A highway road leading from the Banff to the Lake Louise. A highway road leading from the Banff to the Lake Louise.

Banff to Lake Louise: A Guide to A Wonderful Journey

Banff became Canada’s first National Park owing to its natural splendour from its surrounding lakes and mountains. The park’s unending beauty of majestic mountains, forests with natural beauty, and blue glacial lakes has drawn visitors for centuries.

Along with visiting Banff, tourists do not like missing out on the alluring Lake Louise. The magnificent Canadian Rockies surround Lake Louise, and its vibrant turquoise waters and towering peaks make it worth the visit. One can choose to visit Lake Louise depending on the kind of activities they enjoy doing.

Lake Louise’s weather remains extreme, so visitors should choose the time they visit accordingly. If they want to dip their toes in the water, enjoy sunbathing, go swimming, or have a fun picnic day, they should visit Lake Louise during the summer season, which lasts from June to September and October to May, to witness the winter.

Here is a detailed guide for travelling from Banff to Lake Louise. Stay tuned until the end of this ethereal journey!

Screenshot of the Official Website of Banff & Lake Louise
Screenshot of the Official Website of Banff & Lake Louise

1. Distance from Banff to Lake Louise

The town of Banff, located within the Banff National Park, is a popular starting point for travellers visiting the surrounding area. So, if you want to go to Lake Louise, you’ll probably have to drive from Banff.

The two locations are only about 57 kilometres (35 miles) apart. The trip from Banff to Lake Louise is beautiful, passing through some of the park’s most breathtaking scenery. The Trans-Canada Highway will snake its way through valleys and over mountain passes, providing stunning views at every turn.

Of course, the distance you travel will affect how long it takes. Depending on traffic and road conditions, you should consider driving for over an hour. The trip will take a little bit longer if you take a bus or shuttle because you’ll need to account for stops.

2. Fastest Routes

Image by Joshua Woroniecki/Pexels/Copyright 2014
Image by Joshua Woroniecki/Pexels/Copyright 2014

2.1 By Road

The Trans-Canada highway is the fastest route from Banff to Lake Louise. It is a straight stretch of 57 km before one exits Highway 1, which takes one straight to Lake Louise. This is considered the best and fastest route for those who do not like any stops along the voyage.

Another highway route is the Bow Valley Parkway via the Trans-Canada Highway, which eventually leads to Lake Louise. Several tourist spots offer panoramic views while taking this route. If one has time and wants a leisurely drive, one can choose this route. However, it comes with a slight amount of traffic due to the tourist spots in between. 

These routes from the highway are most convenient if one uses a car as their mode of transportation. One can choose the route depending on how fast one wants to get to their destination.

There is no reason to worry about travelling from these routes from June to September, as the climate is relatively warmer. However, as Canada has an unpredictable environment, it is better to check weather reports before travelling by road during the remaining months.  

2.2. Parking at Lake Louise

Visiting Lake Louise by car requires leaving at dawn, as parking spots fill up quickly. Lake Louise is one of the main tourist attractions in Banff National Park.

Parking at the Lake Louise Lakeshore can be a bit of a hassle. There is nowhere to wait for parking spaces to open up after the lot is full. It is recommended that one plan one’s day and leave on time if one does not want any hassle while parking at Lake Louise Lakeshore. 

However, parking at Johnston Canyon is relatively easy, as one can simply park at the beginning of the hike.

Image from the Official Instagram Channel of Banff & Lake Louise
Image from the Official Instagram Channel of Banff & Lake Louise

2.3. Lake Louise Shuttle Service 

The easiest and most relaxed way to visit these beautiful spots is to use the Parks Canada Shuttle. However, one must reserve their shuttle in advance if they want to experience these stunning views.

During the summer season, when crowds are at their peak, it is recommended that the Shuttle Service be used with reservations. One must get on the Parks Canada Shuttle by driving on the Lake Louise Park and Ride, which lies east of the Lake Louise village. 

One can also choose to travel by the Lake Louise Roam Transit, a daily bus service that runs from morning to night. The Lake Louise Express, Route 8X, runs nonstop from Banff to Lake Louise. Route 8S, the Lake Louise panoramic route, is also available. Riders can pay for their park or bus passes according to their needs. 

2.4. Other Available Options

Other than using one’s car or choosing the Canada shuttle bus, one can also choose to go by Uber or taxi. However, it is slightly costly, and if one is looking for cost-effective transport, then it is not recommended. 

There are also carpooling services available. However, their availability depends upon what season one is opting to travel. There are also private van transfers and minibus transportation services accessible. 

A few tour services offer different kinds of vehicles, depending on one’s choice. This is the best option if one wants to take a picturesque trip amongst the Canadian Rockies and feel straight out of a movie scene! 

