The Ultimate Guide to Lake Louise: All You Need to Know

Lake Louise

Lake Louise is probably the most famous spot in Banff National Park. The turquoise-blue glacier lake is sandwiched between the Rocky Mountains, guaranteeing stunning views. It is also known as the lake with the gigantic hotel on the shore, Fairmont Château Lake Louise. 

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Height: 1750 m (5740 ft)
Deepest point: 70 m (220 ft)
Length: 2.4 km (1.5 mi)
Widest point: 1.2 km (0.75 mi)
Coordinates: 51°24′42″N 116°13′41″W

Lake Louise is a meltwater lake. It is fed by the Victoria Glacier, which rises above the western part of the lake. And yes, the color of the water is really that blue. It owes its unique color to the sunlight reflecting on the so-called rock flour deposited in the lake by the glacier.

In winter, Lake Louise also guarantees beautiful pictures and fun. It is an excellent place for ice skating and snowshoeing.


Lake Louise is located five kilometers (3.10 mi) from the hamlet of the same name and the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1). The lake attracts visitors all year round. Most visit the lake in the summer, but the place is also bustling in the winter. On the other side of the Trans-Canada Highway you’ll find the ski area of the same name. It is the third-largest ski area in Canada (after Whistler and Sun Peaks Resort). The ski season is also very long, from November through May.


You can visit Lake Louise all year round, but the best period is from the end of June to mid-October. The lake is frozen before and after, and as a result, the famous blue color is not visible.

In winter, the lake offers superb winter sports including ice skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.


Sunrise over a cloudy lake Louise with its turquoise water the lake is famous for

It doesn’t really matter when you get to the lake. It’s always beautiful. It can be chilly in the mornings, sometimes even in the middle of summer. However, catching the sunrise at the lake makes for beautiful pictures and the same goes for the sunset.

If you want to be sure of finding a parking space near the lake, you need to arrive (well) before 8am in the summer.


If you’re there to take in the scenery, take pics, have a drink and a quick bite, and explore the Fairmont Château Lake Louise, 90 minutes to 2 hours at Lake Louise should suffice. But it really depends on your desires and interests.

If you want to hike, you could spend a day or even more around the lake. There are a number of trails around Lake Louise, ranging from easy to difficult, each with its own unique views and experiences.

You can also take a canoe trip on the lake to explore the lake and its surroundings from the water.

I highly recommend making a plan before you visit so you know what you want to do and how much time it will approximately take.


The lake is located 5 kilometers (3.1 mi) from Lake Louise Village and is easily accessible by car. There are two large car parks for cars and RV’s. 

From mid-June to mid-October, between 7 am and 7 pm, you must pay to park at one of the two parking areas at the lake.

Parking at Lake Louise costs a whopping CAD 21 per day at the general parking and CAD 8 per day at the accessible parking.

Park your car and then pay at one of the ticket machines on the path to the lake. 

The ticket machines use a so-called pay-by-plate system. Make sure you take a picture of your car’s number plate. After paying, you don’t have to go back to your vehicle or RV.

However, the lakeside car parks are so busy in high season that they are packed by 8 am and remain so until around 8 pm. 

You can also park your car or camper at the Park and Ride. It is located in the Lake Louise Ski Resort near the Trans-Canada Highway, 7.4 kilometers (4.6 mi) northeast of the lake. Free parking is available at the site.

If you want to see in advance how full the car park is, check the latest status updates

I wrote down everything you need to know about parking in Banff National Park. Check it out if you want to know more about what’s up with parking in the park.

Fairmont Château Lake Louise

Shuttle Bus to Lake Louise Lakeshore

There are two shuttle bus routes to the Lake Louise Lakeshore.

The first shuttle bus runs seven days a week from the Park and Ride to the Lake Louise Lakeshore. It runs every 20 minutes from 6.30 am to 6 pm and reservations are required.

Your ticket is valid for one hour. You can arrive at any time within that hour. The last shuttle bus back to the Park and Ride departs at 7.30 pm.

The second shuttle bus runs every thirty minutes from 7 am until 7.30 pm. It stops at the Lake Louise Campground, the Samson Mall in Lake Louise Village and the Park and Ride.

Both shuttle bus services are available from 19 May and 9 October. The last bus from Lake Louise leaves at 7:50 pm.

You can book your reservations from the spring, and you can book them here.

Good to know: A fraction of the available seats will also be issued gradually 48 hours prior to the departure date at 8am MST. If there are still seats available, walk-up seat purchases might be allowed.

CATEGORYFARES (includes return trip)
Adult (18 – 64 years)CAD 8
Senior (65+ years)CAD 4
Youth (0 – 17 years)FREE
Reservation feeCAD 3 (online) or CAD 6 (by telephone)
Shuttle bus fares from Park and Ride to Lake Louise Lakeshore

Visit Moraine Lake too

You can also book the shuttle bus for a combined visit to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, 14 km (8.7 mi) away. The Lake Connector shuttle bus is used for this purpose.

