Exploring the Canadian Rockies: From Cranbrook to Banff
3 to 7 Days / 274 km (170 mi)
Find adventure and relaxation in the Canadian Rockies with this memorable, fun-packed route from Cranbrook.
Guest post by the British Columbia Visitor Centre @ Golden
The crystal clear waters of Emerald Lake, located in Yoho National Park, are surrounded by some of the Rocky Mountains’ most impressive snow-capped peaks. It is the largest of Yoho’s many lakes, known not only for its beauty, but also its proximity to a wealth of outdoor activities. Its initial discovery by a European was in 1882, when famed mountain guide Tom Wilson was led lakeside while rounding up a group of horses that had gone astray. He was immediately taken by the vivid, emerald-coloured water. Although it’s a popular summer destination, it’s equally as beautiful in winter.
Driving into the park, turn onto Emerald Lake Rd from the Trans Canada Highway 1 near Field, and you will quickly find yourself at the Natural Bridge. Carved out by rushing water, the Natural Bridge is an incredible reminder of how powerful water can be. From there, continue to the main parking area for Emerald Lake, the perfect place to begin your adventure. This is the access point to many groomed cross-country trails and snowshoe paths. We recommend checking the trail reports before you depart. If you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent snowshoes or cross-country skis at the lake.
There are many options to enjoy the beautiful outdoors at Emerald Lake. In winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular activities. During summer, the lake is wonderful for kayaking, canoeing and fishing. The trails around the lake take about an hour to hike, but you will want to stop and explore the incredible range of geological features visible from the lake, including the world-famous Burgess Shale fossil beds, the Michael glacier, and an avalanche slope carpeted by meadows where moose often graze. In addition to moose, keep an eye out for eagles and loons during your trip as they are drawn to this important water source.
When you’re ready to venture indoors, warm up at Emerald Lake Lodge and peruse its walls to learn about local history since the lake’s discovery. The lodge features award-winning dining options in The Mount Burgess Dining Room, and at the Kicking Horse Lounge, home to an original oak bar salvaged from an 1890s Yukon saloon. Behind the historic bar is an enthusiastic bartender ready to create your favourite cocktail.
The lodge offers unique, luxurious but affordable lodge-style accommodation. A perfect combination of familiar and cozy, the rooms are equipped with all the modern conveniences you would expect from a contemporary lodge, but with a rustic old-world charm that just cannot be recreated. At the end of the day, hop into one of the resort hot tubs to warm up, and get ready to start your adventures all over again. It’s easy to see why people love this magical place as you sit beside a crackling fireplace, a glass of wine in hand, looking out over the snow-covered landscape and towering peaks.
3 to 7 Days / 274 km (170 mi)
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