Lake Louise is a beautiful mountain lake in the middle of Banff National Park in the Alberta Rockies region of Alberta. The lake is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, and at the far end is a large glacier. The lake is quite isolated, but provides a magnificent setting for a luxury resort, the Châteaux Lake Louise, and a conference wing on the 'inland' side of the hotel.
There is a very small town of the same name at the base of the mountain.
The lake, a major tourist attraction, can be crowded during the day as coach tour groups arrive, and parking fills up early in the summer. Before 8AM, you can see the lake with few people around; at dawn, the light shines onto the back wall of the glacier lake. Just before dusk is also reasonably quiet.
An alternative from Banff is the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A), this is a restricted speed narrower tree lined road, which although does not provide such clear views of the mountain does provide a better chance of seeing wildlife such as bears and deer.
If you are driving, check out the Parks Canada road report
- Calgary International Airport (YYC IATA). A 2.5 hours drive to Lake Louise. There are several car rental agencies at the airport or you can book one of the many shuttles which drop off at hotels in Banff and Lake Louise.
- Brewster Express, toll-free: . Bus service throughout the year between downtown Calgary and Lake Louise including stops at Calgary International Airport, at Kananaskis Village (some trips), in Canmore and in Banff. From May to mid-October, a trip extends beyond Lake Louise to and from Jasper. Throughout the year, there are at least 4 departures daily in each direction between Calgary and Lake Louise.
- Rider Express, toll-free: . Multiple days per week service along the Trans-Canada Highway from between Calgary and Vancouver with stops in Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, Golden, Revelstoke, Sicamous, Salmon Arm, Sorrento, Chase, Kamloops, Merritt, Hope, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, and Surrey. Some trips operate overnight and those overnight trips do not stop at Lake Louise. Travel time to Lake Louise from Calgary is 3 hours, from Banff is 50 minutes, from Golden is 1 hour, from Revelstoke is 3.5 hours, from Salmon Arm is 5 hours, from Kamloops is 6.5 hours, from Hope is 9.5 hours, from Abbotsford is 10.5 hours, and from Vancouver is 12 hours. From Calgary, this service provider offers routes that enable passengers to reach Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon.
- Roam Transit, ☏ +1.403.762.0606 . Service between Banff and Lake Louise by either the 8X (Express) or the 8S (Scenic) routes. 8S takes Highway 1A (Bow Valley Parkway) part of the way, while 8X takes Highway 1 the entire way. Advance reservations available for these routes.
- SunDog Tours, ☏ , toll-free: , email@example.com. Service between Banff and Jasper via Lake Louise. Operates in the winter season only.
Regularly scheduled passenger trains no longer stop at Lake Louise's historic train station, but luxury Rocky Mountaineer sightseeing trains operated by Rocky Mountaineer Vacations visit regularly from spring through to fall. (Reservations required.) You can take VIA Rail train service to Edmonton or Jasper, and then either take a bus or rent a car and drive to Lake Louise.
Once in Lake Louise, you have access to some of the most beautiful drives in North America.
- North: The Icefields Parkway, connects Lake Louise to Jasper. It is 230 km (142 mi) taking you along the most beautiful drive in North America. Along the Icefields Parkway you can stop and take a tour on the Columbia Icefield which is a glacier that covers an amazing 325 square km of land. An information centre there includes an interpretive section and a café.
- West The Great Divide denotes the highest ridge-line in the Canadian Rockies and creates a natural border with British Columbia and Yoho National Park 10 km west of town.
- East Banff is 60 km (36 miles) south-east of Lake Louise on either Hwy 1 (Trans Canada Highway) or the 1A (Bow Valley Parkway). Hwy 1 is quicker, but if you have some time to explore and enjoy the scenery the 1A is the way to go. There tends to be more animals sighted on the 1A and the scenery is breathtaking (not that you're going to get a bad view from any road in Banff National Park). Leave some time for a walk at Johnston Canyon, it's an easy walk anyone can do to the lower falls (1.1 km) or you can continue on further to the Upper Falls and the Ink Pots.
