Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: June 2022
Yoho National Park is located within the Rocky Mountains in southeastern British Columbia along the Continental Divide. It was the second national park to be established in Canada based on its beautiful landscape. It boasts of having some of the tallest peaks in the Canadian Rockies, features a few turquoise coloured lakes and rivers, and contains a variety of scenic viewpoints and hiking trails.
During our stay in Banff National Park, we made a day-trip to Yoho since it’s nearby and significantly less crowded. Prior to our trip, we tried to book tickets for the Parks Canada Lake O’Hara Bus, but were unsuccessful in the lottery. It turns out that all the trails in the Lake O’Hara area were still snowbound when we visited, so in the end, it didn’t really matter.
The first spot we stopped at was at the Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint. The Spiral Tunnels were built over 100 years ago to allow trains to travel through the mountainous terrain. Despite the rugged terrain, Kicking Horse Pass was chosen due to its close proximity to the United States and because it was a shorter distance to the Pacific Coast. This choice was so significant to the transportation history of Canada that it was designated a national historic site in 1971. From the viewpoint we could see the lower Spiral Tunnel and read about the history of the tunnels.
Once we got back on the Trans-Canada Highway, we turned off onto Yoho Valley Road to get to Takakkaw Falls. But we were easily distracted by signs for the Meeting of the Waters, where the Yoho River meets the Kicking Horse River. The views from the parking lot were underwhelming as they were obstructed by the trees, but we took some sketchy footpath down to get a better look.
We hopped back in the car and continued our drive the rest of the way to Takakkaw Falls. The road is narrow, steep and has a few switchbacks. Despite the signs to indicate no larger vehicles or trailers, we were stuck behind a line of cars waiting for a tour bus to inch its way up the mountain, which also had to reverse a few times to navigate around the tight switchbacks.
From the parking lot, there’s a paved path that leads to Takakkaw Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Canada. Shortly before crossing the bridge, there’s a small detour to an overlook with the Canada Parks Red Chairs.
We then headed to the Natural Bridge, an interesting rock formation that was once a waterfall. As water found its way through the cracks in the rock, it cut a new channel through it. The river now flows beneath the top of the former waterfall, leaving the rock suspended as a bridge. Over time, the bridge will eventually collapse.
We were less than impressed to find a group of tourists who had hopped over the viewing platform and were standing on the Natural Bridge to take pictures of themselves. After waiting for over 10 minutes, we, along with a few other impatient people, yelled at them to get off. We almost felt bad, but then realized they were the idiots who left the viewing platform and ventured somewhere potentially dangerous. So dumb. And all for a picture (or rather 1,000 pictures considering how long they were out there for).
From there we drove to Emerald Lake, the largest lake in Yoho. There’s a trail that loops around the shoreline but we just walked across the bridge that leads to the Emerald Lake Lodges and admired the views of the turquoise water and rugged mountains in the background.
At this point we were starting to get hungry, so we swung by Faeder Lake where there’s a small day-use area with a few picnic tables and benches overlooking the water. We didn’t stay long as it looked like it was going to start raining. So we decided to drive into Golden to pick up some groceries.
On the drive back to Lake Louise, we planned to visit Wapta Falls. Except when we plugged it into the GPS, it took us down a long gravel road to some abandoned looking day-use area. It did provide a teaser of Wapta Falls from a distance though.
We hopped back on the highway and found the real turnoff sign for the Wapta Falls Trail (4.8km, rated easy). The path meanders through the forest and leads to the edge of the Kicking Horse River. There’s a viewpoint of the upper part of the falls and from there the path leads down to the base of the falls.
As we were hiking back up to the top of the falls, we heard some thunder. Darker clouds were rolling in, so we picked up the pace. We were nearly finished our hike when it started to lightly rain. The thunder continued and we even saw some lightning, which motivated us to walk even faster. Just as we got back to the parking lot, it started to really come down. We were thankful to be on the road for the next hour or so.
We made another detour to drive around Field, a small community of fewer than 200 people that is located within the national park. The town was established in the 1880s by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Since it was still raining, we just drove down a few of the streets to admire some of the older buildings, many of which have been converted into B&Bs.
