Emerald Lake BC Weekend Getaway in Yoho National Park Canada

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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Red canoes on the dock of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park

Red canoes on the dock of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park

 

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.

RELATED: Amazing Kayaking Adventure in Jasper National Park

 

Beautiful Rocky Mountain views at Emerald Lake hiking trail in BC

Beautiful Rocky Mountain views at Emerald Lake hiking trail in BC

 

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.

RELATED: Joffre Lakes Hike – Perfect Day Trip from Whistler BC

 

Natural Bridge at the Kicking Horse River in Yoho National Park Canada

Natural Bridge at the Kicking Horse River in Yoho National Park Canada

 

Kicking Horse River near Field BC in Yoho National Park Canada

Kicking Horse River near Field BC in Yoho National Park Canada

 

Hiking Emerald Lake Trail

Distance: 5.2 km (3.2 miles)
Type of hike: Loop trail
Difficulty: Easy
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.

 

Avalanche site at Emerald Lake hiking trail in BC Canada

Avalanche site at Emerald Lake hiking trail in BC Canada

 

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”

 

Avalanche information for Emerald Peak posted at Emerald Lake trail

Avalanche information for Emerald Peak posted at Emerald Lake trail

 

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.

 

Alluvial fan alongside Emerald Lake in Yoho park in the Canadian Rockies

Alluvial fan alongside Emerald Lake in Yoho park in the Canadian Rockies

 

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.

 

Wild orchids (calypso bulbosa americana) along the Lake Emerald trail

Wild orchids (calypso bulbosa americana) along the Lake Emerald trail

 

Go early in the morning to see mirror images of the mountains reflecting in the lake – magical.

 

Mirror image of the Rocky Mountains reflection in Emerald Lake

Mirror image of the Rocky Mountains reflection in Emerald Lake

 

Watch out for birds and other wildlife in the area, especially at dusk and dawn when animals are often out in search of food.

 

Glass-like Emerald Lake with snow capped mountain reflection in the water

Glass-like Emerald Lake with snow capped mountain reflection in the water

 

Emerald Lake in the morning with stunning reflection of the snow topped mountains

Emerald Lake in the morning with stunning reflection of the snow topped mountains

 

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.

 

Canoeing Lake Emerald near the avalanche spot

Canoeing Lake Emerald near the avalanche spot

 

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.

 

Emerald Lake Lodge dining includes Cilantro on the Lake and Mount Burgess Dining Room

Emerald Lake Lodge dining includes Cilantro on the Lake and Mount Burgess Dining Room

 

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.

Check for deals and current availability now!

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.

 

Canoeing on Emerald Lake in front of the Emerald Lake Lodge in BC

Canoeing on Emerald Lake in front of the Emerald Lake Lodge in BC

 

Camping in Yoho National Park is another option for accommodation close to Emerald Lake. Click here 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!

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Emerald Lake in the Canadian Rockies Yoho National Park

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 4 of living a nomadic life, roadtripping around the USA and Canada and writing about her experiences. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

4 Replies

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  1. Banff is absolutely one of my dream trips Susan. Magical.

    Ryan

  2. April says:

    At the end of the day, I stopped by Emerald Lake and instantly was smitten. It is stunning! The color of the water and the surrounding mountains. The only problem was that I didn’t have enough time to do the trail that goes around the lake. I’m heading back to Banff/Jasper this summer, and I’m making sure I have time to hike the whole thing. It’s so beautiful!

    • April, same for me – Emerald Lake was love at first sight but it was too late to do the hike. Great that you have the opportunity to go back to Yoho and hike around the lake, you will love it! If you can do the trail early in the morning the reflection of the mountains in the water is smashingly gorgeous! Cheers, Susan

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