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Lake Louise

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Alberta Rockies : Lake Louise
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Even from the carpark the view is magnificent.

Lake Louise is a beautiful mountain lake in the middle of Banff National Park in the Alberta Rockies region of Alberta, Canada. 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 Chateaux Lake Louise. This resort is currently undergoing major expansion, and a large conference wing is being constructed on the 'inland' side of the hotel.

There is a very small town of the same name at the base of the mountain.

Get in[edit]

Lake Louise is 186 KM (120 miles) west of Calgary, and 56 KM (36 miles) West of the town of Banff.

  • Calgary International Airport [1] is a 2 hour 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.

If you want to book your airport shuttle ahead of time check out these companies: Brewster Airporter & Resort Connector[2], Mountain Connector[3], Banff Airporter Inc.[4]

  • Greyhound [5] does a few different scheduled runs throughout the day from the Calgary Bus Terminal.

If you are driving and would like to check out the Parks Canada road report[6]

Get around[edit]

Once you are 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 [7] you can stop and take a tour on the Columbia Icefield [8] which is a glacier that covers an amazing 325 square km of land. There is an information centre located there with a interpretive section and a cafe.
  • West The Great Divide denotes the highest ridgeline 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) east of Lake Louise. There are two roads you can take to get there, 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. [9].

See[edit][add listing]

The main attractions at Lake Louise are the vibrantly coloured glacial lakes and Victoria Glacier at the head of Lake Louise. The lakes to stop and explore are: Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Bow Lake and Peyto Lake.

On the shores of Lake Louise is The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise [10]. During the summer you can canoe on the lake and in the winter months they offer ice skating around the ice castle or horse drawn sleigh rides. Every January there is an international ice carving competition held called Ice Magic.

Also Lake Louise Mountain Resort changes with the seasons, a world class ski resort [11] in the winter and a Sightseeing Gondola [12] in the summer.

If you are interested in hiking or climbing you've got lots of access to all sorts of trails in this area.

Do[edit][add listing]

Spring skiing at Lake Louise

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 [13].

View along hike to Victoria Glacier

Winter[edit]

  • Lake Louise Mountain Resort, tel: 403-522-3555, Toll Free: 1-800-258-7669, Vacation Info: 1-877-754-5462, E-mail: info@skilouise.com), [14]. Only a short drive from the lake, offering ski-enthusiasts a wide variety of runs for varying skill levels. The ski season runs from November to mid-May.
  • Kingmik Dogsled Tours, 1-877-919-7779, [15]is the oldest dog sled tour company in the west, and goes along the mountainside of Mount Saint Piran to the Continental Divide with teams of Alaskan Huskies.
  • Ice skate on the lake, rental skates are available within The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise[16] and down in the village at Wilson Mountain Sports[17]
  • Sleigh Rides leave from in front of The Chateau Lake Louise with Brewster Lake Louise Stables[18]
  • 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 then happy to give you trail info, or guided tours do leave from The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

Summer[edit]

  • Lake Louise Mountain Resort[19] 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 Chateau Lake Louise or you can also check out Great Divide Nature Interpretation[20]
  • There is some great rock climbing in the area if interested.
  • Horseback riding, there are two companies which offer trail rides and pack trips in Lake Louise. Brewster Adventures[21] and Timberline Tours[22]

Buy[edit][add listing]

There isn't a lot of shopping in Lake Louise. There are some stores at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise [23]as well as in the Hamlet at Samson Mall.

You can rent sporting equipment at Wilson Mountain Sports [24].

Eat[edit][add listing]

Most of the restaurants are located within the hotels in the Hamlet of Lake Louise. Dining at the Post Hotel is simply amazing. Additionally, ask at your hotel or campground 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.

Drink[edit][add listing]

For a drink most hotels in the Hamlet of Lake Louise do have a bar or pub.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

The lake is approximately an hour's drive from Banff, where a much wider variety of accommodations are available.

  • Chateau Lake Louise, 111 Lake Louise Drive, +1 403 522-3511, [25]. One of Canada's grand old hotels, the Chateau is the only option if you want to stay right at the lake, but be warned - the chateau is luxurious, but extremely expensive. If you have the money, it is worth it for the beautiful surroundings and the clear crisp mountain air.  edit
  • HI-Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel, Hwy 1A and Hwy 93 South, +1 778 328-2220 or +1 403 762-2367 (toll free: +1 866 762-4122, fax: +1 778 328-2215), [26]. checkin: 5PM; checkout: 10AM. A small hostel about halfway down the road towards Banff, and offers a very laid back atmosphere. The facilities are excellent, with a sizeable kitchen, friendly atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. Reservations are required during the winter months, as closure dates may apply, and recommended during the summer months to ensure a bed. Dorm beds from $23, with a $4 surcharge for non-members, ski packages available. Pets not allowed.  edit
  • HI-Lake Louise Alpine Centre, 203 Village Road, +1 403 522-2201 (toll free: +1 866 762-4122, fax: +1 403 522-2253), [27]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. A large hostel in the town. There is a cafe 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.  edit
  • HI-Mosquito Creek Hostel, (29km north of Lake Louise, 6km south of Crowfoot Glacier), +1 778 328-2220 (toll free: +1 866 762-4122, fax: +1 778 328-2215), [28]. checkin: 5PM; checkout: 10AM. It is a simple, rustic but clean hostel, in the middle of the Rockies at 1816m along the glacier-fed creek, offering a true back-to-nature "off-the-grid" Canadian experience. World-class outdoor pursuits are literally at your doorstep here, with an on-site sauna to soothe weary muscles at the end of the day! Pets not allowed. Dorms $20-23 members, $24-27 non-members. Private rooms $58-60 members, $66-68 non-members.  edit

Get out[edit]

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 Columbia Icefields Athabasca Falls and eventually Jasper

Along the Icefields Parkway the 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 campsites. 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
KamloopsField (in Yoho NP) ←  W noframe E  BanffCalgary
ENDJasper (in Jasper NP) ←  N noframe S  Radium Hot SpringsCranbrook


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