2-Day Yoho National Park Itinerary
Yoho National Park in British Columbia doesn’t often get as much recognition as its neighbor Banff National Park. Most people who visit Banff have never even heard of Yoho!
You’ve most likely seen photos of Emerald Lake (especially in the winter) on Instagram and just couldn’t pinpoint it until now.
Best Time to Visit
I visited in the fall and I can’t recommend that enough. First of all, if you love turquoise waters like me, then you’ll love it here. Once the snow melts away during the summer months, all that’s left is glacier melt. As glaciers recede, they crush rocks into “rock flowers.” That’s what makes the lakes and rivers that stunning turquoise color. The minerals reflect the light to create that stunning color. The rivers for example become turquoise in the fall!
Plus the crowds begin to die down and you get to experience this magical place to yourself.
Really, you can’t go wrong with any season. In the summer months, you can spend more time hiking, backpacking and camping. In the fall you have fewer crowds but it is colder and there is a possibility of snow and bad weather. In the winter, you won’t be able to do as much if you’re not a backcountry skier, but it’s still beyond stunning. And in the spring you’re waiting for the snow to melt before being able to do most of the high country things. But if you’re a skier or snowboarder, you’d love it here in the winter and spring months.
There are so many day hikes and backpacking trips for all levels here. I only was able to do a handful of these trails and am planning my return in future years to really be able to go deeper.
Iceline Trail and Yoho Valley
8.6 to 12.6 miles (out and back or loop)
2,380 feet of elevation gain
This was the first hike I did when arriving in Canada. You first climb up and out of the trees and are treated to stunning views of glaciers, the valley below, and turquoise tarns. It can be done as an out and back trail or as a loop. Also can be done as a day hike or backpacking trip. For backpacking trip, check permit regulations and requirements.
The best way to add on extra sights is to park at Takakkaw Falls and walk across to the Iceline Trail trailhead. Takakkaw Falls has facilities, like a restroom and trash can, and you get to see an additional view. It really reminded me of Yosemite Valley.
This is one of the most popular spots inside the park. Naturally, populized on Instagram. This is an easy quick stop, or you can hike around the lake (choose your own distance), or you can rent a kayak and paddle on the lake.
I didn’t get a chance to see everything I wanted, but here are a few more hikes that are on my list for when I’m coming back.
Abbott Pass Hut and Lake Oesa
Where to Stay
If you’re interested in camping, you can stay within the park, but will need to get a campground reservation in advance.
I stayed in Golden, BC which is about an hour outside of the park. It gave me a chance to shower, not worry about the weather conditions, and grab great food in town. Mexican, ramen, BBQ… you name it. It was all amazing.
I stayed at the Rooms at Riveredge. It was a small hotel, but very cute inside and very romantic (if you’re traveling as a couple).
Other Things To Do
Explore Kicking Horse Resort
Kicking Horse Resort is just outside of town in Golden, BC. In the summer and fall months, you can see the Grizzly Bear Sanctuary where they house bears that can’t be rehabilitated into the wild.
It’s also a great opportunity to learn about bears. Bears and bear safety is something I preach from the roof tops. I’ve encountered my fair share of bears in the wild, both solo and with others. It’s safe to say that I know what to do in an encounter, to store my food correctly, etc. But I still learned a lot about their behavior, adaptation, etc.
For example, did you know that bears mate in May and June when they come out of their dens but the female doesn’t get pregnant until November when she’s in the den. Also, if she doesn’t have enough resources on her to sustain the number of fertilized eggs, one or some will be absorbed for nutritional value.
After you’ve learned all the things about bears and have geeked out on it like I did, take the gondola up to the top. From there, you can hike and explore further and see some amazing views.
The Golden Skybridge is Golden’s newest attraction. Brand new in May 2021 is this 426 ft high bridge over a fantastic canyon. What’s great is there is not just one long suspension bridge, but two!
There’s also a rock climbing wall and an obstacle course. It’s a fun way to spend a couple of hours. Especially if you have kids, or are a kid at heart like I am!