When I think of Canada, the first things that spring to mind are snow-capped mountains, huge pine-clad forests and wild bears. Well, it turns out my thoughts aren’t far off reality, as you can find all these things and more at Yoho National Park.
Here are just a few reasons why I think you should consider this destination if you’re planning to go on a tour of Canada’s popular natural sights.
I think the most compelling reason there is to persuade me to visit Yoho is its beautiful setting. The national park covers 1,310 sq km of space in British Columbia, bordering Banff National Park and being part of the famous Rocky Mountains.
There are some impressive things to note about Yoho – for a start, it has 28 peaks that are over 3,000 m tall. It is also home to the third highest freefalling waterfall in Canada at 254 m, which is called Takakkaw Falls.
Within the national park – established in 1886 – you’ll find everything I imagined about Canada, including huge mountain peaks covered in blankets of white snow, raging rivers and tall green woodlands. It is fascinating to see all of these up close, so I’d definitely try to get myself on an organised tour of the area or explore it with a few friends by foot.
Home to local plants and animals
Things that I’d make an effort to see include its variety of flora and fauna, with Yoho being home to a wealth of indigenous creatures and plant species. Many animals that are native to British Columbia can be seen in the park, including the Canada lynx, mountain pine beetle and, like I predicted, grizzly bears! If you’re a horticultural enthusiast, you’ll also appreciate the fact the park has western red cedars and western hemlocks, which you may not have seen before.
See fossilised sites
Another reason why Yoho National Park stands out among all the other reserves in Canada is that you can see a collection of ancient fossils here. The Burgess Shale has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981 and contains remains of species that date back around 515 million years, so they’re pretty old!
You can see more than 120 ancient marine animals, but, as well as being able to see the fossilised creatures, you can also learn about the ancient history of the area at the Yoho National Park Visitor Centre. Here, you’ll find an interactive exhibit, which will certainly make finding out about the creatures a lot more fun – especially for children.
There is even an interactive touch table, trivia activities and displays of real fossils here. Of course, visiting a museum isn’t the same as seeing them in the location where they were found, so I’d definitely try to go on a guided hike of the area.
Walcott Quarry is a top site to visit, with this lying on the ridge on Mount Wapta in the national park. Here, you will get spectacular views of a beautiful pool of water called Emerald Lake. But be warned – this trek is 22 km there and back, so is probably best if you’re relatively fit or if the length of the walk doesn’t put you off.
Another place to explore is Mount Stephen Fossil Bed, which can be found at the bottom of Mount Stephen (as the name suggests). You can see a huge variety of trilobite fossils, and you’ll be pleased to hear that it is far easier to get to this site, with it being a 9 km round-trip instead of 22 km. However, it is at a steep altitude of 800 m so it’s not recommended to children under the age of eight years old.
Whichever trip you decide to do in Yoho National Park, remember that the fossils are protected, so you can’t handle or take any away – you’ll just have to appreciate these rocks that date back more than half a billion years by looking at them. Indeed, the old adage ‘you can look but you can’t touch’ certainly applies here.