It runs every fifteen minutes between 8 am and 6 pm and operates on a first-come, first-served basis. Your ticket includes a return trip from either lake to the Park and Ride where you parked your vehicle.

The Lake Connector shuttle bus operates between June 1 and October 9.

Read this post about Moraine Lake to discover everything you need to know about this stunning natural phenomenon.

Visiting Lake Louise from Lake Louise Village

If you’re staying at a hotel or campground in Lake Louise Village, you can visit Lake Louise by taking the Park and Ride Connector. It loops every half hour between Lake Louise Campground and Samon Mall in Lake Louise Village and the Park and Ride at Lake Louise Ski Resort.

It runs from 7 am to 7.30 pm. You don’t need a reservation and it’s free. However, once at the Park and Ride you will need to catch the Lake Louise shuttle bus. These buses require a ticket and a reservation (see above).

A sign at the Lake Louise parking lot depicting the Parks Canada shuttle bus schedule

Public Transport to Lake Louise

Don’t have a rental car? Or prefer public transport because of the traffic at Lake Louise? You can take the bus from Banff to the lake. 

Where to Hop on the Bus to Lake Louise?

Roam Transit has two routes that take you to Lake Louise. They both depart from the Banff High School stop on Banff Avenue.

These are:

  • Route 8x (Express: 19 May – 9 October, 7 days a week )
  • Route 8s (Regional: 1 July – 27 August, 3 times a week (Fri – Sun), and on statutory holidays)

Route 8X is the express route over the TransCanada Highway and only stops at Lake Louise Village North before reaching its destination at Lake Louise Lakeshore. This route takes 57 minutes.

Route 8S takes the scenic Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A) and stops at Johnston Canyon, Castle Junction, Protection Mountain, Baker Creek and Lake Louise Village North. This trip takes 1 hour and 23 minutes.

Tickets are CAD 10 per adult.


  • If you’re visiting Banff National Park in the summer, reservations are recommended, although walk-ups are possible.
  • You can pay with cash in Canadian and U.S. currency. Fare boxes accept bills up to $20, and all coins, except pennies. You are required to pay exact change.
  • Children under 12 ride free, though require a reservation.

You can also visit Lake Louise Village by Roam Transit on the so called Super Pass. If you purchase a Super Pass (see below), the shuttle buses to Lake Louise AND Moraine Lake (Parks Canada Lake Connector Shuttle) are included.

What is the Roam Super Pass?
The Roam Transit Super Pass allows you to board any Roam bus in Banff National Park without a reservation. It also allows you to travel on any/all Roam Transit routes – from Canmore to Banff to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

You can purchase a Super Pass at these three locations:
• On Roam Transit buses
• At Roam Transit’s Banff office (224 Banff Avenue)
• Through the Token Transit App (available for both iOS (iPhone) and Android)

Price: CAD 25.

Good to know: The Roam Transit Super Pass offers free access to the Parks Canada Lake Connector shuttle from Lake Louise Lakeshore or Moraine Lake.

From Lake Louise to Moraine Lake

If you want to go from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake, you can take the shuttle bus near the lake (see above). Present a valid pass to Parks Canada staff and you’ll receive your boarding pass.

More Information:

Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission
Address: 221 Beaver Street, Banff
Phone: +1 403 – 762 0606

Traveling to Lake Louise by electric car? Read the post with all ins and out about Banff by EV.


The buses of HopOnBanff take you to the greatest attractions Banff National Park has to offer. When you book a day pass, you can explore the park’s major highlights, depending on the itinerary you choose.

Operated by locals with a guide or tour background in Banff, the service is similar to Roam’s public transportation, but with expert commentary.

If you’re going to Lake Louise, the HopOnBanff bus is a good idea because you don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot – which you won’t if you don’t get there early. And you don’t have to make reservations for the shuttle bus that takes you from the Park and Ride to the lake.

Wow Banff Open Top Touring

Wow Banff operates shuttle buses and open top double deckers to take you from the town of Banff to Lake Louise. The Banff Lake Louise Shuttle will take you over the scenic Bow Valley Parkway to the Lake Louise Ski Resort. There you’ll hop on their open top, double decker Explorer for a trip to the lake.

This shuttle service is for early risers only, as it departs at 7 am from several Banff hotels. Using Wow Banff’s service means that you’ll have to spend the morning and most of the afternoon at the lake (which shouldn’t be a problem), as the return trip doesn’t leave until 5 pm. The double decker Explorer, however, departs every hour, from 8 am until 3 pm.

Hotel Transfer

If you don’t want the hassle of getting to Lake Louise early in the morning or taking the shuttle bus from the Park and Ride to the lake, a private transfer can be a convenient solution. There’s a good chance your hotel has a shuttle service. Check with your hotel to find out.

Tours to Lake Louise

Another way to get to Lake Louise is to take a sightseeing tour. Which means no worries about finding a parking spot or taking the Parks Canada shuttle bus. Just sit back and relax while a guide tells you a thing or two about your surroundings.

This Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Tour combines a visit to Lake Louise AND Moraine Lake – both must-visit lakes – on the same day from the town of Banff.


Lake Louise is arguably the most iconic and famous view in Banff National Park. That’s why the lake is so busy in the summer. At other times of the year it’s not as bad, but it’s still busy.

To be honest, the crowds around the lake in the summer have become so big that it has become a drawback if you ask me. Add to that the huge parking problems and you could find better places in the park to spend your time and enjoy the scenery.


Lake Louise typically starts to melt in the spring, usually between late April and early June. Lake Louise typically starts to freeze over in November.


The weather is often moderate and pleasant during the summer. But since you’re in the Rocky Mountains, that could change at any moment, so it’s important to pack accordingly. Here’s a short list of things you should pack for your visit to Lake Louise.

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Warm jacket for the cooler evenings
  • Long pants (in case there are too many mosquitoes, it varies from year to year)
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun glasses
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Bug repellent
  • Camera (or smartphone)


Right on the shores of the lake is the famous Fairmont Château Lake Louise. This impressive hotel has 539 rooms and offers a beautiful view of Lake Louise. In the high season, prices start from about CAD 600 per night. If this is a bit too much for you, the hotel is still worth checking out. You can eat and drink in the various bars and restaurants. You will also find the necessary shops there.

Below, I also included two good cheaper options.

Chateau Lake Louise on the lakeshore of Lake Louise in Banff National Park

#1 Fairmont Château Lake Louise

✓ Swimming pool
✓ Best view in Lake Louise

Book it


Fairmont Château Lake Louise 
Address: 111 Lake Louise Dr, Lake Louise

#2 Baker Creek by Basecamp

✓ Pet friendly
✓ Gym

Book it


If you want a luxurious experience that’s not as expensive as the Fairmont Château Lake Louise, Baker Creek by Basecamp is a stunning option. The photo above speaks for itself.

Baker Creek by Basecamp
Bow Valley Pkwy, Lake Louise

#3 Mountaineer Lodge

✓ Hot Tub
✓ Breakfast included

Book it


Another nice, cheaper option is the Mountaineer Lodge in the Village of Lake Louise. It’s close to the amenities of Lake Louise and the TransCanada Highway, and Lake Louise itself is only a ten-minute drive away.

Mountaineer Lodge
101 Village Road, Lake Louise

Camping at Lake Louise

It is not possible to camp at Lake Louise. There are some campgrounds nearby, however. The two closest are Lake Louise Campground and Protection Mountain Campground. The use of a campground costs between 15 and 30 CAD per night. If you want to make a campfire, you must have a permit. These are available at most campgrounds.

Lake Louise Tent Campground

Address: 131 Fairview Drive, Lake Louise
Phone: +1 877 – 737 3783
Overnight stay: upon availability, reservations are possible
Number of sites: 206 
Facilities: picnic tables, fire pits, cooking area, showers, flush toilets, handicapped accessible and sani dump
Kind of accommodation: tents
Price: CAD 28.00
Period: 2 June – 27 September
Distance to Lake Louise: 4.5 km (2.78 mi)

Lake Louise Trailer Campground

Address: 131 Fairview Drive, Lake Louise
Phone: +1 877 – 737 3783 
Overnight stay: upon availability, reservations are possible
Number of sites: 395 (189 for motorhomes, 206 for tents) 
Facilities: picnic tables, fire pits, hot showers, flush toilets, disabled access and sani dump
Campfire permit: available at the campground
Kind of accommodations: motor homes and tents
Price: CAD 33.01
Period: all year
Distance to Lake Louise: 4.5 km (2.78 mi)

Protection Mountain Campground

Address: Bow Valley Pkwy, Eldon
Phone: +1 403 – 522 3833 
Overnight stay: upon availability
Number of spaces: 83
Facilities: flush toilets, cold tap water, fire pits, communal kitchens (wood-burning cookers) 
Campfire permit: available at the campground
Kind of accommodations: motor homes and tents
Price: CAD 21.97
Period: 18 June – 6 September
Distance to Lake Louise: 15.6 km (9.63 mi) 


If you want to escape the hordes of tourists at the edge of Lake Louise, there are more than enough possibilities. Do one of the many hikes that start at the lake, or go on the lake in a canoe. You can also go fishing (although the lake is not known as a good fishing spot). And in winter, there are also some beautiful snowshoe trails.

Hikes around Lake Louise

There are many great hikes in the Lake Louise area, from short and easy to long and challenging. Below are brief descriptions of the most popular ones.

I have also included tables of Lake Louise hikes, sorted by difficulty. This gives you a comprehensive overview of most hikes in the Lake Louise area.


