It is impossible to spend a few days in Banff National Park without a stop at the famous Lake Louise. For any stay in the Canadian Rockies, if you only need to see one lake, it’s this one. Glacial lake, perched at an altitude of 1700m, 2.4 km long and 1.2 km wide, its vastness is second to its beauty. It is very difficult to stay stony in front of one of Canada’s most beautiful lakes. On our last day in Alberta, we spent the day at Lake Louise as a climax. A day full of admiration and emotions in front of this immense lake.
Lake Louise, things to know before you go there
What time of year?
Lake Louise can be visited all year round, unlike Moraine Lake. In summer, the season is in full swing and you will have access to the Moraine Lake Road. You can also easily hike to Lac Agnes. In spring, don’t go to Banff until May 25, (especially if you like hiking)! In winter, the lake is frozen and it is possible to skate on the lake, a magical experience. A few kilometres away, you can put on your skis at Lake Louise resort. In autumn, only Lake Louise is accessible.
At what time of day?
Don’t expect to be alone to immortalize the magnificent landscape. Such a show attracts a lot. In complete contrast to our solitude on the roads we cycled, here we were surrounded by lots of people: Canadians, Americans, Chinese, Japanese but also Indians, Middle East, etc. Lake Louise is cosmopolitan!
If you absolutely want to be as quiet as possible to admire it, Banff National Park advises you to go there before 9am or after 6pm!
Do you want to escape the tourists? Book an evening excursion to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake! This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy these beautiful lakes in the late afternoon light.
In fact, as soon as you move away from the main view of the Lake, there are already far fewer people/ To be precise, we were out of season.
Lake Louise, like the rest of Banff National Park, is a very popular tourist destination. If you plan to do one or more activities, book in advance.
On which sites to book an activity at Lake Louise?
Banff National Park is a very popular tourist destinations. You will not be alone. So, if you plan to book an excursion (or a car, accommodation…), don’t delay! Places are limited and many activities are only available from late May to early October.
For our trip to Banff, it was on Viator that we booked most of our activities. Nevertheless, we can recommend several sites that we use regularly.
All over the world, a site that is a bit old style but which is a gold mine in terms of activities and visits, it’s Viator! Whether it’s to book a shuttle between Calgary and Banff or a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon, it’s on this site that we’ve found the best attractions.
The last useful site to find activities in Banff is Ceetiz. A newcomer to the sector, it is possible to have some tickets directly in your phone. It’s still more convenient than printing your booking confirmation, especially when you’re travelling.
How to get to Lake Louise, Alberta?
The Lake is located 65 km from Banff and 190 km from Calgary. The nearest “town” is Lake Louise ski resort, which is about ten kilometres away. Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful lakes in Canada and you don’t have to be a sportsman to see it. Also, if you want to reach the Lake, there is no need to walk for hours. You can take the road by car by shuttle or by one of the many excursions, and even by bike!
If you want to drive to the lake, the best way to get there is to rent a car from Calgary Airport. Please note that you can also reach Banff by shuttle before renting a car in Banff.
Whatever you choose, don’t take the highway. Take the Bow Valley ParkWay to Lake Louise and stop at Johnston Canyon. For having taken this road by bike, its memory still leaves us shivers!
On our side, we travelled 60 kilometres by bus from Banff where we were staying. In 1 hour’s drive, the bus dropped us off at the Fairmont Hotel, near the famous Lake Louise. A real moment of rest to admire the road after the 80 km of cycling the day before.
Not only is the bus a very economical mode of transport. But in addition, we were able to walk around the lake and hike at our own pace to Lake Agnes and its famous TeaHouse.
To reach the lake by bus, you have two options! All year round, shuttles run between Jasper and Calgary via this famous lake. This is the mode of transport we took at the beginning of May.
During the touristic season, there is a very practical HopOnBanff bus that connects you to all the must-see tourist attractions like Lake Louise, but also Moraine Lake or Johnston Canyon, etc.
Excursions to Lake Louise and its environs
Another way to discover Lake Louise: organized excursions (some of which are done in small groups of 15 people). If you don’t want to drive, this is the ideal way to travel to Lake Louise and all the must-see places in the Canadian Rockies.
All excursions offer a stop at the lake. But be careful, not all of them are available all year round.
Canadian rocky areas are also very touristy. Don’t book your activities at the last minute.