3. Stopovers between Banff and Lake Louise

3.1. Lake Louise Ski Resort

Screenshot of the Official Website of Lake Louise Ski Resort
Screenshot of the Official Website of Lake Louise Ski Resort

The Lake Louise Ski Resort is one of the most beautiful spots to ski or snowboard in Canada. This resort is known for its splendid factors and beautiful vistas! The scenery at the resort enhances the fantastic skiing and snowboarding experience.

The free Canada shuttle service runs between Lake Louise Village and the Ski Resort. One can also choose to take a car as their mode of transportation. The scenic drive takes approximately an hour.

3.2. Baker Creek Mountain Resort

The Baker Creek Mountain Resort is among the quieter and lesser-known resorts in the Canadian Rockies. This Banff National Park resort is located near the Bow River. 

The Baker Creek Mountain Resort on the Bow Valley Parkway takes less than twenty minutes from Lake Louise. It is the perfect resort to rejuvenate and relax.

3.3. Castle Mountain Lookout Trail

One of Banff National Park’s most visited hiking trails is this trailhead with panoramic views along the Bow Valley Parkway.

The length is 3.7 kilometres one way and should take around 3 to 4 hours to complete. When one reaches the Castle Mountain Lookout point, you’ll be treated to not just an up-close glimpse of the massive Canadian Rockies that makes Castle Mountain so appealing. 

As hikers trek further into the trails, they can hear the soothing sounds of stream water. As they get deeper into the Bow Valley, they will spot different kinds of mountains, which leave people awe-struck by their gorgeous views. 

Image by Daniel Frank/Pexels/Copyright 2017
Image by Daniel Frank/Pexels/Copyright 2017

3.4. Johnston Canyon 

Johnston Canyon is touted as one of the best hikes with stunning views. If one wants a quick walk, one can head to the Lower Falls, but if the adventurer within you is beckoning to delve deeper into these Canadian Rockies, one can visit the Upper Falls.

There are fewer crowds during winter than in summer. The frozen waterfall has a completely distinct appearance and feel. Observing how the water flows is incredible, but it remains frozen until spring. If one has been to Johnston Canyon in the summer, going in the winter feels completely different. 

The natural beauty of the snow-capped tree gives Johnston Canyon a lovely view. To call it a winter wonderland is an understatement. The trees will almost certainly be covered with snow, creating panoramic and spectacular views. 

Image from the Official Instagram Channel of Banff & Lake Louise
Image from the Official Instagram Channel of Banff & Lake Louise

During the summer season, people flock to Johnston Canyon in abundance. As a result, the winter tours are less expensive. It also feels more personalized since fewer tourists visit the place then. 

If one is going from Banff to Lake Louise, one must visit Johnston Canyon, as one of its highlights is The Johnston Canyon Evening Ice Walk Tour. It entails exploring Johnston Canyon at night with flashlights and ice boots (which they give). Aside from an amazing night out, getting hot chocolate is the icing on the cake. 

Another winter attraction of Johnston Canyon is the secret cave. This hidden cave is near the Upper Falls, just off the hiking trails. However, it should be noted that the cave is closed from April to June. 

If one wants to watch the turquoise blue waters that Banff is known for, then one must visit Johnston Canyon in the summer. During the summer, the Johnston Canyon stream that one hikes close to and over is frequently vivid turquoise. 

4. Things to Do & Places to Visit Nearby Lake Louise 

Banff town, which lies amongst the Canadian Rockies, offers visitors from all over the world several different activities and places, depending on what season one chooses

4.1. The Downtown

The downtown area is charming, and many fantastic places to dine, drink, and shop. Banff Ave is a lovely area to stay in Banff National Park, with mountains that provide gorgeous views.

It is also a ski resort, and as a result, many visitors come mainly for skiing. Many other ski resorts are close by for people to access. However, Banff town is not just about visiting a ski resort; there are plenty of other places to visit. 

Image by ArtTower/Pixabay/Copyright 2012
Image by ArtTower/Pixabay/Copyright 2012

4.2. The Banff Hot Springs

Banff Upper Hot Springs is a mere 5-minute drive up Sulphur Mountain. The mountain panorama spheres give spectacular views, and the Hot Springs are among the best in Alberta. They are conveniently accessible and inexpensive. 

It is also extremely comfortable for guests, who are offered stunning views of Sulphur Mountain. The weather does not matter, as the pool remains hot whether it is summer or winter. Comfortable changing and restrooms are also available if one is taking a one-day journey from Banff to Lake Louise. 

The hot springs are also rich in minerals, which refreshes visitors and gives them a soothing experience. The Banff Upper Hot Springs is one of the main attractions for people visiting Banff National Park. 

4.3. The Banff Gondola

The Banff Gondola is a must-visit when visiting Banff Town. All year, it provides breathtaking panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies, The Bow Valley, and Banff Town. 

