Lake Louise

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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 Canadian Rockies of 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

Lake Louise is 194 KM (120 miles) west of Calgary, Alberta and 60 KM (36 miles) West of the town of Banff.

  • International Airport is a 2.5 hours drive to Lake Louise. There are serveral 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.
  • Greyhound does a few different scheduled runs throughout the day from the Calgary Bus Terminal.

Get around

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 you can stop and take a tour on the Columbia Icefied which 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 the only car rental company in Lake Louise, otherwise the tour buses do stop.

Check in at the information centre at Samson Mall for a schedule, or visit for more information.


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. 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 in the winter and a Sightseeing Gondola 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.

For more information on what to do go to


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.

In winter, visitors can ice skate on the lake and enjoy a dogsled ride to the continental divide. The Lake Louise ski resort is 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.


There isnt' a lot of shopping in Lake Louise. There are some stores at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louiseas well as in the Hamlet at Samson Mall.

You can rent sporting equipment at Wilson Mountain Sports.


In the town at the base of the mountain, there are two restaurants (one converted from the heritage-listed train station) and a gas station.



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, (403)522-3511, [2], 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.
  • HI-Lake Louise Alpine Centre, Village Road, reservations:(403)670-7580, toll free 1-866-762-4122 hostel:(403)522-2202, [3], is 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. Sorry No Pets
  • HI-Castle Mountain Wilderness Hostel, central reservations:(403)670-7580, toll free1-866-762-4122, [4], is 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. Highly recommended. 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. Sorry No Pets
  • HI-Mosquito Creek Hostel, Hwy 93 North - 29km North of Lake Louise-6km South of Crowfoot Glacier, (403)-670-7580, toll free 1-866-762-4122, [1]. checkin: 6:00pm; checkout: 11:00am. 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!" Sorry No Pets WEEKDAY FROM:$23 plus a $4 Non HI-Member surcharge applicable for Non-Members.

Get out

Escape the crowds of tourists at Lake Louise and travel up the Icefields Parkway Highway 93 North - Banff to Jasper Highway, The it is one 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. 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.

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