Yoho National Park

Here’s the thing I discovered about Banff National Park during my visit last month.

Downstream from Takakkaw Falls

It’s operating at capacity.

I don’t mean it’s super crowded and chock-full of tourists. I mean there is, quite simply, no more room. Every campsite is filled, every hotel room is booked, and the streets of Banff townsite are gridlock by noon, as are the access roads to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

So what solution to the madness does someone who has just driven from Vancouver to Banff suggest to her family?

That they head across the Alberta–BC border to Yoho National Park.

Yoho was created a national park in 1886, just a year after Banff. It’s slightly over 500 square miles, about a fifth of the size of Banff, but it packs just as much awe and wonder ― in fact, its name, Yoho, is a Cree expression of wonder.

Just like in Banff, there is a wide assortment of hiking to do in Yoho, both short day hikes and longer overnight hikes in the back country.

And, just like in Banff, there are photo ops. Gazillions of photo ops.

Here is one. This is Takakkaw Falls. Takakkaw is another Cree expression ― it means “it is magnificent.” (My brother and sisters and I had a lot of fun with the word “takakkaw” back in the last century when we were little kids.)

Takakkaw Falls

Here’s another. This is the Natural Bridge, which straddles the Kicking Horse River. I also remember coming here when I was little, and I remember how fascinated I was by the origin of the name “Kicking Horse River.” James Hector named it that after getting kicked by his pack horse. Hector was a member of the Palliser Expedition, a group of men surveying possible routes for the Canadian Pacific Railway. They reached the Kicking Horse River in 1858.

Natural Bridge

Here’s a look at the Natural Bridge from another angle.

Natural Bridge Top View

And here’s a closer look at the mighty Kicking Horse River. That’s Mount Stephen behind.

Mount Stephen

Just down the road from the Natural Bridge is what’s known as the Meeting of the Waters. It’s the confluence of the Yoho River (at left, in the photo below) and the Kicking Horse River (dead ahead). You only need to stand here for a second or two to be overwhelmed by the power of these two rivers.

Meeting of the Waters

Turn to the right, and you have this view.

Kicking Horse River

So, here’s my tip of the summer: the next time you can’t get close to Lake Louise, get back on the Trans-Canada Highway and drive another twenty minutes west to Yoho National Park. You won’t regret it.

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2 responses to “Yoho National Park”

  1. Ardi Talsma says :

    Good Morning E – can you direct me to your posts on Ireland – Im not the best searcher in the world! >

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