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post #1 of (permalink) Old 04-04-2021, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
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Default Lake O'Hara new booking system

Has anyone had any luck with the new online booking system for Lake O'Hara? Or is it like trying to buy concert tickets on ticketmaster and bots/resellers scoop everything up within seconds?

Any tips?
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 04-06-2021, 01:38 PM
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Are you wanting to book day-use or overnight camping? The systems in place this year are the same as last year, although last year, the lottery for day-use ran through February, not April.

I tried both last year. I was unsuccessful in the lottery, and did not get a day-use spot (i.e. ride up/down on the bus). In the end, the bus did not run and Parks Canada refunded all the fees paid to participate in the lottery. The one "flaw" I found in the lottery is that you could not vary the number of people in your request - for example, although each entry allows you to specify six times/dates, I had some I wanted to try for two people, and others for three. This required doing two separate lottery entries. Since I have not yet put in my entries for this year, I don't know if this has been changed for this year.

For campground reservations, I don't think it is possible for bots to get spots. You have to choose a specific date and a specific campsite and as I recall, these have to be typed into the request; it's not just clicking. I tried for almost an hour last year to get a reservation, and it was like playing "whack a mole"... I had the calendar view open so that I could see two weeks of availability, and every time I queued up a site for the dates that were showing availability, by the time I got it in my "cart", it was no longer available. (Somebody else had put it in their cart before me, and it gets held there for a short period of time (15 min?) to allow them to complete the reservation.) I did this for 45 or 50 minutes straight, and finally was able to book two nights in early October. The entire season was sold out within an hour.

As it turned out, the bus did not run at all although campers could walk up the road. Parks Canada gave full refunds for anyone who cancelled, including the reservations fee.

With regard to bots or re-sellers booking sites - the sites have to be booked under a name and that person must be one of the campers. It says right on the site that camping sites can not be re-sold and that Parks Canada will confirm the user's identity upon arrival. I have never experienced this, in practice - both times I have camped there, I just gave my name, but neither time did I have to show ID, although theoretically, Parks staff could ask for it.
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 04-06-2021, 08:08 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rillenkarren View Post
Are you wanting to book day-use or overnight camping? The systems in place this year are the same as last year, although last year, the lottery for day-use ran through February, not April.

I tried both last year. I was unsuccessful in the lottery, and did not get a day-use spot (i.e. ride up/down on the bus). In the end, the bus did not run and Parks Canada refunded all the fees paid to participate in the lottery. The one "flaw" I found in the lottery is that you could not vary the number of people in your request - for example, although each entry allows you to specify six times/dates, I had some I wanted to try for two people, and others for three. This required doing two separate lottery entries. Since I have not yet put in my entries for this year, I don't know if this has been changed for this year.

For campground reservations, I don't think it is possible for bots to get spots. You have to choose a specific date and a specific campsite and as I recall, these have to be typed into the request; it's not just clicking. I tried for almost an hour last year to get a reservation, and it was like playing "whack a mole"... I had the calendar view open so that I could see two weeks of availability, and every time I queued up a site for the dates that were showing availability, by the time I got it in my "cart", it was no longer available. (Somebody else had put it in their cart before me, and it gets held there for a short period of time (15 min?) to allow them to complete the reservation.) I did this for 45 or 50 minutes straight, and finally was able to book two nights in early October. The entire season was sold out within an hour.

As it turned out, the bus did not run at all although campers could walk up the road. Parks Canada gave full refunds for anyone who cancelled, including the reservations fee.

