burgess shale hike

The Burgess Shale hike in Canada is home to one of the most important fossil sites in the world

Nestled high in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia, The Burgess Shale is one of the most important fossil sites in the world, bearing some of the earliest and most exceptionally preserved fossils with soft-part imprints.

The 508-million-year-old stone relics at this rare location in Yoho National Park not only contain hard body parts like bones, shells and teeth, but also soft tissues, which allows you to see the entire organism completely preserved.

The entire area used to be under an ocean and beside an underwater ledge where periodic mudslides would bury all the organisms, preserving their tiniest details, including their soft parts.

Exceptional fossils have been unearthed at the site, including some of bizarre-looking creatures, which would have been the oldest known relatives of species still alive today. 

First discovered by a palaeontologist in the early 1900s, this UNCESCO World Heritage Site can now only be visited with a guided tour, offered from June to September. 

Hikers are welcome to search through the stones to try and make their own discovery of another million-year-old fossil. Just don't try and take it home with you or you'll be facing a hefty $2.5 million fine.

The hike itself is 22 kilometres round-trip with 2,710 feet gained in elevation and passes picturesque Yoho Lake, crosses Yoho Pass, and offers spectacular views of Emerald Lake and surrounding peaks. The main attraction however is definitely the fossil bed. 

Lead photo by

ericbrandner


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