While visiting my hometown of Calgary Alberta I often take road trips to enjoy the outdoors and explore the Canadian Rockies. One of my weekend getaways to the mountains I stayed for 2 nights at the Emerald Lake Lodge in Yoho National Park. I especially enjoyed hiking around the emerald color lake while enjoying extraordinary views of the mountains.
Yoho National Park is one of the most beautiful places in Canada. If you have the time, I suggest you visit Kootenay National Park and hop across to Alberta to Banff National Park and Jasper National Park as well.
But I find Yoho park is a little less crowded. My stay at Emerald Lake Lodge was a weekend of tranquility. It was late May, so not yet high season in the Rockies, with long days of sunshine and cool evenings.
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If you have never seen a glacial lake, then you are in for an amazing surprise when you first set eyes on this spectacular jade to turquoise beauty. This is one of the five lakes I recommended visiting in an earlier post on this blog.
Unless you go to Jasper, then you can hike FIVE lakes in ONE hiking trail!
It was during the construction of the railroad in the early 1880’s that Tom Wilson, a guide in the area, saw the beautiful color of the lake in a pristine Rocky Mountain setting. Emerald Lake Lodge sits alongside the lake and offers stunning views from each room.
Where is Emerald Lake?
Emerald Lake is located in the Yoho National Park in British Columbia, close to the neighboring province of Alberta. Although it is not very big, Emerald Lake is the largest lake in Yoho National Park.
It’s an easy drive (about 30 minutes) from Lake Louise to Emerald Lake – enjoy two of the most beautiful lakes in Canada in one day!
Getting to Emerald Lake BC
The closest town is Field, British Columbia, about a 15 minute drive to Emerald Lake. Take the Trans-Canada Hwy/BC 1 West for 1.5 km (1 mile) and turn right onto Emerald Lake Rd, continue for 9 km (5.5 miles).
The distance from Calgary AB to Field BC is about 200 km (120 miles) and takes around 2 hours 15 minutes driving time.
But you will also want to stop at the Kicking Horse River and Natural Bridge, about 2.5 km (1.5 miles) up the Emerald Lake Road from the Trans-Canada Highway.
Hiking Emerald Lake Trail
Distance: 5.2 km (3.2 miles)
Type of hike: Loop trail
Elevation gain: 30 m (100 ft)
Dogs allowed at Emerald Lake hike? Yes, but must be on leash
The trail makes a loop around Emerald Lake with some of the hiking through the forest but mostly alongside the lake. Hiking this trail is how I started my day when I stayed at the Emerald Lake Lodge.
If you’re looking for a great waterfall hike nearby check out Wapta Falls – also in Yoho National Park. It’s a beautiful easy hike to amazing waterfalls!
There are several reasons the hike at Lake Emerald is remarkable. From the lodgings you can see across the lake to the avalanche area and walk across the snow in the spring and into summer, if it is safe to do so.
Parks Canada info for Yoho park states “For avalanche safety reasons hiking is not recommended on snow covered trails at and above treeline from mid October to mid June”
Another interesting feature of Emerald trail is the alluvial fan built up over the delta.
It is highly unusual in this geographic area for an alluvial fan on top of a delta in the Rocky Mountains. Rarely do the two processes occur together in this area.
Watch along the trail in this area for the beautiful and colorful wild orchids.
The scientific name is calypso bulbosa var. americana. There were several other wildflowers on the lake trail.
Go early in the morning to see mirror images of the mountains reflecting in the lake – magical.
Watch out for birds and other wildlife in the area, especially at dusk and dawn when animals are often out in search of food.
Dining at Emerald Lake Lodge
The first time I visited Emerald Lake I went to dinner with my sister and a friend at the Mount Burgess Dining Room. The color of the lake totally blew me away!
I dreamed of staying in one of the cabins on the lake. Returning to Yoho National Park the following year I enjoyed a weekend in the Rockies with perfect weather. During the summer season you can enjoy dining outdoors at Cilantro on the Lake.
The restaurants at Emerald Lake get super busy during the high season in summer – late June through August.
If you want to enjoy nature and avoid the crowds, then pack a picnic lunch and dine by the lake. There are a few benches along the hiking trail that make wonderful picnic spots with spectacular views of the mountains.
If you visit in the winter time you can enjoy the large fireplace at the Kicking Horse Lounge which features an old oak bar from Yukon Canada. The full menu from the dining room is also available in the lounge.
Stay at Emerald Lake Lodge
The lodgings at Emerald Lake are rustic but the location is wonderful for an escape from city life. Accommodations in Yoho, and nearby Banff and Lake Louise, fill up early during the busy summer vacation season.
Emerald Lake Lodge features a dry sauna, outdoor hot tub, and fitness room. Plus the jaw dropping views of the Rocky Mountains.
If there is nothing available at Emerald Lake then try the hotels in nearby Field BC here.
Camping in Yoho National Park is another option for accommodation close to Emerald Lake. Check Parks Canada website for information on campsites, prices, and availability of campgrounds in Yoho National Park.
Enjoy your visit to beautiful Yoho National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains!
A couple of other hikes in Yoho National Park that you should check out:
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