Lake Louise is undeniably one of the most popular places to visit in Alberta, and rightfully so. The glimmering blue-green hues of the lake, set against the backdrop of majestic peaks and glaciers, consistently leave a lasting impression.
Beyond simply admiring the lake, Lake Louise and its surroundings offer a plethora of activities, albeit varying with the seasons. Whether you opt for an active agenda or prefer a more leisurely approach, your chosen activities are bound to leave you thoroughly satisfied.
Lake Louise is not confined to being a summer retreat. As winter blankets the region and the lake freezes over, a host of other activities come to life, including downhill skiing, snowshoeing, enchanting sleigh rides, and ice skating.
Determine the season that suits your preferences, and then peruse our comprehensive list of the best things to do in Lake Louise.
1. Admire Lake Louise and walk the Lakeshore Trail
At Lake Louise, a simple yet rewarding activity is to park your car, descend the hill to the lake, and blend in with the crowds of tourists along the shoreline. Even if you opt for nothing more, you’ll still have witnessed one of the prime highlights of Banff National Park.
Extend your experience by taking a few extra minutes to amble along the lakeshore to the right, following the Lakeshore Trail past the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. From this perspective, you’ll enjoy even more stunning views of the lake and the towering mountains on the opposite side. Capture some memorable photos of the red canoes set against the majestic mountain backdrop.
As you move away from the bustling crowds, you might discover a newfound enjoyment in your stroll. Seize the opportunity to relax and absorb the scenery by grabbing one of the numerous benches along the way.
Accommodation: Best Resorts in Alberta
Read More: Best Hikes at Lake Louise
2. Canoe Lake Louise
The perspective from the Lake Louise shoreline is truly unique, but there’s an equally captivating view from the water. Canoeing on Lake Louise becomes surprisingly popular in the summer. Distance yourself from the crowds lining the shoreline and navigate the turquoise waters to discover your tranquil haven in the Canadian Rockies.
Depending on your level of energy, you can paddle around the lake area in front of the Chateau or venture to the headwaters at the far end of the lake. As you progress further up the lake, the views of Victoria Glacier become increasingly spectacular.
Hourly canoe rentals are available at the boathouse on the lake’s edge. If you prefer a guided canoe trip, arrangements can be made for up to six passengers. Canoes are provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
3. Hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers
Commencing in front of the Chateau Lake Louise, the Lake Louise Shoreline trail seamlessly connects with the Plain of Six Glaciers trail, culminating at a historic tea house nestled beneath the Victoria Glacier.
This round-trip hike spans 10.6 kilometers (6.6 miles) with an elevation gain of 365 meters (1,197 feet). The trail is well-maintained and easily navigable, ranking among the top hikes in Banff National Park. The scenery is genuinely breathtaking, offering vistas of the glacier and a panoramic view down the lake towards the Chateau.
The trail’s flexibility allows you to determine your preferred distance, whether reaching the tea house, the trail’s end, or a point where you feel satisfied. Regardless of your chosen distance, the views remain splendid, and venturing farther ensures a more secluded experience as the crowds dissipate.
4. Moraine Lake
Many visitors to Lake Louise overlook the breathtaking beauty of Moraine Lake, and this is a regrettable oversight since the splendor of Moraine Lake can be considered equal to, and by some, even superior to that of Lake Louise.
Although both lakes share the same turquoise hues, Moraine Lake distinguishes itself primarily through its setting. Bounded at one end by a colossal rockpile, the lake is enclosed by the majestic mountain range known as the Ten Peaks. Notably, this iconic view adorned the reverse side of Canada’s 20-dollar bill from 1970 to 1993.
Exploring the shoreline trail is highly recommended, as is ascending the Rockpile for a magnificent viewing area. For more adventurous hikers, the Larch Valley or Sentinel hiking trails offer additional opportunities to immerse yourself in the captivating scenery.
