Plan your trip
Lake O’Hara is a true gem - a unique collection of exquisite lakes and hanging valleys linked by a well-maintained network of connector trails and high alpine routes. Visitors can choose a single breathtaking destination or link two or more together for an unforgettable day.
The Lake O’Hara area is in Yoho National Park and borders Banff National Park. To protect this sensitive alpine area and provide a wilderness experience, bus access to Lake O’Hara is managed though reservations on a Parks Canada shuttle bus.
Advanced reservations are required. There are four ways to visit Lake O’Hara:
- Visit for the day. Reservations are required in advance for the Lake O’Hara bus and will be allocated under the random draw reservation system starting in 2020. Learn how to book your shuttle here
- Camp for up to three nights. Reservations are required in advance for campsites and will be available on the Parks Canada reservation system January 24, 2020. A camping reservation secures a seat on the Parks Canada bus, and does not require a separate day use reservation. Book with Parks Canada.
- Stay at the Elizabeth Parker Hut, book with the Alpine Club of Canada.
- Stay at beautiful Lake O’Hara Lodge, book with Lake O'Hara Lodge.
Both day trips and overnight adventures to Lake O'Hara begin by bus. Parks Canada’s Lake O'Hara bus runs mid-June through early October. Reservations are required for your in-bound journey only and will be allocated through a random draw reservation system. The bus departs from the Lake O’Hara parking lot, 12 km west of Lake Louise, Alberta or 13 km east of Field, B.C.
- Day use reservations for the Lake O'Hara shuttle bus operate on a random draw reservation system. The 2020 application season will be open from February 1 to 29, 2020. Find out how to apply here. For cancellations, check the Parks Canada Reservation Service or call 1-877-737-3783.
- Camping reservations can be booked as of January 24, 2020 at 8:00 am MST. The entire overnight camping season will be available to reserve on a first-come, first-served basis through the Parks Canada Reservation Service. Parks Canada cannot accept day use reservations on the overnight and commercial reservations phone line. Visitors who reserve a spot in the campground and arrive without a tent will be turned away.
- Commercial reservations can be booked three months to the day in advance or within 24 hours through the commercial reservations phone line, 250-343-6433.
- Pets are prohibited on the bus and at the campground but permitted on the road when leashed.
- Cycling is prohibited on the road.
- Hiking the 11 km access road is permitted but please note that buses will not stop for walkers and a ride out is not guaranteed. If you are hiking in for the day, be prepared to hike out and have adequate supplies. Camping is not permitted outside of the designated campground.
For those who wish to stay overnight, the popular Lake O'Hara Campground is open mid-June through the end of September. The campground has only 30 sites and is reserved for overnight guests only.
- All campsites must be booked in advance and can be reserved as of January 24, 2020 at 8 am MST. Bookings are on a first-come, first-served basis through the Parks Canada Reservation Service. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate walk-ins.
- Maximum of 2 sites per party and 1 tent per site; 3 night limit.
- Tent pads (2.7 m x 2.7 m) are designed for smaller backpacking tents, to a maximum size of one 4-person tent per campsite.
- Campers choose a site upon arrival. It is not always possible for parties to camp at adjacent sites.
- Baggage is restricted to two small bags per person (max. weight: 25 kg / 55 lbs; max. length 97 cm / 38”).
- Bear-aware procedures for cooking and storing food and garbage must be observed.
- One medium-sized storage locker (60 cm/24 in deep, 50 cm/20 in high, 60 cm/24 in wide) is assigned per campsite – you may bring a padlock.
- Hard sided food coolers, storage bins, plastic bags, and loose items are not permitted on the bus. Please leave musical instruments, electronics, chairs and hammocks behind.
Campground facilities: Be sure to bring a backpacking stove for cooking. The wood stoves and fire pits are best used for heat.
- two kitchen shelters with wood stoves
- one fire pit
- food and garbage storage
- grey water disposal
- firewood and a splitting maul
- treated well water (not always available early and late season)
- example packing list
Elizabeth Parker Hut
The Elizabeth Parker Hut offers rustic accommodation for overnight guests year-round. Reservations are required. Due to high demand, summer bookings for the Elizabeth Parker Hut are made by lottery the previous fall. More information about the lottery is available from the Alpine Club of Canada.
Lake O'Hara Lodge
Lake O'Hara Lodge offers magical meals and accommodation to guests on the shores of Lake O’Hara. The lodge is open mid-June until early October for summer and autumn escapes, and late January through early-April for winter adventures.
The Lake O'Hara Trails Club operates Le Relais Day Shelter during the hiking season in cooperation with Lake O’Hara Lodge and Parks Canada. Stop here to find trail maps, the weather forecast, wildlife information, souvenirs and perhaps the best carrot cake and coffee anywhere in the backcountry! Le Relais operates on a revenue-neutral, cash only basis. All proceeds and donations go to support the operation of this special facility.
With its spectacular scenery, unique plants and wide variety of wildlife, Lake O'Hara is not only beautiful, but fragile and sensitive to our presence. To help protect Lake O'Hara, please follow these simple steps:
- Respect wildlife - Do not feed or approach wildlife, and please carry bear spray. Read the Bears and People brochure for more information about bear safety.
- Leave no trace - Be sure to pack out all garbage including food waste, diapers, tampons, sanitary napkins and toilet paper.
- Stay on the trails - This helps minimize trail braiding, trampling and erosion.
- Let it be - Please leave natural and historical objects in their natural setting for others to discover and enjoy.
- Respect these warnings, closures and seasonal restrictions. Research has identified important grizzly bear habitat and a regional wildlife corridor in the area
- Be safe - As always, your safety is your responsibility.
The Lake O’Hara Trails Club, Lake O’Hara Lodge, the Alpine Club of Canada and Parks Canada look forward to welcoming you to this very special place.