Burgess Shale fossil hikes

Yoho National Park

Guided hike bookings:

  • Reservation launch: Tuesday, January 23 2024 at 8:00 am MT
  • Online 24/7
  • By calling: 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783)

The Burgess Shale fossils are...

Old – Over five hundred million years old! Way older than dinosaurs!

Well preserved – You can see all sorts of really fine details! And not just details of bones like most fossils, you can also see eyeballs and guts, brains and more!

Your relatives! – Our ancestry can be traced back to these diverse ocean creatures.

What is the Burgess Shale?

508 million years ago – long before dinosaurs roamed Earth - the world was a different place. A shallow sea covered what is now Kootenay and Yoho national parks. Today, Burgess Shale fossils are found high in the mountains pressed into shale-y rock beds, evidence of a diverse marine ecosystem that lived over 500 million years ago. These fossils are famous for how well-preserved they are, showing details, like eyeballs, brains and more.

...Want to see and hold Burgess Shale fossils for yourself? Join us on a guided hike – with 3 unique locations there is something for everyone!

Why take a guided hike to the Burgess Shale?

  • Informative, expert guides
  • Access to restricted UNESCO sites *Mount Stephen and Walcott Quarry
  • Touch some of the oldest animal fossils on Earth
  • Safe, fun group environment
  • Behind the scenes knowledge
  • Spectacular scenery
  • Must-do Canadian Rockies experience

Choose your Burgess Shale adventure:

Walcott Quarry

Walcott Quarry

Visit one of the most important paleontological sites in the world! Delicate soft-bodied fossils show surprising connections to modern sea life. Views and fossils: this hike has it all.

Difficulty: Difficult
Return Distance: 22 km
Elevation Gain: 825 m
Duration: 11 hours
Schedule: 7 am to 6 pm
Meeting Point: Takakkaw falls parking lot, Yoho, B.C.

hikers passing fossils on a trail

Mount Stephen

Explore everything trilobite. Anatomy, preservation, history and more fossils than you believed possible! Journey through steep terrain on this unforgettable Burgess Shale experience.

Difficulty: Difficult
Return Distance: 9 km
Elevation Gain: 795 m
Duration: 7.5 hours
Schedule: 7 am to 2:30 pm
Meeting Point: Yoho National Park Visitor Centre, Field, B.C

a child holding up a fossil to the camera

Stanley Glacier

Moderate effort, big views! Learn how newly discovered fossils show exciting details in ancient animals. From a third eye to jackknife-like claws: experience the links to modern life.

Difficulty: Moderate
Return Distance: 10 km
Elevation Gain: 385 m
Duration: 7.5 hours
Schedule: 8 am to 3:30 pm
Meeting Point: Stanley Glacier trailhead, Kootenay, B.C.

Discover more about Burgess Shale:

Visit the ROM Burgess Shale Website 
The Burgess Shale Website contains detailed information, images and digital renderings of animals in the fossil gallery. Digital animations in the virtual sea odyssey bring Burgess Shale creatures to life. You will learn about the science of fossils, current research as well as the history of discoveries. This website was created by Parks Canada and the Royal Ontario Museum.

Discover the Burgess Shale Online Exhibit
The Burgess Shale Online Exhibit on Google Arts & Culture provides an easy to understand introduction to the Burgess Shale. It explores the history of the fossil sites in Yoho and Kootenay national parks and the significance of the fossils found there. This is a great starting point for those interested in joining a guided hike or looking for a quick introduction to the Burgess Shale.

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