It was still raining by the time we returned to Lake Louise so we decided to treat ourselves and go out for dinner. There weren’t many options nearby, so we went to the Lake Louise Village Grill + Bar since they were still open. The food was okay, but it was warm and dry inside. By the time we finished eating, the rain had subsided (for now).
103 thoughts on “Yoho National Park”
Love your photos and all the water! We will be here for the second time in mid-September. I can’t wait!
Thanks for your kind words. The colour of the water in the mountains out west is gorgeous. That’s so exciting that you’ll be returning to Yoho in September. Hopefully it won’t be crowded and the bugs should all be gone by then.
Wow! Wow! Wow! Wonderful post and amazing photos! Love the touch of your red chairs! Great!
Thnak’s for share, Linda. Have a lovely day!
Thanks for your lovely comment. The Red Chairs were a great spot to take a break and soak in the scenery. The tall towering peaks in Yoho are so majestic. Have a wonderful weekend. Linda
To say the scenery is stunning is an understatement. I’ve been to Jasper and Banff NPs but had never heard of Yoho. Yoho is just as scenic as the other two if not more so. Thanks for bring this park to my attention.
Yoho is actually really close to Lake Louise and is less than a 30 minute drive away. We found it to be significantly less crowded than Banff and agreed, the scenery was equally as stunning. The signage could benefit from some updating, but it just adds to the rusticness.
Canada really does have gorgeous scenery. I love your photos!! It makes me want to go on an adventure! 😆
For sure. I love how the landscape is so drastically different from the east coast of Canada to the west coast. There’s something special about visiting the mountains though. I could easily spend my whole summer here and never get bored.
Yoho and its Emerald Lake have been long-time favourites of mine and I have visited many times over the years. Your photos of this lesser known park are wonderful, Linda.
Thanks so much! I’m not quite sure why Yoho isn’t more popular than it is, but in some ways, that’s what makes it more special! I’m a bit bummed that we weren’t able to visit Lake O’Hara. It’s high up there on my travel bucket list, so I guess it just means that we’ll have to come back and try the lottery system again.
It is so beautiful. Amazing photos.
Thanks for your kind words and for commenting. There’s something special about being in the mountains. The scenery is just incredible.
Amazing pics. Thanks for sharing. Great information. Another one added to my bucket list.
Thanks!! We found Yoho to be significantly less busy than either Jasper or Banff, which was a nice change of pace. I wish we had a bit more time to explore more of the trails, but hey, I guess that means we’ll just have to come back.
Very much enjoyed your tour of Yoho NP seeing the crystal,clear water and huge waterfalls. It is so annoying when people hog viewpoints for ages taking photos with no thoughts for other people patiently waiting. To cross over a barrier endangering their own safety was really stupid and they would have been the first to complain if something had happened to them! Thank goodness most people in the countryside aren’t like that!
Thanks for your kind words. It’s amazing how vibrant and colourful the water is in the mountains. It’s very different than back home in Ontario. And yes, it was very frustrating to see some people ignore the signs for safety and hop over the viewing platform to “get a good picture”. Hopefully the collective effort from the rest of us who yelled at them to get off the natural bridge taught them a lesson!
The colour of the water where those two rivers meet, is quite interesting – it almost looks milky. Actually, I realised that most of the rivers’ waters in your post look like that … is that because of melting snow? And wow, the photo of Emerald Lake is stunning! Glad you could get back to the car before the hard rain came down. Thanks Linda for yet another post with breathtaking beautiful pictures!
Many of the rivers and lakes in the mountains out west have a similar colour, which is a brilliant blue or turquoise colour. The colour comes from the melt-water from the glaciers, which carries fine rock dust that stays suspended in the water, which then reflects light and creates the vibrant colours. And yes, I’m so glad we made it back in the car before the worst of the rain. That would have been miserable to hike through!!
Thanks for the explanation Linda – it now makes full sense!
Anytime. It’s actually quite interesting because with climate change, the lakes will eventually lose their vibrant colour.
Looks great!! I can’t decide which of the fantastic photos is my favourite!!!
