Parks Canada Guided Stanley Glacier Fossils Hike: Ideal for Families

Category: Hikes + Easy Walks, Kootenay Hikes

The Stanley Glacier Fossils Hike, is a Parks Canada guided hike, that is ideal for families, with older children. (I’ll tell you why later)

What Does This Hike Show You?


In 2008 Palaeontologists from the Royal Ontario Museum found significant fossil deposits in the Stanley valley. There was a total of 23 different species found in the Stanley Glacier site — including trilobites, hyolithids, brachiopods, sponges and algae – 8 of the species were new to science.

In 2012, they found fossil beds near Marble Canyon that revealed 55 different species – 12 more new species!

This guided hike allows you to see, touch and hold some of these newfound fossils.

Sharon was our guide for the day. She has been an interpretive guide in Kootenay National Park for 30 years.  She is a wealth of knowledge, and her presentations along the trail were very informative and engaging. She worked on the 2003 fires that swept through this valley and has witnessed, firsthand, the devastation and amazing re-birth of the forest.

As the group headed up the trail to the fossil site, Sharon taught us how to “read” the landscape, which is what the Palaeontologists did when they made their amazing new discoveries. She was witness to some of these discoveries as well!

Our final destination was a large, locked metal box, hidden behind a large rock on the scree slope. Inside the box was a treasure trove of fossils (real and replicas).


We all had a chance to see, and hold, a fossil of the claws of the  “Stan Animal”, as well as hold a fossil of the Yawunik Kootenay.


Sharon provided us with magnifying glasses and fossil identification cards.

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We were a group of adults, but acted like kids in a candy store. We started turning rocks over, looking for fossils, and secretly hoping that we would be the one to discover a new fossil. (none of us did)


This Guided Hike is Ideal for Families With Older kiddos 

Parks Canada rates the hike as family-friendly, and it is, as long as your children are willing, and able, to be on the trail with a group of strangers, then I highly recommend this guided hike!

If you have children that are more into the destination and not the journey, than I would not recommend this guided hike for them.  You will be part of a group, and the guides do need ensure that all members of the group have a safe and enjoyable  experience. 

If you are familiar with my book,  Take a Hike With Your Children, you will know that I rate hikes based on a child’s ability, not an adults.  So, from a child’s walking perspective, this hike is for advanced walkers.

Bottom line, this Hike is Ideal for Children  (and adults) Who Can:

  • hike a trail with an elevation gain of 450 metres (1500 ft),
  • hike a return distance of 10km (6.3 miles),
  • have decent attention spans, and willing to be in a group setting for approximately 7 hours.

(parents, you are the best judge of your children’s abilities, this is my humble opinion,  which is based on  my 14 years of hiking with children)

Do you, or a family member, have a fear of heights?

My youngest has a fear of heights, and I know he wouldn’t be able to do the Burgess Shale Hikes, but the Stanley Glacier Fossil Hike would be ideal for him., and he would still have a great experience!

When Are The Hikes?

You do need to register for this hike.  You can register on-line   (it looks like you are registering for a campsite, but do click on the “find sites” button,  or call, 1-877-737-3783.

Prices for the hikes are here.

Happy Hiking!


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