Lake Louise is one of the most iconic natural sights in Canada, and it’s one of the best places to visit in Banff National Park in Alberta. Aside from the famous lake, though, there is plenty of other things to do in Lake Louise too.
The area is renowned for its turquoise, blue water, which is fed by the glaciers in the mountains that tower high around it.
But as well as its pristine looks and excellent photographic opportunities, there are plenty of things to do in Lake Louise too.
You can stroll around the lakeside paths, tackle the numerous hiking trails both around the lake and into the Rocky Mountains, and you can use the small village nearby as a great base for exploring the rest of Banff National Park too.
It’s a classic Canadian destination and to inspire your trip, here’s our guide to Lake Louise and the many adventures that will get you up close and personal with this natural wonder.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Banff, Jasper and Glacier National Parks (Travel Guide)
20 Things to Do in Lake Louise, Canada
Table of Contents
1. Visit the Famed Lake Louise
Of course, the reason you are here is to see the lake itself because this is one of the best things to do in Lake Louise and Banff National Park.
The glacial lake shares the same name as the nearby village and both are worth exploring, although remember, there’s a few kilometers between the two.
In the small village, you can find a few quaint and rustic restaurants and cafes, as well as plenty of tour companies offering adventurous ways to see all the best things in Lake Louise, from hiking to canoeing.
Lake Louise can be enjoyed in countless ways, from simply relaxing in the sun on the banks of the water to hiking into the mountains for stunning vistas.
2. Stay at the Chateau Lake Louise
Found on the edge of the lake, one of the most intriguing things to do in Lake Louise is to visit the iconic Chateau Lake Louise.
Chateau Lake Louise is a grand hotel that forms an integral part of the landscape, even if it is man-made.
The building dates back to the 1890s and was the most opulent hotel in the Banff region at the time of its construction.
It’s gone through many face lifts in its time and still remains today the most elegant hotel in the area.
You can stay the night or you can just stop by for lunch, afternoon tea or dinner with a spectacular view over Lake Louise Canada.
3. Go Skiing at Lake Louise Ski Resort
Alberta, Canada is a year-round destination because, in winter, you can hit the slopes for some of the best skiing in Banff National Park.
There are facilities all around the lake which open in the winter months, usually from December through to May, and you can find ski lodges, gondolas and ski lifts.
You can hire equipment and even learn to ski, as there’s a real mixture of beginner, intermediate and advanced slopes in the Lake Louise area.
4. Ride the Lake Louise Gondola
In summer, you can still make use of the ski resort’s excellent gondolas and take a ride high up into the ski slopes, even if there is no snow around.
You’ll have beautiful views on the way up the slopes and unbeatable panoramas across the area, making this one of the best things to do in Lake Louise.
5. Go Canoeing on Lake Louise
One of the best ways to see Lake Louise and one of the best things to do in Lake Louise is to go canoeing.
There’s no better view of the surrounding mountains than from the glimmering, turquoise water of the lake, and it’s the perfect way to experience one of the most photogenic spots in Banff National Park.
You can arrange canoe or kayak excursions through the travel companies in the village or you can bring your own equipment along too of course.
6. Try Swimming in the Summer Months
While the lake might well be a year-round destination, swimming is an activity that can only really be enjoyed in summer, unless you’re particularly foolhardy.
The water is glacial of course and Lake Louise is located at an altitude of 5741 feet (1750 meters), which means that it’s going to be cold, even in the peak summer months.
After a hard day of hiking though, a cold plunge is one of the best things to do in Lake Louise.
7. Get Up Early For Sunrise at Lake Louise
This is one of the most popular things to do in Lake Louise, especially if you are into photography and crave that classic sunrise shot over the famous lake.
If you get a clear morning, the scene that will unfold before you is one of the most special in the world.
Make sure you get up early if you want to park in the parking lot closest to the boardwalk, the best place to get those symmetrical shots like you see in the photo above.
8. Walk the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail
If you want to get away from the crowds and the main viewing area near the hotel without taking on a hike, then the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail is what you’re looking for.
This flat, easy to navigate trail follows closely to the shore of the lake opposite the boat house.
To access the trail from the parking lot, head to the main viewing platform at the front of the lake and take a right. From there, follow the path until the trail starts.
This walk is suitable for all ages and skill levels. Not only will you get some gorgeous views of the lake, you’ll also find an easy walking path with benches along the way for resting.
9. Climb to the Fairview Lookout
If you’re looking for a viewpoint that will show you just how beautiful the color of the lake is, with the backdrop of the stunning Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, then this hike is for you.