Thanks for your kind words. It can sometimes be a struggle to pick just a few pictures to highlight from our travels. I tend to take way too many pictures!
You are very welcome!! 🙂 Haha, you chose well! and on the plus side; you have enough shots left for a follow-up post! 😉
Aw thanks!! And that’s very true. The views of the mountains never get old.
Thanks for sharing! I did a similar itinerary when I visited Yoho a few years ago, but since we were really early in the season, the road to Takakkaw Falls was closed so we didn’t get to see them… A good reason to go back, this national park has so much to offer (and way less crowds than Banff!)
I wholeheartedly agree about how Yoho has so much to offer. We also found it way less busy than Banff too. I’d love to return to visit the Lake O’Hara area in the park. It’s high up there on my list of places to hike.
We never realized how beautiful this park was until our son got married at Emerald Lake in 2016. All of those sights are so familiar now. There is a great restaurant in Filed called Truffle Pigs and the restaurant just across the bridge at Emerald Lake was their wedding venue. We have never managed to make it to Lake O’Hara. Thanks for sharing Linda. Happy Thursday. Allan
Emerald Lake is one of the prettiest lakes in the Canadian Rockies. What a beautiful spot for your son to get married!! We actually visited Yoho back in 2016 too, during our first ever trip out west. We just can’t seem to get enough of the mountains. Hopefully someday we’ll finally make it to Lake O’Hara. I had no idea it was so popular. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Linda
We had the same experience at natural bridge: one knucklehead standing in the middle of the bridge taking selfies, oblivious to the dozens of other people wanting a picture without him in it. Yoho was a last minute addition to our trip, but we loved it almost as much as Banff.
Sorry to hear that you had a similar experience at the Natural Bridge with an idiot who was hogging the viewpoint. I can’t believe how clueless some people are and that they would put themselves at risk just for a picture. Glad to hear that you had a wonderful time in Yoho. We did as well and found it to be waaaay less busy than Banff. It was awesome.
Looks like a really beautiful park- I’ll have to add it to the list 🙂
Yoho is very picturesque with all the tall towering peaks. It was especially scenic early in the summer when the mountains still had snow at higher elevations.
Wish I would be fortunate enough to have a chance to have experienced such trip full of nature having woods, water, open n clear / sky having beautiful clouds, lakes etc. It might be delightful experience to visiting one of the highest waterfalls of Canada.
Nice sharing, dear. May I know your name, please💐🌹
The scenery in Canada, especially out west in the mountains, is beautiful. It’s the perfect place to connect with nature. We had a wonderful time in Yoho and Takakkaw Falls was definitely a highlight. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Linda
Wish you would enjoy more in your future trips. Thank you, Linda.
Nice to connect with you on nature and safety on road💐🌹🙏
For sure. Spending time in nature is my happy place. We are certainly making up for lost time because of the pandemic and have been able to travel more. Thanks for following along on our adventures.
Wish you best of luck. You’re always welcome 🏵 💐
So so beautiful! It’s funny that you mention the tour bus on the road to Takakkaw Falls because I visited Yoho when I was a kid (must be at least 20 years ago now) and my only memories are Takakkaw Falls itself, and a tour bus attempting to navigate those switchbacks.
It’s crazy how those tour buses are able to navigate up those steep switch backs. I wonder what they do when one is coming up and one is going down at the same time. Thankfully we weren’t around to find out as I imagine it would have involved a lot of waiting around for all of us in cars.
Ha! I have to imagine the buses wouldn’t be able to fit through simultaneously. Hopefully we never have to find out.
Fingers crossed! I’m not a fan of tour buses in general (probably because I had a really bad experience with one), so I’d be okay if they were banned from the narrow road leading to the falls 🙂
Just when I think it can’t get any better, you blast us with these amazing photos. What a trip!
Thanks!! As much as we enjoyed Banff, it was nice to ditch the crowds and spend the day at Yoho. The scenery was just as spectacular and we didn’t have to stress about parking.
Amazing, fabulous scenery. What a beautiful place, full of breathtaking sights. Apart from the camera idiots!
