Lake Lodge
  • Lake O’Hara Lodge – your booking includes shuttle access to the lodge.
  • Great Divide Lodge – best bargain in the park, but can’t be booked before they open each summer.
Natural Bridge, Kicking Horse River, Visit Yoho National Park

Natural Bridge, Kicking Horse River

Yoho National Park Weather

Yoho weather has a short summer with cool evenings. Snow is possible any month of the year. Fall brings cold weather by late September. Many tourist facilities remain open year round as the Trans Canada Highway runs through the park and is kept open throughout the winter. July and August are the best times to visit Yoho National Park.

Lake O'Hara, Wiwaxy Peaks, Banff Hiking Tour

Lake O’Hara, Wiwaxy Peaks

Get to Yoho National Park

You will need a vehicle to get to Yoho National Park. The Trans Canada Highway runs through the middle of the park, which means bus tours from the Canadian Rockies to the Pacific will pass through the park. The Canadian Pacific Railway also travels through the park and stops at the small village of Field. Field is about a half hour drive from Lake Louise in Banff National Park. The park has two major side roads: to Emerald Lake and Takawkkaw Falls.

Visit Yoho National Park – Background

Yoho National Park is in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The Trans Canada highway runs through the middle of the park along the Kicking Horse River. Yoho meets Banff National Park at the great divide between British Columbia and Alberta. Wildlife is rarely seen from the Trans Canada Highway, but there are black bear, grizzly, moose, caribou and wolves in Yoho National Park. The pine beetle infestation has taken a major toll on the park. The needles turn red as they are attacked by the pine beetle. Unfortunately the dying forests are part of a natural cycle.

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