Bow River Loop14.2 km (8.76 mi)2 hours MinimalThe car park opposite the Lake Louise train station
Fairview Lookout2.3 km (1.43 mi)45 minutes161 m (528 ft)Upper Lake Louise car park
Lake Louise Lakeshore4.5 km (2.8 mi)70 hour108 m (354 ft)Upper Lake Louise car park
Louise Creek5.6 km (3.45 mi)1.5 hrs195 m (640 ft)Walk from the Samson Mall in Lake Louise Village along Lake Louise Drive to the bridge over the Bow River. Cross the bridge. The trailhead is located on the ‘downstream side’ of the bridge.
Easy hiking trails near Lake Louise
Fairview Lookout

The Fairview Lookout hike is perfect for families and beginners as it is considered a relatively easy route and it’s not long. This popular 2-kilometer round-trip trail begins near the lakeshore. It offers stunning views of the lake and the Fairmont Château Lake Louise.

Follow these simple steps for finding your way to the lookout:

  1. Head to the left of Lake Louise’s shore towards the canoe docks
  2. Quickly join a trail signed for Saddleback, Fairview, and Fairview Lookout
  3. After approximately 400 meters, you’ll come across a junction
  4. Take the left path, leading you directly to your destination – Fairview Lookout

The best time to start your hike is between June and August, so you’re pretty much guaranteed good weather conditions and, just as importantly, excellent trail access.

Lake Louise Lakeshore Hike

Lake Louise Lakeshore is a simple yet beautiful 4.5 kilometer (2.8 mi) out-and-back trail with an elevation gain of around 108 meters (354 ft). This makes it an ideal option for an easy stroll along the lake’s stunning scenery.

With an average completion time of 1 hour and 10 minutes, it hike is an excellent way to discover Lake Louise’s picturesque scenery, regardless of your hiking experience.

In comparison to the concrete path near the château, the lakefront trail offers a far more immersive experience. Toward the end of the hike, you’ll be rewarded with a waterfall. It’s also good to know that the trail is usually less crowded at sunrise or sunset.


Lake Agnes7.4 km (4.60 mi)2.5 hours438 m (1,437 ft)Upper Lake Louise car park
Lake Annette11.5 km (7.10 mi)4 hours245 m (804 ft)Follow Moraine Lake Road for 2.5 km (2.3 mi) until you see a car park on your right
The Big Beehive10.8 km (6.71 mi)3 – 4 hrs778 m (2,552 ft)Lake Louise shoreline
The Little Beehive9.0 km (5.55 mi)3 – 4 hrs535 m (1,755 ft)Lake Louise Shoreline
Plain of the Six Glaciers14.6 km (9.01 mi)5 – 6 hrs420 m (1,378 ft)Upper Lake Louise car park
Tramline9 km (5.55 mi)2.5 hours195 m (640 ft)The car park opposite the Lake Louise train station
Moderate hiking trails near Lake Louise

Lake Agnes Hike

The Lake Agnes hike is a must-do trail in the beautiful Lake Louise area. You’ll begin this 7.4 kilometers (4.6 mi) round trip at Château Lake Louise, along the lakeshore, and gradually ascend through the forest.

It involves an elevation gain of 438 meters (1,437 ft), and the trail’s surface is a mix of paved areas to start with, then transitioning to packed dirt and rock.

On average, it takes about 2.5-3 hours to complete the Lake Agnes hike, which includes a short break at the historic Lake Agnes tea house.

The best time to hike the Lake Agnes trail is from June to October.

The Big Beehive Hike

If you want to take on the Big Beehive hike, prepare yourself for a bit of a challenge, as it’s 10.8 kilometers (6.71 mi) long and features an elevation gain of 778 meters (2,552 ft).

This stunning hike takes you to Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes. Here you’ll get a stunning view of the surrounding mountains as it’s surrounded by a cirque made up of Mount Piran, Mount Niblock, Mount Whyte and the Big Beehive.

At Lake Agnes you’ll also find the Lake Agnes teahouse. It’s a perfect spot to take a break and fuel up with some snacks and bites before continuing your ascent to the Big Beehive. It’s a high ridge that offers stunning views of Lake Louise and the other peaks.

You can take a different route back by descending the Highline Trail to the Plain of the Six Glaciers trail or go back the way you came.

Plain of the Six Glaciers Hike

The Plain of the Six Glaciers hike is an incredibly scenic route providing stunning views of the immense glaciers that have shaped this area over millennia. You’ll start your journey on the shoreline of Lake Louise.

The entire hike is approximately 14.6 km (9.01 mi) long, including a return trip on the Lake Agnes trail back down. Expect to spend about 5 to 6 hours on the trail, and an elevation gain of about 420 meters (1,378 ft).

A series of switchbacks take you through the forests around Lake Louise. At around 5.5 kilometers (3.42 mi) the path becomes rocky and wet from streams running across the trail. Past the 6.3 kilometer (3.91 mi) mark, the path is not maintained, so you might encounter large rocks and tree roots, making navigation more challenging.

But the rewards are numerous points of interest, such as Lake Agnes and its famous tea house, where you can rest, have a snack and a drink before continuing.