The mountains looked so majestic and the scenery was spectacular. It’s such a shame how some people behave and how they ignore the barriers and warning signs. They are there for a reason. I’m glad we weren’t the only ones who were annoyed! At least our collective efforts to shame them to get off the Natural Bridge worked.
I loved Yoho NP. The Iceline trail was an epic hike – I recommend it if you’re ever back out there.
I reeeally want to do that one! It was too stormy when we visited!
I just looked up some pictures from the Iceline Trail and I can see why you would recommend it. The scenery looks incredible. I’ve added it to the list for next time, along with Lake O’Hara.
I love this area tooo! Yay that you got to see so many of the good waterfalls before the rain started bucketing down!
p.s. If you go back to Lake Louise village – the two places there that are great for food are:
– Lake Louise Railway Station & Restaurant
– Storm Mountain Lodge (its a little drive away…but some of the best food we had in the Rockies.)
I’m so glad we missed the worst of the rain. It’s never fun to hike in a torrential downpour. By the time we got back to Lake Louise, it was getting pretty late and not much was still open. I’ll have to check out those places for next time. I like the sound of Storm Mountain Lodge.
Oh my goodness, these are stunning photos! Look at those mountains, falls and emerald water. Wow!
I’m trying to visualize the drive in my head, so this park is located near Alberta, but based in British Columbia? You got to cross off two provinces in one day! 🙂
I never heard of Yoho before, so I’ll have to keep an eye on this for future trip planning. The idea of less packed and stress to visit sound appealing.
When we did our Alaska cruise in 2011, we did a day trip where he did a train ride through the Rockies, both Alaska and BC and it was incredible. I will have to look at my photos again now. You inspired me!
Thanks! Even though it was overcast and cloudy, the mountains still looked impressive. I still can’t get over how colourful some of the lakes are out west. Emerald Lake was one of our favourites.
Yoho isn’t too far from Lake Louise. We found it significantly less crowded than Banff. Some of the signage looks very “rustic” and could be updated, but in some ways, it just added to the experience.
It was neat to see all the railways through the mountainous terrain. It’s incredible to think of how this was all engineered back in the day. A train ride through the Rockies sounds like such a fabulous adventure. I hope you got a window seat!
Good to know about Yoho. Will add this to the future wishlist planning. 🙂 Thank you!
Yoho National Park looks so incredibly beautiful even when it was overcast. I guess this is one of those places that will always look pretty regardless of the weather. In many places, there seems to be that kind of tourists who are inconsiderate and rather stupid for putting their lives in danger just for photos. It was good that you yelled at them! 😃
If anything, the darker clouds just added to the whole atmosphere and made the mountains seem even more impressive. It’s such a shame how some people ignore the rules and warning signs and can often ruin the experience for others. And yes, I’m glad we were able to shame them off of the Natural Bridge! The viewing platforms are there for a reason!
This series of trip recently is amazing. Loved each and every picture of the trip. Natural world at its best. The red chair still fascinates me! Perfect spot to just watch the views. Thanks for the share.
Thanks so much for your lovely comment. Being out in nature is my happy place and there’s something so special about being in the mountains. Parks Canada started the Red Chairs program just over a decade ago. They are often placed at a nice overlook or viewpoint off the beaten path. The chairs are super comfortable and it’s a great excuse to take a break and enjoy the views. Thanks for reading. Linda
The scenery is impressive and it’s good that you can enjoy it despite the adverse weather.
For sure. I’m so glad we finished up our final hike before the rain really started to come down, especially since we didn’t have our rain jackets with us on the trail! Even with the clouds, the scenery was still gorgeous.
Hey guys, what a day trip this turned out to be. Seriously, I’m running out of new adjectives as we go from one stunning post to another. Gorgeous photography, I particularly like the mountaintop view just beneath the falls photo. Oh and yes, people are annoying.
Thanks for your kind words. Even though it was a bit drab and dreary outside, the mountains still looked incredible. And yes, people can be very annoying when they hog a viewpoint or ignore the rules and warning signs. There’s a good reason why the viewing platforms were constructed. At least they got the not so subtle hint when we yelled at them to get off the Natural Bridge!
