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, access to Lake O’Hara is managed through Parks Canada shuttle bus reservations.
Prime hiking season in the Lake O’Hara area runs July through late-September. Until late June, many higher routes are still snow-bound and may be subject to avalanche hazard.
Advanced reservations are required. There are four ways to visit Lake O’Hara:
- Visit for the day. Operating from June 17 - October 2, 2022, the Lake O’Hara shuttle takes visitors 11 km up to Lake O’Hara. Advanced reservations are required. A random draw reservation system is used to assign day-use bus reservations. Applications for the random draw were available online through the Parks Canada Reservation Service or by telephone at: 1-877-737-3783 between March 1, 2022 and March 30, 2022. Successful applicants for the random draw will be notified on April 1, 2022 at 6 am MT. The successful applicants will have from April 1 to April 15, 2022 to confirm their reservations. On April 20, 2022, any unconfirmed day use bus reservations will be released to the public.
- Camp for up to three nights. Reservations are required. Overnight camping reservations at Lake O’Hara will be offered on the Parks Canada Reservation Service from February 3, 2022 at 8 am MT. The Lake O’Hara campground will operate from June 17 to October 1, 2022. Camping reservations include the ability to reserve an ingoing bus ride.
- The Lake O’Hara bus will run from June 17, 2022 to October 2, 2022.
- 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 will run from June 17, 2022 - October 2, 2022. Reservations are required. 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 Due to the overwhelming popularity of day-use bus reservations at Lake O’Hara, Yoho National Park has instituted a random draw process for assigning reservations. Visitors who want to enjoy Lake O’Hara for the day will have one month to enter the random draw. Bookings will be confirmed with successful applicants after all spots have been drawn.
- Applications for the random draw can be made through the Parks Canada Reservation Service or by telephone at: 1-877-737-3783 between March 1, 2022 and March 30, 2022. Maximum of 6 people per reservation. There are 20 seats available on the 8:30 ingoing bus and 11 seats on the 10:30am ingoing buses for day-use. A non-refundable application fee per application applies.
- Day-use bus schedule (MDT): 8:30; 10:30 (ingoing) and 9:30; 11:30; 14:30; 16:30; 18:30 (outgoing).
- Camping reservations Camping Reservations are required for the Lake O’Hara area. All overnight camping reservations at Lake O’Hara will be offered on the Parks Canada Reservation Service, or by telephone 1(877) 737-3783. Beginning at 8 am MT on February 3, 2022, reservations for the overnight camping season (June 17 to October 1, 2022) will be available to reserve on a first-come first-serve reservation model. Camping reservations include the ability to reserve an ingoing bus ride.
- Only visitors with a camping reservation will be permitted to overnight in the campground.
- Parks Canada cannot accept reservations for day trips through the campground reservation service. Those who reserve a site at the campground and who show up without a tent will be turned away.
- Maximum of 3 nights for camping. Maximum of 2 sites per reservation. Maximum 1 small 4-person tent per site.
- 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: Visitors attempting to hike the 22 km round trip should be prepared with food, water, bear spray, and appropriate clothing and footwear. Camping is not permitted outside of the designated campground. Campground reservations are required in advance
For those who wish to stay overnight, the popular Lake O'Hara Campground is open June 17, 2022 - October 1, 2022. The campground has only 30 sites and is reserved for overnight guests only.
- All campsites must be booked in advance. Lake O'Hara Campground is open June 17 to October 1, 2022. Reservations accepted from February 3, 2022 at 8 am MDT by phone 1-877-737-3783, or online through the Parks Canada Reservation Service. The reservation includes the bus fees. The inbound buses to Lake O'Hara depart the parking lot at 8:30, 10:30, 15:30 or 17:30 MDT.
- Maximum of 2 sites per party and 1 tent per site; 4 people per tent; 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.
- 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 cooking shelters
- 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 use shelter during the hiking season. Here, you may warm up, receive trail information, buy a hot drink or snack (cash only).
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.