Yoho National Park

Burgess Shale - Discover 505 million year old fossils
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Guided Hikes

Hike to the world’s most significant fossils! Join a Parks Canada Heritage Interpreter and explore the remains of an ancient sea in the sky.

Parks Canada’s Heritage Interpreters offer guided hikes to the world famous Burgess Shale fossil beds. Hold 505 million year old fossils in your hand and learn about these creatures and the surrounding mountains through activities and storytelling. Book early as the protected sites are open to guided groups only with a maximum of 12 people per hike.

1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783) or visit www.reservations.parkscanada.gc.ca to create an account and make your reservation online.  

Walcott Quarry: Classic Expedition 

View of Emerald Lake from Walcott Quarry © Parks Canada
View of Emerald Lake from the Burgess Shale hike to the Walcott Quarry
© Parks Canada

This classic journey begins at spectacular Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park, British Columbia. As you hike through stunning mountain landscapes, you’ll learn about the bizarre Burgess Shale creatures and how they came to be fossilized at the top of the mountains. With a maximum group of 12 people, there is plenty of opportunity to ask questions about geology or the local plants and animals. This challenging 10 hour, 22 km (14 mile) round trip hike is worth the effort.

Length: This rugged 22 kilometre (14 mile) round-trip hike takes about 10 hours to complete. Elevation gain is 900 metres (3000 feet). This hike is the equivalent of climbing up and down all of the stairs in a 260 story building over 22 km (14 miles). Ensure you are prepared for this level of difficulty and all weather conditions, including heavy rains and snow.

Schedule: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday from July 9 to Sept 29, 2014. Meet at 7:00am.

Meeting place: Takakkaw Falls parking lot, 14km (9 miles) east of Field, B.C. (see map)

Cost: Adults $70.00 17-64 years
Youth $35.00 8-16 years*
Seniors $59.50 65 years +

*A non-refundable reservation fee of $11.00 will be charged for each online reservation and $13.50 charged for each phone reservation.
*Children under 8 are not recommended due to trip length and difficulty. Youth from 8-16 must be accompanied by an adult.
*Groups that reserve all 12 available spaces at the same time for the same hike receive a 10% discount.
* Fees are under review and are subject to change without notice

Mount Stephen Fossil Bed: Stone Bugs Galore

Mount Stephen fossil bed © Parks Canada View from the Mount Stephen fossil bed on a Burgess Shale hike © Parks Canada

Hike to the site where railway workers reported finding ‘stone bugs’ in the 1880s and learn about the bizarre Burgess Shale creatures and how they came to be fossilized at the top of the mountains. With a maximum group of 12 people, there is plenty of opportunity to ask questions about geology or the local plants and animals. This short but challenging 7 hour, 9 km (6 miles) round trip will take you to a 505 million year old treasure frozen in time.

Length: The hike is a difficult 9-kilometre (6 mile) round-trip that takes about 7 hours to complete. Elevation gain is 900 metres (3000 feet). This hike is the equivalent of climbing all the stairs up and down again in a 260 story building over a 9 km (6 mile) distance. Ensure you are prepared for this level of difficulty and all weather conditions, including heavy rains and snow.

Schedule: Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday from June 21 to July 8, 2014, then Saturday, Sunday and Monday from July 12 to Sept 29, 2014. Meet at 7:00 a.m.

Meeting place: Yoho Visitor Centre (see map)

Cost: Adult $55.00 17-64 years
Youth $27.50 8-16 years*
Seniors $46.75 65 years +

*A non refundable reservation fee of $11.00 will be charged for each online reservation and $13.50 charged for each phone reservation.
*Children under 8 are not recommended due to trip length and difficulty. Youth from 8-16 must be accompanied by an adult.
*Groups that reserve all 12 available spaces at the same time for the same hike receive a 10% discount.
*Fees are under review and are subject to change without notice

Stanley Glacier: Kootenay Fossils Revealed
(Kootenay National Park) new!

Join a Parks Canada Heritage Interpreter for a guided hike to one of Kootenay National Park’s Burgess Shale fossil beds. Beginning in an expansive fire swept forest with lodgepole pines and a profusion of wildflowers, this 12 km return (7.5 mile) hike crosses a turquoise river, passes by waterfalls and gives close-up views of the Stanley Glacier. Hidden in the Stephen formation are trilobites, hyolithids, brachiopods, sponges and algaes. Hold a piece of earth’s history in your hand and make a fossil rubbing to take home. You’ll even learn about the “Stan animal,” a 505 million year old predator recently discovered here!

View from the Stanley Glacier Trail
View from the Stanley Glacier Trail © Parks Canada

Length: This hike is a moderately difficult 12 km (7.5 mile) round trip that takes approximately 7 hours to complete. Elevation gain is 450 metres (1500 ft). It is the equivalent to climbing all the stairs up and down again in a 130 story building over 12 km (7.5 miles) in distance.

Schedule: Every Saturday and Monday from June 28 to September 1, 2014. Meet at 9:00 a.m.

Meeting place: The Stanley Glacier parking lot: 15 km (9.3 miles) south of Castle Junction on Highway 93 South in Kootenay National Park. It is 95 km (59 miles) north of Radium Hot Springs, 45 km (28 miles) southwest of Banff and 40 km (25 miles) southeast of Lake Louise.

Cost: Adult $55.00 17-64 years
Youth $27.50 8-16 years
Seniors $46.75 65+ years
Children 7 and under are free (1 child per paying adult)**

*A non refundable reservation fee of $11.00 will be charged for each online reservation and $13.50 charged for each phone reservation.
*All fees subject to change without notice.
*Groups that reserve all 12 available spaces at the same time for the same hike receive a 10% discount.
**Children under seven may attend at parent’s discretion; hike not suitable for strollers. Children and youth up to 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

Reservations

Reservations are required and available starting January 2, 2014. A non refundable reservation fee of $11.00 will be charged for each online reservation and $13.50 charged for each phone reservation. All fees are collected at time of booking. A confirmation letter will be e-mailed to verify the reservation once payment is finalized.

Reservations:  Go to www.reservations.parkscanada.gc.ca to create an account and make your reservation online or call 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783) and have the following info ready:

  • Dates & hike requested
  • Names and ages of participants
  • Emergency contact & medical info
  • MasterCard, Visa or AmEx number

Changes and Cancellations:

  • Cancellations with a full refund of hiking fees may be made by 10 a.m. five days before the scheduled hike. 
  • Cancellations made less than 5 days before the scheduled hike will receive 50% of their prepaid hiking fees (minus the non-refundable reservation and cancellation fees). 
  • Online reservation changes and cancellations are subject to a fee of $11.00 per transaction and changes and cancellations by phone are subject to a fee of $13.50 per transaction. 
  • Due to high demand, Parks Canada requests that booking modifications be made with as much advance notice as possible. Parks Canada reserves the right to retain hiking fees in the case of no-shows.

Standby Hikers: Visitors wishing to join a Burgess Shale hike on a standby basis may do so by arriving at the hike meeting location prior to the start of the hike, although there is no guarantee that a place will be available. Open spots will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

If you are unable to reserve for the date you prefer, you may be interested in guided hikes offered by the Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation.

What should I bring?
Comments from visitors

Map

Map of the Burgess Shale hikes © Parks Canada 
Printable version (PDF, 4MB)

 


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