Things to Do in Lake Louise Alberta
by ampmlimo, on Oct 20, 2020 1:19:38 PM
There are many places to see and things to do in Lake Louise, Alberta. Admire the famous fairy-tale looking Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel. Hike on trails that take you into picturesque, world-class mountain scenery. Stop in for refreshments at century-old tea houses and paddle the turquoise waters of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. In winter enjoy skiing at mountain resorts, ice skating on the most beautiful outdoor rink in the world, along with many tours like dogsledding in winter available through local outfitters. This hamlet in Banff National Park is well worth the visit!
One of the easiest ways to get to Lake Louise, whether you have overnight bags or a week’s worth of ski equipment, is with luxury transportation. Read here for info on Party Bus Rentals in Banff and Lake Louise.
Paddle a red canoe on Lake Louise in summer
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
This beautiful piece of architecture was first built in the early 1900’s exclusively for summertime use. In 1982 the hotel was winterized and has since been an immensely popular destination, particularly in summer for the scenic hikes out its front door and Lake Louise itself. In fall people show up in droves when the larches are ablaze in yellow and in winter the area is a wonderland with loads of outdoor activities including downhill and cross-country skiing, skating and the Ice Magic Festival.
The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise sits on the stunning turquoise-coloured, glacier-fed, Lake Louise, and is surrounded by the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains. There are 539 rooms and seven dining options located within the hotel. The Lakeview Lounge is a favorite spot, with floor to ceiling Palladian windows overlooking the turquoise lake framed by snow-capped mountains and glaciers.
A winter view of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Tea Houses near Lake Louise
Tea houses have a history dating back to early last century when the CP Railway began building huts and teahouses in the backcountry of Banff National Park. The first one was the Lake Agnes Tea House, a small log cabin with a red roof on the east side shoreline of Lake Agnes which was built in 1904.
One of the top things to do in Lake Louise in summer is a hike up to the Lake Agnes Tea House
By the 1920’s, a second tea house opened overlooking the Victoria Glacier called the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. Both tea houses are owned and operated by local families and are open daily throughout the summer season. Note that you must sit down to eat.
If you are in the mood for some quality loose leaf tea and cannot decide which tea house to visit, make it a full day adventure by visiting both on a 14.5 km loop trail beginning from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
The hike up to the Plain of Six Glaciers (also called the Lake Louise Teahouse) can be done in 4 hours return
Moraine Lake – one of the most photographed lakes in the world!
Moraine Lake is a glacially fed lake that sits at an elevation of 1884 m in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. The unique and compelling colour of the water is due to the refraction of light off the rock flour continually being deposited in the lake by surrounding glaciers.
Moraine Lake Lodge, the only place to stay at the lakes, is a 20-minute drive from Lake Louise Village, via a 12.5 km drive along Moraine Lake Road. The lodge offers a luxurious escape if you are looking for a spectacular place to stay. It is in operation from June 1st to October 1st. All rooms face the lake and surrounding mountains.
Several hiking trails in the Moraine Lake area are popular tourist attractions. The most popular trail is the easy Rockpile Trail, which runs along the actual moraine and is approximately 980 feet long.
The top of the Rockpile offers a gorgeous view of Moraine Lake, especially at sunrise. It is one of the most photographed locations in all of Canada! The views of the lake with the stunning mountains towering behind in the Valley of the Ten Peaks is often referred to as the “Twenty Dollar View”. This view was featured on the Canadian $20 dollar bill in 1969 and 1979.
Another notable hike in the area takes you into the Larch Valley and ultimately to Sentinel Pass. It’s particularly gorgeous beginning in mid-September when the larches turn a golden yellow colour before dropping their needles.
Caption: The Larch Valley - Sentinel Pass hike is a perennial favourite
The downside to the popularity of the Moraine Lake area (and Lake Louise) is the fact that beginning in 2021 you will have to either pay for parking or reserve a spot on the Parks Canada shuttle bus beginning on April 28th, 2021.
The Moraine Lake Road is only open seasonally to cars. Most years it opens somewhere around the third week of May and closes after Thanksgiving weekend. You can check the Parks Canada website for up-to-date information on the road.
Once there is enough snow on the road, usually by mid-November, it gets track set for cross-country skiing. You can’t go all the way to the lake unless you know how to travel in avalanche country, but you can ski 8 km safely to a lookout and the retrace your steps.
The Icefields Parkway – one of the best day trips from Lake Louise
The Icefields Parkway is regarded as one of the most stunning alpine drives in the world. Traveling the 227 km Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) will have you winding through the Canadian Rockies, alongside dozens of ancient glaciers and stunning waterfalls. Allow a minimum of three hours to drive to Jasper – without stops, one way. Realistically, you need 5 – 6 hours so you can take advantage of all the pullovers.
Along the Icefields Parkway, there are numerous picture-perfect stops to make including Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, Mistaya Canyon, the Columbia Icefields, Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls.
You may get lucky and spot wildlife along this drive. Animals to look for include grizzly bears, moose, elk, and bighorn sheep. Only the lucky will spot a lynx or wolf. Never approach or feed wildlife. It’s always safer to stay in your car. For more information on wildlife viewing, check out our blog, Where to See Wildlife near Calgary, Lake Louise, and Banff National Park.