Wow – that view from afar of Wapta falls is particularly beautiful. I can never get over the blue of the water and the insane scenery! I also can’t believe there was a tour bus trying to get up there, just ridiculous!
We were very confused as to where our GPS was taking us as the road was pretty dodgy. At least the viewpoint provided a nice preview of Wapta Falls. I’m just glad we weren’t stuck behind the tour bus for the entire drive up the mountain, but it was still painful to wait for it to inch its way up some of the switchbacks. I wonder what happens if there’s a tour bus trying to come up and go down at the same time.
Wow, Yoho sure looks spectacular. Less crowds definitely sound more appealing. Fun reading about the little trails you were on. And the teaser drive down the long gravel road.😀
For sure. It was nice to get away from the crowds and not have to stress about finding parking. Some of the signage was a bit old, but if anything, I think it just added to the whole experience. We contemplated turning around a few times along that sketchy gravel road, but I’m glad we made it to the end as it was actually a nice viewpoint of Wapta Falls. The abandoned day-use area also looked like a great spot to wild camp if you were in a pinch.
wow, those views are unreal! Absolutely stunning! I think it so fun that the park service has the red chairs set up- what clever and wonderful marketing 🙂
Oh I know. Parks Canada started the Red Chairs program just over a decade ago. They are often placed at a nice viewpoint or overlook, typically off the beaten path. We went on a scavenger hunt to find as many as we could. They are also super comfortable and a great spot to take a break.
Wow..wow..wow. gorgeous… loved it!!
Thanks! The landscape in the Canadian Rockies is stunning, which makes for some great hiking. Even the driving is super scenic.
Yoho National Park looks simply magnificent!
It sure does. Even though it was overcast and cloudy, the scenery was still beautiful. There’s just something so magical about being in the mountains.
Beautiful as always, Linda. I appreciate that you waited to take a photo of that natural bridge. It takes all kinds even out in such natural, scenic areas 🤦. All of the photos are just stunning!
Thanks for your kind words. It was worth the wait for those idiots to get off the Natural Bridge so the rest of us could take a picture. I don’t understand people who have no consideration for others, or even the environment. The viewing platforms and barriers are there for a reason.
You are welcome, Linda. I don’t understand it in a crowded city and I sure do not understand it out in the beauty of nature.
I’m right there with you. I just don’t get it.
What a beautiful place. Your photos are amazing as usual. 😊
You are too kind. The mountains are so mesmerizing, even when its drab and dreary outside.
For sure. We had a wonderful day-trip to Yoho and found it to be way less crowded than Banff, which made the hiking more enjoyable.
True, less crowd is more enjoyable and relaxing. Happy Tuesday.
You bet. I never liked crowds prior to the pandemic and enjoy them even less nowadays!
There’s a lot of history with this place. The history about the tunnels is especially interesting. It’s wild how every place you go has it’s own history within it. These photos are incredible. Great post, Linda 💗
Thanks for your kind words. Agreed. Building a railway through the mountains does not seem like an easy task, especially back then. At the next park we visited, extending the railway there was especially treacherous because of all the avalanches.
Wow avalanches scare me so badly. I watched a documentary about people who got trapped under snow from an avalanche. I can’t imagine how terrifying that would be.
Same. The thought of being buried alive in the snow sounds terrifying. We drove through a few snow sheds, which were built along the highway to help deflect the snow and saw some debris and fallen trees on top. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be driving in one of those during an avalanche. Needless to say, I probably won’t be visiting the mountains anytime soon in the winter!
I wouldn’t, either !! I’d be too scared 😳. That’s really good that they make snow sheds to reduce instances like that. Thank God for ingenuity 🙂
Oh I know. It’s pretty amazing how people came up with that idea and then were able to create them.
Of all the national parks nearby, I am IN LOVE with Yoho. I am so glad you got to visit so many amazing places there.
I have never been to the Natural Bridge, which is a total shame. I should make the time. Good for you!!!! For yelling at those yahoos to get off the bridge. People just don’t listen/obey signs. There’s a reason you’re not allowed to go there.
