My husband and I signed up for the guided hike to Burgess Shale via the Geological Foundation. Our guide was terrific--clearly knowledge and very passionate about his area of expertise and provided us with much wonderful information on not only the fossils and the history of the site but also the area, the mountains, the flora and fauna. For example, he pointed out a plant we had seen in abundance throughout our many hikes in Yoho and informed the group that every part of the plant, including the root, is highly toxic. Good to know! (see attached photo). The Burgess Shale is a Unesco World Heritage Site and strict regulations are in place to avoid theft of the fossils. Travellers should be prepared and know what they are getting into beforehand-- our group, for example, was held up at the onset by members less than fully prepared who had to run into the gas station at the meeting point to stock up on drinks and chocolate bars--this inconveniences everyone in the group and can set the schedule for the day behind. It is a long day, 8-10 hours, but really not that difficult of a hike for fit hikers, despite the 800 meter altitude gain. I also do not think it would be suitable for any children younger than age nine. Given the group situation and the educational nature of the tour, there are frequent stops along the way. For visitors new to the park, also be aware that weather in the rockies can be extremely unpredictable and being prepared for different weather conditions is a must; there is also, albeit a slim, likelihood of the hike having to turn around midstream if there is a clear threat along the way of being caught in lightning, particularly above the tree line. Although disappointing should this happen, it is rare and kudos to the organizers for stressing the safety of their clientele above all. For those 'not into' groups, travel to the Burgess Shale can ONLY be undertaken by a guided tour. However, after having departed the fossil site itself, one can descend off the mountain at ones own pace, providing that the appropriate waivers have been signed.
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