Bighorn sheep are a common sight in Banff National Park
If you want to stretch your legs on the drive, there are a couple of easy hikes worth doing. Parker Ridge, Wilcox Pass and Beauty Creek are all fantastic, but in different ways. Parker Ridge offers close-up glacier views whereas the Wilcox Pass hike offers the chance to see the Columbia Icefield from up high – along with the high probability of seeing bighorn sheep. The Beauty Creek hike takes you up to a pretty waterfall that is ideal for a lunch-time picnic.
A Parks Canada red chair moment on the Wilcox Pass hike
Columbia Icefield Glacier Skywalk
If you would like to appreciate the breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies in a unique and once in a lifetime way, try out the Glacier Skywalk. This adventure is for the brave-hearted!
The Glacier Skywalk experience features, waterfalls, wildlife, fossils, and more on a one km walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot drop. Hours of operation vary, so make sure you check out information beforehand for times and admission costs.
Skiing in Banff National Park
Skiing and snowboarders travel from all over the world to enjoy the slopes in Banff National Park. With plenty of variety throughout the three resorts, (SkiBig3) the phenomenal scenery is like no other. Located near many tourist activities, shopping spots, and impressive dining, you can make an entire day or weekend out of your ski trip!
One bonus of skiing/snowboarding in Banff is that you can ride on the three Banff National Park Ski resorts on an interchangeable tri-area lift ticket.
Riding the chairlift at the Lake Louise ski resort
Ski in Style and rent the limousine to the ski resort.
Lake Louise Ski Resort – one of the prettiest ones in Canada
The Lake Louise Ski Resort is approximately a 40-minute drive from Banff. It has 4200 acres of land – and as such is one of the largest ski resorts in North America. You’ll find lots of long runs including one that is 8 km long. They also have a variety of terrain for all ability levels. There is a good beginner area.
From every chairlift you can access beginner, intermediate and expert runs. Not only are there 145 marked runs at the ski resort but a tube park and a terrain park.
It’s worth coming back to the ski resort in summer. The Lake Louise Gondola is used for both sightseeing and grizzly bear viewing. This is a safe way to enjoy a grizzly bear experience.
Sunshine Village Ski Resort
Sunshine Village, located 15 km southwest of Banff is home to 3,358 acres of skiable terrain. With 120 named runs across three mountains, the resort runs from Alberta into British Columbia. Of the three Banff ski areas, Sunshine is known to have the best and most snow due to its high elevation. Annual snowfall can be upwards of nine metres – so skiing continues into May.
At the top of the gondola there is the option to stay at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge boasting an enormous hot tub with a view. It also allows for a first-tracks experience.
Mt Norquay – for skiing, boarding and one of the best views in Banff
Mt Norquay ski hill is the most closed to the Banff townsite, being only a 10-minute drive away. Norquay is a smaller ski resort, covering about 190 acres. It’s a cheaper option and very family oriented. If you are looking to warm up your legs, Mt Norquay is a great start!
Mt. Norquay has 60 named runs, 5 chairlifts along with a tubing park and terrain park. In the summer you can come here for a Via Ferrata experience. Don’t miss a drink and a meal with a view at the Cliffhouse Bistro.
Need a ride to the slopes? With or without ski and/or snowboard equipment, there are options available to get you and your group to the ski hill and back. You can check these out in this blog here, The Ultimate Transportation to Banff and Lake Louise.
The view from the top of the chair by the Cliffside Bistro at Mount Norquay
Summer hiking in and around Lake Louise
There are many options for hiking in and around Lake Louise. But first organize a day pack containing extra clothes and rain gear, along with food and sunscreen, a charged phone, a map, and a small first-aid kit. Include a water bottle or two depending on the day and a good pair of hiking shoes – along with a full can of bear spray. You’ll find loads of trails to explore no matter what level of hiker you are. More strenuous trails are available for the experienced hiker and guided tours can be booked with various companies.
One of the more popular places to hike to (and snowshoe in winter) is Johnston Canyon, but keep in mind that the parking is usually limited. In summer 2021, Highway 1A will be closed again but a shuttle will be available. For an easier hike, you can stop at the Lower Falls in Johnston Canyon and head back. Continuing to the Upper Falls gets more difficult, but the views are worth it.
The Johnston Canyon to Ink Pots hike is an 11.7 km out and back trip that features waterfalls, canyons and the Ink Pots themselves. It is rated as a moderate hike. The Ink Pots are 2.7 km one way from the Upper Falls. The Ink Pots are mineral springs that vary in colour because each of the pools fills at a different rate. The signage on site says, “the milky-green pools fill more slowly and have a heavier suspension of fine materials than the clear, deep-blue pools”.
The Ink Pots can be reached via Johnston Canyon
Another way to get the complete Lake Louise experience is from the summit of Mount Fairview. Along this trail are stunning views of Lake Louise, nearby glaciers, and a beautiful mountain backdrop all around. This is a tough hike covering 10.6 km return and boasting 1,014 m elevation gain. You’ll need a minimum of 4 – 5 hours to do the return hike.
Many people opt to turn around at the Saddleback – and that’s still a 7.4 km round-trip hike. It’s particularly beautiful to hike in mid to late September when the larches are at their peak.
The Fairview Mountain hike rewards with incredible views
For more ideas on what the do in Lake Louise check out the Banff – Lake Louise website.
Transportation options to Banff and Lake Louise
AM PM Limousine & Party Bus has been providing transportation services between the Calgary Airport, Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, and other areas in Alberta for over ten years. Whether you are needing an airport shuttle, a limousine for a wedding, a party bus for a group heading to the slopes with gear and luggage, or a day tour, AM PM will be there for you! Just give us a call or send us an email to get a quote today!