• Danik Bates

A one-day itinerary to Yoho National Park

Updated: May 7

Whilst checking out the mountains of British Columbia and the national parks of Jasper and Banff in Alberta, lies a smaller national park called Yoho. Want to know why it’s called Yoho? Yoho is a Cree expression of amazement (and just in case, the Cree were one of the largest groups of First Nations to roam and settle in this part of Canada). We have to admit we only spent one day here as we spent most of my time on the other nearby National Parks but as we were driving along the Trans-Canada-Highway-route-1, we decided to check out some of the main and accessible sights in one day. This is our guide on what to do in one day.

National Park Passes

Before we start giving you our lowdown, visitors must know about the National Park Passes. Visitors are not meant to stop (or even get a quick bite to eat) in the national parks unless a pass has been brought. I have mentioned quite a bit about this in my Banff National Park blog.

The town of Field

Field (someone really didn’t put in the effort to name this small town) is located on the highway and is the one town within Yoho National Park. Here is a good place to get a bite to eat, have a drink, use the restrooms, go to the gift shop or visit the visitor centre for that National Park pass if one is required. Also in the town there are a few places of accommodation. The town was founded in the 1880s and the first hotel here was built about the same time by the Canadian Pacific Railway when the line was getting built.

Takakkaw Falls

From Field, head eastwards towards Lake Louise and take the first left. This is the Yoho Valley Road. Take this road (which is only open from June to October due to the winter conditions) and this twenty-minute drive (which can be narrow in places) takes us to a car park (can’t miss it, it is at the end of the road). Here visitors can go hiking on the Iceline trail along the river and into the park but the main feature here (and why most people come here) is the amazing Takakkaw Falls.

Takakkaw Falls is another name from the Cree language which means “magnificent’ ‘brilliant’ or ‘amazing’ and we tell you something, the falls are probably one of the best we have seen in the Canadian Rockies so far (well, there is Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park which are also magnificent and worth checking out). The waterfall is 384 meters tall (1260 feet) and one of the highest free falls of water in the country also.

What we also liked about this place for day visitors is that the trail is also accessible to wheelchair users and is an easy few minutes walk to the waterfall. However, the closer we got, the more mist was about (so this was a horrible situation when we tried to take photos). It is probably better to take photos away from the mist and from a certain distance. Even from the parking lot the views of the falls are great.

Natural Bridge

From Field, head a few kilometers west (taking the road towards Vancouver) and take the first right. Follow this road and take the first left which leads into a parking lot (about 1.6km from the turnoff from the highway, the name of the road is Emerald Lake Road). This is the location of the Natural Bridge. The bridge was created by the strong gushing waters of the Kicking Horse River (I love that name) which eventually cut through a piece of rock and the final result is what I saw in front of us.

Emerald Lake

The top place to check out has to be Emerald Lake. Located about a fifteen minute drive from the highway and at the very end of Emerald Lake Road, this is one of the lakes which we love. It has a charming deep emerald colour. Here a lot of canoeing and hiking is done in the summer months and one of the top things to do is the 5km walk around the lake which can be done in about ninety minutes. Some of the route is also wheelchair accessible. There is a cafe and a hotel near the parking lot as well.

Lower Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint

One of the best man-made things to see (but not do in this case) is to see the Spiral Tunnels which is a brilliant piece of railway engineering in the 1880s. The viewing platform is about a five minute drive of Field (on the highway heading towards Lake Louise), and views of the Yoho Glacier can be seen as well as the tunnels which goes through Mount Ogden. At the viewing platform there are displays with lots of information about the building of the railway through this area. If visitors get to see a train (and we mean, the freight trains through here are a few kilometers long) then that’s an added bonus. If the viewing platform is packed, there is another viewing platform on the Yoho Valley Road (which leads to the waterfalls as mentioned above), about 2km from the turnoff.


So there you have it. A one day guide from me which we would highly recommend visitors to check out if in the area. We have always called the Yoho National Park as the “lesser known neighbour of Banff National Park” but there are lots more things to do here if visitors love hiking. We really can’t wait to get back to this area with our children soon and do some hikes. This is one place which visitors should stop if driving from Calgary to Vancouver. Just spend some time here and enjoy nature.

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