One of the best hikes in the world is
Hikes in this area known as:
The red dot is YOHO National Park.
Many agree with us that the lakes here are the most beautiful in the world.
We have hiked O'Hara ever year for decades. It is the first place we take people who have never been to the Canadian Rockies. Even those who have never hiked in the mountains.
WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE
Everyone loves O'Hara. It is a good place to take kids. Yet even hard core hikers are challenged.
We do the same itinerary every year. Book the campground for 3 nights (the maximum allowed) and do day hikes and scrambles from our tent base camp.
There are terrific options for all levels of fitness and experience on 80km+ trails.
Some of our favourite challenging O'Hara adventures:
Some difficult high routes are open only a few weeks each year due to snow.
Alternative accommodation in the area is available at Elizabeth Parker and Abbot huts. Book those through the ACC (Alpine Club of Canada) <email>.
Or splurge and stay at the superb Lake O'Hara Lodge . Rates start at about C$500 / night for a double.
The biggest hassle with this hike is getting a reservation for the campground. You can book up to 3 calendar months in advance of your visit, by telephone only.
For example, if you want to camp starting July 6th, phone April 6th.
It can take hours to get through, hitting the redial button. If you are one of the lucky ones, have your credit card ready. You can book maximum 2 tents for 6 people for 3 days.
If you do not have a reservation, you can try for one of the "24-Hour Bookings for Lake O'Hara". Same deal you must call the hotline (250) 343-6433 at exactly 8AM the day before you want to go to O'Hara. The few spots are gone within 10 minutes.
Last desperate option. Get to the parking lot early hoping for an empty bus seat due to cancellation. Pay cash. Day hike O'Hara returning to the parking lot by bus or walking out.
Does this sound like too much hassle? Hike Assiniboine instead.
We like the quota on O'Hara but the reservation system is ridiculous.
INDEPENDENT OR GUIDED?
Almost everyone hikes O'Hara independently. You can easily retreat in case of bad weather, illness or injury.
BEST TREKKING GUIDEBOOKS
There are many good hiking guidebooks. But we love Graeme Pole's innovative binders where we can remove just the relevant pages for our hike, carrying them in a protective plastic slipcover. Brilliant! Be sure to get the most recent edition.
The Copeland guide is excellent too, rating hikes from 1-4 "stars".
BEST TRAVEL GUIDEBOOKS
OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS
Gadd is our bible in the Rockies: flowers, plants, animals, birds, fish, geology, history and much more.
The free Parks Canada Lake O'Hara Trails Map is fairly good. You will likely get one with your receipt when you pay for camping. (on-line version )
BEST WEB PAGES
After this page, the best links are
BEST PHOTOS & TRIP REPORTS