Yoho National Park is British Columbia's sister to Alberta's Banff National Park, a world heritage site, on the western side of the continental divide that separates the two provinces. It is about 2½ hours' drive west of Calgary, Alberta. Yoho is Canada's second protected area.
Yoho National Park is in the Canadian Rocky Mountains along the western slope of the Continental Divide of the Americas in southeastern British Columbia. Yoho NP is bordered by Kootenay National Park on the southern side and Banff National Park on the eastern side in Alberta. The name Yoho comes from the Cree word for "awe and wonder".
Yoho covers 1,313 km² (507 sq mi) and it is the smallest of the four contiguous national parks. Yoho, together with Jasper, Kootenay and Banff National Parks, along with three British Columbia provincial parks—Hamber Provincial Park, Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, and Mount Robson Provincial Park—form the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
The park was created following a trip by Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and his wife Agnes through the Rockies on the newly completed Transcontinental Railway. Inspired on his return to Ottawa, Yoho National Park was created on October 10, 1886. Glacier National Park was created on the same day, becoming the second and third national parks in the country, after Banff.
The park is on the western side of the continental divide and offers a number of geological sites of interest. Within the park is Burgess Shale Formation contains the fossilized remains of many marine animal species.
Common species of animals that roam in this park are the wolf packs, badger, moose, elk, mountain goat, golden-mantled ground squirrel, rufous hummingbird, hoary marmot, wolverine, cougar, pika, lynx, grizzly bear, and American black bear.
The weather in the park is localized and changeable. Being on the western side of the continental divide, it receives more precipitation than areas east of the divide. Precipitation in the park increases with elevation.
In winter, average temperatures are between 5 and −15 °C (41.0 and 5.0 °F) from the months November to April although temperatures can range between 10 and −35 °C (50.0 and −31.0 °F). The coldest weather usually occurs in the months December to February.
In summer, mean temperatures average 12.5 °C (54.5 °F) with an average high of 20 °C (68.0 °F) and an average low of 5 °C (41.0 °F). Snowfall and freezing temperatures can occur during the summertime at altitudes above 1,500 m (4,900 ft).
Unless you are a serious hiker, a car is the only way into the park.
Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway) bisects the park from east to west, making it easily accessible for travellers starting in Vancouver (10 hours west) or Calgary (2 hours east), passing by Lake Louise from the East and Golden from the west.
Bus connections do not stop in the park but there are possibilities to Lake Louise and Golden.
Although sightseeing trains such as the Rocky Mountaineer that go through the park and Field was founded because of the railway, there are no train halts in the area.
Fees and permits
All passes and permits can be purchased at the Parks Office when entering the park. Anyone stopping in the park will require a parks pass. Daily fees (2021):
- Adult $10.00
- Senior $8.40
- Children and youth under 18 free
- Family/group $20.00
Fishing permit valid in Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho parks (2018):
- Daily $9.80
- Annual $34.30
Parks Canada Passes
The Discovery Pass provides unlimited admission for a full year at over 80 Parks Canada places that charge a daily entrance fee. It provides faster entry and is valid for 12 months from date of purchase. Prices for 2022 (taxes included):
- Family/group (up to 7 people in a vehicle): $145.25
- Children and youth (0-17): free
- Adult (18-64): $72.25
- Senior (65+): $61.75
The Cultural Access Pass: people who have received their Canadian citizenship in the past year can qualify for free entry to some sites.
All passes can be purchased at the visitor centers at Field (May to September only) and year round at Banff and Lake Louise or at the tourism website. The Parks Canada website only allows purchase of the Annual Discovery Pass. Visitors staying in for at least 7 days are better off purchasing the annual Discovery Park pass.
Car and walking are the main ways of getting around. There is no public transport in the park but the park does offer a few shuttle buses to key locations and along retrieved roads. The highway is the only major road in the park. Some of the smaller side road, such as The Little Yoho Valley Road to Takakkaw Falls are closed due to snow in the winter and may not be open until around June.
- 1 Spiral Tunnels Viewpoints (8 km east of Field at Kicking Horse Pass). Closed Oct-Apr. From here you can see the trains exit and enter the spiral tunnels simultaneously
- 2 Takakkaw Falls (Located at the end of the Yoho Valley Road which begins 3.7 km west of Field). Open late June - October. At 384 m (1260 ft) this is the second highest known waterfall in Canada. Many hiking trails begin from the base.
- 3 Wapta Falls. 30 metres high and 150 metres wide waterfall on the Kicking Horse River.
- 4 Emerald Lake. A beautiful glacier fed lake.
- 5 Natural Bridge. A water-carved bridge that spans the Kicking Horse River.
- 6 Kicking Horse Pass. National Historic Site of Canada. Narrow pass with an interesting rail history.
- 7 Lake O’Hara.
- 8 Burgess Shale Fossil Beds.
Hiking and sightseeing are the reasons for coming to Yoho.
