Yoho National Park - Staycation
By Catherine Evans
Click here for Tours of Exploration's 3-Day Tour in Yoho National Park.
The staycation mantra has become the call to travel domestically. My husband and I accepted the invite when we set out to explore our Province with a visit to Yoho National Park, BC.
We broke up the anticipated nine-hour drive from Vancouver with an overnight stop in the Okanagan. Swims in Lake Okanagan and Kalamalka Lake, and a visit to the area orchards at the height of their productivity invigorated our spirits as we headed east towards the Rocky Mountains. The colours of the landscape were made even more vivid by heightened air quality and the intensity of the summer sun. We arrived at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort adjacent to Yoho National Park by dusk. This would be our home base for the next three nights. Literature produced by Parks Canada made the unfamiliarity with the terrain less intimidating. One publication was especially helpful in selecting the trails matching our abilities and desired outcomes. The brochures gave parking lot access information, one-way trail distances, expected hiking times, level of difficulty, and habitats and vistas one could expect to encounter. The trail highlights ranged from waterfalls to historic fire look outs, and from mixed forests to multi-hued glacial lakes. Also helpful were social media posts that told us of current weather conditions, and a Grizzly spotting the day prior reminding us to pack the bear spray!
Paget lookout was one of our favourite hikes which led to a fire lookout, a remnant from a half-century ago when national park management included this type of fire alert. Fire lookouts were constructed where they provided sweeping views of the major valleys and their surrounding forests. As such, they provide hikers with ample reward for their effort. Paget Lookout was one of three constructed in Yoho National Park. Although advertised as strenuous, the path while steep at times was more moderate than advertised. We meandered though sub-alpine forest that opened up from time to time to reveal views across the Continental Divide peaks and down into the Bow and Kicking Horse valleys. At one point we could see the turquoise of Sherbrooke Lake below. A side trip was possible to reach the lake.
Return Distance: 10.3 km (5.9 miles)
Elevation Gain: 570 m (1706')
A night to enjoy the scenery around Kicking Horse Mountain Resort gave rise to a second hiking day to iconic Emerald Lake, and nearby Takakkaw Falls. During dinner we made plans to venture east to the Alberta border, a mere 3 km from the Sherbrooke Lake / Paget parking lot. There we hiked Lake Louise in Banff National Park, as well as Morraine Lake, and Consolation Lake.We soon realized that 3 nights was not going to be sufficient, so we extended our stay in Yoho for a fourth night. At dinner on night 4, we realized that we wanted another night do take the Gondola to the trails along the summit of Kicking Horse Mountain and fit in the unique via ferrata climbing circuit. Unfortunately there was no longer availability at the resort. Reasons to return to Yoho – YES!
Would you like to see the same stunning views and snowcapped mountains that mesmerized Catherine? Check out Tours of Exploration's very own 3-Day Golden and Yoho National Park Itinerary, inspired by her travels.
Tips for a successful stay in Yoho National Park
Stay longer – see more. A friend that they were planning on renting a cabin this summer by the park so they could spend a month hiking the trails in and around Yoho NP and nearby Kootenay NP. Company owner Catherine Evans and family are planning a return visit in early Autumn 2021 to hike some new trails and experience both camping and lodging.
Consider making reservations for the first three nights and then leave the next nights open to ensure there is space at the Inn to begin with. Move to the next place knowing what you want to see and do.
Invest is good gear including waterproof hiking shoes/boots, walking sticks, waterproof backpacks or backpack coverings, re-useable eating containers, quality base layers, wool socks, and if needed camping gear.
Buy your gear from your local outdoor store, and supporting your local and National gear suppliers.
Bring quality snacks on your hikes including protein, healthy field food, and ample drinking water.
Try camping. Kicking Horse Campground is highly recommended. Advance reservations are required. https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/yoho/activ/camping?utm_source=gmb&utm_medium=kickinghorse&utm_content=campground
Be prepared for rain. This side of the Continental Divide receives more rain.
Be prepared for sun. Be prepared for wind. Be prepared for snow. You can experience all four seasons of weather in the same day.
Note: BC Parks opened its reservation system Mar. 1 for the 2021 camping season. However, it is still not quite business as usual and the COVID-19 pandemic continues to require BC Parks’ to adapt our policies. Discover CAMPING website and call centre will be accepting frontcounty and backcountry reservations on a two-month rolling window. For example, on March 8, campers will be able to reserve arrival dates up to May 8. discovercamping.ca and call centre (Toll Free in North America 1-800-689-9025).Or call Tours of Exploration to help you plan.
Plan before you go. Parks Canada communicates trail conditions and safety factors on their website