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5. Hike to the Big Beehive
Having reached the Lake Agnes Teahouse and desiring more scenic views, consider extending your hike upward to the Big Beehive. Positioned immediately to your left while standing on the teahouse patio, the Big Beehive hike can be undertaken separately, but it essentially functions as a continuation of the Lake Agnes hike.
Continuing onward offers dual advantages: first, a splendid view back down Lake Agnes to the teahouse, and second, reaching the summit provides breathtaking vistas over Lake Louise and the Bow Valley.
Keep in mind that you can always opt-out. If, upon reaching the far side of Lake Agnes, you find the switchback trail to the Big Beehive saddle too challenging, you have the flexibility to turn back. Find a rock to sit on and relish the view from that point.
If you choose to proceed to the summit, be prepared for sections of the trail that become steep and narrow, potentially posing challenges for those with a fear of heights.
When combined with the Lake Agnes Tea House hike, the total distance becomes a 10.5-kilometer (6.5-mile) round-trip hike.
6. Takakkaw Falls
A brief yet awe-inspiring drive away in Yoho National Park leads to Takakkaw Falls. This unforgettable waterfall is formed by the meltwater runoff from the immense Daly Glacier, cascading 384 meters (1,250 feet) off a ledge.
A short, mostly level stroll from the parking lot offers continuous vistas of the waterfall. For the more adventurous or daring individuals, you can scramble onto the rocks and approach the base of the falls.
As you get closer, the likelihood of getting wet increases, and it’s worth considering that even in the peak of summer, the water remains just above freezing.
An intriguing stopover between Lake Louise and Takakkaw Falls is the spiral tunnels, which ingeniously addressed the issue of runaway trains on the steep incline.
7. Lake Louise Visitor Center
While you are exploring Samson Mall, make sure to visit the Lake Louise Visitor Center. Housed in a striking architectural structure, the center contains comprehensive information about the surrounding national parks, including Yoho, Kootenay, and the Ice Fields Parkway route.
Knowledgeable Park staff are available to address your inquiries about the area and offer valuable insights into hiking and biking trails, as well as the top attractions. It’s a valuable stop for families, as the interactive displays cater to all ages, providing both educational and entertaining experiences.
Behind the building, a picturesque river flows, and in this area, you’ll discover short walking trails and picnic tables.
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8. Ski or Board at Lake Louise Ski Resort
The Lake Louise ski area stands as one of the best skiing destinations in Canada. Spanning two mountains, this resort offers ski runs catering to every skill level, featuring lengthy groomers on the front side, challenging bumps off the back, and a diverse range of terrain on Larch Mountain in the rear.
Lake Louise frequently serves as the host for the FIS World Cup downhill and Super G ski races early in each season. If you’re aiming to enjoy some early season turns, consider timing your visit to coincide with these races.
With an average annual snowfall of 4.5 meters (15 feet), the resort boasts a nearly 1,000-meter (3,251-foot) vertical drop serviced by 11 lifts. The West Bowl, a recently opened terrain, has swiftly become the favored destination for intermediate and advanced skiers.
Many skiers planning a ski holiday in Banff National Park opt to experience both Lake Louise Ski Resort and Sunshine Village. Another option in the vicinity is Mt. Norquay.
9. Chateau Lake Louise
Immerse yourself fully in the Lake Louise experience by choosing a waterfront room at the Chateau Lake Louise. Positioned right at the water’s edge, this Fairmont property provides the ultimate Lake Louise encounter.
Beyond its exceptional location, the resort boasts top-notch dining and indulgent amenities. Five restaurants, two featuring lakefront patios, and one dedicated to afternoon tea service, present a diverse range of regional and international cuisine.
After a day filled with exploration, unwind with a rejuvenating treatment at The Spa. With twenty different offerings, including foot and body massages, facials, manicures, and pedicures, you can pamper yourself to your heart’s content.