Yoho National Park is a hotbed for ice climbing, with visitors coming from around the world to climb ice in the Canadian Rockies. The town of Field is tucked between the Lake Louise ski hill and the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to the west in Golden.
Yoho Park is also popular amongst cross country enthusiasts due to the many kilometres of groomed trails and fantastic opportunities for backcountry ski touring.
Summer activities include camping, hiking, biking, canoeing and kayaking, train and wildlife watching, rock climbing and bouldering, and mountain climbing and scrambling. Also popular is the Burgess Shale Fossil Beds, a UNESCO world heritage site, where impressively preserved ancient undersea creatures give hints about the nature of life. The Shale is very well-protected, and if you want to see it, you have to be at the Fields visitor centre by 7:30AM; it's a 7-hour guided hike and $55.
Not a shopping destination, but there are a few souvenir shops in Field.
- 1 Mount Burgess Dining Room, 1 Emerald Lake Road (at Emerald Lake Lodge), ☏ .
- 2 Riverside Dining Room, 1 Yoho Valley Rd, Field (in Cathedral Mountain Lodge), ☏ .
Drinking water is available at the campsites. See eat above for beverages.
There are many choices for visitors to the Park, from camping, Alpine Club of Canada huts, and historic lodges to smaller lodging at bed and breakfasts, guest homes and chalets. The Kicking Horse Lodge is the main hotel in Field, and there is a motel found on the Trans-Canada Highway.
Most lodging within the park will be found in Field.
- 1 Emerald Lake Lodge, 1 Emerald Lake Dr, ☏ , toll-free: . Built of hand-hewn timber and featuring massive stone fireplaces, the lodge includes an elegant dining room, quiet reading and sitting rooms, conference facilities and a games room. Lounge features an oak bar salvaged from an 1890s-era Yukon saloon. From upper and lower verandas, the vistas of surrounding mountainscapes are breathtaking. Rooms from $330.
- 2 Cathedral Mountain Lodge, 1 Yoho Valley Rd, ☏ .
- 3 The Great Divide Lodge, ☏ .
There are four campsites in Yoho National Park, +1 250 343-6783, (email@example.com). Camping begins in May, with all campgrounds open by late June, and all closed by mid October. Exact dates vary depending on the year and the snowfall.
- 4 Hoodoo Creek Campground, Trans Canada Hwy 1 (22 km west of Field). 30 sites. Dry toilets, food storage, cold water hand pump. No fires permitted. $15.70/night.
- 5 Kicking Horse Campground, Trans Canada Hwy 1 (3 km east of Field). 92 sites. Hot showers, toilets, wheelchair accessible. Interpretive program. Arrive early. $27.40/night.
- 6 Monarch Campground, Yoho Valley Road (3 km east of Field). 46 sites. Primitive. $17.60/night.
- 7 Takakkaw Falls Campground (17 km east of Field off the Takakkaw Falls access road). 300 m hike in. Primitive. $17.60/night.
Backcountry use and camping permit valid at Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho national parks (2018):
- Overnight, per person $ 9.80
- Reservation $ 11.70
- Grazing permit, per horse, per day/month $ 1.90/$ 24.50
The Alpine Club of Canada operates the following:
- 8 Elizabeth Parker Hut (Lake O'Hara).
- 9 Louise and Richard Guy Hut (Mont des Poilus).
- 10 Stanley Mitchell Hut (Little Yoho Valley).
- 11 Scott Duncan Hut (on the southwest corner of Mt. Daly).
Other hike-in accommodation includes:
- 12 Lake O'Hara Lodge, ☏ , (during the off-season). Open May-October/February-April
- 13 Whiskey Jack Hostel (HI Yoho National Park) (near Takakkaw Falls), ☏ , toll-free: . Open mid-June to mid-September. Operated by Hostelling International.
Backcountry camping is highly regulated in order to try to preserve the wilderness. You will need a backcountry pass for camping in any place other than those listed above.
Camping is permitted in the Amiskwi, Otterhead, Ice River, and Porcupine valleys. Campers must be at least 3 km from the highway, 100 m from water and 50 m from the hiking trails. You may not stay in any place for over 3 days. Campsites can be reserved up to 3 months in advance.
Lake O'Hara is a 30-site campground open from mid June to October. Reservations are required and can be made up to 3 months in advance at +1 250 343-6433. 5 sites are reserved for assignment 24 hr in advance.
For additional information, trail maps, and safety concerns, contact Yoho National Park.
Mobile phone connection available around the settlement of Field but nowhere else in the park.
You can and most likely will encounter all manner of wildlife, from bears to elk to mountain goats. Take the usual precautions you would while travelling in a wilderness area, and give any animals you encounter a wide berth. Travel in groups if at all possible, make lots of noise, etc. Most dangerous animals such as bears will avoid you if they hear or smell you coming.
|Routes through Yoho National Park|
|Kamloops ← Golden ←||W E||→ Field → Calgary|