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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 3 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 these popular hikes fill up fast and are limited to 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. 

Reservations for 2016 open on January 12, 2016.

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 10.5 hour, 21 km (13 mile) round trip hike is worth the effort.

Hike length: 21 km (13 miles) round trip.

Duration: 10.5 hours, hike ends at approximately 5:30 p.m.

Elevation gain: 825 metres (2710 feet).

Difficulty rating: This hike is very difficult and involves steep elevation gains of 825 metres (2710 feet) in challenging backcountry terrain. It is the equivalent of climbing all the stairs up and down again in a 234 story building over a 21 km (13 mile) distance.

Ensure you are prepared for this level of difficulty and all weather conditions, including heavy rains and snow.

The Walcott Quarry hike is not advised for people with recurring knee, back or ankle injuries.

For safety reasons, if you are not prepared for the hike difficulty level, you may not be allowed to complete the hike. No refunds.

Schedule (Meet at 7:00 a.m.):

  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Wednesday from July 8 to September 5 
  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday from September 9 to September 18 

Time zones in British Columbia: When travelling east from Vancouver, the time changes from the Pacific Time Zone to the Mountain Time Zone at Glacier National Park’s eastern boundary. Please note that all hike times are in the Mountain Daylight Time Zone, similar to Calgary.

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

Cost:

  • Adults (17-64 years): $70.00 
  • Youth (8-16 years): $35.00 
  • Seniors (65+ years): $59.50 

*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. Parent or guardian of participants 17-19 years of age must sign a waiver at the trailhead.
*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 7.5 hour, 8 km (5 miles) round trip will take you to a 505 million year old treasure frozen in time.

Hike length: 8 km (5 mile) round trip.

Duration: 7.5 hours. Hike ends at approximately 2:30 p.m.

Elevation gain: 795 metres (2610 feet).

Difficulty rating: This hike is very difficult and involves steep elevation gains of 795 metres (2610 feet) in challenging backcountry terrain. It is the equivalent of climbing all the stairs up and down again in a 234 story building over 8 km (5 mile) in distance.

Ensure you are prepared for this level of difficulty and all weather conditions, including heavy rains and snow.

Mt. Stephen hike is not advised for people with fear of heights or exposure, or those with recurring knee, back or ankle injuries.

For safety reasons, if you are not prepared for the hike difficulty level, you may not be allowed to complete the hike. No refunds.

Hiking poles are mandatory on this hike.

Schedule (Meet at 7:00 a.m.): 

  • Friday, Saturday, Sunday from June 17 to September 18
  • Mondays, June 20, 27, July 4

Time zones in British Columbia: When travelling east from Vancouver, the time changes from the Pacific Time Zone to the Mountain Time Zone at Glacier National Park’s eastern boundary. Please note that all hike times are in the Mountain Daylight Time Zone, similar to Calgary.

Meeting place: Meet at the parking lot of the Yoho Visitor Centre in the town of Field, BC. The Yoho Visitor Centre is located next to the Trans-Canada Highway at the entrance to the village of Field, BC. Hike ends at the same location. (see map)

Cost:

  • Adult (17-64 years): $55.00 
  • Youth (8-16 years): $27.50 
  • Seniors (65+ years ): $46.75 

*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. Parent or guardian of participants 17-19 years of age must sign a waiver at the trailhead.
*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)

Join a Parks Canada Heritage Interpreter for a fun guided hike to the first Kootenay National Park Burgess Shale fossil site. This family-oriented hike provides an excellent introduction to the Burgess Shale on a relatively easy trail. Beginning in an expansive fire swept forest with lodgepole pines and a profusion of wildflowers, this 10 km return (6.3 mile) hike crosses a turquoise river, passes by waterfalls and gives close-up views of the Stanley Glacier. Hidden at the base of Mount Stanley are trilobites, hyolithids, brachiopods, sponges and algaes from the Eldon formation. The lock box is chock full of real Burgess Shale fossils for you to hold. You’ll even see the “Stan animal,” a 505 million year old predator recently discovered here!

Note: This hike does not go to the recently excavated Marble Canyon quarry site and the site is not restricted.

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

Hike length: 10 km (6.3 miles) round trip.

Trail description: The first 4 km (2.4 miles) of the trail is excellent and well maintained. The final sections to the fossil site include 800 m (874 yards) of rough trail and 200 metres (218 yards) of walking on rough rocks.

Access to the Burgess Shale area in Kootenay is not restricted to participants on approved guided hikes.

Duration: Approximately 7.5 hours, hike completed by approximately 3:30 p.m.

Elevation gain: 450 metres (1476 ft).

Difficulty rating: Moderate, i.e., equivalent to climbing all the stairs up and down again in a 110 story building over 10 km (6.3 mile) in distance.

Ensure you are prepared for this level of difficulty and all weather conditions, including heavy rains and snow.

For safety reasons, if you are not prepared for the hike difficulty level, you may not be allowed to complete the hike. No refunds.

Schedule (Meet at 8:00 a.m.):

  • Every Saturday, Sunday, Monday from June 18 to September 18, 2016.

Time zones in British Columbia: When travelling east from Vancouver, the time changes from the Pacific Time Zone to the Mountain Time Zone at Glacier National Park’s eastern boundary. Please note that all hike times are in the Mountain Daylight Time Zone, similar to Calgary.

Meeting location: Meet at the Stanley Glacier trailhead in Kootenay National Park. The Stanley Glacier parking lot is 15 km (9.3 miles) south of Castle Junction on Highway 93 South in Kootenay National Park. It is 95 km (59 miles) from Radium Hot Springs, 45 km (28 miles) from Banff and 40 km (25 miles) from Lake Louise. Hike ends at same location.

Cost*:

  • Adult (17-64 years): $55.00 
  • Youth (8-16 years)**: $27.50 
  • Seniors(65+ years): $46.75 
  • 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. Parent or guardian of participants 17-19 years of age must sign a waiver at the trailhead.


Reservations

Reservations are required and available starting January 12, 2016. 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.

If you would like to book a custom/private Burgess Shale guided hike for your group of 8-12 people, please contact Parks Canada staff at 250-343-6783 after May 1, 2016.

What should I bring?
Comments from visitors

 


Map

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

 


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