Emerald Lake of Lake Louise

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Written by Madison Valois posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

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The peaceful jewel of Lake Louise

Distinctive wildlife and fauna await you at Emerald Lake.

Distinctive wildlife and nature await you at Emerald Lake.

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta – Just a 40-minute drive from Lake Louise is one of the jewels of nearby Yoho National Park: Emerald Lake.

Emerald Lake provides a beautiful example of one of the more interesting phenomena that occurs in the Canadian Rockies. The highest peaks of the range capture weather that comes in from the Pacific Ocean to the west. Clouds get hung up on the peaks and discharge their moisture down the slopes of the mountains.

Where the slopes gather water, you get patches of coastal rainforest, quite different from the landscape elsewhere in the Rockies. Western red cedar trees and devil’s club, a large plant with thorns and maple-like leaves, are common in the rainforest patches. One of the most well-known such patches is the west side of Emerald Lake.

It’s quite obvious to even the most casual observer, the great difference between the west side and east side of the lake. The vegetation, the water, the atmosphere; all of it points to the difference. There are interpretive signs posted around the lake to further explain it.

But, of course, Emerald Lake is much more than an interesting quirk of weather. Down at the lakeshore, for example, you can also learn about the Burgess Shale, a quarry visible from the shore via a telescopic lens. An exhibit will tell you all about the fossils found in the quarry. Besides a guided tour you can take from the Burgess Shale Research Foundation, this is the closest you can get to the quarry.

Come to the lake in late May or early June, when the snow is melting , and you’ll see spring flowers come into bloom. Bright yellow glacier lilies herald the coming of the new season. Hot pink calypso orchids come shortly thereafter.

Emerald Lake Lodge is a great place for lunch or dinner, and there are many activities to try. All together, Emerald Lake is a worthy addition to any vacation in Lake Louise.

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