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Yoho National Park/Canada

Introducing Yoho National Park

Fed by glaciers, the ice-blue Kicking Horse River plows through the valley of the same name. The surging waters are an apt image for this dramatic national park, home to looming peaks, pounding waterfalls, glacial lakes and patches of pretty meadows.

Although the smallest (1310 sq km) of the four national parks in the Rockies, Yoho is a diamond in the (very) rough. This wilderness is the real deal; it's some of the continent's least tarnished.

East of Field on Hwy 1 is the Takakkaw Falls road (late Jun-early Oct). At 254m, Takakkaw is one of the highest waterfalls in Canada. From here Iceline, a 20km hiking loop, passes many glaciers and spectacular scenery.

This World Heritage site protects the amazing Cambrian-age fossil beds on Mt Stephen and Mt Field. These 515-million-year-old fossils preserve the remains of marine creatures that were some of the earliest forms of life on earth. You can only get to the fossil beds by guided hikes, which are led by naturalists from the Yoho Shale Geoscience Foundation. Reservations are essential.

Near the south gate of the park, you can reach pretty Wapta Falls along a 2.4km trail. The easy walk takes about 45 minutes each way.

The three campgrounds within Yoho all close from October to April. Only the Kicking Horse Campground has showers, making its 88 sites the most popular. Nearby, right at the turnoff to Yoho Valley Rd, the quieter Monarch Campground offers 44 basic sites. Appealing Takakkaw Falls Campground, 13km along the gravel Yoho Valley Rd, has 35 walk-in (200m) campsites for tents only.

The isolated HI-Yoho National Park offers 27 dorm-style beds. It's 13km off Hwy 1 on Yoho Valley Rd, just before the Takakkaw Falls Campground and close to the falls itself.