Day Trip to Yoho National Park and Golden, BC
On our trip to the Canadian Rockies, we took a day trip to an area I hadn’t been before, Yoho National Park and the town of Golden, both in the province of British Columbia. Located right next door to Banff National Park, the lesser-known national park has very similar beauty and is worth exploring.
The drive from Canmore to Yoho is just under 1.5 hours. Then it’s another 45 minutes to Golden. We wanted to start our day around 8am to make sure we fit in all the activities we wanted to do!
Note that Yoho is also just past Lake Louise, so you could choose to stay around there if you don’t want to do quite as much driving.
Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint
Our first stop was about an hour from our Airbnb, the Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint. Trains going through this part of the country must climb the mountains through a series of tunnels. This particular piece of train track is significant because the grade through the mountains is extremely steep here. The solution for building the tracks was to build a series of spiral tunnels that allowed for a less steep grade. At this viewpoint, you can see the tunnels in the distance, along with a 3D map of what they look like. This was a quick stop plus a restroom break for us.
Emerald Lake Hike
Our next stop is probably the most popular spot in Yoho National Park, Emerald Lake. The lake is accurately named – it’s very green! There is an easy 3.5-mile trail that goes all the way around the lake. We started at the main parking lot after getting very lucky by snagging the only available parking spot. We passed the canoe rental shop and walked on the lakeside trail in a clockwise direction. The first part is paved and walks through the woods.
When you get to the far side of the lake, the vegetation is quite different. There are a few streams to cross over a wooden bridge. This was probably my favorite part of the hike. The trail continues back to the parking area and passes some cabins that are part of the Emerald Lake Lodge.
Natural Bridge is close to Emerald Lake, only a ten-minute drive back in the direction you came from. It’s a quick walk from the parking lot, but really cool. The “bridge” is a rock formation that was once a waterfall, but the rock eroded away, creating a hole in the formation. Definitely worth stopping at to see if you are going to Emerald Lake. We ate our packed lunches we’d brought here before continuing onto Golden.
Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre
I’d come across the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre in my research and thought it sounded interesting. This is an educational facility that promotes wolf conservation. For $15 you can see the wolves and take an interpretive tour. There are several wolves there in their large enclosures. A few of them were not up for being seen, but we got to see the rest lying around and even pacing back and forth when their human mom walked by. I thought it was a nice spot and learned lots of interesting facts about wolves.
Our last stop on the day trip was to the Golden Skybridge. This park opened recently and was included in our Pursuit Pass we’d purchased ahead of time. There are several activities you can do here including a zipline over the canyon, a mountain coaster, a ropes course, a canyon swing, and the biggest attractions are the two sky bridges that span across the 426-foot canyon. Note that the Pursuit Pass only includes the sky bridges, and you must pay extra for the other activities.
The park was designed to be a one-way loop, and you must walk the entire thing to get to any of the activities. The first skybridge was way scarier than I thought it would be. It sways a little and bounces when people near you are walking. Fortunately, the steel wires on the sides of the bridge come up to about shoulder height and would make it nearly impossible to fall off. After you cross the first bridge, you do have to cross the second bridge to get back. Since we knew what to expect, the second one was a little easier to cross. It was cool watching the zipliners fly by overhead as we walked across.
Overall, I thought the experience was fun. If you’ve gotten the Pursuit Pass and it’s included in your package, it’s worth the drive. If not, I’d probably skip this one.
From Golden, we drove back to Banff, stopping at Moraine Lake on the way back. This was a fun day-trip that was an easy drive! I recommend going to Yoho and Golden!