Canada has no shortage of stunning scenery, but Lake O’Hara in British Columbia is certainly one of the most sought after views in the country – so much so that visitors will have to plan well in advance to visit in 2020. 

A view of Lake O'Hara in YoHo national park. It's located in a valley, surrounded by mountains and tall, larch trees..
Lake O'Hara (right) is one of the top sights in Yoho National Park © Catalin Mitrache / Getty Images

Lake O'Hara is found in Yoho National Park, which neighbours the more internationally well-known Banff National Park, but boasts the same dramatic Rocky Mountain scenery and vibrant lakes. Parks Canada has long had a limit on visitor numbers at the lake to protect the precious natural scenery. Visitors have to book in advance to take a bus up to the site, where they can hike and camp overnight. Only 32 day-use visitors and 90 overnight campers can go each day on the designated bus. However, as demand has grown, these spots book up each year within minutes – much to the annoyance of many would-be visitors. 

To help make the system more equitable, starting next year there will be a random draw for day-use bus passengers to help make sure that everyone has a chance to get a ticket. From 1 to 29 February, 2020, visitors will be able to apply for a seat using the Parks Canada Reservation Service site and the winners will be randomly selected. 

Spotlight on Icefields Parkway

But – there’s a catch. Everyone will have to pay a non-refundable $10 payment to submit their application, which doesn’t guarantee getting a ticket. Those who are successful will then have two weeks to confirm and book their spot on the bus. According to the park, “the $10 non-refundable fee will be reinvested into Yoho National Park to help protect the environment and support high-quality visitor experiences”. 

There are also changes coming for overnight camping, which will now be available on the Parks Canada online reservation system beginning 24 January at 8 am MST. In the past, visitors had to call in to book their spot in the campground. Those bookings are on a first-come first-serve system and also will include a seat on the bus. 

Find out more about the new reservation system on the Yoho National Park website.

Explore related stories