It takes another 1.5km to reach the viewpoint. Here the trail ends with a view of glaciers and the pass that separates British Columbia and Alberta on the side of a scree slope.

To return to Lake Louise, you can retrace your steps and return to Lake Louise or continue and return via the Highline Trail.


Boulder Pass17.2 km (10.62 mi)6 – 7 hrs640 m (2100 ft)Fish Creek car park at Whitehorn Road, 3 km north of Lake Louise
Fairview Mountain9.5 km (5.9 mi)5 – 6 hrs1,007 m (3304 ft)Upper Lake Louise car park
Paradise Valley and Giant Steps20.6 or 21.8 km (12.72 or 13.46 mi)7 – 8 hrs385 m (1263 ft)Follow Moraine Lake Road for 2.5 km (2.5 mi) until you see a parking area on your right
Saddleback6.3 km (3.91 mi)3 – 4 hrs591 m (1939 ft)Upper Lake Louise car park
Sheol/Paradise Connector8.1 km (5 mi)2 – 4 hrs500 m (164 ft)Upper Lake Louise car park or follow Moraine Lake Road to Paradise Valley car park on the right
Difficult hiking trails near Lake Louise

Fairview Mountain Hike

The Fairview Mountain Trail offers you breathtaking views of the lake, and the surrounding glaciers like the Victoria Glacier. You can complete the hike as a shorter out-and-back trail or as part of a longer loop via Paradise Valley if you’re up for a more extended adventure.

The hike up Fairview Mountain covers a distance of 9.5 miles (5.9 mi) for the out-and-back trail, with an elevation gain of approximately 1007 (3,304 ft). If you choose to do the longer loop via Paradise Valley, the distance increases to 21 km+, and the cumulative elevation gain is around 1,521 m.

Although Fairview Mountain Trail is relatively short in distance, the trail is steep, and can be demanding. That’s why hiking poles may come in handy, especially during the descent.

Starting at the Lake Louise shore, you’ll hike towards the Saddleback Pass, known for gold and green larch trees in fall. When you’ve reached the pass, you can either turn right and start the 400-meter hike towards Mount Fairview, or you can head left and climb Mount Saddle for fantastic views of Paradise Valley and Mount Temple. There is a well marked switchback on the way up Fairview.

Prepare for a steep climb on rocky terrain with a few false summits along the way. The good news is that you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and unobstructed views of Lake Louise (one kilometer below), glaciers, and surrounding peaks like Mount St. Piran and Mount Niblock.

Saddleback Hike

The Saddleback Hike near Lake Louise is an unforgettable experience. From the shores of Lake Louise, you’ll hike up the northern slopes of Fairview Mountain. Be prepared for some fantastic views of Fairview Mountain and Saddle Mountain!

In the fall, you’ll also have the opportunity to hike among golden larch trees, making this hike even more special.

During your hike, keep an eye out for the beautiful open meadow for spectacular views.

The trail is well-maintained, and the reward of reaching the pass is worth the effort. Covering a distance of 6.3 kilometer (3.91 mi) with an elevation gain of 591 m (1,939 ft), the hike typically requires 3-4 hours to complete.

Once you’ve reached Saddleback Pass, you can continue your hike by hiking up Fairview Mountain. This additional hike isn’t recommended for beginners, as it requires a bit more stamina and technical skills.

Mountain Biking near Lake Louise

The Rocky Mountains around Lake Louise are great for mountain biking. There are many trails and the reward is always a great view. The trails range from easy (and family friendly) to challenging. Below is an overview of the mountain biking trails in the Lake Louise area.

Bow River Loop7.1 km (4.38 mi)MinimalLake Louise Campground or opposite Lake Louise Train Station (Station Restaurant) next to Bow River Bridge
Great Divide Trail19.9 km (12.28 mi)113 m (370 ft) up / 66 m (216 ft) downGreat Divide car park at Lake Louise
Moraine Lake Highline18.6 km (11.48 mi)305 m (1000 ft) up After 2.5 km on Moraine Lake Road, the small car park on the right-hand side
Pipestone14.4 km (8.89 mi)165 m (541 ft) upTake the exit for Slate Road on the Trans-Canada Highway – 1.5 km west of Lake Louise
Ross Lake14.6 km (9.01 mi)MinimalBehind the Chateau Lake Louise staff quarters
Tramline9 km (5.55 mi)195 m (640 ft) upOpposite the Lake Louise train station (Station Restaurant) next to the Bow River Bridge
Mountain biking trails near Lake Louise

Canoeing on Lake Louise

If you want to admire Lake Louise from the water, you can rent a canoe at the boathouse on the lake’s west shore from June to September. Renting is done by the hour. A canoe can accommodate three adults or two adults and two small children (each less than 25 kilos). Renting a kayak is unfortunately not possible.

Guided Canoe Tour on Lake Louise (Voyageur Canoe Experience):

If you want to learn more about Lake Louise and its surroundings, book the Voyageur Canoe Experience, a guided canoe trip. The guide tells local stories about wildlife, indigenous people and the early explorers who first visited the lake mapping the area.

