Yoho National Park – The Perfect Day Trip from Banff (With a Pit Stop in Peyto Lake)
“The mountains are calling and I must go!”
Yoho National Park in British Columbia, Canada is the perfect day trip if you are staying in Banff National Park in Alberta or are adventuring through the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Around Labor Day in 2017, my family and I did our annual vacation in the heart of the Rocky Mountains in Western Alberta and Eastern British Columbia. It was seriously a dream come true visiting this part of North America because I had been admiring it on Instagram a few years prior to actually going to the Canadian Rockies.
During our time exploring the jewels of Canada, we stayed in Canmore, Alberta and made our way into Banff National Park where we participated in some epic adventures. (Click here to read my blog post on Banff.) We also got to see the iconic Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. In addition, we also visited Peyto Lake, which is right off of Icefields Parkway and also did a day trip to Yoho National Park in British Columbia.
In this blog post, discover all of the best things to see, do and eat during a day trip to Yoho National Park in British Columbia. Also read about our pit stop at Peyto Lake.
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Getting to and Around the Canadian Rockies:
Traveling to and from the Canadian Rockies could be quite costly, especially if you are venturing from outside of Canada and the Rocky Mountain regions. I highly recommend using Skyscanner and try planning your trip way ahead of time. We found great deals and flew from LaGuardia Airport in New York to Calgary, Alberta with a layover in Toronto, Ontario.
Since everything you want to see in the Canadian Rockies is spread out (Yoho National Park is two hours away from Banff and Peyto Lake is almost an hour away), I highly recommend renting a car like we did.
Where to Stay in the Canadian Rockies:
If you plan on traveling to the Rocky Mountains in Canada, I highly recommend staying in the town of Canmore since most accommodations in Banff and Yoho National Park are quite expensive. Canmore offers a wonderful downtown area with wonderful restaurants, shops, bars and cafés. There are also a lot of nature adventures to partake in this area as well. It is also the perfect place to take day trips from.
During our family vacation, we stayed at Paradise Resort Club. It offered beautiful suite-style chalets, a stone fireplace and amazing views of the Rocky Mountains. At night, we fell asleep to a warm fire and woke up to a gorgeous breeze. I enjoyed sitting on our patio deck and admiring the views. I could never get sick of that.
Throughout Canmore, Banff and Yoho National Park, there are a variety of hotels ranging from all budgets (but mainly mid to high budget). There are also a variety of Airbnb options as well as hostels!
Things to do in an around Yoho National Park:
White Water Rafting at Kicking Horse River:
Before we planned this trip, we knew that we wanted to try white water rafting because there is no better place to do that than in the mountains. After doing some research, we found that Alpine Rafting in Golden, British Columbia (a half hour west outside of Yoho National Park) was rated one of the best in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
The drive to Golden, BC was heavenly as we ventured through a sea of the highest mountains of the trip. It was also so cool to actually drive into a different time zone as well. If you didn’t know, Alberta is located in Mountain Time and British Columbia is in Pacific Time. We drove around mountains, beautiful blue creeks, evergreen forests and so much more until we reached Golden.
Since we wanted to start our rafting journey early, we decided to grab breakfast in Golden. We found a cute breakfast place in the downtown area called The Big Bend Café. We were able to sit outside and enjoy the weather and views while we ate our French toast and eggs.
After our fulfilling breakfast, we went straight over to Alpine Rafting to begin one of the best adventures we ever had! Before we began our epic day, we were given neoprene wet suits that would keep us warm as we got splashed with the frozen glacier water. (We were told that the water was 4 degrees Celsius, which is equivalent to 39 degrees Fahrenheit.)
When we were finally ready, we hopped on a school bus that took us 20 minutes over to the start of the white water rafting trail on the Kicking Horse River. If you decide to book a white water rafting session with Alpine Rafting, you have a choice to do a 3-hour trail or a 6-hour trail that includes a BBQ lunch. Since it was my family’s first time rafting and we wanted to explore the jewels of Yoho National Park afterwards, we thought it would be best to do the 3-hour trail.
