With its impossibly blue water reflecting the magnificent ice-capped mountains and verdant green forest, the beauty of Lake Louise has captured the hearts of artists, photographers and visitors for over a century and is one of Banff National Park’s star attractions.
Named after Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, Lake Louise is one of Canada’s most famous and beautiful natural features. Like love at first sight, it’s hard not to be spellbound by Louise’s bright blue water, deep green forests and monumental grey mountains dusted with pure white snow. The lake is also famous for its teahouses, grizzly bears and hiking trails and we’d recommend hiking Louise Creek Trail, around five-kilometres away (check with the patrol teams first that there are no bears out and about). Or an alternative way to explore the area is to rent a canoe to paddle and relax on the water.
For a bird’s eye view of the lake, we’d also suggest taking the Lake Louise Gondola which travels 2,000-metres up the side of Whitehorn Mountain. The views of the Rockies are incredible, punctuated by the towering Mount Temple on the opposite side of the valley. While the village here is small, many visitors will want to visit Chateau Lake Louise, the fairy tale castle on the shores of the lake initially built as a base for mountaineers and outdoor adventurers. Today, it is a year-round luxury mountain resort and even if you are not staying here, taking tea on the terrace is a lovely way to enjoy the scenery.
Just 13-kilometres southeast of Louise and a 15-minute drive is another of our favourite lakes, Lake Moraine. Equally as beautiful but smaller than Louise, one of the main attractions is Moraine’s incredible backdrop of the Valley of Ten Peaks and the square-shaped Tower of Babel. There are canoes to rent and good hiking trails and we’d recommend the Moraine Lakeshore Trail which weaves around the shoreline, taking around 45-minutes.
Lake Louise is around a 40-minute drive from Banff and there is a shuttle bus service between Banff station and the lake. For drivers, the Bow Valley Parkway which runs between Banff and Lake Louise is an alternative to the main highway. This scenic route allows you to stop off at viewpoints or to take a hiking trail and it’s great for wildlife spotting, so look out for bighorn sheep, deer, grizzlies and elk, among others. Other highlights along the way include Johnston’s Canyon and Castle Mountain. Off the main highway, between Lake Louise and Field, visitors may also be interested to visit the viewing platforms of the ingenious ‘spiral’ railway tunnels, a feat of engineering that allows the trains to navigate the steep gradient posed by the Rockies.
Whether you want to hike the trails, paddle a canoe, sip tea at the Chateau or ride the gondola, we think Lake Louise is one of Canada’s ‘must see’ sights.