Yoho National Park borders Banff National Park (to the east) and Kootenay National Park (to the south) and is the smallest of four contiguous mountain parks (the fourth being Jasper National Park, north of Banff). Established in 1886, Yoho became a protected natural area just a few years after Banff. While not as popular or commercialized as its neighboring parks, Yoho is no less beautiful. In fact, the park gets its name from a Cree word meaning "awe and wonder."
The area has an abundance of waterfalls, including Laughing Falls, Twin Falls and Takakkaw Falls, the third highest waterfall in Canada. Yoho National Park is also known for its many lakes. Its largest body of water—the aptly named Emerald Lake—gets its turquoise color from silt carried into the lake from melting glaciers. With 28 mountain peaks more than 9,843 ft/3,000 m in height, the park has long been popular with mountaineers. Other outdoor sports in the park include hiking (there are more than 249 mi/400 km of hiking trails), skiing, golfing and white-water rafting.
In 1981, the park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the Burgess Shale Formation, one of the most important fossil finds on the planet. The formation contains fossilized remains of more than 120 marine animal species dating back 515 million years. Other historic sites include the spiral tunnels (places where the railway tracks bore through the mountain) and the natural bridge (a natural rock formation created over millennia by the fast-flowing Kicking Horse River).