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Established in 1886, as one of Canada's first showcase parks, "Yoho" is a Cree Indian word that expresses awe. True to its name, it is a sense of overwhelming winder that visitors feel as they view Yoho's outstanding features: the pounding Takakkaw Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the world; towering rock walls and spectacular snowy mountain peaks; the Natural Bridge, an unusual geological formation; and the glacial beauty of Lake O'Hara.

Located along the western slopes of the Continental Divide, Yoho is home to diverse wildlife populations including mountain goats, and grizzly and black bears. The Burgess Shale Fossils, one of the most important fossil finds in the world, are located within the park, as are the Spiral Tunnels of the Canadian Pacific Railway. These tunnels were a major engineering feat in the 1800s, and continue to intrigue visitors today as they wind through the park's steep mountains.

Yoho, along with Jasper, Kootenay and Banff National Parks and the BC Provincial Parks of Hamber, Mount Assiniboine, and Mount Robson were declared a United Nations World Heritage Site called the Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site, in 1984. This spectacular park complex was given this designation in recognition of its extraordinary scenic and ecological importance. By linking these parks together into one Great Wild Space, more effective protection of large mammals, millions of migratory birds, and a multitude of plant species is provided, according to the science of Conservation Biology.

"This spectacular park complex was given [World Heritage Site] designation in recognition of its extraordinary scenic and ecological importance"


Yoho National Park is located between Golden, BC and Lake Louise, Alberta. From Golden it is about a 30 minute drive east on Highway 1 to reach the park boundary. An excellent web site, www.field.ca, provides information on activities and accommodation, with maps and trail guides available from park information centers in the town of Field. This small town is situated within the park and provides basic services and a variety of accommodations.

Click on the map to view an enlargement


The vegetation of Yoho National Park varies from whitebark pine and alpine larch at the higher altitudes, to forests of lodgepole pine and Douglas fir at mid and low elevations. Over 600 species of plants have been identified in Yoho, including several kinds of rare orchids.

Like the other Rocky Mountain National Parks, wildlife watching is a popular activity here. Yoho is home to numerous large mammals including grizzly and black bears, cougars, wolverines, lynx, deer, and coyotes. Excellent places to spot mountain goats are found near Field, at the turnoff to the Yoho Valley, and at the Spiral Tunnels viewpoint.

Bird lovers have identified over 206 species in Yoho including a variety of finches, warblers, and thrushes, as well as owls, hawks, Golden eagles, mountain bluebirds, and the ever present Canada jay. Yoho's waterways provide important feeding and resting grounds for shorebirds and waterfowl.

"Yoho is home to numerous large mammals including grizzly and black bears, cougars, wolverines, lynx, deer, and coyotes."


Yoho's seemingly endless trails, abundant wildlife, spectacular snow crested mountains, glacier lakes, magnificent waterfalls, and ancient fossils make it a vacationer's delight. Outdoor adventures possible in the park include camping in the breathtaking Rockies, hiking across a sparkling glacier, or canoeing on turquoise mountain lakes.


Yoho has 4 roadsite campgrounds: Chancellor Peak, Kicking Horse, Monarch, and Hoodoo. These campsites all operate on a first-come, first-served basis, with a maximum stay length of 14 nights. There are also more primitive backcountry campsites located along many of the trails in the park.


To make the most of Yoho's 400 km (252 mi) of trails through stunning scenery, pick up a National Park Backcountry Guide from the Visitor Center before starting off on a hiking adventure. Trails of varying lengths and difficulties can satisfy the hiking desires of any visitor, from young children to avid backpackers. For short descriptions of a few of the trails in the park click here.


Many of Yoho's lakes, as well as some parts of the Kicking Horse River, are excellent for canoeing or kayaking. Canoes and boats can be rented at Emerald Lake. Power boats are not permitted in the park at all.


The portion of the Kicking Horse River which lies within Yoho National Park was recently designated as a Canadian Heritage River. Fishing is permitted here year round. Native species in the park include rainbow, Dolly Varden, cutthroat, and lake trout. Two species have also been introduced to these waters: eastern brook and splake trout.

"The fossils are preserved in amazing detail in this 530 million year old site, and provide scientists with an extraordinary window into the seas of the Cambrian era."

Takakkaw Falls

At 384 m (1260 ft) Takakkaw Falls are one of the highest in Canada. In Cree 'Takakkaw' means 'it is magnificent' and it is indeed a superb example of a hanging valley waterfall.

Lake O'Hara

In 1926, the Canadian Pacific Railway built a lodge on the shores of Lake O'Hara, and since then the lake has been a popular backcountry destination. It is one of the most exquisite settings in the Canadian Rockies, the turquoise waters of the glacier fed lake encircled by 3000 m (9800 ft) high mountains. Numerous trails in the area lead to remote alpine meadows teeming with wildflowers and roaring waterfalls. Many of the Lake O'Hara's surrounding peaks, including the famous Mount Victoria, are well known by mountain climbers who flock to the area for the adventure it provides. Perhaps winter is when the grandeur of Lake O'Hara is at its highest. The area is extremely popular with backcountry skiers who enjoy the stunning alpine views and the chance to ski right to the edge of glaciers.

A cabin in the area, the Elizabeth Parker Hut is used for hiking, mountain climbing, or ski touring and is the most heavily used noncommercial back-country facility in the Rocky Mountain parks. For information on the Elizabeth Parker Hut, and others as well, please visit the Alpine Club of Canada.

The Burgess Shale

Yoho is home to one of the most exciting archaeological finds of the 20th century: the Burgess Shale. One of the most important fossil sites in the world, located about 5 km (3 mi) from Field, it was designated a World Heritage Site in 1980. The Shale, composed of sediment from an ancient sea bed, containing almost perfectly preserved fossils of more than 120 marine species, many previously unknown. The fossils are preserved in amazing detail in this 530 million year old site, and provide scientists with an extraordinary window into the seas of the Cambrian era. The fossil beds, about the length of a city block, were discovered in 1909 by Charles Doolittle Wolcott, a paleontologist and secretary of the Smithsonian Institute. Guided tours of the Burgess Shale can be arranged at the Info center in Field.

"Located along the western slopes of the Continental Divide, Yoho is home more than just diverse wildlife populations."


Archaeological studies have determined that native peoples lived in the area as far back as 2,500 years ago. Native tribes are known to have established camps where the town of Field is now located, within the parks' boundaries.

In the 19th century, the Yoho area was explored by James Hector with the Palliser Expedition (an expedition which explored western Canada). As well, Major A.B. Rogers surveyed the area for the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the first train ran through the area in 1886. When the CPR saw the potential for a tourist trade in this spectacular area, they set up lodges and built hiking and mountaineering trails, starting the modern recreational era in Yoho.

The park was established in 1886, primarily because of the money tourism could provide. Today, although tourism is still a major feature of Yoho National Park, its primary function is to preserve some of the spectacular landscape of the Rocky Mountains, in its wild and natural state.

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