Parks Canada makes changes to visit Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park

Currently only 32 day-use visitors and 90 campers are allowed to take the bus into the area each day

Parks Canada makes changes to visit Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park

Parks Canada is making changes next year for people hoping to visit a highly sought after destination in British Columbia’s Yoho National Park.

Visitors to Lake O’Hara, which has a quota system in place to protect the sensitive alpine area, are required to advance book for a bus that takes them up an 11-kilometre road for day hiking and overnight camping.

“It’s a high-elevation alpine ecosystem that Parks Canada has been working hard to preserve and protect … ever since Yoho National Park was established,” said Jed Cochrane, acting visitor experience manager with Yoho National Park.

“This system that we have in place, that is one of the main reasons it stays in the pristine shape that it is in.”

The quota system, which has been in place since the 1980s, means only 32 day-use visitors and 90 campers are allowed to take the bus into the area each day. Others are permitted if they have overnight reservations through an Alpine Club of Canada hut or Lake O’Hara Lodge.

ALSO READ: Parks Canada asking for feedback on management of Rocky Mountain region parks

Cochrane said more than 20,000 people have logged on to the online system to book the day-use spots available through Parks Canada each summer.

“It’s a really popular experience,” he said. “Normally the just over 3,000 seats that we have for the summer are sold out within the first few minutes. That pressure is causing visitor frustration.”

The changes will see a random draw that will give day hikers the month of February to submit a $10 application for the bus through the Parks Canada reservation system.

“There’s no rush, people can go on, they can register, they’ll pick their options in terms of how many seats they want and which days they want to go,” he said. “Then they’ll be drawn and, if they are selected, their first choice will be picked or their second choice or whatever.

“It’s just meant to open it up and have the opportunity for everyone to apply to have the opportunity to go up to Lake O’Hara for a day.”

Visitors will then be given two weeks to confirm and pay for their spot on the bus.

“It’s all meant to take the rush and panic out of it for everybody,” said Cochrane.

Overnight camping spots will now be offered through the Parks Canada reservation system on a first-come, first-served basis starting Jan. 24.

“Historically you phoned in,” he said. “That creates some frustration for visitors because they get a busy signal. There was no way to see if sites were reserved.

“It just generally makes it easier for folks to get on there and do their reservations.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Residents in the past have protested trees being cut in areas in Qualicum Beach. (PQB News file photo)
Concern raised over trees to be cut at Qualicum Beach’s new public works location

Coun. Westbroek wants council to discuss tree-planting initiative

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
BCCDC says fresh COVID-19 cases down in most Island Health areas

Nanaimo sees its fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Richard Desautel with supporters outside the courthouse in Nelson, B.C., in 2016. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
BREAKING: Sinixt, First Nation bordering Canada-U.S., can claim Indigenous rights, top court rules

The decision essentially reverses a 1956 declaration the Sinixt were extinct

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

The conservation service confirmed they do not relocate cougars from settled areas but that euthanasia is not necessarily the fate for an animal in the Fanny Bay area. The hope is that the animal will move on to wild areas. (File photo)
Woman hopes cat-stalking Fanny Bay cougar can avoid euthanization

Conservation officers do not relocate the animals from Vancouver Island

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read