Burgess Shale (Walcott Quarry)


Discovered in 1909, recent interpretation of these exquisitely preserved 505 million year old fossils has changed many scientists’ views about the evolution of life on Earth. Visit this World Heritage site and learn about mountain building and climate change along the way.

Download the guided hikes brochure and check out the Burgess Shale virtual tour.

Elevation gain
Return time
760 m (2,500 ft)
20 km (12 mi) round trip

Moderate (10 hours)
6:30 PM MDT (approximately)

Schedule & Cost

Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday starting Friday July 4th, 2014
Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday
Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday ending Sunday September 14th, 2014

Departs at 8AM from Yoho Trading Post (gas station) located at the intersection of the entrance to Field and the Trans-Canada Highway and opposite the Parks Canada Information Centre (the building with the Blue roof).

Child (under 12)
*Student rate is for students registered with a school, college or university field trip. Prices include HST.
No Refunds will be made except for medical reasons, with a signed doctor's note and approved by the executive director.

Are You Ready?

Everyone who participates in any of the guided hikes MUST complete and sign a waiver form and hand it to their guide on the morning of the hike! Please read our Reservation and Refund policy before you book.

The Field town-site is at an elevation of 1,280 meters (4,200 feet), and you will be climbing over 760 meters (2,500 feet) to visit either the Walcott Quarry or the Mt. Stephen Fossil Beds. At these elevations there is considerably less oxygen than at sea level, and the fatigue of climbing and descending will be exaggerated if you are used to training at lower elevations. Although our guides stop for lecture 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. Parts of the trails may be snow-covered early in the season. Climbing and descending are equally hard on knees and ankles. Remember, after climbing up 760 meters (2,500 feet), you must also descend 760 metres (2,500 feet)! In the event of injury, there is no “easy way out." 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.

If You Go

The starting point for the Stephen Fossil Beds and Walcott Quarry hikes is the Yoho Trading Post gas station (the intersection of Field and the Trans Canada Highway) at the start time shown. The starting point for the Climate Change hike is Takakkaw Falls. Be on time! Field is in the Mountain Time Zone, the same as Alberta and Banff and Jasper National Parks. In summer, it is Mountain Daylight Time (MDT). We are not in the Pacific Time Zone. Visitors frequently make this mistake.

For the Walcott Quarry hike, the group meets, then drives a short distance to the Takakkaw Falls trailhead. If you have a car, bring it to the meeting place.

Bring your own lunch and additional snacks for the trail. Bring lots of water, because exertion combined with altitude will make you thirsty throughout the day (we suggest two litres of water per person).

Your choice of footwear is critical. You should wear waterproof hiking boots that give good ankle support. Boots should be well broken-in. Running shoes, even those advertised as suitable for trail use, are not advisable.

You will be out on the hikes for six to ten hours. A lot of weather can pass through Yoho National Park in that time. Any weather forecast you check is generalized for the Park, and cannot be relied upon for the hike area. It can be hot and sunny in Field while at the same time it is windy and snowing at your destination. There is no natural protection from the weather at the fossil sites.

Trail conditions courtesy Parks Canada

Weather Forecast courtesy Environment Canada

You must bring a day pack with extra clothing. Suggested are: windproof/waterproof jacket with hood; long pants; gloves; extra socks; a sweater; moleskin (to treat blisters); a hat; and sunglasses. Even an umbrella can be useful on wet days with no wind. Early in the season, or anytime it is snowing, gaiters are required to keep snow out of your boots. A hiking stick or ski pole can be helpful on the steeper parts of the trail.

Protection and Security of Fossils

No collecting of fossils is allowed. No disturbing or damaging of any natural object is allowed. These fossil sites are located in CLOSED and RESTRICTED areas within The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site and are protected by the National Parks Act. All of these areas are protected by sensor and camera monitoring devices. All of the Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation guides carry radios and they will immediately contact the local Park Warden Dispatch to report any illegal activities. Take only pictures and leave only footprints.

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