The Best Day Trips from Golden, B.C. to Yoho and Banff National Park
Surrounded by 6 National Parks, Golden, British Columbia is an ideal base to plan all of your adventures - both summer and winter.
Just a short drive east from Golden you will find Yoho and Banff National Parks. Both areas offer a number of iconic, must see attractions, all within a short distance of each other.
Stop at one or link several of them together for an epic day of sightseeing and learning about the area’s history.
Just 34 km from Golden lies Wapta Falls - one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Yoho National Park. Accessible year round, it’s an easy and short 2.3 km hike to the bottom of the falls. There is a closer viewpoint from the top of the falls for those who don’t wish to make the trek through the forest to the shoreline. Either way, it offers excellent views and is definitely worth the trip.
Travelling eastbound from Golden, watch for the small sign on the right side of the road marked “Wapta Falls”. If you are visiting during the winter months, the main gate is closed and you have to park at the pull out in front of the gate. Be sure to wear good winter footwear as there can be deep snow and the path can be slippery.
Emerald Lake & the Natural Bridge
Just 3 km west of Field, a natural rock formation known as the Natural Bridge reaches across the Kicking Horse River. Shaped by erosion from rushing water over what used to be a waterfall, it offers visitors several vantage points along with interpretive displays. With Emerald Lake just 10 minutes down the road, this landmark is a must see on your way!
An extremely popular, and often photographed destination, Emerald Lake is famous for its sparkling green waters surrounded by mountains. Another year round destination, it offers a variety of activities to suit all travellers. Hiking around the lake takes about an hour and showcases the Burgess Shale fossil beds, glaciers, and meadows. The opportunity to view wildlife in this area is also abundant. Canoe rentals are available from Emerald Sports on site, and during the winter months, you can get cross country skis and snowshoes.
When visiting in the summer, be sure to stop for a refreshing beverage or lunch at Cilantro on the Lake. Located at Emerald Lake Lodge on the waters edge, the views and food are amazing.
The Village of Field
The charming village of Field is located just 26 km from Lake Louise and is home to approximately 200 people. Originally built as a railway siding in the 1800’s, its rich history and character make it a great place to visit year round.
Home to Truffle Pigs Bistro you don’t want to miss this hidden gem with delicious food! Across the street you will find the Siding Cafe. With tasty casual dining, it’s a unique stop for either a lunch to go or dine in meal.
Many talented artisans have made this village their home. Stop in at Velvet Antler Pottery to check out their handcrafted porcelain and stoneware products.
The Yoho Visitor Centre is also located at the entrance of Field. Open year round, the knowledgeable staff can provide area information and help you plan your day. Be sure to stop in here if you plan to do any hiking, skiing, or snowshoeing in the area.
The Visitor Centre is also home to one of the interactive Burgess Shale exhibits, with the other located at Emerald Lake. The Burgess Shale is one of the most significant fossil finds to date. Found throughout Yoho and Kootenay National Parks, this discovery is shaping the understanding of the evolution of life on earth.
During the summer months, Parks Canada and the Burgess Shale GeoScience Foundation offer guided hikes to the Burgess Shale locations. The hikes are very popular and require advanced booking.
Just 17km from Field down the Yoho Valley Road, you will find Takakkaw Falls. Among the highest waterfalls in Canada you can get up close and feel the spray of this mighty waterfall, or easily enjoy it from a further view point.
Open mid-June to mid-October, the road is only accessible to regular sized passenger vehicles and bicycles due to steep, tight switchbacks along the way. Be sure to make this short detour on your way to Lake Louise.
Lake Louise & Moraine Lake
Once a primitive outpost at the end of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Lake Louise is now a village which offers world class hiking, skiing, and sightseeing from its doorstep. Only a one hour drive from Golden, visiting at anytime of year offers a panorama of unbeatable views.
Lake Louise is open year round to the public, and is just up the road from Moraine Lake which opens mid-May until mid-October. Located in Banff National Park, both lakes are very busy during the summer months. Visiting early in the day or in the evening is advisable to avoid the crowds.
With limited space, parking fills up quickly in the summer. Free shuttles run daily from mid-May to mid-October with multiple departures each hour. Staff are available at all shuttle stops to provide information and trip planning advice, making this the simplest way to see the sights of Lake Louise and avoid the traffic. Find out more about the shuttle service here.
With a long winter season, visitors can enjoy cross country skiing, snowshoeing, downhill skiing and snowboarding. Free from crowds, you can leisurely visit the shops and dine at one of the many wonderful restaurants located throughout the village.
Wilson Mountain Sports is located right in the village and offers gear rentals for all seasons - mountain bikes, bear spray, cross country and downhills skis, ice skates, and even hockey sticks! They also carry a large variety of high quality outdoor merchandise from clothing to footwear and backpacks. Check them out for all your gear rental and purchasing needs when in Lake Louise.
Summer or winter, we hope you enjoy your road trip through Yoho and Banff National Park. There are so many things to see and do heading east from Golden, BC.
Cheers from Whitewater Lodge