National Car Rental is located in the village of Lake Louise and there is a Hertz location in the Fairmont Lake Louise hotel. Otherwise the tour buses are an option.
The surest way to get to the lakeshore, other than staying at a nearby hotel, is to take the Parks Canada Shuttle: Lake Louise Lakeshore bus. Book tickets in advance, then park at the Park and Ride, located at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, and take a bus to Lake Louise (every 20 minutes). You can also take the bus (Parks Canada: Lake Connector) to Moraine Lake (no additional fee), so best is to start in the morning and see both lakes.
By public transitEdit
The main attractions at Lake Louise are the vibrantly coloured glacial lakes and Victoria Glacier at the head of Lake Louise. Other lakes to stop and explore in the area (all within Banff National Park) are Moraine Lake, Bow Lake and Peyto Lake.
- 1 Lake Louise. Spectacular example of a glacial lake. Best seen first thing in the morning before the hordes of other tourists arrive, or in the early evening, after they've gone. Parking at the site costs $12.25 (May 2022), and can fill up quickly in the summer. It is less risky to take a bus, especially the Parks Canada Shuttle.
As a ski-resort and wilderness area, tourist activity varies according to the season. The primary form of spring and summer recreation in the area is walking around the lake on the lakeside path, hiking on mountain trails leading from the lake, and admiring the scenery. During the summer, canoes can be rented and fishing is a popular activity. The ski resort turns into an interpretive centre in the summer months and gives visitors a beautiful view of Lake Louise from the top of the Gondola.
- 1 Lake Louise Ski Resort, 1 Whitehorn Road, Lake Louise (45 minutes from Banff), ☏ , toll-free: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Lake Louise hosts men's and women's World Cup ski events every November, making it the best-known ski area in Banff National Park. As such, it is also the busiest and most touristy. It is located close to the Lake Louise town site. The scenery is fantastic, as is the terrain when there is fresh snow. Snowshoe tours and Sunny Tube park (next to the magic carpet) for those who don't ski or board. Excellent all you can eat buffet breakfast served in the Whiskey Jack Lodge ($12). If you're on the Club Snowboard/Ski program get the early bus! $85 for full day adult ticket.
- Kingmic Dogsled Tours, ☏ . is the oldest dog sled tour company in the west, and goes along the Continental Divide
- Ice skate. on the lake, rental skates are available within The Fairmont Château Lake Louise and down in the village at Wilson Mountain Sports.
- Sleigh Rides (Brewster Lake Louise Stables). leave from in front of The Château Lake Louise
- Snowshoeing, cross country skiing and winter walking trails. are abundant, rentals are available at the same places as the ice skates and Parks Canada will be more than happy to give you trail info, or guided tours do leave from The Fairmont Château Lake Louise.
- 2 Gondola, 1 Whitehorn Road (at the Lake Louise Ski Area). Lake Louise Mountain Resort runs one of the chairlifts with gondolas in the summer up to an interpretive centre giving you a great spot to take breathtaking photos and learn about the local wildlife.
- Canoe. rentals are available on Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.
- Guided Hikes are available through The Fairmont Château Lake Louise or you can also check out Great Divide Nature Interpretation
- There is some great rock climbing in the area. Wilson Mountain Sports in Lake Louise rents all the climbing gears except rope and harness.
- Horseback riding, there are two companies which offer trail rides and pack trips in Lake Louise. Brewster Adventures and Timberline Tours
- Ice Magic: . An international ice carving competition in late January. (date needs fixing)
There isn't a lot of shopping in Lake Louise. There are some stores at The Fairmont Château Lake Louise as well as in the hamlet at Samson Mall.
There are two gas stations in the village providing fuel and basic supplies.
