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Mountain National Parks Careers

Living in Kootenay and Yoho National Parks

Employee on Stanley glacier trail
Employee on Stanley glacier trail
© Parks Canada / C. Siddall

About the parks
The Lifestyle with the job
Facts About Kootenay / Yoho

About the parks

Welcome to two of Canada’s National Parks with not only historic and cultural significance, but ecological and paleontological significance as well! From the Kootenay Hot Springs to the Burgess Shale in Yoho, these two parks truly offer something unique to Canadians and are protected natural and cultural treasures.

Kootenay

Kootenay was established as a National Park 1920, but has been called “home” to people for 10,000 years. Aboriginal people bathed in the waters of Radium Hot Springs prior to the arrival of Europeans. Today the facility is one of the largest hot springs pools in Canada.

Kootenay is full of diverse wildlife such as badgers, lynx, bighorn sheep, wolves, and rubber boas. It has a unique climate that is best described by its’ interpretive theme, “from cactus to glacier.” In the valleys and Radium Hot Springs area, the weather is dry and warm; however, in the mountains the weather is cool and moist. In terms of seasons, Kootenay has long, snowy winters and short, cool summers. Like most mountainous regions, the weather can be unpredictable.

Kootenay has commemorated Sir George Simpson (1792- 1860) as a person of National Historic Significance as he was the first non-native to Kootenay and established fur trading posts in the area.

Kootenay has four campgrounds with 431 campsites available. Activities available at the park include camping, skiing, waterfall ice climbing, fishing, mountain biking, and wildlife viewing. Annual visitation to the park is approximately 1.2 million people. Kootenay National Park lies 888 km east of Vancouver and 170 km west of Calgary.

Yoho

Yoho National Park was established in 1886, and has since become known for its’ unique heritage and outstanding environmental significance. Yoho is a Cree expression for awe and wonder, which is what people experience when they see the rock walls, spectacular waterfalls, and soaring peaks.

Children camping
Children camping
© Parks Canada / C. Siddall

Yoho comprises of snow-capped mountains, lush forests, and peaceful rivers. The average temperature in the summer is 12.5° C, while winter months see temperatures between 5° C to –35° C. The weather can be very different depending on the altitude in the mountains.

Yoho has over 400 km of hiking trails and 5 campgrounds. These activities, along with the natural beauty and historic significance, are what help draw in annual visitation of approximately 800 thousand people.

Yoho has a number of National Historic Sites and one person of National Historic Significance. The sites include the Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin, Kicking Horse Pass, and Twin Falls Tea House. The person of National Historic Significance is Edouard Gaston Deville (1849-1924) who introduced new techniques of mapping to the Canadian Rockies.

One of the world's most important fossil finds, the Burgess Shale, is located in Yoho. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1981, the Burgess Shale Formation contains the fossilized remains of more than 120 marine animal species dating back 515 million years. The Burgess Shale was discovered in 1909, and celebrates its centennial birthday this year.

The Lifestyle with the job

Employee at the Walcott Quarry
Employee at the Walcott Quarry
© Parks Canada

Picture yourself working for Parks Canada at Kootenay or Yoho National Park. You wake up in the morning to a spectacular view of the snow-capped mountains and crisp, fresh air. On your way to work you pass by deer, elk, and other wild animals. You could work as a park attendant, an engineer, a resource conservation specialist, or a manager; all with the goal of protecting, preserving, and presenting the National Parks and National Historic Sites. After work, hiking, camping, skiing, or mountain biking are just some of the adventures you can create in your own backyard. You experience art and culture on weekends, and meet people from all over the world who have come to experience what Canada has to offer.

A job with Parks Canada for Yoho National Park means you will be living and working in either the town of Field or Golden. At Kootenay, you will be living and working in either the town of Radium Hot Spring or Invermere. These towns have the charm of a small community with the amenities and excitement of a big community since it is also a destination of many visitors.

Radium is a small, friendly town of 921 people located in the mountains. It is increasingly developing to fulfill the needs of its’ growing population. The village is dedicated to providing its’ residents and visitors with a high quality of life and opportunities to experience recreation and culture.

Radium Hot Springs
Radium Hot Springs
© Parks Canada / Donna Cook

Radium is located 260 km west of Calgary, 19 km north of Invermere and 105 km south of Golden. The Hot Springs are located 3 km away from the town and services approximately 250,000 visitors per year. The town is fully equipped with police, fire and ambulance services, library, elementary school, and senior home. There are few retail outlets in Radium; the bulk located in Invermere. However, Radium has all the basic necessities.

