Yoho Valley Road

Cycling up the Yoho Valley Road on a rainy spring day, 2021. Not a car in sight but the Takkakaw Falls are calling us.

Ride Statistics

Ride Difficulty Rating: Intermediate due to steep grades

Distance: about 26 km (return)

Estimated time: This ride takes approximately 2 hours

Elevation Gain: 320 m

Maximum Elevation: 1,550m

Maximum Grade: 15%

Best Parking Option:   Turn off Trans Canada Highway onto Yoho Valley Road, on the right just after descending the “Big Hill”, and before the town of Field.  Parking area will be on the right, about a kilometre after turning off highway.  When the road is closed to cars until about mid-June, the closure is usually at “Meeting of the Waters Viewpoint”, which is about 3 kilometres along the road; parking there would shorten the cycle to about 20 km return.

Points of Interest:  “Meeting of the Waters Viewpoint”, Takkakaw Falls at the end of the road. Bring a bike lock so that you can walk around a bit and enjoy the falls before heading back.

Amenities: Washrooms in Monarch campground, just across from car park, as well as end of the ride, at Takkakaw Falls

What to expect from this ride

Although this route is not in Alberta we have included it as it is just across the Alberta/BC border and can be a nice addition if cycling in the Lake Louise area.

This ride is best done in June when most of the road into spectacular Takkakaw Falls is closed to motorized traffic.  The closure lasts until about the third week in June, but there is not a fixed opening day (like Highwood Pass, for example).  Typically the opening date is just a few days after the road is clear of snow.  Parks Canada office in Field should be able to tell you the opening date, and whether there’s still snow on the road, so the reality is that there is usually only a few days around the third week in June when this route can be cycled without cars.

From the car park, the Kicking Horse River is passed on a small bridge after about half a kilometre, with Cathedral Mountain Lodge and KickingHorse Campground just on the other side of the bridge.

About three kilometres along, there’s a pullout for “Meeting of the Waters Viewpoint”, with an interpretative board describing the spot where the Yoho River flows into the Kicking Horse River.  In 2021, this is where the road closure started, so you’ll share the road with a handful of cars before this point.

At about kilometre five, there are a couple of large switchbacks, which are the steepest part of the ride.   Next, pass several large avalanche slopes on the left side of the road; be aware of possible bear activity on the slopes, and ride as a group through that area.  The road levels out at about ten kilometres, passes the driveway on the left into Whiskey Jack Hostel (closed until after road opens), and then arrives at Takkakaw Falls car park.

Ride through the car park, keeping to the right, and you’ll hit the Yoho River; follow a paved pathway to the right, past washrooms and interpretative boards.  There’s a bridge across the river, and a pathway (still paved) that leads to just below the falls – you can approach it until the spray becomes too heavy!

After your light shower, go back across the bridge, and if you want to explore a bit, from the car park, there’s a dirt road into the Takkakaw Falls walk-in campground (half a kilometre), with views further up the Yoho Valley.

This road could be cycled during the rest of the summer and fall, when it is opened to cars to Takkakaw Falls.  There is no shoulder, and it winds quite a bit, but traffic speed should be low, and the road surface was in very good shape in 2021.  Takkakaw Falls area will be crowded, so probably best to park your bike just past the car park, and walk to beneath the falls.

This route was documented by our good friend and cycling companion, Gord Miller. Thanks so much for checking out this route and preparing this write up Gord!

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