- Wilson Mountain Sports. You can rent sporting equipment here
Most of the restaurants are located within the hotels in the hamlet of Lake Louise. The Lakeview Lounge at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has fabulous views of the lake, and a patio that is open in summer; there are no reservations for lunch, and often a long wait. Dining at the Post Hotel is simply amazing. Additionally, ask at your hotel or camp-ground where they would recommend.
There are a couple of restaurants located at Samson Mall, also the Station Restaurant which was converted from the heritage-listed train station and another at a gas station. There are also a few restaurants located just outside of Lake Louise at the various other hotels just off the beaten path. Bill Peyto's Cafe in the hostel serves good basic food.
- 1 Lake Louise Railway Station & Restaurant, 200 Sentinel Road, ☏ . Interesting building and a few exhibits for rail enthusiasts. Reasonable food but the number of tables exceeds the kitchen capacity, so expect a long wait at peak times.
- 2 Bill Peyto's Cafe, 203 Village Road (In the hostel, not easy to see from the road.). Excellent food (burgers, chili, salads) at a reasonable price.
- 3 [dead link] Whitehorn Bistro (A short walk down hill from the top of the chairlift). Very good food, if a little pricey, with a patio at 2042 metres providing probably one of the best views from a restaurant you will ever see. Be aware can be cold outside even in June.
Most hotels in the hamlet of Lake Louise have a bar or pub.
The lake is approximately an hour's drive from Banff, where a much wider variety of accommodations are available.
- 1 Chateau Lake Louise, 111 Lake Louise Dr, ☏ . One of Canada's grand old hotels, the Château is the only option if you want to stay right at the lake. the château is luxurious, but extremely expensive. If you have the money, it is worth it for the beautiful surroundings and the clear crisp mountain air. CAD300 in winter, CAD900 in summer per room; CAD 50 per day for parking.
- 2 Deer Lodge, 109 Lake Louise Drive, toll-free: . Good selection of room sizes and a reasonable restaurant. A short walk from the lake.
- 3 Paradise Lodge, 105 Lake Louise Drive, ☏ . Very good quality, well furnished chalet rooms and cabins. A short walk from the lake.
- 4 Mountaineer Lodge, 101 Village Road, ☏ . Clean, comfortable, with breakfast buffet included, but it is an hour's walk from the lake, uphill along a busy road.
- 5 Lake Louise Inn, 210 Village Road, ☏ .
- 6 HI-Lake Louise Alpine Centre, 203 Village Rd, ☏ , toll-free: , fax: . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. A large hostel in the town. There is a café at the hostel. In winter, dorm beds from $27 (non-member $31), private rooms from $78 (non-member $86). In summer, dorms from $34 (non-member $38), private rooms from $99 (non-member $112). Ski packages are available. Pets not allowed.
- 7 Post Hotel & Spa, 200 Pipestone Road, ☏ , toll-free: . High-end hotel, with fancy dining, wine, and spa.
- 8 Lake Louise Tent Campground.
- 2 Lake Louise Medical Clinic, 200 Hector Rd, ☏ .
Escape the crowds of tourists at Lake Louise and travel up the Icefields Parkway Highway 93 North - Banff to Jasper Highway, one of the most scenic drives in North America with sites such as: Bow Lake, Bow Glacier, Crowfoot Glacier, Mistaya Canyon, Waterfowl Lake, Parkers Ridge, Wilcox Pass, into Jasper National Park, Columbia Icefields, Athabasca Falls,and eventually Jasper.
Along the Icefields Parkway there are numerous opportunities to camp or stay in a rustic wilderness hostel.
For the adventurous you can get to Banff from Lake Louise on foot via the Saddleback Trail. It is an easy to moderately difficult 4-5 day hike complete with empty camp-sites. The trail is passable from July through to October. Check with the Park Canada Information office in town for up to date trail conditions, the disposition of any local Grizzlies and advice.
|Routes through Lake Louise|
|Kamloops ← Field (in Yoho N.P.) ←||W E||→ Banff → Calgary|
|Jasper ← Columbia Icefield ← Jct E ←||N S||→ Kootenay N.P. → Cranbrook|