Enveloped by stunning mountain peaks and milky blue glacial rivers, Yoho National Park is a backpacker’s dreamscape. The last week in August proved to be the perfect time to hike around and photograph this pristine area in British Columbia.

Our original itinerary of backpacking three days from Takakkaw Falls campground to the Iceline Trail (via Laughing Falls, Twin Falls, and Yoho Lake campgrounds) was scrapped due to a nagging knee injury in the group. So instead, we made the most of our time with day hikes around Yoho Valley that allowed us to use some of the backcountry reservations we had made. It also gave me time to make use of the ten pounds of camera gear I joyfully packed in.

Yoho National Park mountains
Yoho National Park
Nikon D810 / Nikkor 24-70 2.8 / iso64 / f11 / 1/200sec
backpacking Yoho National Park
Hiking into Yoho Valley from Takakkaw Falls campground
Nikon D810 / Nikkor 24-70 2.8 / iso64 / f10 / 1/160sec

The hike to Laughing Falls campground is a fairly easy 2.4 mile hike in from Takakkaw Falls parking lot. The campground itself is wedged in between the confluence of the Little Yoho and Yoho rivers. Getting there early allowed us to snag a perfect spot right on the edge of the Little Yoho River. From there we day-hiked another 5+ mile loop to Twin Falls and back.

Laughing Falls campground Yoho
Little Yoho River next to our site at Laughing Falls campgroundNikon D810 / Nikkor 24-70 2.8 / iso64 / f13 / 0.5sec
Yoho River
Yoho River from Laughing Falls campgroundNikon D810 / Nikkor 14-24 2.8 / Lee SW150 Mark II / Formatt-Hitech 10 Stop Firecrest ND / iso64 / f10 / 5.0sec
Laughing Falls Yoho
Laughing FallsNikon D810 / Nikkor 24-70 2.8 / Hoya 0.9 ND / iso64 / f13 / 2.0sec
Takakkaw Falls
Takakkaw FallsNikon D810 / Nikkor 14-24 2.8 / Lee SW150 Mark II / Lee Little Stopper 6 Stop ND / iso64 / f13 / 5.0sec

With my camera gear in tow, the hike to Twin Falls was a good workout. We arrived in the middle of the afternoon with the sun backlighting the falls harshly, and the wind blowing overspray everywhere. This was less then ideal conditions for photography, but Twin Falls was beautiful and worth seeing nonetheless (photographing Twin Falls would be best at sunrise). There is also a chalet tea house here, with perhaps the best fed chipmunks in all of Canada scurrying around the grounds outside.

From Twin Falls, we looped back past a small wilderness lake and then across a boulder field that thankfully had a trail that was marked with cairns. It seemed to go on forever before intersecting the trail that goes straight up to the Iceline, and also down to Laughing Falls where we were camping.

yoho-national-park-backcountry
wilderness lake near Twin FallsNikon D810 / Nikkor 14-24 2.8 / iso125 / f13 / 1/125sec
Yoho Laughing Falls camp
above Laughing Falls camp at sunsetNikon D810 / Nikkor 14-24 2.8 / iso64 / f13 / 1.0sec

The next day was gorgeous, and after spending it lounging around Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake, I got up the following morning before sunrise to finally photograph Takakkaw Falls (see above). It was a drizzly overcast morning with nearly no one else around. I climbed on a slippery boulder in the middle of the creek to get some shots. Using the Lee Little Stopper neutral density filter, I was able to get some nice long exposures while wiping the filter dry between every shot.

Later in the morning the rains came down heavily. We hiked straight up the steep end of the Iceline Trail, then the trail flattened out before Yoho Lake some 3+ miles in where we had a backcountry reservation. Yoho Lake is tiny, bright green, and had an eerie wild vibe. As we set up our tent, thunder and lightening clapped very close by. And then it hailed! I dove inside the tent for shelter, and tugged at the rain fly zipper to close it. The zipper bound up and broke as rain and hail battered down upon us.

Yoho Lake
Yoho Lake and Wapta MountainNikon D810 / Nikkor 24-70 2.8 / iso250 / f6.3 / 1/80sec

By this time I was 100% soaked but my camera gear was perfectly dry in my new Mountain Hardwear waterproof backpack I was trying out on this trip. We packed up the broken REI tent, and headed back down the trail. A seven mile loop and a broken tent later, we arrived at the car. Yoho National Park was an awesome adventure, and thankfully I brought my Nemo Losi backpacking tent as a backup for the rest of this trip!

Yoho Lake loop hike
hiking back to Takakkaw FallsNikon D810 / Nikkor 24-70 2.8 / iso1000 / f8.0 / 1/100sec
Cathedral Mountain Yoho
Cathedral Mountain fog – Yoho National ParkNikon D810 / Nikkor 24-70 2.8 / iso100 / f8.0 / 1/320sec

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Landscape Photography

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