The turquoise jewel of the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise sits nestled between glaciers, beckoning visitors with its mirror-like waters, serene setting, and plethora of summer and winter activities, from hiking to snowshoeing. The mountain resort town of Banff is just down the Trans-Canada Highway from Lake Louise.
Lake Louise is the name of both the lake and hamlet inside Banff National Park, each located about 6 miles (10 kilometers) apart. Part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area is near Jasper National Park and glacial attractions like Athabasca Glacier, the Columbia Icefield, and the Glacier Skywalk. You might spend the majority of your time at Lake Louise, or take a tour from Banff that covers Kootenay National Park, Marble Canyon, and the lake. Hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking are popular summertime pursuits, while Lake Louise Ski Resort provides wintertime recreation and some winter tours include snowshoe treks. To see nearby sites without transportation hassles, take a hop-on hop-off bus through Banff, with stops running from Banff townsite to Lake Louise.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The elevation of Lake Louise is 5,740 feet (1,750 meters), while Banff is at 4,540 feet (1,384 meters); drink plenty of water to stay hydrated at the high altitudes.
- Some short trails in the area provide wheelchair accessibility, such as the Banff Legacy Trail and Bow Riverside Trail.
- The area’s public shuttles are not wheelchair accessible.
- A Park Pass is required to enter Banff National Park and to travel on the scenic parkways such as the Icefields Parkway; this requirement is covered in most tours.
How to Get There
Lake Louise is 35 miles (57 kilometers) northwest of Banff, which is 79 miles (127 kilometers) west of Calgary, Alberta’s largest city and home to Calgary International Airport. The Rocky Mountaineer has regularly scheduled train service with a stop in Banff. Once in Banff, the hop-on hop-off bus tour provides transportation around Banff National Park, including to Lake Louise.
When to Get There
Banff and Lake Louise are year-round destinations, so plan your visit according to the experiences that interest you. Warm-weather activities like hiking generally run from June to mid-October with July and August being the warmest months. The larch trees around Lake Louise turn yellow and orange in late September or early October. Winter activities like skiing and snowshoeing run from December through April.
Visiting the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
In addition to natural splendor, Lake Louise boasts a man-made icon, as well—the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Dating back to 1911, the luxury hotel has hosted Hollywood stars and European royalty and is worth a visit for afternoon tea, a fondue dinner, a spa treatment, or a drink with a view of the turquoise lake.