Just about three miles west of Canadian Highway 1, you would come across the Banff National Park within which you’ll find Lake Louise. Arguably one of the most beautiful stretches of open water in Canada, a visit to the lake, is simply not a one-time affair.
Canada is considered among one of the most beautiful places to visit as a tourist, and the number of sites that demand a must-see status is simply too many to count. If you do find yourself around the state of Alberta, you might really want to consider paying a visit to the Lake of Little Fishes, as it is called by the people of the Stony Nakota First Nations.
This ultimate travel guide consists of every last piece of information that you must know about Lake Louise.
Much like the famous Abraham Lake in Canada, Lake Louise is a glacial lake. Another characteristic that the two famous lakes share is their brilliant blue color, which is due to the presence of rock flour in both the water bodies, carried to them by tributary glaciers that drain into the lake. The Lefroy Glacier is the primary source of the inflow of water and rock flour into the lake.
Lake Louise is not a very big water body, to be fair. It is just about two kilometers long and is only half a kilometer wide. However, it is pretty deep at a recorded depth of 280 feet or 85 meters.
The lake flows out through the Louise Creek, and the waters of Lake Louise are then drained into the Bow River. Following a rather lengthy course, the waters of the lake end up on the other side of the country in Hudson Bay, a part of the North Atlantic Ocean. The waters are colored a shimmering shade of green mixed with a fair amount of blue. This bright hue was one of the primary reasons why it was initially known as the Lake of Little Fishes.
Other prominent lakes like Moraine Lake and Lake Agnes are also accessible through Lake Louise. The area around the lake is the highest point with permanent settlement in Canada. The elevation of the city is a staggering 5,740 feet or 1.75 kilometers above sea level, so the temperature stays pretty low all year round.
In fact, the lake stays frozen throughout the winter and spring and only breaks back into open water around the beginning of June! In some parts of the world, the mercury shoots up to forty degrees Celsius around the beginning of June. That is how different the climate is up there from the more tropical parts of the world.
Snowfall can be expected in any month of the year, even when other parts of the world might be experiencing a heatwave. It has, in fact, snowed in every single month of the year. Also, when the so-called summer hits the region. Even when the climate gets a bit comfier, the waters stay mostly frigid. So much so, that the temperature of the lake rarely rises above five degrees Celsius. Icicle pieces are found in the water even when the lake is not entirely frozen.
History of Lake Louise
The lake is now named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, the wife of the Marquess of Lorne, who was the Governor-General of Canada from 1878 to 1883. She was also known as the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. Yes, Queen Victoria of England and Ireland.
However, the fact that few know is that between the lake being named after the Princess and it is called the Lake of the Little Fishes (Ho-Run-Num-Nay in their native tongue), the lake was also named the Emerald Lake in 1882 by a Canadian Railway worker known as Tom Wilson. So, the lake has had three names throughout its existence.
Which brings us to this particular question, how did the lake come to be in the first place? The answer is rather simple. When a natural dam was formed at the site of the famous Chateau, this dam was mostly built of icy pieces of ruin. This caused the water behind it to back up and turn into the shimmering bluish-green body of water that it is today.
Things to Do
This is the ultimate part, the part where I get to tell you about all the fun things that you can do at the lake!
Lake Louise is one of those fantastic places that attracts photographers from all over the world like a magnet. And why shouldn’t it? There is an endless number of beautiful views just waiting to be captured in a camera lens, and that is precisely what motivates the lens-wielders to explore and discover the bounty of breathtaking views that nature has to offer.
It shouldn’t be a total surprise to anyone that the lake is recognized as one of the most photographed places in Canada.
There’s no end to the sort of winter and water sports that you can take part in when you’re inside the Banff National Park. This place offers you the opportunity to take part in water-based sports like canoeing and kayaking. For those who seek a greater thrill, there are offerings like white water rafting, rock climbing, and glacier climbing.
Lake Louise is one of the places where you can ski and snowboard all year round because the temperature always stays low enough for there to be snow.
To the disappointment of more people than I would like to admit, swimming in the lake is not a very bright idea. As I mentioned earlier, even at its warmest, the temperature of the water does not rise above 5 degrees Celsius, so there is a real chance of something terrible happening if you decide to leap into the water, thinking you only live once. Be safe, above all else.
With the towering Canadian Rockies in the background, hiking enthusiasts would be frothing at the mouth at the thought of having the opportunity to walk the trails that you can find at the Banff National Park. The view is simply exquisite and something worth all the effort that goes into completing a challenge.
However, hiking is not the only thing that you can do to traverse the hills behind the greenery that surrounds the lake. Mountain biking is another thrilling experience that a lot of people like being a part of. If you’re someone who loves their bikes, then this place is a must-visit for you!
I saved the best for the last. You can also ride around the place on the back of a horse. That’s right, horse riding is another popular means of enjoyment around the Banff National Park. Families who live around the area also come to have a picnic quite frequently, as it is a very favored picnic spot.
4. The Powder Hound Express
Did I say that I saved the best for last? Sike!
The best thing that you can do at the Banff National Park is a crazy sled ride where you’re driven by the resident huskies! If you’re a dog lover (and why shouldn’t you be?), then you’re bound to love the experience. The service is offered mostly in winter when the snow is thick enough to sled upon safely. You might also want to work on that holiday body you’ve been planning on working on because weight restrictions do play a part here.
The Powder Hound Express is driven through a ten-kilometer long trail, which is followed by a half an hour campfire session with hot beverages and baked goodies to help make you comfy after the excellent experience. This is an excellent option for any and all to enjoy their experience at Lake Louise to it’s fullest.