The hike up to the Fairview Lookout is the easiest and most accessible option for any kind of lookout view around Lake Louise.
To access the trail from the parking lot, head towards the lake and then take the boardwalk to the left until you reach the boathouse.
The trail starts to the left of the boathouse and is marked by a trail sign. Follow the trail until you reach the viewing platform.
10. Take a Guided Hike Around Lake Louise
In summer, one of the best outdoor activities and things to do in Lake Louise is hiking, because the trails around the lake offer endless walking and sightseeing opportunities.
While you can walk around the lakeside paths any time of year, the trails leading into the mountains will only be open in the peak summer season, after the snow melts.
Heading further away from the lake itself you will encounter more wildlife, and potentially even bears – so practice safe hiking techniques when out in the wilderness, particularly if you are on your own.
Want to hike but prefer a group setting with a guide? Explore Banff National Park’s most iconic trails on this 7-hour guided hiking tour with packed lunch.
Pick the perfect walk for your level of ability and experience, varying from 4.5 miles (7km) to 6.6 miles (10.6km) in length, with spectacular mountain scenery no matter which option you select.
The trip’s four options include explorations of Larch Valley, Stanley Glacier, Consolation Lakes or the Plain of Six Glaciers.
11. Climb to Saddleback Pass
One of the best hikes and things to do in Lake Louise is the Saddleback Pass.
This is a classic walk in the Lake Louise area, and takes hikers up to around 7545 feet (2300 meters), for epic views across the mountains.
The trail is around 2.4 miles (4 kilometers) long with a gain of around 1968 feet (600 meters) in altitude. The starting point is the Lake Louise carpark.
12. Hike to the Lake Agnes Teahouse
Another great hike from Lake Louise is the Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike.
The tea house has been serving hikers since the early 1900s and it’s found in a beautiful setting on the shores of Lake Agnes, which is a lovely short hike through the woods and the mountains from Lake Louise.
For a longer hike, tackle the 8.7 mile (14 kilometer), four hour hike from Lake Louise Canada to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse.
13. Hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse
This epic hike takes you through some truly spectacular scenery, as you walk along the shore of Lake Louise before passing through forests, in the shadow of the mountains to the nearby glaciers.
Here you can find a small tea house, and you’ll be set far away from the rest of the crowds as you enjoy refreshments before making the journey back to Lake Louise again.
14. Visit the Equally Famous Moraine Lake
Besides visiting Lake Louise itself, undoubtedly the next most popular things to do in Lake Louise is to spend some time at Lake Moraine.
During the summer months it is impossible to drive yourself to the lake, as the parking lot is very small and Parks Canada blocks the access road to limit cars.
Instead, you’ll have to take a bus from the Lake Louise parking lot. So a huge tip for you, if you get up for sunrise and secure a spot here, plan to go directly to the ticket tent when it opens to purchase a bus ticket to Moraine Lake.
The queues get huge and the bus tickets are often completely sold out for the day by 11am.
Read more Moraine Lake: Complete Planning Guide
15. Climb the Rock Pile at Moraine Lake
While there are several trails around Moraine Lake this is the one that you must do during your visit.
Hiking to the top of the Rock Pile will give you the vantage point of every famous photo of Moraine Lake.
It is all uphill, mostly on rock steps, but not steep and accessible to most people who are able to climb stairs. Once at the top, you have the option of following trails off into the woods or heading to the viewing platforms.
16. Go Canoeing on Moraine Lake
While canoeing on Louise is a beautiful way to experience the lake, personally, I think that canoeing on Moraine Lake is even better.
This is because the way the wind tunnels through the two lakes. You are far more exposed on Lake Louise than Moraine Lake, so your chances of having a better paddle are higher on the later.
Visually, there is also much more to look at along the shore lines here as you have scree, rocks, sand, forest and mountain views to be seen.
17. Try Forest Bathing
I know, this sounds crazy but it’s not what you think. No, you won’t be taking off your clothes and rolling around in the forest. If you just had your hopes dashed, sorry.
Forest bathing is a type of meditation, in a way that you seek a connection with nature as a way to disconnect from the fast moving world around you.
We have done this in many natural spaces around the world and it is not only invigorating for the senses, but relaxing.
It is possible to do this in multiple places around Banff National Park, including at both Louise and Moraine Lakes. If you’ve never done it before, we’d highly recommend you give it a try here.
18. Drive the Bow Valley Parkway
If you’ve based yourself in Lake Louise for your visit to Banff National Park, then you’ll want to get out and explore some of the areas best sites. This includes taking a day trip on the Bow Valley Parkway.