With regard to bots or re-sellers booking sites - the sites have to be booked under a name and that person must be one of the campers. It says right on the site that camping sites can not be re-sold and that Parks Canada will confirm the user's identity upon arrival. I have never experienced this, in practice - both times I have camped there, I just gave my name, but neither time did I have to show ID, although theoretically, Parks staff could ask for it.
Thanks, yes I'm looking for camping. Were you always looking for weekends? I'm wondering if weekdays are easier or if they get snatched up instantly as well. But I guess if the entire season is snatched up in an hour there's not much hope.. prime time august probably goes in minutes.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 04-07-2021, 03:55 AM
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No, I was not looking for weekends - I had flexible dates and was trying for anytime, preferably three nights but two would be better than none, from the third week of July until mid September. I'm sure the weekends, especially long weekends were first to go, but I am not exaggerating when I say that every campsite for the entire season sold out in just under an hour.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 04-07-2021, 06:50 PM
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In my experience there is little difference between weekdays and weekends. I stopped bothering with bus long time ago & simply walk, takes less than 2 hrs. But this is probably not an option for everyone. Also 11 (x2) km spent walking saps some energy better spent exploring the alpine.



I'd consider eliminating bus completely and allow cycling on the road instead. In reality it would NOT open flood gates as tourons are not likely to cycle up 11km with >300m elev. gain; if anything it would further reduce human impact on this iconic area. It would also put less strain on campground as you'd know you have to either walk 11km or cycle with heavy overnight pack. And if they wanted to be really smart, they could try selling say 2 buses per day, with some ridiculous ticket price, 200$ or more. There would be deep pockets willing to pay just to sit with tripod by the lake. Just as somebody is willing to fork 400$ or more for night at these O'Hara cabins. Money from proceeds could then go to back-country facility maintenance which does not exist at all nowdays as all funds are going to Johnston Canyon railings etc while things like Suspension Bridge over Athabasca on Fortress Lake trail or Peyto creek crossing on Caldron Lake approach will never be fixed as it seems
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 04-07-2021, 08:51 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by zeljkok View Post
In my experience there is little difference between weekdays and weekends. I stopped bothering with bus long time ago & simply walk, takes less than 2 hrs. But this is probably not an option for everyone. Also 11 (x2) km spent walking saps some energy better spent exploring the alpine.



I'd consider eliminating bus completely and allow cycling on the road instead. In reality it would NOT open flood gates as tourons are not likely to cycle up 11km with >300m elev. gain; if anything it would further reduce human impact on this iconic area. It would also put less strain on campground as you'd know you have to either walk 11km or cycle with heavy overnight pack. And if they wanted to be really smart, they could try selling say 2 buses per day, with some ridiculous ticket price, 200$ or more. There would be deep pockets willing to pay just to sit with tripod by the lake. Just as somebody is willing to fork 400$ or more for night at these O'Hara cabins. Money from proceeds could then go to back-country facility maintenance which does not exist at all nowdays as all funds are going to Johnston Canyon railings etc while things like Suspension Bridge over Athabasca on Fortress Lake trail or Peyto creek crossing on Caldron Lake approach will never be fixed as it seems
Yeah I don't care about the bus, I want the campsite, I want 3 nights. They should completely get rid of the bus and make it a 100% backcountry lite destination. For the $400/night huts, for the campsites, and for the ACC hut. Without all the bus day trippers they could double the capacity of the campground or build another one. Everything would still sell out anyways..
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 04-07-2021, 09:14 PM
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Originally Posted by qwimjim View Post
They should completely get rid of the bus and make it a 100% backcountry lite destination..

we agree 100%. I like "backcountry lite". but not likely; last Sep as I walked up there was quite a bit of work on grading the road between km 7 and 9 (the steep part)
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 04-08-2021, 08:46 PM
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I've never been up this road, but have read your reports zeljkok of walking up the road and wondered why you can't bike up there. Seems like a no brainer.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 04-08-2021, 09:04 PM
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Whole idea behind Lake O'Hara is conservation of very unique and beautiful alpine area. Conservation is excellent idea, everyone agrees. But it is not implemented in best manner. First, you have commercial cabins on the lake for rich people. Second you have this bus/campground lottery which has become one giant mess.

I'd seriously consider couple of things:

1) No buses. Period. But allow cycling. This can only decrease # of visitors

2) Investigate feasibility of back-country campground at Cathedral Lakes / Morning Glory valley. This is ~45min hike (trail) from Elizabeth Parker Hut by Lake O'Hara. This would take load off main O'Hara campground; combined with self-propelled approach (hike/bike) it would make it easier for back-country enthusiasts, with keeping tourons off.

