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Eric and I toured the west of Canada in august/september of 2001. We spent about two weeks camping and hiking in the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks of Banff, Jasper, Yoho, and Kootenay. We did not visit Mount Revelstoke & Glacier.

Apart from the Rockies, we also spent time on Vancouver Island, and in Calgary, Vancouver, and the Kootenays and Okanagan regions.


Map of Iceline Trail
Field (that's the town in Yoho)
Spiral Tunnels
Emerald Lake
Hiking in Nepal Rafting the Bhote Kosi in Nepal

Twin Falls.

Our best hike in Yoho was the Iceline Trail. In fact, the weather was great and we extended the regular hike to see the Twin Falls (photo above), at the end of Yoho Valley. We parked our car at Takakkaw Falls, and walked along the Iceline Trail, with great views of a string of glaciers. The path actually passes right underneath several glacier tongues.

Iceline Trail


We then took the Celeste Lake Connector down to the Little Yoho River. Along the way were Celeste Lake and another beautiful green lake.

Lake along Celeste Lake Connector


Lake along Celeste Lake Connector

From the Little Yoho River the Marpole Connector took us along a hillside strewn with huge boulders, down to the Twin Falls Chalet, which looks up at the beautiful Twin Falls. From there we descended to Laughing Falls, and back down to Takakkaw Falls. The picture below shows the wide path from the Laughing Falls down Yoho Valley. At the bottom of this page, a map of the region we hiked in, is loading.

Yoho Valley

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The Canadian Pacific Railroad passes through these Rocky Mountain Parks. Coming from Banff, the railroad tracks descend the Kicking Horse Pass into Yoho, down to Field. However, the steep descent was a problem in the past - runaway trains came rushing down the pass and into Field at dangerously high speeds. This problem was solved by a neat little bit of engineering, the Spiral Tunnels. A train coming down the pass from Lake Louise makes two loops through tunnels in the mountainside, so that it crosses its own tail twice, thus allowing for a large descent over very little horizontal distance. This is shown in the map:

Two sightseeing areas give good views of the entrances of the Spiral Tunnels. The photograph below shows the lower spiral tunnels: the train is going from right to left, descending toward Field, and enters a tunnel at the far left. At the lower right, in the photograph, passing underneath the gray wagons of its tail, you can see the red locomotive coming out of the tunnel!

Spiral Tunnels

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Yoho has just one small village, and that's Field. Just as I believe Yoho was our favorite park, so Field was our favourite village. It's a one-hotel, one-restaurant, one-store, one-laundry kind of place, so it's nowhere near as touristy as Jasper, let alone Banff.

As with the other Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, the Visitors' Centre, just outside of Field, is excellent, with lots of information and great service. They can direct you to a guesthouse, or let you know whether the campgrounds are full.

Field has just one restaurant, but that was also by far the best restaurant we encountered on our entire trip: the Truffle Pig Cafe. Treat yourself to their daily special! I wish we had a place like that back home.

Field's only grocery store is located in an annex of the Truffle Pig. Laundry can be done in the basement of the Kicking Horse Lodge. If you want to access internet, there are no facilities in Field. The nearest location was the West Louise Lodge, which lies in the Kicking Horse Pass, between Lake Louise (Banff) and Field.

We stayed at the Kicking Horse campground. As with the other National Park campgrounds, we were pleasantly surprised by the spacious lots, and had a ball with the firepit! The photographs below show Eric diligently fixing our dinner above the fire, and me playing around causing sparks.




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The most famous lake in Yoho is Emerald Lake. Just like Lake Louise in Banff, it is one of those spots where buses full of tourists come to get just one comfortable glimpse of the park. Don't let that stop you though, the lake looks wonderful and is worth a visit.

Emerald Lake

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Yoho offers good rafting facilities on the Kicking Horse River. We rafted with CWA (Canadadian Whitewater Adventures). They were professional guides, had excellent equipment, and were fun as well, so I do suggest them. The Kicking Horse has three sections: the class 2+ Headwaters, and the class 4+ Upper and Lower Canyons. I think the 'plus' applies at the beginning of summer, mostly, when the meltwaters come rushing down the mountains. At the end of summer (we were there on august 27th) the river was a little more tame. We did the Headwaters and Upper Canyon only, as there were too few participants for the Lower Canyon. The Upper Canyon had two hearty (class 4) rapids, Portage and Shotgun, and the guides got us through them wet and cheering. This time, I wasn't truly afraid, like I was on the Bhote Kosi in Nepal (where I sometimes froze and just held on), but I still got enough of a kick to have a great time. I'm not sure whether this was because the Kicking Horse is easier than the Bhote Kosi, or just because this wasn't my first rafting experience.

Apart from camping in Yoho, we also spent a night in Mt. Stephen Guesthouse. It was very good, and I loved the flannel bedsheets.

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The map below shows the far end of Yoho Valley, beyond Takakkaw Falls, and the Iceline Trail we hiked.


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Description & Photos of Calgary
Description & Photos of Banff (Rocky Mountain National Park)
Jasper National Park
Description & Photos of Yoho (Rocky Mountain National Park)
Description & Photos of Kootenay (Rocky Mountain National Park)
Description & Photos of the Okanagan and Kootenays region
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