Wholly in BC on the western side of the Continental Divide from Lake Louise, YOHO NATIONAL PARK’s name derives from a Cree word meaning “wonder” – a fitting testament to the awesome grandeur of its mountains, lakes and waterfalls. Yet it’s a small park, whose intimate scale makes it the one favoured by Rockies’ connoisseurs. As in other national parks, it was the railway that spawned tourism in the area: the first hotel in Field was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1886 and within a few months sixteen square kilometres at the foot of Mount Stephen (the peak to Field’s east) had been set aside as a special reserve. By 1911, Yoho had become Canada’s second national park.
The Trans-Canada Hwy divides Yoho neatly in half, climbing from Lake Louise over the Kicking Horse Pass to share the broad, glaciated valley bottom of the Kicking Horse River with the old Canadian Pacific Railway. The only settlement, Field, has the park visitor centre, some services and limited accommodation (the nearest towns are Lake Louise, 28km east, and Golden, 54km west). Other accommodation is available at trail hubs – Lake O’Hara, the Yoho Valley and Emerald Lake – the start of stunning and well-maintained hiking routes and the main focal points of the park.