Emerald Basin – Yoho NP

The next morning we packed up our site and started toward our next destination: Revelstoke. I had a couple of stops I wanted to make along the way in (Canada’s) Glacier National Park and maybe Mt. Revelstoke National Park depending on our timing. We knew the weather was not going to be in our favor during our time in Revelstoke, but we held out hope.

While we were having dinner the previous evening in Banff, Zach suggested doing a morning hike in Yoho National Park since it was on the way. (I think he had ulterior motives because he wanted to stop at the brewery in Golden and it didn’t open until 2pm.) On our visit last summer we didn’t do any of the trails around Emerald Lake, so we settled on a 6 mile round-trip hike to Emerald Basin.

We arrived at Emerald Lake at a quarter till 11, and, as expected, there was nothing available in the lot. We found a spot along the road and walked the extra distance to the lake. We got started right at 11am and quickly skirted halfway around the lake to the junction for Emerald Basin. It was a little overcast, with wispy clouds similar to the previous morning at Stanley Glacier. I remained hopeful for a similar clearing of the clouds.

Emerald Lake Lodge & Wapta Mtn.
Michael Peak

The trail climbed steadily once we left the lakeside path and remained steep for most of the ascent. The trail led us through a dense forest which was dark, damp, and a little mysterious. We only passed one couple on our way up which added to our sense of isolation. It was a beautiful climb though the few points with a view were still shrouded in white.

Eventually the trail leveled out somewhat. We began to duck in and out of the forest cover, each time revealing a more expansive view of the basin ahead. Even with the cloud cover, it was a magnificent sight!

Our first glimpse
You can just make out Emerald Glacier

There were more hikers once we reached the basin, though most were heading down. Only one family remained in the basin with us, and there was plenty of space to spread out. The basin was also home to lots of hoary marmots – we saw five or six without any effort.

The basin was spectacular! We were surrounded by the President Range on one side with Mt. Marpole, The President, and The Vice President framing Emerald Glacier and Mt. Carnarvon and Emerald Peak on the other. On a clear day, it would be even more stunning. (For some added perspective, we hiked on the other side of the President Range last summer while doing the Iceline Trail.)

A super cool photo of me
Emerald River

The weather improved slightly while we were in the basin; the sun even came out for a bit. We hung around, had a snack, and delayed our departure to see if our views would clear. They did, not quite enough for my liking, but much better than when we first entered the basin.

Heading down
A last look

We began to descend at the right time. Within a few minutes of turning around, several large groups of hikers entered the basin ending our solitude. We returned to the lakeside rather quickly, grabbing a few shots along the way of viewpoints that had cleared. Then we retreated to our car and left opposite the ever-flowing throngs en route to Emerald Lake.

We made a detour to Golden for an après-hike beer at Whitetooth, grabbed a sandwich at the deli, and refueled for the rest of our drive to Revelstoke.

Zach in his happy place
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