The last day of our road trip we visited the Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park and it was incredibly gorgeous! It’s also super easy to get to from the highway, so if makes a great stop whether you’re coming or going from Banff National Park.
We started this second to last day of the Canadian Road Trip series by pulling an all nighter. (You can find all the different stops and trails hiked all linked at the end.) There was a giant record breaking storm moving into the Canadian Rockies at the end of September. And since we had almost bald summer tires on, we knew we needed to make some tracks towards home.
We were carefully watching the forecast and saw the storm was delayed enough for us to spend one more night in Banff. So with some sunshine predicted for the morning, we did what any photographer would do – we headed for Lake Moraine. (Story continued below after the Natural Bridge FAQ’s.)
Everything you need to know about the Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park!
- Super easy – it’s right off the Trans Canada highway on Emerald Lake Road, and makes for a great quick stop. There’s also bathrooms there and it makes a great place to stretch your legs for a bit with stunning scenery.
- Super busy – so be prepared for tons of people! The giant tour buses stop here. And if it’s your bad luck to be there at the same time, it’s going to be crazy busy.
- Use this as a stop over point on your way to Emerald Lake since it’s one the same road.
- It’s wheel chair and stroller accessible for the main views.
- Other things to do in this general area after going to Emerald Lake would be to check out Takakkaw Falls and the Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park as well.
Now back to story time! Since there was absolutely no where legal to camp without a long drive, we decided to end out road trip with a bang. We pulled into the Lake Moraine parking lot at around 10pm. Then we headed up the rock pile at the base of the lake to try and get some photos.
We weren’t the only ones with that idea and met 2 other photographers up there testing out some new software for the company they worked for. It made for a super fun night chatting away. And even though it was really cold, time passed quickly.
Then in the wee hours of the morning, we headed back down to the truck to get some coffee. Since we had a bit of time, we napped for about 45 minutes first before coffee. So I guess it wasn’t technically and ‘all nighter’.
When we woke up the freezing rain that came down had frozen our doors shut. And we had quite the time getting out to make some coffee. With coffee and gear in hand we headed back up the rock pile trail to wait for sunrise.
And again we weren’t the only ones with that idea. As it would happen everyone else on the planet had seen the forecast for snow followed by sun in the morning.
This would present a potential ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to get a gorgeous shot of the lake with fresh snow in the morning sun. The road is usually closed by the time Lake Moraine gets a good snow. So you have to make the 16 mile roundtrip by your own steam.
So as it got more and more crowded, predictably people got more and more rude by the minute. All of us that got there early found ourselves in the place where people where setting up right in front of us, totally blocking our cameras.
Since the sun decided it wasn’t coming out after all, we packed up and hightailed it out of there!
We checked the weather forecast again when we got back to cell phone reception. It definitely still looked bad, so we decided to head west then south to outrun what would be the worst of the storm. And that’s how we ended up with a beautiful morning at the Natural Bridge in Yoho.
(For the record, that storm dropped over 18+ inches in less than a day with blizzard like conditions. You can’t underestimate a storm in the Canadian Rockies that’s for sure!)
We had driven right by the Natural Bridge before on another trip to Emerald Lake. The parking area is clearly signed on the way up Emerald Lake Road, so we thought we’d just stop on the way back. But we ended up missing it on the way back out.
So we decided to pull off the highway to see it this trip. The water is an absolutely stunning glacial color. You won’t see this if you visit during runoff season since the river will be muddy. But later summer and early fall, it’s absolutely phenomenal.
We got there pretty early, so we had the place mostly to ourselves for about and hour. We explored around and took photos for a while before heading back for another much needed coffee. However we were in for a bit of a shock getting back to the parking lot to find hundreds of people piling out of the tour buses!
But with coffees in hand, we got back on the road to head south into British Columbia by way of getting back to Montana. We knew there was a hot spring down there. And that seemed like the perfect way to end our hiking trip. We had hiked so many miles and were averaging around 3,000′ most of the days. So soaking in the hot springs a couple of times was just what we needed.
We found a great camp spot by a lake we don’t know the name of near the hot spring and made some dinner. This time around we made bowties + tomato basil sauce + ground beef + parmesan and butter = YUM! Then we pretty well collapsed into bed after our pasta, and slept over 10 much needed hours.
The next morning we took it easy again with a slow cup of coffee. Then we headed back to the hot spring for another long soak. From there we made some roadside quesadillas before heading to see Tyler’s family for a night before we crossed the border for home.
If you’ve been following along with our Canadian Road Trip series, this is the final post! We’ve been on 3 road trips through the Canadian Rockies now. And we still feel like we’ve just scratched the surface.
So hopefully we’ll all be able to plan some trips again sometime in the future when the border opens. But for now you can see everything from our other adventures here in British Columbia or in Yoho National Park.
Canadian Road Trip Series:
- Lake of Hanging Glaciers
- Cobalt Lake in Bugaboo Provincial Park
- Hiking in the Conrad Kain Hut Part 1
- Hiking the Conrad Kain Hut Part 2
- Helen Lake and and unnamed peak in Banff
- Hiking Mount Fairview in Banff National Park
- Bow Glacier Falls and Iceberg Lake in Banff National Park
- Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park