Please note: this option is only available if you stay at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. 
Please note: In case of bad weather conditions, rentals may be canceled immediately; hotel guests have priority.

Opening hours: 11 am – 7 pm. The last boat rental opportunity is at 6 pm.

Canoe Rentals Lake Louise (via concierge Château Lake Louise)

Address: 111 Lake Louise Drive
Phone: +1 403 – 522 1601

Bring Your Own Canoe or Kayak to Lake Louise

It is also possible to use your own canoe or kayak. You can put them in the water anywhere from the shore. There is no public boat launch. If you want to explore the lake with your own canoe or kayak, it is advisable to arrive early (before 8 am). Then you can often find a parking space close to the lake to carry your canoe to the water. 

Lake Louise's boat house sitting on the lake's left shore during a cloudy summer day

Fishing in Lake Louise

It is allowed to fish in Lake Louise. You do need a national park permit. This is available at the two visitor centers in the park, most sports shops in the park, and online. A national park pass is also required. A fishing license from the province of Alberta is not sufficient. 

Any angler under the age of sixteen may fish in the lake without a license if accompanied by someone under sixteen who holds a national park license. The maximum number of fish to be caught is then equal to the limit of the license of the person holding a license. 

There Are Two Types of Fishing Permits: 
Day Permit: CAD 9.80 
Annual permit: CAD 34.30

– It is mandatory to put back caught fish to the place where it was caught.
– The use of natural bait is not allowed in Banff National Park.
– In addition to a fishing license, you must also have a National Park Pass.

Fish Species in Lake Louise

Fish present in Lake Louise include red-throated trout, bull trout and mountain whitefish.

NOTE: Although you may fish in Lake Louise, the lake is known as not the best place to fish in the park. The amount of fish in the lake is rather disappointing.

Horseback Riding at Lake Louise

Lake Louise is a popular place for horseback riding. There are several guided tours available Brewster Stables, located on the grounds of the Fairmont Château Lake Louise, runs tours from the lakeshore.

They have several rides to choose from, including an entire horseback riding vacation! Lake Louise is a popular place for horseback riding. Several guided tours are available. Brewster Stables, located on the grounds of the Fairmont Château Lake Louise, runs tours from the lakeshore.

Skiing in Lake Louise

Lake Louise has a large ski area. Many hundreds of thousands of ski enthusiasts know how to find it every year. The resort is also the setting for the annual World Cup race. 

Lake Louise Ski Resort

The ski slopes of Lake Louise Ski Resort are located 60 kilometers (37 mi) northwest of Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1). It is known for the World Cup ski races held here every year. 

There are 9 ski lifts in the ski area, which lies on the southern slopes of the Slate Range, between Mount Richardson, Ptarmigan Peak, Pika Peak and Redoubt Mountain. The slopes of Lake Louise Ski Resort cover an area of 17 km2 (6.6 sq mi). The summit is at 2,637 m (6,850 ft), the base is at 1,646 m (5,400 ft).

More Information:
Phone: +1 877 – 956 8473

Lake Louise at sunrise. The lake is snowed in during early winter when the lake is not yet frozen

Cross Country Skiing in Lake Louise

In the winter, the area around Lake Louise is perfect for cross-country skiing. You can enjoy the winter in the Rockies in relative peace. Provided you stay away from the ski slopes, of course. Here are some popular trails.

Bow River Loop6.6 km (4.07 mi) (loop)MinimalAt the small access road to the Brewster Stables behind the Deer Lodge
Campground Loop4.4 km (2.72 mi)15 m (49 ft) upJust past the campground kiosk
Fairview9.2 km (5.68 mi)60 m (197 ft) upThe lower car park at Lake Louise, near the winter toilet block
Great Divide or ‘Old 1A’20 km (12.34 mi)60 m (197 ft) downLake Louise Drive
Lake Louise Loop4.1 km (2.53 mi) (loop)15 m (49 ft) upFrom the Lake Louise car park
Lower Telemark8.0 km (4.94 mi)110 m (361 ft) downPark at the Great Divide trailhead, ski 700 meters and turn right at trail sign #8
Moraine Lake Road15.6 km (9.6 mi)250 m (820 ft) upLake Louise Drive
Townsite1.4 km (0.86 mi)MinimalAt the Lake Louise Railway Station & Restaurant 
Tramline9.6 km (5.92 mi)195 m (640 ft) up At the end of the lower car park, by the signpost for the trails in the area
Upper Telemark2.8 km (1.73 mi)65 m (213 ft) upStart in front of Lake Louise in the direction of Lake Agnes, then turn right to trail #5
Cross country Skiing trails near Lake Louise

Snowshoeing around Lake Louise

Lake Louise offers plenty of opportunities for snowshoeing in winter. This allows you to walk with relative ease over the thick snow in the coldest months and enjoy the breathtaking surroundings in silence.