Invermere is a picturesque lakeside resort community next to Lake Windermere in British Columbia. The population in Invermere is approximately 3,470 and expands due to tourism in the busy summer months. It is transforming from a rural town to an international, urban destination. Invermere offers the following amenities: skiing, golf courses, elementary and secondary schools (kindergarten to grade 12), a college, restaurants, shops, and other essential and non-essential services. Invermere is located 14 kilometres south of Radium, and 104 kilometres south of Golden. It is close to Kootenay National Park, an hour and a half drive from Banff National Park, and a 3 hour drive from Calgary. Invermere’s climate is characterized by warm summers and cold winters; however, it is protected by the mountains from extreme Arctic cold.

Field is a quaint mountain town of 250 people. It is located in the heart of Yoho National Park and provides only the basic services. There are voluntary ambulance and fire fighting services, a post office, restaurants, a general store, a pottery studio, a Greyhound bus flag stop, a lodge and guest houses. Children go to school until grade 3 in Field unless they are in French immersion which would require them to go to Golden. Children past grade 3 and young adults attend school in Golden. Field is located 55 km from Golden, B.C., 27 km from Lake Louise, and 211 km from Calgary.

Golden is best described as a vibrant community with a mountain lifestyle that offers a variety of services. These services include the College of the Rockies, a local hospital, seniors’ residences, and emergency services. There are two elementary schools in town with one being a French Immersion school. Golden is located 3 hours west of Calgary and has a population of 4,373. It is becoming a tourist destination as people from all over the world come to escape to the outdoors. This has further increased the towns’ development and diversity.

The hamlet of Lake Louise is located in Banff National Park. It is a small getaway in the mountains with well-appointed restaurants, accommodations, and stores. For other essentials, like hospitals and schools, residents must travel to Banff (57 km away). Lake Louise is known for its world-class ski runs in the winter and its crystal blue lakes in the summer. In 2006, the hamlet had a population of 1,041. The two main glacier-fed lakes are Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. In 1884, Lake Louise was named in honour of Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, daughter of Queen Victoria.

Facts About Kootenay / Yoho

Hiking to Floe Lake
Hiking to Floe Lake
© Parks Canada / C. Siddall

Kootenay

  • Kootenay National Park protects 1,406 square kilometres (543 square miles.) of Rocky Mountain wilderness in the southeastern corner of British Columbia.
  • Along with Yoho, Banff, and Jasper National Parks, as well as Mt. Robson, Mt. Assiniboine, and Hamber Provincial Parks, Kootenay forms part of UNESCO’s Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
  • “Kootenay” is the anglicized version of the Ktunaxa word meaning “people from beyond the hills.”
  • Long before the park was established, the Ktunaxa and other aboriginal peoples hunted and traveled in the area.
  • The highest waterfall in the park is Helmet Falls at 300 meters.
  • Most Popular Attractions: Radium Hot Pools and the Marble Canyon Self-Guided Nature Trail.
  • Wildlife populations include the following estimates: Grizzly Bear 7 – 12, Black Bear 15 – 20, Wolf 3 – 10, Elk (Wapiti) 35 – 50, Moose 30 – 70, Bighorn Sheep 100 – 140, Mountain Goat 200 – 300.

Yoho

  • The park protects 1,310 square kilometres (507 square miles) on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia, and borders Banff National Park to the east and Kootenay National Park to the south.
  • In 1981, the Burgess Shale was designated a World Heritage Site. It was later incorporated into the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
  • There are 28 peaks over 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) in height in the park.
  • Most popular attractions: Spiral Tunnels viewpoint, Takakkaw Falls, and Emerald Lake.
  • Takakkaw Falls, with a free fall of 254 meters, is the third highest in Canada. “Takakkaw” means “magnificent” in Cree.
  • Most unique attraction: The Burgess Shale (restricted guided access only).
  • Silt or rock flour, carried by streams from melting glaciers high on the mountains, is responsible for the deep, rich turquoise colour of Emerald Lake and Lake O’Hara.
  • At the Natural Bridge viewpoint, the erosive force of water has created a natural rock bridge over the Kicking Horse River.
  • Predator populations include the following estimates: Grizzly Bear 6 – 12, Black Bear 15 – 25, Wolf 5 – 10.