Trip Planner: Canada / British Columbia / Kootenay Rockies / Yoho National Park / Lake O' Hara
Explore the vistas and deep azure waters of Lake O' Hara amidst an untouched alpine landscape. You'll find a number of well-marked trails around the lake. Situated on an elevation of 2,020 m (6,627 ft), the lake can be a challenge to get to--the best way is via bus. A trek up an 11 km (6.8 mi) trail is a more adventurous option, and be aware that you’re not guaranteed a bus ride down unless you made the reservation for the journey uphill. Book tours early to avoid disappointment. For Lake O' Hara and beyond, use our Yoho National Park tour planner to get the most from your Yoho National Park vacation.
Lake O' Hara reviews
I have not seen any shambles like this, Shuttle, park staffs. They all need a shake up and new managemen. Nature is a gift here and let's make managing and the same as gift to visitors.
I have not seen any shambles like this, Shuttle, park staffs. They all need a shake up and new managemen. Nature is a gift here and let's make managing and the same as gift to visitors. more »
The O’Hara area is gorgeous, but the staff is terrible. Two female officers checking people’s reservations completely ruined our little vacation by unprofessional arrogant attitude towards campers...
The O’Hara area is gorgeous, but the staff is terrible. Two female officers checking people’s reservations completely ruined our little vacation by unprofessional arrogant attitude towards campers... more »
Originally I was planning to ride to Emerald Lake but when I passed by the sign of Lake O’Hara on highway 1, I decided to turn in and check out the park. When I saw the sign of walking 11km in and...
Originally I was planning to ride to Emerald Lake but when I passed by the sign of Lake O’Hara on highway 1, I decided to turn in and check out the park. When I saw the sign of walking 11km in and... more »
Lake O’Hara is beautiful. It is also notorious for its absurd difficulty of access, which stems from efforts to preserve its extraordinarily pristine ambiance . The only way to access the lake is either a $10 ish (one way) bus ride or a 22km round trip schlep by foot from the parking lot (on the side of the highway ) to the lake. Every year, hordes of nature lovers will apply for a random drawing, held between March 1 to March 30. “Successful applicants for the random draw will be notified on April 1,” and given a golden ticket for a bus ride and camp site. (The alternative is to pay $1000+ per night for a reservation at the lakeside lodge which guarantees transport to the lake) Interested in biking your way to O’Hara? Well, you’re out of luck, as the road is tightly regulated by rangers and all bicycles are banned. Essentially your option is (elusive) bus or foot. We didn’t know about this labyrinthine application system and were not keen on shelling out $$$$ for the lodge. So we casually (or naively?) dropped by the Lake O’Hara parking lot and unsurprisingly were told the bus was full. We ultimately decided to tackle the 11km one way journey by foot. It was fairly long and tedious (you should allocate 2-3 hrs, depending on level of fitness; overall quite hilly), though the time flew by when we decided to do the trek together with a lovely group of hikers who were also sans bus tickets (and had applied at least 3 times? unsuccessfully). While it is extremely difficult to secure a bus reservation to the lake, it’s much easier to hitch a bus ride back as there are no visitor capacity quotas in effect for that. And so you only need to do the walk one way in most cases. (Note that spots on the bus back are not guaranteed, so plan ahead) As for the lake itself, it was absolutely gorgeous— crystal clear waters without the crowds of Moraine, Emerald, and Louise nearby, with a myriad of hiking options emanating from the shoreline. Not to mention 360 degree views of snow capped glaciers surrounding the lake… every vantage point was dazzling. I have complicated feelings about the limited accessibility of the lake overall. Love O’Hara’s splendor but I also feel uneasy about how many people (without means to pay for the expensive lodging, without the physical stamina to hike 20+ km ) being excluded by the application system…..
Great hiking location though tough to get into the campground due to high demand. Not sure it is nice enough to justify walking the 11km up the fire road but maybe you will get lucky and be able to get a walk on spot for the bus. The Alpine route is the most popular but the west side is pretty as well and much less busy.
Don’t be intimidated by the 11km one way to reach the lake. Be prepared for another 8-10km to do some hike while in there. It’s gorgeous. Here a map of the trails in the area. You can take a bus down without any reservation $10. I recommend the Obapin Plateau and Prospect trails, it has the famous photo over the O’Hara and Mary lakes. Larches still green today sep’14. Lodge doesn’t serve coffee/food unless you are staying there.There is a store before the lodge that has coffee, beverages and pastries. Super well maintained trails. Super quiet and peaceful, very few people. Go for it.
Most beautiful lake and hike! Consist of a number lakes, and a few trails. Some very tough trails. Hard to get there, which is good to protect it from over commercialization. Had to hike in 11km to get there.
We were lucky to get tickets and visited here twice within five years. It is a beautiful place to visit.
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