Guided Hike to the Burgess Shale Walcott Quarry

by phone

First discovered in 1909 by Charles Doolittle Walcott, recent interpretation of these exquisitely preserved 505 million year old fossils has influenced the scientific view of the evolution of life on Earth. Visit this UNESCO World Heritage site and learn about our three themes: History of Life, Mountain Building and Glaciation & Climate change in the Canadian Rockies.

The publication of Stephen Jay Gould's Wonderful Life in 1989 raised public awareness about the exquisitely preserved fossils of the Burgess Shale. Jean-Bernard Caron's February 2014 announcement about the discovery of the Marble Canyon site in Kootenay NP has further increased interest in visiting the Walcott Quarry. Due to the high demand, the dates for this hikes fill quickly. Please also consider visiting the Mt Stephen Fossil Beds, where Burgess Shale-type biota were first recognized in 1886.

Download the guided hikes brochure here
Check out the Burgess Shale virtual tour here

Hike Details

Elevation gain
825 m (2,710 ft)
21 km (13 mi) round trip

Difficult due to length and elevation (11 hours total hiking time)

2016 Schedule


Sept 9: sold out
Sept 10: sold out
Sept 11: sold out
Sept 12: sold out
Sept 16: 10 spots left

If the dates above do not work for you, please call us to discuss a private tour

Hikers meet at 8:00 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time at the gas station parking lot at the Trans-Canada Hwy and Field Access Rd, immediately across from the Yoho Visitor Centre (the building with a blue roof) in Field BC.

Unable to reserve for the date you want? You may be interested in guided hikes offered by Parks Canada


All Ages
$126 CAD
$84 CAD (only offered mid-week: Tue,Wed,Thu)

Prices include GST.

*NOTE: Student rates are offered only for educational institution field trips. During the period from July 7 to September 12, the student discount applies only for hikes booked mid-week: Tue-Wed-Thu.
No Refunds provided for no-shows. Please see our reservation refund policy.

Are You Ready?

Every participant in the Guided Hikes must be sure to read and understand the guided hike waiver, and then complete and sign the waiver form and hand it to the guide on the morning of the hike. Please read our Reservation and Refund policy before you make a reservation.

The Field town-site is situated at 1,280 meters (4,200 feet) above sea level. Hikers will be climbing more than 760 meters (2,500 feet) to visit either of the destinations: Walcott Quarry and Mt. Stephen Fossil Beds. At this elevation there is considerably less oxygen than at sea level, and the fatigue of climbing and descending will be be noticeable if you are used to training at lower elevations. Although our guides pause for breaks along the way, you will not enjoy the trip unless you are fit and acclimatized to the altitude.

The trails are well-maintained by Parks Canada. Nevertheless, they are steep and may become slippery in wet weather. Portions of the trail may be snow-covered until mid-July. Hikers may find the descent is hard on the knees or that uneven surfaces are a test of ankle stability. In the event of injury, there is no easy way out and one must be prepared to hike out with minimal assistance. You should not undertake these hikes if you have any respiratory, circulatory or joint problems. If unsure, check with your physician. Please! Carefully read the advice and reservation and refund policy.

Protection and Security of Fossils

No collecting of fossils is permitted and no disturbance or damage to any natural object is allowed. The hikes are not research expeditions and consequently no one may break rocks at any time or location on the guided hike. These fossil sites are located restricted areas within The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site and are protected by the National Parks Act. Entry is permitted only to groups led by guides who are licensed to enter these protected sites. The fossil sites are monitored by motion detectors and cameras. Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation guides carry radios and they will immediately contact the Park Warden Dispatch to report any suspicious activities.

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Markus Ebner in the Walcott Quarry
Emerald Lake from the Highline Trail