The Chateau can also arrange various adventures, such as guided hikes, canoe rentals, and horseback riding. In case of inclement weather, the hotel offers complimentary fitness and wellness classes within its premises.
10. Set up Camp at the Lake Louise Campground
For many, a stay at the Lake Louise Campground in Banff National Park is a memorable part of their visit. The campground offers two sections, one designated for tents and soft-sided trailers, and the other for hard-side RVs.
Among the two, the tent campground stands out for its scenic beauty, featuring towering pine trees, riverside walking trails, and excellent amenities. The atmosphere is serene, especially in the evening, with only the gentle hum of voices and the crackling of campfires.
Camping provides optimal access to Lake Louise’s main attractions. With complimentary access to the Parks Connector shuttle service, you can explore key highlights before the crowds descend.
Concerned about grizzly bears? Fear not, as the park is safeguarded by an electric fence. Given the campground’s popularity, it’s advisable to secure your reservations online well in advance.
11. Hike Larch Valley or Sentinel Pass
More daring hikers will find excitement in lacing up their boots and embarking on the trail starting from Moraine Lake, leading to Larch Valley, and possibly extending to Sentinel Pass. This trail, counted among the top hikes in Banff National Park, seamlessly blends two distinct trails into one.
Larch Valley serves as a prelude to Sentinel Pass, requiring hikers to traverse this area on their journey to Sentinel Pass. Frequently, hikers initially set out with the goal of reaching Larch Valley, but upon achieving this objective, the allure of Sentinel Pass in the distance often propels them to continue onward.
Larch Valley unfolds as an expansive area opposite the Wenchama Mountain range. In September, the pine trees transform into a vibrant yellow before shedding their needles. Against the backdrop of snow-capped peaks, the scenery becomes nothing short of breathtaking.
Reaching Sentinel Pass offers panoramic views of Larch Valley and, on the opposite side of the pass, Paradise Valley. Additionally, intriguing rock pinnacles known as Sentinels protrude from the mountainside.
12. Shop at Samson Mall
The charming and compact Lake Louise town features a petite shopping area known as Samson Mall, hosting a variety of retail outlets alongside the Parks Canada Visitor Center.
Among the stores is Wilsons, a ski and snowboard shop offering the latest gear for both purchase and rental. Just a short stroll away, Samson Native Gallery proudly exhibits diverse forms of artwork, including paintings, jewelry, and sculptures. For those with a penchant for sweets, indulge your sugar cravings at the Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe.
For campers in need of supplies, a small grocery store is conveniently situated here. Across the road, there is a gas station with a restaurant situated behind it.
13. Go White Water Rafting
A short distance further west from Lake Louise, you’ll find the aptly named Kicking Horse River. On this exhilarating stretch of whitewater, several operators offer rafting trips that cater to all ages. These thrilling journeys navigate through lively rapids, leaving participants with broad, delighted grins.
While many opt for these trips during the summer, expecting the river water to be somewhat warm, it is, in fact, quite chilling. Thankfully, your outfitter will provide a wetsuit to ensure you stay comfortably warm. Both full- and half-day rafting excursions are available. For an added adventure, consider a full- or half-day raft trip that includes a helicopter ride.
Q: Is Lake Louise suitable for year-round visits?
A: Yes, Lake Louise offers unique attractions in every season, making it a suitable destination year-round.
Q: What is the best time to visit Lake Louise for photography?
A: The golden hours during sunrise and sunset provide the most stunning lighting for photography at Lake Louise.
Q: Are there guided wildlife tours available in Lake Louise?
A: Yes, several tour operators offer guided wildlife tours, providing a safe and educational experience.
Q: Can beginners enjoy skiing at Lake Louise?
A: Absolutely! Lake Louise Ski Resort caters to all skill levels, including beginners, with designated slopes for learning.
Q: How can visitors contribute to conservation efforts at Lake Louise?
A: Visitors can support conservation by following responsible tourism practices, participating in eco-friendly activities, and learning about local conservation initiatives.