Page Type Page Type: Area/Range
Location Lat/Lon: 51.43333°N / 116.4666°W
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer, Fall
Additional Information Elevation: 7500 ft / 2286 m
Sign the Climber's Log


FossilsAn example of what you can find at the Burgess Shale. But remember you can't keep it.
If fossils are your thing this is a place not to be missed. Not open to the public except by special permission or on one of the "Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation's" guided trips. This area is one of the most important examples of fossles in the "Cambrian period". The creatures found here lived on a reef called the "Cathedral Escarpment". Once under the sea this area has been pushed up and forms a ridge between Wapta Mountain and Mt. Field. Called the "Walcott quarry" it gets its name from Charles D. Walcott, Secretary of the "Smithsonian Institution" between 1910 and 1924. He first discovered the Burgess Shale fossils on Fossil Ridge in 1909. He was directed to the area by railway workers who reported finding "Rock Bugs". He helped collect more than 65,000 specimens from the "Cambrian period", 505 million years ago. Since then more than 350,000 fossils have been collected for various musems around the world. Over many millions of years, these animals were buried by sediments, and their remains fossilized. There are incredible examples of Anomalocaris, Dinomischus, Marrella, Opabinia and Pikaia among many others.

In 1981, the Burgess Shale was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Getting There

Fossil RidgeAt the Burgess Shale.
The area is located near Field, British Columbia in Yoho National Park.
Distances from Field, BC

Emerald Lake - 10 km
Takakkaw Falls - 17 km
Lake Louise - 27 km
Banff - 85 km
Golden - 57 km
Radium Hot Springs - 157 km
Calgary - 213 km
Revelstoke - 205 km

From Calgary it is just a matter of heading to Lake Louise via the Trans Canada Highway (1). Field is located just 20 minutes further west of Lake Louise. Turn off the highway and follow the signed road to Takakkaw Falls. There is ample parking here. Note do not go unless you have arranged a trip withe the Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation or have recieved special permission to enter the area of the Burgess Shale.

Elevation gain: 760 m (2,500 ft).
Distance: 20 km (12 mi) round trip.
Difficulty: Moderately difficult (10 hours).
Departure time: 8:00 AM MDT.
Return time: 6:30 PM MDT (approximately).

Red Tape

Burgess ShaleStuding fossils at the site.
Not open to the public except by special permission or on one of the "Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation's" guided trips. There is a charge for these hikes. Click on the site for current pricing information.

In 2007 the costs were $69 per person; $38 students, $16 per child (under 12), including GST and a one-year subscription to the Foundation newsletter, Marrella. The student rate only applies to field trips with a college, university or school.

There are 3 trips available:
- Burgess Shale – Walcott Quarry
- Mt. Stephen Fossil Beds
- Climate Change hike

To book one of these highly recommended trips contact the:
Burgess Shale Geoscience Foundation.
E-mail: or contact Randle Robertson at 1-800-343-3006.

Camping and accomodation

FossilsFossil closeup
Lake O'hara Reservations. $$$
Phone: 250-343-6433

Alpine Guesthouse

Toll Free in North America 1-866-634-5665
(250) 343-6878

Fireweed Hostel

Bears Den Guesthouse
(250) 343-6439

Canadian Rockies Inn
(250) 343-6046

Cathedral Mountain Lodge
(250) 343-6442
P.O Box 40
Field, B.C. V0A 1G0

Coyote's Den Guest House

The Emerald Lake Lodge

Kicking Horse Lodge
E-mail bookings and info:

Mt. Burgess Guesthouse
(250) 343-6480
E-mail bookings and info:

Lake O'Hara Campgrounds

Mt. Van Horne Guesthouse
(250) 343-6380

The Old Church Guesthouse
(250) 343-6345
Fax number: (250) 343 -6388

Sunset Guest House
(250) 343-6333

Spiral Tunnels Guesthouse

Wildflower Guesthouse
(250) 343-6707

Yoho Guesthouse
(250) 343-6445

External Links