Emerald Lake is located in Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada. Yoho National Park is one of the 4 contiguous National Parks in the heart of Canada’s Rocky Mountains, along the boundary of British Columbia and Alberta Provinces, the other Parks are Kootenay, Jasper, and Banff. Many Provincial Parks, having near-similar environmental protection and as-spectacular nature, also join these federal reserves. Emerald Lake Lodge, a high-end lodge or hotel, is on a peninsula jutting into the lake. It was founded in the 1920s and completely rebuilt in the 1980s. A quiet 2 lane paved road about 15 km / 9 miles long connects the busy Trans-Canada Highway with Emerald Lake, the exit is well marked. A 5.2 km (3.2 mi) hiking trail circuits the lake, the first half of which is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, many other more advanced hiking trails go in different directions up into the mountains, be sure to be well prepared in skill, fitness and in hazard awareness before venturing onto them. Many wild animals live in the area and are protected by Park Law, Brown (Grizzly) Bears and Black Bears are fairly common, they co-exist quite well with humans as the Park has strict laws on garbage control and good advice to Park Visitors on practicing bear safety and being “Bear Aware”. Mountain Goats and Bighorn Sheep are seen at higher altitudes, and many smaller mammals are common everywhere. Hunting is strictly prohibited in the Park, fishing is permitted with a Park license. During the summer months, canoe rentals are available from the Lodge, in the winter, the lake is a popular cross country skiing destination. Canada’s National Parks do not permit private or business land ownership within their boundaries, all development is strictly controlled by the National Park for environmental preservation, development permits are rarely if ever given, and then only after extensive Gov’t review and consultation, the land the business occupies is leased from the Park, nearly all businesses in the Parks were established decades ago, and current approval is exceedingly rare. There is a strict “need-to-reside” law in place for living in a Canadian Mountain National Park town or village, simply put you must prove you need to live there for reasons of operating a Park-approved business or service, unless you are a non-management employee. The railway and timber town of Golden BC is the nearest town to Emerald Lake that is outside the Park boundaries, it is about 50 km / 30 miles distant to the west in the low valley of the Columbia River headwaters, and has many lodging options, the small historic railway village of Field is in Yoho Park near the highway exit to Emerald Lake, and has a large Park-operated Information and Visitor’s Center, Field Village also has gas, food and a few B & B’s. The Park Service Center of Lake Louise, which has limited lodging, is about 30 km / 20 miles to the east of Emerald Lake in neighboring Banff National Park, while the famous resort town of Banff, located on the southeast edge of that Park, is about 60 km / 40 miles further east of Lake Louise, it has a large number of hotels as does the town of Canmore, located just outside the Banff Park boundary. Vehicle / RV campgrounds are common throughout the region for summer use, reservations made well in advance are highly advised for hotels and campgrounds during summer, which is early June to late September on an average weather year.
Emerald Lake is a popular tourist destination for many and it’s easy to see why. The water’s stunning colours and its secluded location make it a perfectly picturesque spot. While living in Banff, only an hour’s drive away, experiencing this one-of-a-kind location was a must on my to-do list.
In fact, I was lucky enough to visit this marvellous site twice, once during the summer and again during winter.
While we’re currently advised to refrain from non-essential travel, this is the perfect time to gather inspiration and ideas for future visits…. So, come escape with me and discover this must-see destination!
Discover Emerald Lake
Nestled in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park, Emerald Lake is the largest body of water of the park’s 61 lakes and ponds. Surrounded by many towering mountains, you’ll enjoy remarkable views of the President Range, Mount Burgess and Wapta Mountain.
The lake’s high elevation means it freezes over from November to early June, with the iconic colour making its appearance in summer. While the setting itself is relatively secluded, it was easy to get to from the Trans Canada Highway – but if you didn’t know it was there you could easily drive by not knowing the beauty that just passed you by.
A little history…
Famous mountain guide Tom Wilson came upon this secret slice of paradise in 1882 while tracking a team of horses that had escaped him. Due to the water’s extraordinary blue-green colour, he dubbed it Emerald Lake, although this wasn’t the first lake he gave that name to!
The other Emerald Lake that Wilson named was renamed shortly after to honour Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. As you may have guessed, that lake is now the ever-famous Lake Louise! In fact, it wasn’t just a body of water that was named to honour the Queen’s fourth daughter, the actual province of Alberta itself was named after her as well.