During our bus ride, we were given a brief education about British Columbia’s Kicking Horse River. This beautiful addition to nature begins at Wapta Lake and flows southwest. It receives the Yoho River upstream as well as fresh water from the nearby glaciers. It continues to flow and eventually drops over Wapta Falls. (You could actually visit the falls if you have time. It is beautiful!)
When we arrived at the start of the trail, we were introduced to our awesome tour guide Mel and were provided with thorough instructions and safety procedures. I didn’t realize there are so many rules to follow when you white water raft! I couldn’t wait to hop in the raft and begin our adventure!
The levels of white water rafting are determined based on the class of the rapids. Alpine Rafting offers easy rafting for families with little ones; moderate courses for families like mine and for people going with friends; challenging rapids for those thrill seekers and heli-rafting for the adventurers that raft at an expert level. Since we were doing the moderate level rafting, our course consisted of class three and four rapids. Class three rapids offer waves up to four feet and narrow passages that send the water gushing over its sides. Class four has long and difficult rapids with narrow passages and turbulent water that requires precise maneuvering and provides the adrenaline rush adventure junkies crave.
We had so many laughs and thrills during our white water rafting adventure. Since my dad and brother were in the front of the raft, they got splashed on the most. I got wet, but not too bad. It was a hot day, so the cold water was refreshing. We even enjoyed stunning views like we had with every other adventure during our trip. It was amazing!
Wandering through Emerald Lake:
After our fun time white water rafting, we drove a half hour east into the famous Yoho National Park in Field, BC. Our first stop at Yoho National Park was to Emerald Lake, located deep into the park. Once we parked our car, we walked over to the lake area and were completely blown out of this world when we saw how heavenly it was. The lake was crystal blue, with reflections from the beautiful mountains. There were also flowers and countless bridges over the water that surrounded us. Just like at every other lake we visited during our trip, you could rent canoes, kayaks or go on a hike!
Since it was around dinnertime, we decided to grab food at the restaurant right on the lake called Cilantro on the Lake. This lovely Alpine-inspired restaurant offers a welcoming ambiance and has seating outside, right along the river. I had to pinch myself a few times as I ate around the most crystal blue water I have ever seen in my life. Cilantro’s menu offers a variety of delicious specialties. I enjoyed an amazing ramen bowl and then a tart with warm peaches and blood orange ice cream for dessert.
Day Dream at Natural Bridge:
After dinner, we drove over to another side of Yoho National Park called Natural Bridge. This area is also serene and attracts few tourists than the Emerald Lake area. We were able to walk over a bridge where we saw beautiful waterfalls and a mini sunset. It was beautiful and eerie at the same time. Natural Bridge was the perfect place to end our time in Yoho National Park.
Falling in Love at Peyto Lake:
Depending on your time frame, you could either fit Peyto Lake before or after your Yoho National Park adventure or during another time during your trip in Banff National Park.
During your drive up to Peyto Lake, you will catch gorgeous views of the glaciers on Icefields Parkway. When we finally arrived to Peyto Lake, it was raining pretty hard, but we were determined to see the emerald blue lake that is glacier-fed right from Icefields Parkway.
We had to hike through the evergreen-filled woods before we reached the viewing point, but it was so worth it! The trees, flowers, mountain peaks and sounds of nature were serene there. Even my brothers, who weren’t too thrilled to hike in the rain, thought it was amazing!
When we finally reached the viewing point, we were in awe of how beautiful the color of the lake was. The mountains and glaciers surrounding the lake were amazing to see and it was the perfect place to finish off our day!
Overall, my family trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains was one of the best trips I’ve experienced. It is absolutely stunning and there is so much adventure. If you decide to go to the Canadian Rockies during the wintertime, you can enjoy the area’s ski resorts and maybe even catch the Aurora Borealis (northern lights)! I have seen photos of each lake during the wintertime and they all look just as serene as it does during the warmer months.
I hope you all enjoyed my blog post on Yoho National Park. If you have any questions about my trip, please feel free to email me at email@example.com, contact me via social media or leave a comment below.
Happy Travels! Taylor
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