Fairview Lookout2 km (1.23 mi)0.5 hr100 m (328 ft) upWorld Heritage Site-rock
Highline Trail to Paradise Creek9 km (5.55 mi)2 h 15 min60 m (197 ft) upWorld Heritage Site-rock
Laggan’s Loop1 km (0.62 mi)0.5 h50 m (164 ft)Approximately 50 meters to the right of the sunny side of Lake Louise
Lake Louise Lakeshore4 km (2.47 mi)1 hourMinimalIn front of Château Lake Louise
Louise Creek5.6 km (3.45 mi)1.5 hours195 m (640 ft) upSamson Mall in Lake Louise Village
Mirror Lake via Lake Agnes5.4 km (3.33 mi)1.5 hours295 m (968 ft) up Lake Louise Castle
Snowshoeing trails around Lake Louise


The first name of Lake Louise was Ho-Run-Num-Nay (Lake of the Little Fish), so named by the Stoney Nakoda people. After Tom Wilson (1859-1922), mountain guide and packer of the Canadian Pacific Railroad, “discovered” Lake Louise in 1882, he named it Emerald Lake. 

In 1884 the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) established a construction camp nearby, and in 1892, 130 km2 (80.24 mi2) around the lake were declared a Lake Louise Reserve. In the meantime, the construction camp grew into today’s Lake Louise Village.

From Holt City to Laggan

Initially, the settlement was named Holt City, after Thomas Grattan Holt, engineer for the CPR. In 1884 the hamlet was renamed Laggan, after the town of the same name in Inverness, Scotland, at the suggestion of Lord Strathcona (Donald Smith) of Scotland, co-founder of the CPR.

With the railway’s completion in 1885, CPR was keen to bring tourism to the park and on the initiative of CPR’s general manager Cornelius Van Horne, the first hotels were built in the park. 

Pioneering in Western Canada

The previous year, Emerald Lake and Laggan were renamed Lake Louise, in honor of Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. She was the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and wife of John Campbell, Governor-General of Canada from 1878 to 1883 and Marquis of Lorne.

With tourism cautiously taking off in the park, CPR asked Willoughby John Astley in 1890 to build a chalet on the edge of Lake Louise. He had experience constructing this type of building, having built the Beach House Hotel at Minnewanka Landing three years earlier.

The chalet was nothing more than a simple log cabin with two bedrooms, a central area that served as a bar, office and dining room, a kitchen and a veranda. Van Horne praised it as ‘a hotel for the outdoor adventurer and mountaineer’. He called it “Châlet Lake Louise” and appointed Astley as manager.

Fire in the Chalet at Lake Louise

The chalet welcomed less than a hundred guests for the first two years. In 1893, disaster struck. On June 19, the chalet was destroyed by fire. A year later, however, the construction of a new facility began.

It was built a bit further back because of the intense weather conditions at the lake’s edge and it could accommodate twelve guests. As the flow of tourists slowly increased over the years, architect T.C. Sorby added a second floor to the chalet in 1896. 

The building could now accommodate up to twenty visitors, but even this expansion soon proved insufficient. By 1900, more than 5,000 tourists visited the area around the lake every year. As a result, the chalet had to be extended yet again. Two wings were added and the capacity grew to 240 guests.

Tourism in Rocky Mountains National Park

Two years later, Rocky Mountains National Park – the original name of Banff National Park – was expanded to include the Lake Louise Reserve. Tourism around the lake also benefited and by 1912 it was already receiving 50,000 visitors.

Reason enough to expand the hotel once again. In 1913, a new concrete wing was completed, called the Painter Wing, containing the Victoria Dining Room. 

Château Lake Louise

After years of prosperity, the rebuilt lodge fell victim to fire on July 3, 1924. The wooden section was completely destroyed; only the concrete Painter Wing survived. But with the incessant and growing flow of tourists, it didn’t take long before construction started again.

An eight-story hotel was built on the site of the burnt wooden section. It was completed in May 1925 and the hotel’s name was changed from Lake Louise Chalet to Château Lake Louise. The construction still forms the basis of the present-day hotel.

Want to read more about the fascinating history of the Fairmont Château Lake Louise? Click the link.


Banff Visitor Centre
Opening hours (daily): 9 am – 5 pm
Address: 224 Banff Avenue, Banff
Phone: +1 403 – 762 1550

Lake Louise Visitor Centre
Opening hours (daily): 9 am – 5 pm
Address: Samson Mall, 201 Village Rd, Lake Louise
Phone: +1 403 – 522 3833


Why is Lake Louise so blue?

Lake Louise is so blue because of rock flour, which is created when glaciers grind against rocks. The rock flour is then carried into the lake by meltwater, and it stays in the water, giving it a distinct blue-green or turquoise color.

Can I swim in Lake Louise?

Yes, you can swim in Lake Louise, but the water is extremely cold, with temperatures rarely getting above 4°C. This means that you can only swim for short periods, typically around 15 minutes, before becoming hypothermic.

