July 23-27, 2013 - Yoho National Park and Kootenay National Park

We left David Thompson Resort on Tuesday morning and drove through Yoho National Park to the town of Golden, BC.  We are staying just south of Golden at the Golden Eco-Adventure Ranch.  This is a very nice campground with the RV sites in the trees.  The only drawback is that the mosquitoes are ferocious - we have to use bug spray every time we go out or we will get eaten alive!  We have made good use of the screen room that our friends David and Colleen gave us while we were in Edmonton – thank you David and Colleen.  As you drive into the campground there is a huge open field which is the Muller Flight Park – a hang gliding and paragliding landing zone.   You can book a tandem flight if you feel adventurous.  Tuesday afternoon we went to the visitor center in Golden, found the post office so we could mail some cards, and went grocery shopping.

Wednesday morning we got a late start on our tour through Yoho National Park.  We took a 4.8 km round-trip hike to Wapta Falls.  Wapta means river in the language of the Stoney Nakoda First Nations.  We had a nice picnic lunch beside the falls and hiked back out.  It was hot and humid and we were all tired when we got back to the parking lot so we decided to call it a day and head back to our camp site.

Thursday morning we got an earlier start and headed back to Yoho National Park.  We stopped at the Natural Bridge – over time the force of the water has created an eroded rock archway over the Kicking Horse River.

When you stand upriver from the bridge it looks like the water just disappears as it goes under the natural bridge.

Our next stop was Emerald Lake – another beautiful turquoise glacier fed lake.  We walked a little ways around the lake where there is a lodge and conference center.

We stopped at the Kicking Horse Pass National Historic Site where we viewed exhibits telling the railroad history of this area.  From 1885 until 1909, steam engines had to negotiate a 4.5% grade (the steepest of any in North America).   This was the steepest part of the entire Canadian Pacific mainline and wrecks and runaway trains were common.  To solve this problem the railroad built two giant underground loops deep into the mountains called the Spiral Tunnels.  Because each tunnel makes a complete spiraling turn, trains actually cross over themselves.  You can see the two portals of one of the loops from the overlook.  If a long train would come by you might see an engine emerge from the upper portal while below it the last cars are still entering the lower portal - unfortunately, we were not so lucky.  This diagram shows how the tunnels work.

Our last stop of the day was at Takakkaw Falls on the Yoho River.  Takakkaw means “magnificent” in Cree and it was magnificent!

We ate lunch in the picnic area by the parking lot and Mariah enjoyed sharing some of her lunch with a couple of cute chipmunks.

After lunch we walked the trail to the base of the falls.  As we got closer to the falls we could start to feel the cold spray.

Mariah got even closer and got pretty wet sitting on this rock by the base of the falls.

We had another great day – Yoho is a small park and not as popular as Banff and Jasper but it is beautiful. 

 As we arrived back at the campground we watched a hang glider sail in over the campground and land in the landing zone.  It looks like a lot of fun but none of us are adventurous enough to try it!

Friday we decided to take a day off and get some laundry and other chores done.   In the afternoon we relaxed and caught up on some reading while sitting in the screen room to avoid the mosquitos.


Saturday morning we headed out early and drove about 60 miles south to Radium Hot Springs and entered Kootney National Park at its south entrance.  We immediately entered Sinclair Canyon which makes a natural gateway to the park.

Beautiful wildflowers were blooming everywhere.


We stopped at Olive Lake and hiked an interpretative trail around this clear, shallow lake to the natural spring that is its source. 

Kootennay Valley Viewpoint gave us some great view of the river, mountains, valley and more wild flowers.

Towards the north end of the park we walked a short trail to Numa Falls on the Vermillion River.  While we were looking at the falls a young man proposed to his girlfriend on the bridge – made the falls a little more exciting.

Our last stop in Kootenay National Park was at Marble Canyon – a beautiful narrow limestone gorge with Tokumm Creek cascading down it.  There was a forest fire in this area in 2003 so there are a lot of dead trees.

We walked the short trail along the rim that crosses the canyon several times.  The views from the bridges were great.  The gorge kept getting narrower as we hiked farther up the canyon.  The limestone walls of the gorge looked like marble.

The trail ended at the head of the gorge where a beautiful waterfall cascaded into the narrow gorge. 

The view from the top of the waterfall as it fell into the gorge was spectacular.

We then left the north end of Kootnay National Park and entered Banff National Park and made a loop back to Golden.  We had a great day in Kootenay National Park – another gem in the Canadian Rockies.  We didn’t see a lot of wildlife but did see a couple of deer.  When we got back to the campground we didn’t see any hang gliders landing but there was a outdoor wedding taking place in the events center.   Later that night as we were eating dinner we saw a hang glider through the trees making its descent to the landing field.


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