Half-day guided tours
If you have a tight budget and little time, this is THE guided tour to choose for Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. This excursion is held between April and October. However, access to Moraine Lake is not guaranteed at the beginning of the season. (The road is often inaccessible until the end of May).
Evening guided tours of Lake Louise (and Moraine Lake)
To discover Lake Louise and Lake Moraine far from tourists, opt for an evening visit. You will leave at 3:30 pm and return at 9:30 pm. This tour is only available from May to September.
Other day trips to Lake Louise and surroundings
Although the two previous visits are interesting, the ideal is to discover a little more of the Canadian Rockies than just Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Between a millennial glacier and a majestic mountain, it is worth spending a few hours in the vicinity of Lake Louise. Here are some day trips with Lake Louise included. Be careful, many visits only take place from April to October, or even only from June onwards.
A day at Lake Louise and Icefields Parkway:
The tour includes Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Bow Lake, Peyto Lake and Minnewanka Lake. All in small groups of 15 people. Departure (at 9am) and arrival from your hotel in Banff.
Excursion to Athabasca Glacier :
Here, you will discover the millenary glaciers of the Canadian Rockies. The day begins with Lake Louise. Then, you will drive on the Icefields Parkway, one of the most picturesque roads. Direction the Crowfoot Glacier, Lac Peyto….. And finally, the Icefield Columbia in an all-terrain vehicle to the Athabasca Glacier. This excursion only takes place from April to October.
A day in Banff and Yoho National Park:
The most complete excursion in our opinion. Departure for the Bow Valley to Lake Louise and then Lake Emerald. Before going to Glacier Victoria and Moraine Lake as well as the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Finally, the day ends in the Yoho Valley and Takakkaw Falls. This visit only takes place from June to October.
Things to do in Lake Louise
Lake Louise in Summer
If you are in Banff and around for a few days, the main activity in summer is hiking. Two hikes are unavoidable.
Hiking at Lake Agnes
If you turn back once in Lake Louise, you’ll be missing something! Another lake, just as magnificent, perched at an altitude of 2,134m and accessible only on foot. The trail is well marked and very easy. No need for guided hiking as the trail is very busy even in the middle season. In season, at the top, you will find the famous TeaHouse to enjoy a well-deserved cake.
Six Glacier Plain Hiking Tour
The other hike that cannot be missed but is much more difficult is the one on the Six Glacier Plain. There are 19 km and 800 m of altitude difference in magnificent landscapes. As Banff National Park is home to wild animals such as free-ranging bears, it is essential to book a guided hike. In addition, the guides only accompany from mid-June to early October when the trails are not likely to be snow-covered.
Be careful, the Six Glacier Plain hike does not take place every day. Read the information provided on the sites carefully.
The other magnificent lake in the Canadian Rockies is Lake Moraine. It is only accessible by road from the end of May to October, depending on the weather conditions. By car, it is necessary to drive 15 km from Lake Louise resort. There are also many excursions including both lakes.
Lake Louise in Winter
If there is one season that makes us dream, it is winter! Of course, in the spring, the Canadian Rockies are beautiful. But seeing them under the snow must be an unforgettable experience. Besides, there’s a lot to do in winter.
There is a snowshoe walk that seems extraordinary to us to do: a night walk. We imagine that this type of excursion must be great. To do so, we recommend that you choose accommodation in Lake Louise, the starting and finishing point of the excursion.
Finally, in winter, it is possible to ski (or snowboard). In the heart of the Canadian Rockies, between snow-covered landscapes and mountainous peaks, the views seem exceptional to see! The opportunity to ski in an unusual place.
Our day at Lake Louise
It is just one of the most beautiful places on Earth… It is difficult to stay unmoved in the face of such a natural gem. Very often we think back to our day spent by this lake, the joy felt that day at choosing to travel in Banff National Park.
The lake’s vastness, the size of the glaciers surrounding it, the exceptional colour of the water… Everything is there. It was really not easy to photograph it, as we were so impressed. (It is better to have a very wide angle lens…). Whatever, the pleasure of the eyes is unforgettable! The few famous canoes that walk on the lake are tiny. And you can imagine how long it takes to walk around it, like in a canoe.
After a few hours, we climbed to Lake Agnes, perched a little higher : another great moment.
On the way back, we were necessarily sad to leave this lake, we hope to find it again one day and stay longer.
We spent one of the most memorable day of our lives… A few hours is far too short. We would have loved to see the day rise from a room at the Fairmont Château Hotel.