Lake Louise is one of the main attractions of Banff National Park. Before organizing your trip to Lake Louise check out our tips, so you an make your experience even more enjoyable. This spectacular place attracts many tourists and sometime can get very crowded. In the peak summer tourist season there can be up to 15,000 visitors. It is not hard to understand why, Lake Louise offers stunning landscapes, incredible hikes and dozens of outdoor activities. Is the perfect place for every nature lover.
Here you can find what you need to know before planning your trip to Lake Louise. Enjoy the nature, avoid the crowd and save some money.
TRIP TO LAKE LOUISE • ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
WHY IS LAKE LOUISE TURQUOISE?
Lake Louise is very famous for its turquoise water, that is even more valuable during the summer. This vibrant color is the result of light refracting off the rock flour (glacier silt) deposited in the lake by glacier run off. The phenomenon is an exceptional example of glacial geological erosion and deposition. It is hard to believe but not artificial dye is added to the water. Since the result depends a lot on the light condition, the intensity or brilliance of the color of Lake Louise may change every hour. Make sure your trip to Lake Louise is long enough to enjoy all the shades of the water.
WHERE IS LAKE LOUISE?
The beautiful waters of Lake Louise are located 5 KM from Lake Louise town. This stunning lake is part of the Banff National Park, the oldest national park in Canada (1885). The park is located in the Rocky Mountains 110-180 KM west of Calgary in the province of Alberta. The park of Banff includes numerous glaciers, ice fields, dense conifer forests and countless lakes. Lake Louise is in the north part of the park, close to Jasper National Park.
HOW TO GET TO LAKE LOUISE?
There are several ways to get to Banff National Park and Lake Louise. Before planning your trip to Lake Louise think carefully what you want to see and what are your needs. Our choice was to rent a car directly from Calgary Airport, so we could have more freedom and flexibility. If you don’t have much time during your trip in Lake Louise, than probably this is the right things to do.
Calgary International Airport (YYC) is the third largest airport in Canada. It services direct flights from international destinations as well as extensive air access across Canada.
From the airport, it’s a scenic 90 minute (140 KM ) drive to Banff & Lake Louise.
Banff National Park is located along the TransCanada Highway. Open year-round, it is a well maintained road that winds its way through the Canadian Rockies. If you are coming from east, Banff is a 90 minute (140 KM ) drive west of Calgary, Alberta. Than you have to add another 57 KM to Lake Louise. If you are coming from the west, Banff & Lake Louise is a scenic day’s drive (850 KM) from Vancouver.
- Buses From Banff
Banff is about 57 KM from Lake Louise. There are several hop on and off buses that can lead you to Lake Louise. Refer to their website for information about routes, schedules and fares.
Due to the large amount of tourists, hitchhiking is very popular. You can meet lots of people asking for a ride. You can easily find different Facebook pages/groups dedicated to car sharing. Make your trip to Lake Louise even more fun!
HOW MUCH IS BANFF / LAKE LOUISE PASS?
To get the access to Banff National park and Lake Louise you need a valid pass.
- Day Pass
The Day Pass provides entry to Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Waterton Lakes and Elk Island national parks. It is valid until 4:00 p.m. on the day after purchase. The price for the day pass is $ 9.80, for one adult.
- Discovery Pass
The Discovery Pass provides entry into more than 100 National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas and National Historic Sites across Canada. It is valid for a full year until the end of the calendar month of purchase. The price for the Discovery Pass is $ 67.70, for one adult.
You can purchase both the passes directly at the gate of the National Parks or buy them in advance online.
WHERE DO I CAMP IN LAKE LOUISE?
Camping is at the same time the cheapest and the most authentic experience you will have. We booked our camping spot trough the Parks Canada website. We choose for Lake Louise campground. Pay attention to this: book your trip to Lake Louise in advance! As we said before, this area is very popular and you may not find a spot. Lake Louise campground is located 5 KM far from the lake shore and 1 KM from the town. The camping is very big and well organized. We loved our staying there. Every spot in the Soft-Sided Campground has a wooden camping table and enough trees to shade the area. The privacy is extremely good. If you are planning to have a campfire, ask for a fire pit. Open fires are forbidden in the park.