The Gondola transports guests to the summit of Sulphur Mountain. Parking is not an issue during the winter (the best time to visit the Gondola), but there is a slight hassle during the summer. If one does not wish to take a car, they can also use the shuttle bus service.

4.4. The Bow Valley Parkway

While driving from Banff to Lake Louise, if one chooses to use the route of The Bow Valley Parkway, there are several stops on the way that one must visit.

Fun cycling on the road, exceptional hiking, or simply a peaceful setting for a picnic lunch. The Bow Valley Parkway route parallels the Trans-Canada highway route and is perfect if one has more time to visit places. 

Image by PhotoMIX Company/Pexels/Copyright 2018
Image by PhotoMIX Company/Pexels/Copyright 2018

Storm Mountain Lookout is another fantastic picnic place along the Bow Valley Parkway. There are a few picnic tables above the gorgeous Bow River. One should explore the interpretative signage, which does an excellent job of delineating the ridgeline. 

4.5. The Bow Falls

Bow Falls is one of the best places to visit when travelling from Banff to Lake Louise. It is a stunning waterfall located just to the west of Banff. Bow Falls is a broad waterfall spanning the Bow River.

Bow Falls is one of the most accessible waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies. Surrounded by natural scenery and rugged cliffs, it is a popular destination for travellers.

There is no fixed season to visit Bow Falls, as it is open all year round and offers spectacular views in both summer and winter. If one chooses to go in the winter, one will probably find Bow Falls iced over, which is surreal. It is worth noting that the cliff-top part is closed in the winter. 

If one chooses to go by car, there is a tiny parking area where one can easily park and enjoy the views. However, there are limited spots to park, and during the summer peak season, the parking spots fill up quickly. 

Rather than going by car, it is recommended that one should not miss out on walking to Bow Falls. Walking is one of the finest methods to get to Bow Falls in about thirty minutes.

Bow Falls also has a stroller, wheelchair access, and picnic seats on top of a well-kept parking area. This stunning place is free to visit, but a Parks Canada Pass is required as it is inside Banff National Park.

Image by Bryan Pascual/Pexels/Copyright 2023
Image by Bryan Pascual/Pexels/Copyright 2023

When looking for hard-core activities, it should be noted that no organizations offer rafting experiences that travel directly over Bow Falls. There are, however, guided float cruises on the Bow River. 

Lastly, maintaining safety is important while visiting Bow Falls. There are always photos on Banff Community Facebook sites of families, including young children, attempting to touch the water or capture the perfect snap and vista near the river from extremely slick angles, which is risky. 

One should respect the paths and not endanger one’s life. There are other locations away from Bow Falls where one may go close to Bow River. There are lovely spots near the Canmore Bridge to unwind next to the river with a picnic. 

Final Note

As previously stated, if one is searching for an amazing mountain road journey, driving from Banff to Lake Louise should suffice! Numerous great stops allow one to see many things that make Alberta gorgeous.

Yes, it is a quick and simple drive. But one can also take time to enjoy these small spots on their trip from Banff to Lake Louise to make the most of their experience! 

Last Updated on by Tahsina Javed

Authors

  • aaliyamerchant

    With a background in psychology, I am eager to conduct additional study and write on mental health. In terms of professional experience, I worked as a co counsellor and was responsible for writing detailed reports based on behavioral observations and temperaments. I aspire to become a full time counsellor to children with mental health concerns and a content writer in this sector, as I further go onto to understand the genius human mind! I am also an avid reader and enjoy travelling. There are times when I develop the Travitude syndrome - the act of developing an attitude or grumpiness when one doesn’t get to travel much!

  • Tahsina Javed

    Tahsina is a graduate and freelance content writer and editor. She has a penchant for crafting compelling content. An avid reader, Tahsina deeply appreciates the nuances of the English language and will leave no stone unturned when it comes to rectifying grammatical errors. She has previous experiences in content writing and editing, which has furnished her with various SEO techniques and plagiarism-free writing abilities, and is looking forward to putting her skills to good use.

    Education

    • Bachelor of Arts (B.A)
    • Honours in Sociology

    Certifications/Qualifications

    • Add-on Course in HTML and Web Design
    • Certified 'C2 Proficient' on the EF Standard English Test

  1. I have visited many sites to learn about the distance between Lake Louise and Banff Town in Banff National Park, but I got great satisfaction after reading your article. Thanks for technically dealing with the topic that has made a mental sketch in my mind about reaching Lake Louse, which further gives us the opportunity to enter other worlds of glacial lakes that are the gems of Banff National Park.

  2. Finding out the distance between Lake Louise and Banff Town has helped me discover some other attractions that are very beautiful and charismatic, as I can see from your photo and content selection. Thank you for providing an additional guideline for visiting as many natural wonders as possible around the famous Lake Louise.

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