Pass Finder

Photo: Looking east to Yoho Pass and Mount Balfour from Emerald Lake

Yoho Pass

  • 1844 m (6050ft)
  • Naming History
  • Peaks and Rivers
51.2222N 116.4888W
Province: BC
Park: Yoho
Year Named:
Named by:
Named for: The pass takes its name from the Yoho River. "Yoho" is a Cree Indian word meaning for astonishment or wonder.
Mountain (NW): Michael Peak
Mountain (SE): Wapta Mountain
Headwaters (NE): Yoho River
Headwaters (SW): Emerald Lake


This relatively low pass is heavily forested but its proximity to Yoho Lake, which lies virtually at the summit, is a major attraction.

The first visit to Yoho Pass was in 1897 when Ralph Edwards guided German professor Jean Habel to the summit, the group being the first to see Takakkaw Falls and to explore the Yoho Valley to its source at Yoho Glacier. In his book, "Trail to the Charmed Land," Edwards described their arrival at the pass as follows, "we emerged from the timber on the shore of a marvellously beautiful little lake, not much larger than a big pond, but of an exquisite ultramarine colour. Even Lake Louise itself could not surpass this unknown mountain laklet hidden away amid the towering pines as we saw it glittering in the clear sunlight, far from the turmoil and haste of civilization. The descent from the pass to the Yoho River was described by Edwards as, "nothing less than a nightmare. In all my journeyings in the hills I have never seen moss so deep; so thickly did it carpet the descent from the pas that we never did strike the bottom of itÛ Our ponies sank literally to their bellies in the rich, thick mossÛ We eventually reached the bottom without mishap and immediately made camp on a tiny, open flat in full view of the glorious Takakkaw Falls.

The pass was the site of the inaugural summer camp of the Alpine Club of Canada that was held at the lake in 1906. With the hope of promoting mountaineering and tourism in the Canadian Rockies much was donated by various companies including a canvas dining tent and the services of two guides, Edward Feuz jr. and Gottfried Feuz. The outfitting and packhorses were donated as well despite the fact that it was a long journey from the railway at Field to Emerald Lake and then to the summit of Yoho Pass. The camp on Yoho Pass was thought to have been a wonderful success for the fledgling organization. Eight different peaks were ascended and numerous trips to various locations in the Yoho valley were undertaken.

In the first volume of the Canadian Alpine Club Journal, Frank Veigh describes his arrival at the pass as follows, "At last the summit of Yoho Pass! At last, that striking picure of a tented town nestling amid the realm of trees! You remember it, do you not, fellow camper? the white canvas homes for a brief stay amid avenues of greenery, under a sky of blue, with grey old Wapta and Michael's mount standing sentinel, three thousand feet higher still. You remember, do you not? -as if we could ever forget -the incomparable scene beside the incomparable Yoho Lake, holding in its translucent waters all the emerald and amethyst shades in Nature's colour box."

[Additional Information: Edwards, Ralph. "Trail to the Charmed Land". Victoria: Herbert R. Larson Publishing Ltd., 1950]