Yoho National Park is Canada’s third national park and was established in 1886 along with Glacier National Park. It protects 323,700 acres in the Canadian Rockies in eastern British Columbia. Yoho borders Banff National Park on the east and Kootenay National Park on the south. On our first day we hiked to the spectacular 10-story-high Wapta Falls, which was the widest waterfall either of us have seen in person (we’ve not yet visited Niagara Falls, but it’s on our bucket list). We got a bit wet in the spray and while trying to find the pot o’ gold at the end of this rainbow.
We spent some time speculating how these two large islands developed in front of Wapta Falls.
This is a view from Hunter Lookout of Kicking Horse River Valley and the spectacular, snow-covered Canadian Rocky Mountains. The Kicking Horse River you see this photo is the river that feeds Wapta Falls, which is hidden by the forested hill in the center of the photo.
It was rainy and dreary for much of our visit to Yoho. The beautiful mountains were often socked in the clouds. This photo shows the Yoho River just outside of the small town of Field in the middle of Yoho National Park.
Emerald Lake is a beautiful glacier-fed lake in the middle of Yoho National Park. There’s a lodge along its shores, and it’s a popular destination for hiking and canoeing, as you can see in the photo above. Also notice the large area of cleared forest on the hillside. This is an area that is wiped clean every winter by avalanche. It happens with such regularity that trees no longer grow here and have been replaced by unique avalanche-resistant plants that can withstand the impact of the falling snow and bounce back up after the spring melt. Avalanche chutes are important for wildlife because they provide space for berry-laden bushes and open up transportation routes (which is why they are also nicknamed “bear elevators”).
You can see the avalanche chute in the background behind Theresa. The lodge is well-hidden in the trees along the shore on the left side of the photo. We walked around the entire Emerald Lake, a 3.8-mile 2.5-hour hike.
The trail on the wet east side of Emerald Lake was covered with these amazing black slugs (also known as black arions) that were up to 2-3” long but have been found up to 6” long. The slug is covered with a thick foul-tasting mucus which serves as protection against predators and helps keep it moist. When we touched one of these slimy slugs, his head pulled into this body like a turtle, his back heaved up forming an arch, and then his body slowly undulated back and forth in a hypnotic rhythm. We’re not sure how this is a good defense against his predators.
The Burgess Shale Formation, located in the mountain above Emerald Lake, is one of the world’s most important fossil finds. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1981, the Burgess Shale contains the fossilized remains of more than 120 marine animal species dating back a half-billion years. It’s located in the snow-packed mountainside in the upper-right side of this photo.
This natural bridge along the Yoho River was once a waterfall. But the waterfall ledge eroded unevenly over time, and eventually a crack opened up, allowing the water to seep through and carve out a tunnel below, leaving a bridge above.
After three days socked in the clouds, the sun finally peeked out to warm us on our hike to the hoodoos. This was one of the steepest trails we’ve ever done, climbing 1000 feet in a mile. We hiked through a forest cleared by a 2005 prescribed burn (i.e., a forest fire deliberately started by the park service). This opened up terrific mountain views in all directions.
We reached a rare sight in the part of Canada: hoodoos and caprocks. Every time we see caprocks we always ask the same question: how are those precariously balanced rocks still standing?
This was the first time we’ve had a view of hoodoos from above. It was a neat perspective.
Shadow walked out into the middle of the rushing Hoodoo Stream for a drink.
We dispersed camp just outside the southwest end of Yoho National Park. This was perhaps our most amazing dispersed camp view ever. We had our own private view of the amazing Wapta Falls, which at only 1/3 mile away roared loudly and continuously. The 10,889-foot Mt. Vaux and 10,761-foot Chancellor Peak rose up behind the falls. And in the center of the photo on top of the mountain you can see a small part of the Hanbury Glacier.
Here’s a view of Wapta Falls from behind (the white line you see across the river is not the waterfall but the rapids just before the falls). We took this photo from the Hoodoos Trail and were amazed to discover that we could see our RV buried in the trees on the hill above Wapta Falls. Click on the photo for a larger version and see if you can spot the back of our white RV (marked by the red circle).
On our hike up to Hunter Lookout, Theresa spotted this mama black bear and her cub foraging for food on the Canadian Pacific Railroad. They were about 1/4 mile away and didn’t notice us. This was the first time we’d seen a bear while hiking since Glacier National Park a few years ago. Yet this was our 12th and 13th bear sighting in one week (we saw the other 11 bears safely from within our vehicle), and this was our second sighting that morning. Just a few hours earlier, we awoke to the sound of knocking and our RV rocking to see a large black bear trying to eat the leather hitch cover just outside our bedroom window.