Last week I was backpacking, and we had to hike past the uber popular Ink Pots above Johnson’s Canyon. About 1 million people visit every day. It’s a fragile environment that’s under stress. There are signs everywhere saying stay out of the water. What does this family of four do? Hey kids – come walk down the small bank (off the trail) and put your hands in the water. My friend Erin and I were pretty vocal about them NOT doing that. They quickly picked up and left.
That spiral tunnel! In 2012, I skied into the Stanley Mitchell hut, which is 11 km past Takakkaw Falls. The road is closed in the winter so we ski basically from the highway. As we skied in (which took forever with our big packs as we were staying for a week), a train went through the Spiral Tunnel. We were right across from it and stopped to watch the tail disappear while the head appeared somewhere else. Really is an engineering marvel. Anyhoo, at first it was cool, but as train after train screeching along the tracks, we couldn’t get away fast enough 🙂
You had such a great trip Linda! Yes, you’ll have to come back for Lake O’Hara. Bring your tent and spend a few days. The many day hikes to beautiful lakes are worth it. And since you take the bus in, you can bring a lot of stuff.
I’m honestly surprised Yoho isn’t more popular than it is, especially given its close proximity to Banff. The Natural Bridge is super easy to get to and it’s a nice little viewpoint, assuming some stupid idiots aren’t standing on it. I’m glad we were able to shame them off the bridge though. It’s super frustrating how some people ignore the signs and barriers. It’s sad that it’s typically nature or the wildlife that suffer from our actions. Good for you for saying something to that family at the Ink Pots!
And yes, it’s pretty amazing how they were able to construct a railway through the mountains, especially back then. P.S. That sounds like such a fun winter activity to backcountry ski to the Stanley Mitchell hut. I’ve always wanted to try something like that.
Lake O’Hara is very high up there on my travel bucket list and is definitely worth returning to Yoho for! Next time I’ll see if I can snag a campsite and/or apply multiple times to the lottery and book my trip around availability.
There are many light touring skis you can do here in the winter that don’t involve avalanche danger. I skied into Lake O’Hara last year. It’s beautiful, but as this is lake country, it’s way better in the summer.
Good to know. And hey, this could be a great reason to visit out west during the winter and to experience a different side of these national parks!
I hadn’t heard of Yoho, but it seems to be quite a destination in itself. I also didn’t realize there was a town of Lake Louise as well as a lake. Guess I’ll have to get up north and check it out sometime!
Yoho isn’t far from Lake Louise. We found it way less busy than Banff and the scenery was equally as stunning. It’s kind of neat because many of the national parks in the mountains tend to have a town located within or adjacent to the park, which is kind of nice in some ways. We took advantage of this by eating out when the weather wasn’t ideal.
Waterfalls, natural bridges, waters meeting . . . you’ve got it all in this post! What a trip!
The best part was that Yoho wasn’t very busy, especially compared to Banff. We had a wonderful day trip exploring the sights and soaking in the views.
The mist coming off the water is really mesmerizing. I could imagine it would be cold up close though. Great shots
Thanks for your kind words. There was actually a storm brewing, so the mist from the waterfall just added to the whole atmosphere. Thankfully we made it back to the car just in time before it started to downpour. The thunder provided great motivation for us to get a move on!
Oh wow! I would’ve been scared haha . I have gotten caught in so many storms on walks before. It’s terrifying 😳. Glad you guys made it safely to the car ☺️
More awesome hikes and drives in beautiful country. The Takakkaw Fall photo reminds me of Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park. It looks similar.
It was a very scenic drive in the mountains. The best part was that Yoho wasn’t nearly as busy as Banff. Takakkaw Falls is pretty impressive. If it’s similar to Yosemite, that’s another good reason for us to visit California!
Well, IMHO I think Canada is absolutely beautiful, and many of its areas, especially Banff, are prettier than Yosemite. 🙂 But Takakkaw Falls looked like Yosemite Falls. 🙂
We do have some pretty incredible scenery and wilderness here in Canada. Given how popular our national parks are becoming, hopefully some new ones will be created.