Can I Visit Lake Louise and Moraine Lake on the Same Day?

Yes, you can visit both lakes on the same day. If you don’t plan to walk at either lake, I’d say you’ll spend about an hour at each. There’s a great Parks Canada shuttle service (see above) that will take you from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake and vice-versa.

Even if you want to hike at one or both lakes, it should be possible if you plan carefully and don’t want to do too long hikes.

Do I need a park pass for Lake Louise?

Yes, you need a valid park pass to enter Banff National Park, which includes Lake Louise. You can purchase a pass online or at various locations throughout the park, including the Lake Louise Visitor Centre.

Can I buy a park pass at Lake Louise?

Yes, you can purchase a park pass at the Lake Louise Visitor Centre.

Are dogs allowed at Lake Louise?

Yes, dogs are allowed at Lake Louise but they must be on a leash at all times and you must clean up after them.

Are there hot springs near Lake Louise?

No, there are no hot springs in Lake Louise itself. However, there are several hot springs in the Banff area, including the Banff Upper Hot Springs and the Radium Hot Springs.

Can I fly a drone at Lake Louise?

No, flying drones is not allowed in Banff National Park, including at Lake Louise.

Can I picnic at Lake Louise?

No, there are no designated picnic areas on the lake itself. Also, the lake is generally too crowded to enjoy a private picnic.

Can I rent ice skates at Lake Louise?

Yes, you can rent ice skates at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise or at Wilson Sports in Lake Louise Village.

Can I hike from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake?

Yes, in theory you can. But it’s a long 14.6 kilometer (9.1 mi) hike along a busy road that’s not particularly interesting. And that’s just one way, not including any hikes you might want to do around Moraine Lake.

Can I hike around Lake Louise?

Yes, there is a 2 kilometer (1.24 mi) hiking trail that goes around the lake called the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail. It is an easy and scenic hike.

Can I bike around Lake Louise?

No, biking is not allowed on the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail. However, there are several biking trails in the area.

Can I bike to Lake Louise?

Yes, you can bike to Lake Louise. There are several biking trails that lead to the lake, including the Bow Valley Parkway and the Icefields Parkway.

Can I drink from Lake Louise?

It is not recommended to drink water directly from Lake Louise, as it is not treated for consumption.

Can I fly to Lake Louise?

There is no airport in Lake Louise, but the closest airports are Calgary International Airport (YYC) and Edmonton International Airport (YEG). From there, you can rent a car or take a shuttle to Lake Louise.

Can I get married at Lake Louise?

Yes, Lake Louise is a popular destination for weddings and elopements. There are several venues in the area that offer wedding packages and services, including the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and the Post Hotel.

Can I get altitude sickness at Lake Louise?

Lake Louise is located at an elevation of 1,750 meters (5,740 ft), which is considered high altitude. Some visitors may experience symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache, nausea, and fatigue. To avoid these symptoms, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and strenuous activity, and acclimate slowly to the altitude.

Can I see the northern lights at Lake Louise?

While it is possible to see the northern lights (aurora borealis) at Lake Louise, it is not a common occurrence. The best time to see the northern lights is typically in the winter months, when the nights are longer and darker.

Can I see Lake Louise from the Banff Gondola?

No, Lake Louise is located about 56 kilometers (35 mi) northwest of Banff, and is not visible from the Banff gondola.

Can I see Lake Louise from the Lake Louise gondola?

Yes, the Lake Louise gondola offers spectacular views of Lake Louise and the surrounding mountains. The gondola takes visitors to the top of Mount Whitehorn, where there are hiking trails and a wildlife interpretive center.

Do I need bear spray at Lake Louise?

Yes, bear spray is recommended at Lake Louise and all areas of Banff National Park. Bears are common in the park, and can be unpredictable.

You can rent or buy bear spray in Banff as well as in Lake Louise.

In Banff, it is available at the Visitor Centre (224 Banff Avenue) and at most sporting goods stores, such as Atmosphere (124 Banff Avenue), UNLTD Skate & Snow (319 Banff Avenue), and Monod Sports (129 Banff Avenue). 

You can also visit the Visitor Centre in Lake Louise (201 Village Road) and Wilson Mountain Sports (101 Lake Louise Drive).

To keep bears at bay, make noise by talking, singing, or clapping your hands. Bears are more likely to avoid you if they hear you coming.

And always hike in a group. As Lake Louise is busy there will always be other people on your trail which makes a bear encounter less likely.

Other articles you might be interested in:
How to Make Sure Mosquitoes Don’t Ruin Your Stay in Banff
Plan Your Banff Itinerary – Know the Distances
How Much Does a Banff Vacation Cost in 2023? (Crazy Numbers)


As a former Banffite, I love writing about my favorite part of the world. I keep coming back to enjoy the park's mesmerising beauty. It never fails to impress me. With my extensive knowledge of the area, I aim to provide you with the best information on Banff that you can find on the internet.

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