Yoho National Park is one of the most stunning and beautiful national parks in all of Canada. It is an outdoor wonderland dominated by mountain peaks and massive ice fields. It is located in southeastern British Columbia and is just next to the picturesque Banff National Park (to the east in Alberta) and Kootenay National Park.

All of these parks are stunning and everyone should visit all of them, but if one could only visit one, then there are some reasons why one should choose Yoho over Banff. The name Yoho is pronounced "YOH-hoh" and is a native Cree expression for awe or amazement - perhaps something like "Wow". The Rockies in Yoho National Park are truly awe-inspiring and are home to some of Canada's tallest Rockies.

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About Yoho National Park

Yoho is one of the oldest national parks in Canada. Banff was Canada's first national park and then Glacier National Park of Canada (not to be confused with Glacier National Park in Montana) and Yoho were added together as the second and third national parks of the nation. This was after a trip by the Canadian Prime Minister John A. Macdonald on the newly completed Transcontinental Railway finally linking British Columbia to the rest of Canada. They were added on October 10, 1886.

  • Size: 507 Sq Miles or 1,313 Sq Kilometers
  • Smallest: Smallest Of The Region's Cluster Of Four National Parks Next To Each Other (Kootenay, Banff, And Jasper)
  • Highest Point: South Goodsir Tower At 11,686 Feet

Yoho's is famous for its fossils for those interested in paleo history. The park contains a layer of Burgess Shale - this is a half-billion years old and predates the dinosaurs by a long time. Some of the fossils here are on display at the park information center.

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The wider area of which Yoho is a part is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is easily accessed by road. The two vital links in Canada run here - the Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway. A train trip through here is one of the most stunning train journeys one can take anywhere in the world.

Main Attractions In Yoho

Yoho is perfect for hiking and some of the main attractions are South Goodsir Tower and the stunning Takakkaw Falls which plummet some 1,250 feet to the floor of the Yoho Valley. Another must-see is the Emerald Lake that is appropriately emerald in color and accessible by road. With this relatively small park, there are 61 lakes and ponds. Emerald Lake is the largest and it has a 3.2-mile hike skirting around it. Emerald Lake is made all the more beautiful for the backdrop of the 8,527 foot Mount Burgess rising against it.

Many people prefer the Wapta Falls to Takakkaw Falls even though it only falls 98 feet. That is because the volume of Wapta Falls is much greater, it has a width of 490 feet and flows at 9,000 cubic feet per second. But one should check out both of the falls, they are both majestic in their own rights.

  • Waterfalls: Takakkaw Falls And Wapta Falls

When To Go

As the major road and rail arteries of Canada run through here, the park is kept open year-round. Come in May and one will see the lush greens of spring filling the western valley floors. But also in the spring much remains inaccessible due to snow. The side roads start to open up in June and by mid-July the higher tail passes are open. Come in late July or August and the high alpine wildflowers are in full bloom.

  • Winter Period: November To March
  • When To Go: Late Summer For Alpine Hiking
  • Activities: Snowshoeing, Ski Touring, Nordic Skiing, And Waterfall Ice Climbing

As in the other national parks in this area, there are a number of wildlife species that call the park home. These include the grizzly bear, lynx, cougars, black bears, badgers, moose, mule deer, wolverines, and more.

The park is filled with hiking trails, and they offer a full range of difficulties ranging from easy to challenging. It is the perfect place to hike, camp, and just get away from it all.

  • Number Of Hiking Trails: 60
  • Fun Fact: Yoho National Park Is The Second/Third Oldest National Park In Canada

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Visiting The Park

  • Admission Fee: $10.00 Canadian or $8.00 USD (Youth Under 17 Free)
  • Open: Year-Round And Most Visitor Services Are Available from May To October

Of course, if possible anyone visiting this region of the Rockies will visit Banff as well as Banff is also renowned for its incredible natural beauty. But if one only has a limited time, then there are reasons to pick Yoho over Banff as the destination of the Canadian Rockies.

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