Yoho National Park
AccessRoad:TransCanada Highway 1 (Calgary-Banff-Lake Louise-Kicking Horse Pass-Golden-Kamloops-Vancouver).Yoho National Park extends over part of the western flank of the Rocky Mountains, adjoining both the Banff and Kootenay National Parks. As the fourth largest nature reserve in the Canadian Rockies it encompasses some magnificent and extremely varied mountain scenery, with snow-covered peaks, thundering rivers, majestic waterfalls and delightful mountain lakes (especially in the eastern section of the Park in the vicinity of the main range). The Park's two chief areas of interest are the valley of the Kicking Horse River and the over 20 km / 13 mi Yoho Valley ("yoho" is Cree for "awe").In 1985 all four National Parks in the Rocky Mountains were adopted by UNESCO's World Heritage Programme on account of their great scenic beauty and the extent to which they have preserved their natural environments.
From Wapta Lake a road follows Cataract Creek southwards to Lake O'Hara (camp site), set against an impressive backdrop of high mountains - to the east Mt Huber (3368 m (11,053 ft)), Mt Victoria (3364 m (11,040 ft); glacier) and Yukness Mountain (2847 m (9343 ft)), to the south Mt Schaffer (2693 m (8838 ft), on the south side of Lake McArthur), and to the north-west Catherine Mountain (3189 m (10,466 ft); mountain trail) and Mt Vanguard (2469 m (8103 ft)).This area around Lake O'Hara is also known for it's incredible hiking. A public bus services the lake but there is a quota limiting the number of people allowed in to the area each year by bus. Advance reservations are required. There is also a 13 kilometer (8 mile) hiking trail in to Lake O'Hara that does not impose a quota.Limited camping sites are available at the lake but reservations must be made in advance.
The Yoho Valley Road ends at the stupendous Takakkaw Falls (camp site), among the highest in North America. The main fall, where melt-water from the Daly Glacier (tip of the Waputik Ice-field) plunges 254 m (834 ft) over a rock-face, is a magnificent spectacle.The ice-fields of Mts Yoho (2760 m (9058 ft)), Gordon (3153 m (10,348 ft); Wapta Ice-field), Daly (3152 m (10,345 ft); Waputik Ice-field) and Niles (2972 m (9754 ft)) ring the valley. West of the falls rises the glacier-covered Vice-President Massiv (3066 m (10,062 ft)).A hike leads up the mountain opposite Takakkaw Falls, known as the Ice Line Hike. This is the best place to view the falls but it is a strenuous walk that takes visitors above the elevation of Takakkaw Falls.
The supremely attractive, ice-field framed Yoho Valley has a 360 km / 224 mi network of hiking trails which make for some outstanding walking (details from the information center at the Park office). A memorial near the information center honors Edouard Gaston DeVille, Canada's Surveyor-General in 1885. A narrow 13 km / 8 mi long road (dead-end; closed to campervans) winds its way tortuously up the valley.
Mount Stephen Viewpoint
The Mount Stephen viewpoint is a fine vantage point from which to admire the hanging glacier on Mt Stephen (3199 m (10,500 ft)). Below and to the right of the glacier the entrance to the now abandoned Monarch Mine is clearly visible. Lead, zinc and small amounts of silver were extracted until the mine was closed in 1952.This area around the Mount Stephen viewpoint is a nice place for walking.
Before the western entrance to Yoho National Park a side road branches off, terminating after 5 km / 3 mi in a dead-end. A trail then leads to the Wapta Falls where Sir James Hector suffered his near fatal accident and where, at a bend in its course, the Kicking Horse River cascades down over a wide rock-step.
Wapta Lake (1586 m / 5205 ft), in Yoho National Park, is a pretty little mountain lake and the haunt of some rare species of water bird as well as being the source of the Kicking Horse River which flows west alongside the TransCanada Highway.
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