3) Fix the bridge at Cataract Brook trail. This is hiking trail that runs parallel to O'Hara road. It is not the most scenic hiking trail in Rockies, but it is still nicer than walking on road -- it has forest, meadows, etc. Right now trail has been closed for several years because of collapsed bridge they don't want to fix.


This would make the area real back-country destination -- no bus, bike on road, hike on trail with campsites easier to come by because of 2nd campground.


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Name:	Screen Shot 2021-04-08 at 7.12.49 PM.png
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[Cathedral Lake below Odaray Mtn, that would make great back-country wilderness campsite]

Just my 5 cents, won't do squat I know

Last edited by zeljkok; 04-08-2021 at 09:14 PM.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 04-09-2021, 08:17 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zeljkok View Post
Whole idea behind Lake O'Hara is conservation of very unique and beautiful alpine area. Conservation is excellent idea, everyone agrees. But it is not implemented in best manner. First, you have commercial cabins on the lake for rich people. Second you have this bus/campground lottery which has become one giant mess.

I'd seriously consider couple of things:

1) No buses. Period. But allow cycling. This can only decrease # of visitors

2) Investigate feasibility of back-country campground at Cathedral Lakes / Morning Glory valley. This is ~45min hike (trail) from Elizabeth Parker Hut by Lake O'Hara. This would take load off main O'Hara campground; combined with self-propelled approach (hike/bike) it would make it easier for back-country enthusiasts, with keeping tourons off.

3) Fix the bridge at Cataract Brook trail. This is hiking trail that runs parallel to O'Hara road. It is not the most scenic hiking trail in Rockies, but it is still nicer than walking on road -- it has forest, meadows, etc. Right now trail has been closed for several years because of collapsed bridge they don't want to fix.


This would make the area real back-country destination -- no bus, bike on road, hike on trail with campsites easier to come by because of 2nd campground.


Attachment 285082
[Cathedral Lake below Odaray Mtn, that would make great back-country wilderness campsite]

Just my 5 cents, won't do squat I know

It's strange to me that the bus thing exists in the first place, if people want easy access to views there's already Lake Louise, Moraine, Peyto lookout, etc.. I guess it's for the cabins but I bet if they got rid of the bus, those cabins would still sell out. There's a mind boggling amount of rich people out there who would still gladly pay $400/night even if they had to walk the road.
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post #11 of (permalink) Old 04-09-2021, 02:45 PM
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Bus transport into core park areas is not isolated concept. I.e they have been doing it in Zion down south for many years. But in Zion they are doing it to prevent traffic jam; at O'Hara it is supposed to limit # of visitors.



Lake O'Hara Lodge has their own luxury shuttle that operates separately of National Parks worn out old school bus. And, 400$ was last time I checked several years ago. Now it is <<<drumroll>>> 1095/night


https://www.lakeohara.com/lodging/lake-shore-cabins/


This is not conservation but dollar talk. There is support staff, kitchen, restaurant etc etc. I'd be first to sign petition to tear down these cabins. But it ain't going to happen; if anything they will build something else, while real outdoor enthusiasts will have to play lottery or walk 11km if they want access.
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post #12 of (permalink) Old 04-09-2021, 08:12 PM
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Ya it's kind of screwy when a private corporation can make such money on a public asset like that.
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post #13 of (permalink) Old 04-09-2021, 08:40 PM
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Ya it's kind of screwy when a private corporation can make such money on a public asset like that.
yes, that ticks me off the most. Ok if it was crown land, but this is National Park.

That 1095/night is for your own cabin, incl. bath. In lodge 1 person room is 555, 2 person 770. Shared bathroom. All meals and tips included. So you could decide to head up for a week in larch season if you have extra 4K you don't know what to do with. There is also afternoon tea, lol
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