Yoho National Park: Emerald Lake


The Canadian Rockies have a lot of strikingly beautiful lakes, but Yoho’s Emerald Lake is certainly among the nicest of them.  As the name implies, Emerald Lake glows with a green tinge, thanks to the rock flour from the melting glaciers nearby.

Emerald Lake is the largest lake in Yoho National Park.  It received its name from guide Tom Wilson, who discovered it by accident in 1882.  However, it wasn’t the first lake he named “Emerald” — a few months earlier, he gave the same name to Lake Louise, but it was later changed.

In addition to Emerald Lake Lodge (shown in the first picture, at the edge of the lake, on the far end of the bridge), there’s also a small boat house that sells souvenirs, as well as renting out canoes.  I bought a magnet that shows Emerald Lake on a slightly more beautiful day.  Remarkably though, even without any sunshine, the green glow of the water is still stunningly bright.

The hills around Emerald Lake are probably more impressive on a day when you can see them reflecting in the water.

In addition to visiting the boat house and the Lodge (which also has a fast-food service window), there are a few trails that would make for good hiking.  One trail circles Emerald Lake (the eastern side of the loop is paved for wheelchair access), and longer trails to Emerald Basin and Yoho Pass branch off from the loop.  From the parking lot, you can set off to Hamilton Lake (11 kilometers round trip) or hike a much shorter distance to Hamilton Falls (1.6 kilometers/1 mile round trip).  Be aware, waterfallswest.com rates Hamilton Falls as disappointing.


Emerald Lake is located 10 kilometers from Field.  After you’ve passed Field, headed west, watch for a well-marked turn onto a side road, heading north.

After Emerald Lake, I decided to drive straight through to Golden, British Columbia.  The weather was downright miserable, and I didn’t feel like fighting it any longer.  If I had made one other stop on the drive west out of Yoho National Park, it would have been at Wapta Falls.  A short hike leads to the 3rd largest waterfall in Canada — Wapta Falls is not tall, but it’s wide, and has a high volume of water.

Drivelapse Video

Here’s the time-lapse dash-cam video of Field to Emerald Lake, then on to Golden, BC:

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