Emerald Lake Lodge in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park sits on a forested 13-acre tongue of land extending into the opaque, cyan lake that shares its name. The lake gets its color from pulverized limestone carried down from the surrounding Canadian Rockies and deposited in its basin. The water reflects the angular Presidential Range, Mount Burgess and Wapta Mountain, which are particularly striking at dusk.
The scenery is only part of the draw at the property, the centerpiece of which is the main lodge, with its hand-hewn timber, century-old stone fireplaces and a lounge which hosts an oak bar that was salvaged from an 1890s-era Yukon saloon. From the dining room, there are views of the lake and the mountains.
Emerald Lake Lodge’s 24 cabins can accommodate up to 200 guests, all of whom are required to park at a lot a few minutes’ drive away and bus to the lodge in a complimentary shuttle. This is helpful when the lodge becomes overrun by day trippers clogging the parking lot and the lakeshore. Luckily, they leave around dinner time and you’ll have the place all to yourself.
The cabins sport charming rusticity, wood-burning fireplaces and balconies overlooking the lake. Each has a private bathroom, a sitting area in front of the fire and complimentary firewood stocked daily. The property also includes a dry sauna, fitness room and large outdoor hot tub. A short walk from the lodge is a boathouse with canoe rentals.
The dining options at Emerald Lake include the upscale Mount Burgess Dining Room, with the aforementioned view of the lake. Dinner is surprisingly elegant for being so tucked away, with seasonally-influenced options including free-range elk, bison and caribou, plus more delicate pastas, soups and seafood dishes, plus an extensive wine list. Also in the main lodge is the Kicking Horse Lounge, with a more casual approach, and the oft-photographed Cilantro on the Lake, serving bistro-style lunches and dinners during the peak season.
Emerald Lake Lodge is accessible year-round. In the winter, the footpath encircling the lake becomes a prime snowshoeing route, and the lake freezes over. In summer, a spectacular day hike leading up to Emerald Lake Basin and the Emerald Glacier (the lake’s source) starts from the lake’s trail. Regardless of when you come, it’s possible to spend several days hiking and unwinding without needing access to your car, giving the experience an added sense of relaxation and seclusion.