Many travelers ask if is possible to sleep in their own vehicles, unfortunately it is strictly forbidden inside the National park. Park security check the area constantly during day and night. What you can do if you have your own RV or minivan is book a spot in a campground and sleep there. No restrictions are applied outside the Banff National Park.
If camping is not your thing, there are so many other options available. Be ready to open up your wallet and spend a lot of money!
WHERE TO HIKE IN LAKE LOUISE?
There are several worthwhile hikes in the area but definitely the shoreline trail is the easiest one. It starts from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel, leading to the other side of the lake. It is a flat stroll that can be enjoyed by anyone. To make your trip to Lake Louise even more remarkable we suggest to hike to the Plain of Six Glacier Tea House.
The hikes to the Lake Agnes Tea House is certainly one of the most popular in the area, but if you really want to live a memorable experience got to Plain of Six Glacier. You always have the option to check out lake Agnes in your way back. This trail takes you up close to the heart of Mount Lefroy, Mount Victoria and the Victoria Glacier, it’s a spectacular sight year round. It is a moderately challenging hike, but very rewarding.
The first few KM of the route is along the easy Lake Louise shoreline trail. The rest is not very difficult but the route starts climb to an elevation of nearly 400m. From here the view to Lake Louise is even more spectacular. While proceeding, keep always the right. During the beginning of the season (May / June) some areas can be still covered by snow, find your path and keep going. The last 500 M near the ascent to the Tea House is significantly steep but just before reaching it there is an area with several benches where hikers can relax. Add additional 1.3 KM to your hike to make your trip to Lake Louise even more unique. You can reach the view point to see the origin of this amazing lake.
- Tea House Hours of Operation: Daily from 9am to 6pm in July and August. June, September and October 9am to 5pm
- Tea House season start by the end of may beginning of June, Season end by the beginning of October
- Tea House accepts cash only!
- You are entering bear territory, it’s advised to carry bear spray. Make noise as you hike, or hang a bell to your backpack
- For Plain Of Six Glacier 5.5 KM one way
- From Lake Louise to Plain Of Six Glacier tom 4 to 6 hours return trip
- Climate can change rapidly, bring extra layer of clothes
WHEN TO VISIT LAKE LOUISE?
In our opinion is one of those places that offers many activities according to the season. Summer is perfect for hiking and sightseeing, winter is good for skiing while during shoulder seasons you can find better deals in a more quiet environment. We went there in high season and we found the Banff National Park really crowded, so we strongly suggest you to set the alarm at 4:30/5:00 am.
Anyway if you are planning your tip to Lake Louise you should consider few different aspects. Lake Louise doesn’t thaw until the first week of June. The color of the lake is definitely more vibrant in June and August when the flow of the melt water is at its highest.
WHAT TO DO IN LAKE LOUISE VILLAGE?
The hamlet of Lake Louise has a small shopping centre, with a grocery store, bakery, deli, bar, sporting goods store, and a beautiful visitor information centre. Lake Louise also offers a few restaurant and cafe and a nice pub.
Smaller and quieter than the town of Banff, you really feel immersed in the mountains and nature. We spend few hours there, drinking a coffee and relaxing after a long hike. Don’t miss the Visitor information center, here you can have all the information you need for your trip to Lake Louise. You can discover more about the area thanks to a permanent self explanatory exhibiton and enjoy the good free wifi connection.
THINGS TO DO NEXT LAKE LOUISE
Lake Louise is the perfect base for exploring different areas of Banff National Park.
Moraine Lake area, for examples, offers many beautiful hikes. We personally choose the one to Consolation Lakes. Within half an hour by car you can reach Johnston Canyon. A trail along limestone cliffs leads you to two beautiful waterfalls.
Stroll in Banff main street is a must. Check out all the souvenir shops and get a nice tea at the tea shop. If you have been to the one in Plain of Six Glacier you’ll have a discount.
Among many others, canoeing on the turquoise waters of the lakes is the most popular activity. Lake Louise and Lake Moraine offer cane rental. For more information and activities check out Banff & Lake Louise website.