The drive itself is just over an hour one way from Lake Louise to Banff Town. So I’d suggest you plan your day to make plenty of stops between the two.
There are plenty of hiking trails, pull-outs and overlooks to take in along the way. If you plan it right, you can stop at Baker Creek for lunch too.
19. Visit Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park
Being based in Lake Louise Town is the perfect opportunity to hop over to the nearby Yoho National Park that extends off Banff National Park into British Columbia.
The drive is short, about 30 minutes, to reach the beautiful Emerald Lake. Once here, you have the option of hiking along the Lakeshore on a trail that circumnavigates the entire lake.
You can also go canoeing during the summer months and take some moments to sip a coffee at the cafe located inside the onsite resort.
20. Walk Along the Kicking Horse River
Continuing your exploration of Yoho National Park, you’ll want to make a stop along the Kicking Horse River. This is not only to take in the stunning scenery but also to learn some history of the area.
Early explorers to this area had to navigate the rough wilderness without weather reports and maps. They used mules to transport their supplies and became very hardy.
You can learn more about this history on placards that are displayed at the various stop points in the park.
Lake Louise Travel Tips
Fun Facts About Lake Louise
- The lake is 0.3 miles (0.5 kilometers) wide and 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) at its longest extent.
- Lake Louise Canada is named after Princess Louise Carolina Alberta, who was a daughter of Queen Victoria.
- The lake’s local indigenous name is Lake of the Little Fishes.
- The local indigenous group who call the area home, are the Stoney Nakoda First Nations people, who can claim much of Alberta as their ancestral land.
Why is Lake Louise So Blue?
Lake Louise is a glacial Lake, which means that water within the lake itself is fed by melting glaciers and melting snow in the surrounding mountains.
The water runs down the Rocky Mountains above and pools in the lake, bringing with it a vast number of different minerals too.
The most prominent mineral is known as Rock Flour, a type of ground sediment that gives the water its distinctive turquoise hue when it meets with the glacial lake.
How to Get to Lake Louise
Lake Louise Canada is located within Banff National Park, which is found within the province of Alberta.
The lake is found off the Icefields Parkway, and it’s forty minutes to Banff or three hours north to Jasper.
The best way to experience the lake is by driving, as you’ll have much more flexibility, but there is also a shuttle bus from Banff to the resort town too.
Calgary, around two hours drive away, is where you will find the nearest large airport.
There are limited international flights but regular domestic flights to all major Canadian cities.
The lake itself lies just a few kilometers away from the small village of the same name, Lake Louise.
In the village, you can find accommodation, while there is also the historic Chateau Lake Louise to stay at, which is built on the edge of the glacial water.
Alternatively, there is plenty more accommodation in Banff, and the town is just a short drive away from all the best things to do in Lake Louise.
Need to book a car for your road trip adventure? We use Discover Car Hire for comparing car prices to find the best deal. They search both local & international rental companies.
Best Time of Year to Visit Lake Louise
Lake Louise Canada can be visited any time of the year, as the lake is both a popular summer and winter destination.
Being located at high altitude within the Rocky Mountains, winter is a long season in this part of Canada.
Snowfall can begin as early as November, and winter sports are continuing until at least April and sometimes even into May.
This is the time for skiing of course, and to see the lake in icy layers of cold and snow.
From May through to November, the weather is much warmer and the hiking trails are open for business.
This does though, depend on snowmelt, and you’ll need to check exactly when some areas are open, as it may be as late as June or even July.
June and July are the most popular times to enjoy the best things to do in Lake Louise because this is when the water is at its most vibrant and blue after heavy runoff during the spring thaw as the snow melts in the surrounding mountains.
Accommodation in Lake Louise
The town of Lake Louise was built solely for the purpose of tourism, meaning you should have no problem finding a place to stay during your visit.
That said, the summer months come with the challenge of high prices and lack of availability. It is not uncommon for people to book their trips into Banff National Park more than a year in advance.
So our biggest piece of advice is that once you know you’re going, secure hotel rooms or camping lots as soon as you can.
Here are some recommendations based on our own stays in Lake Louise:
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: If you can swing it, this will be an experience you will never forget. To this day, our stay here is one of our favorites in all of our travels. This high-end hotel is located right on the shores of Lake Louise and offers all the amenities you could ever want in a mountain retreat oasis. They have a lot of rooms, so availability is not typically an issue here, however, prices rise and fall with the main tourist seasons, so keep that in mind.
Lake Louise Inn: If you’re looking to stay in the resort town, we can recommend the Lake Louise Inn. This is where we stayed on our first visit to this area and we have no complaints. It is well located within the town, has a huge pool and several onsite restaurants.
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