The Story Behind the Photo: Emerald Lake


A month before my wife and I got engaged we decided to take a 5,000 mile roadtrip to the Canadian Rockies.  We spent a couple of nights in Banff and Jasper National Parks.  One afternoon we decided to leave Lake Louise and travel the short distance to Yoho National Park in neighboring British Columbia.  We spent a little time in Yoho Valley and then drove to Emerald Lake.

I parked the car in a long thin parking lot and then we walked out to see the gorgeous lake.  A short paved pathway led us to a long wooden bridge. The wide bridge spanned a thin extension of the lake.  On the opposite side was a long peninsula that stretched out into the lake.  It was also the location of Emerald Lake Lodge, which provides luxurious wilderness accommodations.  In addition to the main lodge building there was a group of smaller cabins in the pristine alpine landscape.

Emerald Lake looked purely divine.  Considering its name, it was unsurprisingly an opaque emerald green.  Its intense shade of green is a result of powdered limestone in the water, which is farther aided by snowmelt from the many large mountains that frame the lake.  Due to its location and elevation it remains frozen for most of the year.  It is the largest lake in Yoho National Park and a center for activity, especially during the summer after the lake has thawed.

Both canoes and rowboats are available at a small boathouse.  Another option is a trail that circles Emerald Lake in a three-mile loop.  Fishing in the lake is also popular.  For us, like most tourists in the area, simply standing beside the spectacular lake was enough.  I was captivated by the peaceful scene; the beautiful lake, the dense forest of Engelmann spruce that surrounded it, and the tall dark mountains that stood ominously above.  Despite the area being fairly crowded it was still quiet and tranquil.  We were not the only ones mesmerized by the lake’s profound beauty.

Like most of the stunning lakes I had previously seen in the Canadian Rockies, Emerald Lake was essentially enclosed by broad mountains. The President Range and Emerald Peak are to the north and west of the lake, while Wapta Mountain lies to the east and Mount Burgess towers to the south.  All of the mountains are over 8,400 feet high, which means they all rise at least 4,200 feet above the breathtaking lake.

After a half hour or so at Emerald Lake we got back in our car to return to Lake Louise. Within minutes we were back on the Trans-Canada Highway, headed east toward the Continental Divide.  We crossed back into Alberta and then Lake Louise.  The entire drive took less than 45 minutes.

Emerald Lake
Emerald Lake

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