5. Ease Up With Spas and Hot Springs
Irrespective of whether you take part in the variety of winter and water sports available at Lake Louise or are planning to go there on a weekend-long trip to relax after a stressful week at work, you have a plethora of options at your disposal.
There are world-class options like Fox Hotel’s famous hot pool grotto, the Banff Upper Hot Springs, Moose Hotel & Suites, and lastly, the Hidden Ridge Resort. Most of them offer absolutely breathtaking views of the snowy landscape while providing their guests with a relaxing experience in the hot springs and spas.
6. Enjoy the Scenery
Although Lake Louise isn’t the biggest lake in all of Canada, it is big enough to offer enough fantastic views to keep you there for a full day at the very least. If you’re planning to make a quick getaway and just want to chill out amidst the beautiful scenery, then pack a picnic basket and take off to the lake.
The shoreline is wide enough for you to wander while taking in the fresh air and exploring the clear waters high up above. Watching the sunrise or sunset at Lake Louise is a brilliant way to start or end your getaway with a calming experience.
How to Get to Lake Louise
If you live abroad and are planning to fly in for a visit to Lake Louise, then Calgary International Airport is where you’d want to land. Banff National Park is almost a two-hour drive from the airport, and you can find plenty of rental car services, along with drivers who can take you around if you prefer to not sit behind the steering wheel on vacations.
All that said, there are also options for you to book a taxi along with bus services that drive you to and around the ski resorts and hotels throughout the year.
Places to Stay
Given the fact that Lake Louise is visited by about 15,000 people at the peak of the sightseeing season in the summer, lodging and hospitality services are found in abundance around the Banff National Park.
The first piece of lodging to be constructed around the lake was all the way back in 1890, when a single-storied log cabin was built around the shore of Lake Louise to provide rest and respite to travelers.
The lodging services offer a much more full platter than a simple single storied cabin in the twenty-first century. Some of the more popular hospitality facilities are listed below:
- Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: Built in the early part of the 1900s, the construction of this hotel was carried out by the Canadian Pacific Railways on the eastern coast of the lake. It boasts of a suite of about 550 rooms for guests to stay throughout the year. The views from the hotel rooms are exquisite, and the services offered include a four-diamond restaurant, a spa, fully-equipped fitness facilities, horseback riding, and canoeing.
- Deer Lodge: Deer Lodge celebrates its hundredth anniversary in the 2020s. The highlight of the services offered includes a rooftop Jacuzzi, which offers astounding views of the mountainous scenery. Stargazing from the Jacuzzi at night is another really cool way to add another unique experience to your stay. There’s a stacked bar and restaurant, along with a designated game room, sun deck, picnic area, and a garden.
- HI-Lake Louise Alpine Center: This place is more suited for those who are looking for a less pocket pinching alternative for their lodging. That doesn’t compromise on the quality of services, though. The coffee offered at the Alpine Center is fantastic. Movie nights are also held at the hotel. Other facilities include a picnic area, BBQ facilities, and a wide selection of area-specific activities for visitors to enjoy their stay.
All these places have cozy rooms and offer the best of lodging services to all guests. Do not worry one bit about your stay as all essential services like ATMs and WiFi is present within reach for the guests to experience a home away from home.
Times to Visit and Tour Plans
Although Lake Louise has visitors throughout the year, in my opinion, the mountain backgrounds demand a visit in the wintertime because the snow just makes everything better. The beginning of December is a popular time for visitors to visit Lake Louise because the snow just starts falling at the time and the falling of snow marks the onset of the skiing season which, to be fair, is something that you absolutely have to try out when you’re around Lake Louise.
There are no restrictions on visiting the place during summer, though. If you’re lucky and the temperature is warm enough, you might be treated to the sight of cutthroat cod, bull trout, and mountain whitefish swimming through the open waters of the Lake of Little Fishes. You might even be able to catch yourself a feisty dinner if you have the skills!
Coming to the tour planning, the lake itself can be fully explored in a day. A couple extra hours if you’re really picky about exploring the lake to it’s fullest. There are countless other places nearby that you should really consider checking out while you’re in the area. Some of the beautiful spots close to the Banff National Park are:
- Moraine Lake: A glacier lake, much like Lake Louise, the color of the lake is predominantly blue in comparison to Louise’s greenish-blue. It is about nine miles from the lake but is still within the Valley of Ten Peaks. Fun Fact: Moraine Lake was used on the background of the 20 dollar note in Canada back in the 1970s.
- Icefields Parkway: Icefields Parkway is essentially a very long drive from Lake Louise to Jasper National Park, about 150 miles up north. This stretch of road just explains why the journey is so much more important than where you’ll end up because it’s beautiful views of the mountains and wildlife that dwell in the surroundings.
- Heritage Railway Station: The small hamlet or the Lake Louise Village is located downhill at a distance of about four kilometers. The tiny hamlet is where you’ll find the Heritage Railway Station, which depicts the way life is lived among the mountains of the Canadian Rockies. Visit the railway station to find out more about the heritage and history of the place while enjoying a cozy dinner in a small cabin, which really feels like a sweet escapade from the hush and bush of the modern city life.
Lake Louise ticks all the boxes to be your next holiday destination. It is fit for families, couples, and friend groups alike. Some things to keep in mind are the low temperatures throughout the year, so you would be wise on stacking up on those layers, and while you’re at it, back a warm flask of coffee and a warm sleeping bag as well.
Get sunglasses because the sun is pretty intense for the high altitude, and do pay heed to warnings of avalanches in the hilly areas around Lake Louise. After all, nothing is more important than the safety of your loved ones and, most importantly, yourself.
If you’d like to read more about the other amazing things that you can do in Banff, Canada as a tourist, then this is where you should be looking:https://icycanada.com/10-answers-for-what-to-see-in-banff-alberta/.