It’s Canada’s 150th Anniversary this Year!

A year ago we started our 90th season of operation on the shores of Lake O’Hara, at the heart of the Canadian Rockies. This year Canada celebrates its 150th Anniversary. We are a young nation in the grand scheme of things and Lake O’Hara Lodge is but a child in comparison to one of our previous Swiss Chefs family home in Europe, which was over 300 years old. 

Although Lake O’Hara has a rough access road and a lodge on its shores visitors a hundred years ago would still recognize it today and in fact would look on it as if little has changed. The trees may be a little taller and of course the glaciers smaller but essentially the same.

It is still a gem where the foresight of Parks Canada has limited access and limited development, where you can still get a feeling of what it must have been over a 100 years ago to stare upon the peaks with Awe and Wonder which the Cree Natives called YOHO.

So as Canada celebrates its 150th Anniversary we are celebrating the Magic that O’Hara has to offer and our hope that in another 150 years people will be celebrating that same magic as they stand amongst the Fir Trees on the shores of Lake O’Hara and watch the clouds drift across the tops of Mt Victoria. There are very few accessible places today that exhibit these qualities and we don’t want to compromise what we have at O’Hara. It is precious and irreplaceable. We take our role as stewards of the area very seriously so people can continue to experience the awe of the surrounding area and Canadian Rockies.

Are our are Parks getting Loved to Death?

If you have tried to get accommodation in our Mountain Parks for this coming summer and have been successful then congratulations, as many people have not been so successful.

Hotels in Lake Louise and Banff have been full since October for next summer and with the recent fire in one of Banff’s Historic properties the inventory of hotel rooms have been even further reduced.

The traffic last summer in the townsites of Banff and Lake Louise at times was gridlocked. Hardly the peaceful Nature inspired locale that people are travelling from far and wide to see. Area visitors who head to the the campground, visitors staying at the Alpine Club of Canada’s Elizabeth Parker and Abbot Huts and area visitors just coming in for the day do not want to see the integrity of O’Hara compromised with increased visitation, which is happening in Banff, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Are we going to turn off people if we don’t do something? We need to be looking at what we need to do to both ensure the preservation of these places and also allow visitors to experience them; in a manner becoming of what they represent.

As biased as we are at Lake O’Hara Lodge we feel that the Lake O’Hara area is a working model of cooperation and sustainability and one that could be emulated when it comes to managing our wilderness. It is not a one stop solution which fits for each area but a template of what can be done. It can be adapted to the unique needs and location of each area as some areas can handle larger numbers while others very few. Also front country (road side) experience expectations are different from Backcountry expectations. All of this has to be taken into consideration.

At the same time we need our parks to be accessible to a wide variety of people so they can appreciate what they have to offer and appreciate why it is so important that we preserve magical spots; not just in the Rockies but on our Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic coasts, up North and across the Prairies.

Don’t be discouraged by all of this. There are lots of positive things happening and the management of the  O’Hara area is only one of many. There are thousands of square kilometres of Park which see very little traffic each year, there are committed individuals both within and outside Parks working on solutions, there are organizations like the Lake O’Hara Trails Club working with citizens and Parks Canada to ensure the preservation and maintenance of O’Hara. So get out and discover for yourselves all those other gems that exist beyond the boundaries of our Mountain parks towns and villages.

Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are beautiful and worth a visit however, maybe you plan on getting up for sunrise to experience the beauty and solitude that time of day offers and then head elsewhere for a walk. Maybe you stay in Golden and access the Park on a daily trips or see what Glacier National Park has to offer, on the west side of Golden. Maybe you head north and stay in Rocky Mountain House and visit the Icefields area of Banff and Jasper National Parks. There is lots to see and do that does not need to be focused entirely around the towns of Banff and Lake Louise. Alternatively turn your focus to another season. With the exception of Larch Season, mid to late September, the fall is a wonderful time to visit the area. It is a little less hectic, the roads are not too busy and the fresh snow on the peaks and the clear blue skies make for a stunning backdrop. Of course winter comes to Rockies eventually and when the snow really starts to fall it opens up a whole host of other activities you can do. There are numerous downhill resorts to ski at, the ice skating on Lake Louise under the watchful eye of Mt Victoria is amazing and the cross country skiing around Lake Louise is second to none for the scenery and the well groomed trails that Parks Canada maintains.

We shovel out the lodge in the winter and open for a ski and snowshoe season. Our guests share the valley with only a handful of other folks and the multitude of nooks and crannies that we can discover together is endless. Winter is a magical time to visit!

Get a group of friends together or come as a couple up to O’Hara this winter. We still have a few nights open so please give us a call.

Winter at O’Hara

The early season blanket of snow on our cat.

This week is opening week. Time to shovel out the snowcat and warm up the lodge for our winter season. We will be ready to welcome our winter guests next week and are really looking forward to our ski season. We will be welcoming back lots of friends as well as introducing others for the first time to the magic that O’Hara has to offer when the snow blankets the terrain. We hope to see the wolverine tracks and if we are lucky even catch a glimpse of those backyard nomads.

The Mountain Goats in their camouflaged white coats will be sunning themselves above our ski tracks and the Pine Martens making tracks all over the place as the search out their next meal. Each weekend we are open we welcome people at the lodge on Saturday and Sunday between noon and 2 pm to join us for a light lunch and the Trails Club Day shelter is open as a warming hut for those just wanting to ski into the area for the day and eat their own packed lunch and light fire in the wood stove. We also start a regular schedule of grooming and track setting on the O’Hara road, which we will let you know on our website each week.

Happy Trails and we look forward to seeing you at the lake this winter!