Yoho Overview

Yoho National Park, nestled on the western slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains in British Columbia, Canada, is a place of awe and wonder, as its Cree name “Yoho” suggests. Established in 1886, the park spans an area of approximately 1,313 square kilometers (about 507 square miles), making it the smallest of the four contiguous national parks that make up the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. Despite its size, Yoho packs a punch with its breathtaking landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and rich geological history.

The park is a haven for geologists and nature lovers alike, boasting some of the most significant fossil finds in the world at the Burgess Shale, which provides insight into life on Earth over half a billion years ago. These fossil beds are recognized globally for their exceptional preservation and diversity, offering a window into the Cambrian explosion of life.

Yoho’s landscape is marked by towering waterfalls, including the spectacular Takakkaw Falls, one of Canada’s highest waterfalls. It also features pristine lakes like Emerald Lake, renowned for its vibrant turquoise waters, and Lake O’Hara, a hidden gem accessible only by foot or a restricted bus service, offering a serene escape into nature.

The park’s rugged terrain encompasses part of the Continental Divide, where water flows either to the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. It’s also home to the Kicking Horse River, a popular spot for whitewater rafting. For hikers and climbers, Yoho offers an array of trails that traverse through subalpine and alpine landscapes, providing stunning views of glaciers, peaks, and valleys.

Yoho National Park’s diverse flora and fauna, dramatic scenery, and significant paleontological sites make it a place of global scientific interest and a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. It stands as a testament to the natural beauty and geological heritage of the Canadian Rockies, inviting visitors to explore its wonders and discover the magic of the wilderness.

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Park Map
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Yoho National Park Trails

Lake O'Hara Alpine Circuit

Rating: Difficult

Distance and Elevation Gain: Varies, up to 7.8 miles (12.5 km) with significant elevation gain depending on the chosen route

Description: This premier hiking trail offers unparalleled views of the Lake O’Hara region, famous for its stunning alpine lakes, sheer cliff faces, and breathtaking vistas.

The circuit encompasses several connecting trails around Lake O’Hara, providing hikers with a challenging but rewarding day filled with panoramic views of the Yoho National Park’s best scenery.

Access is controlled to preserve the area, requiring advance planning.

Emerald Lake Loop

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 3.2 miles (5.2 km) round trip with minimal elevation gain

Description: Circling the iconic Emerald Lake, this easy trail is perfect for families and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the vividly colored lake.

The path is mostly flat and well-maintained, making it accessible for most fitness levels. Canoes are available for rent, allowing for a peaceful paddle on the lake after your hike.

Takakkaw Falls to Twin Falls

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 10 miles (16 km) round trip with about 2,500 feet (760 meters) elevation gain

Description: Starting from the impressive Takakkaw Falls, one of Canada’s highest waterfalls, this trail takes hikers through beautiful Yoho Valley to the majestic Twin Falls.

The route offers views of glaciers, towering peaks, and lush meadows, with a teahouse near Twin Falls providing a perfect spot for rest.

Iceline Trail

Rating: Difficult

Distance and Elevation Gain: 13 miles (21 km) loop with about 2,300 feet (700 meters) elevation gain

Description: The Iceline Trail is one of Yoho’s most spectacular hikes, featuring close-up views of glaciers, waterfalls, and alpine meadows.

The trail climbs steeply from the Yoho Valley, offering hikers panoramic views of the Takakkaw Falls, Yoho Glacier, and the surrounding peaks. It’s a challenging hike that rewards with breathtaking alpine scenery.

Paget Peak Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 4.6 miles (7.4 km) round trip with about 1,650 feet (500 meters) elevation gain

Description: Offering some of the best views for a relatively moderate effort, the hike to Paget Peak is a favorite among photographers and nature lovers.

The trail ascends steadily to an old fire lookout, providing expansive views of the Kicking Horse Valley, Sherbrooke Lake, and Wapta Lake. Wildflowers and wildlife sightings add to the appeal of this scenic hike.

  • All Trails, Best Trails in Yoho National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Britannica, Yoho National park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Geographic, Yoho National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Geographic, National Parks of North America, Canada-United States-Mexico, National Geographic Society, 1995.
  • Parks Canada, Yoho National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • UNESCO, Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks,, retrieved April 2024.