If you haven’t been recently, Lake Louise is absolutely worth the two-hour drive. The tiny village of Lake Louise greets visitors off the highway. Here you can grab a fresh cinnamon bun from Laggan‘s bakery and stock up on Swedish fish at the Old Tyme Candy Shoppe. The road continues another four kilometres up to the actual lake. The glacier-fed water gets its spectacular turquoise colour from glacial sediment refracting light. You can rent canoes and paddle right into its blue-green centre or take one of the many hiking trails to get a birds-eye-view of the water and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
182 kilometres from the Calgary Tower | West on Hwy 1
What to Do
There are numerous hikes in and around Lake Louise. From the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise you can take the challenging 7.4-kilometre round trip hike to Saddleback Pass or one of the more moderate treks to visit Lake Louise’s historic teahouses, either Lake Agnes Teahouse (6.8-kilometres-return) or the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse (10.6-kilometres return). Less ambitious amblers can take the paved Lake Louise Lakeshore path for a 4-kilometre roundtrip loop.
Check the Parks Canada website to find a hike in Lake Louise that fits your needs.
If you want to see Lake Louise’s emerald waters up close, rent a canoe from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’s Boathouse. For $95/hour your rental includes life jackets, paddles and a bright red canoe. If you want to go out with a guide, try the family voyageur canoe experience. For $180 a family of four to six people can go out on a cedar strip group canoe with a guide who will share local stories about the area. Either way, don’t rock the boat! The lake is glacial, so a dip in it is decidedly not fun.
Post-hike, consider booking a session at one of Lake Louise’s deluxe spas. The Spa at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and Temple Mountain Spa at the Post Hotel are both places to indulge in some pampering.
The 14-minute ride to the top may be short, but a trip up the Lake Louise Gondola is definitely not uneventful. With almost daily summertime sightings, visitors have a high chance of seeing Grizzly bears in their natural habitat. At the top you can hike, visit the Wildlife Interpretative Centre and dine at the Whitehorn Bistro (make a reservation ahead of time so they are prepared for you).
Where to Eat
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With views of Mount Victoria Glacier, Deer Lodge’s Caribou Lodge is warm and rustic. It highlights what CRMR does best, sustainable game and locally sourced ingredients. Order the charcuterie platter or bison burger. Or arrive between 2 and 5 p.m. for happy hour and snack on flatbreads and local craft beer.
109 Lake Louise Drive, Lake Louise, 403-522-3991, crmr.com/deer
The highlight of the Fairview Lounge is the unobstructed views of the lake and mountains. When the weather is nice, take the views in from the patio. The menu is a casual mix of salads, burger and flatbreads. There is a kids menu for the young ones and a cocktail menu for adults. Try the signature Fairview Old Fashioned with bourbon, raisin-honey syrup and bitters. For a fancier meal at the Fairmont, make a reservation at the Fairview Bar & Restaurant. For something more casual, get a boxed lunch from the Chateau Deli to take on a picnic.
111 Lake Louise Drive, Lake Louise, 403-522-3511, fairmont.com/lake-louise
Laggan’s bakery has served scratch-baked goods and tasty sandwiches since 1987. Located in the Samson Mall in the Lake Louise Village, Laggan’s is a must-stop for a post-hike coffee and snack. The display cases are packed with croissants, scones, cookies, bars, pies and more. Try the B.O.B. (breakfast in a bun) or Laggan’s famous health cookie.
101 Village Road, Lake Louise, 403-522-2017, laggans.com
The Station Restaurant and Heritage Railway Station was built in 1910 and served as the local depot for the Canadian Pacific Railway. The historic space has four different dining areas inside as well as a heritage dining car for private reservations outside. The menu includes baked Camembert, burgers, schnitzel, ribs and salmon. The gift shop is definitely worth a visit too.
200 Sentinel Road, Lake Louise, 403-522-2600, lakelouisestation.com
Things to Know
Like many mountain destinations, Lake Louise is especially busy in the summer. Plan to arrive earlier in the day to avoid parking lot and hiking trail crowds. The early-bird willing to do the two-hour hike gets scones fresh out of the oven from the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse.
The iconic Moraine Lake is less than 15 kilometres from Lake Louise. It can also be very busy in the summer. If you want to see that lake as well, arrive early or go in the evening. The Parks Canada shuttle services to Moraine Lake have been temporarily suspended for 2020.