Yoho Valley

Other Places to Visit When in Yoho National Park

The Spiral Tunnels were opened on 01 September 1909. They were built to deal with the problems that the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) dealt with in taking trains down the “Big Hill”. In 1884, to avoid the delays and costs associated with blasting a 13 km line through Mount Stephen, a ‘temporary’ new line was built over the mountain. Instead of the desired 2.2% gradient, the new line had a much steeper gradient of 4.5%. This led to many accidents on the dangerous downhill run. The CPR’s response to this problem was to create a new track, consisting of two tunnels driven into the valley’s walls in three-quarter circles, which effectively reduced the steepness of the slope and and the danger of railway accidents. The interpretive exhibit and view point for the Spiral Tunnels is on Highway 1, just before you reach the town of Field.

Sculpted by the erosive forces of the rushing river over what had once been a waterfall, the Natural Bridge is a powerful reminder of how much influence water has in shaping the landscape. The softer rock found below the Natural Bridge’s hard limestone band eroded more quickly, causing fissures in the rock to widen so much that the running water was diverted below the outcrop and left the original limestone intact to create a bridge of stone across the Kicking Horse River. To get to this site take the first right off of Highway 1 when heading west of the town of Field and follow the road. The parking lot for Natural Bridge will be on the left side of the road on the way to Emerald Lake.

Photos by J. Verge, map of the spiral tunnels from the interpretive centre.

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