The first image that comes to mind when people think of Canada is one of the snow-capped mountains and brilliant turquoise lakes. That is, it is Lake Louise! This lake, village, and region, however, offer much more than just a pretty picture. And we’re thrilled to share our ultimate guide to things to do in Lake Louise in this article, such as canoeing, hiking, and visiting Lake Louise Gondola and Lake Agnes Tea House.
Lake Louise: One Of The Best Lakes In Canada
Lake Louise is a hamlet in the Canadian Rockies known for its turquoise, glacier-fed lake surrounded by high peaks and overlooked by a stately chateau. Hiking trails ascend to the Lake Agnes Tea House for panoramic views. In the summer, there is a canoe dock, and in the winter, there is a skating rink on the frozen lake. A wildlife interpretive center is located at the top of a gondola at the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
Despite being one of the busiest places in Banff National Park, this lake is well worth seeing. The first time you see the beautiful lake, it will most likely take your breath away. It is essential to visit Lake Louise at least once while in Banff. We try to visit here at least once a month because it is so beautiful and has so many things to do!
Lake Louise Weather
You should always pack for all types of weather when visiting the Canadian Rockies because you never know how the weather will change from one day to the next! Even in the summer, bringing a lot of layered clothing is a good idea.
Expect daily highs of -6°C and lows of -20°C in winter (December to February), with plenty of snow. March can still be very cold, with highs ranging from 8° to 13° C. In the summer months of June, July, and August, expect highs of 20°C, but be prepared for cool nights. In September and October, temperatures drop significantly, and snow is possible. Prepare for cold temperatures and winter conditions by November.
Best Time To Visit
Lake Louise is a year-round destination that will take your breath away no matter what time of year you visit. It’s such a beautiful part of the world that visiting is always a good idea.
In the winter, you can go sleigh riding, ice skating, ice climbing, skiing, and snowshoeing. During the summer, there are numerous activities to choose from, and the scenery is breathtaking. Because the lake is fed by glacier melt, its water level and color vary according to temperature.
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Things To Do In Lake Louise
Lake Louise Lakeshore Walk
The Lake Louise Lakeshore is the most straightforward walk here. This route circles Lake Louise’s eastern shore with no elevation gain. This is a nice easy trail that is well-maintained and always provides breathtaking views.
The trail is about 2 kilometers one way and ends at the beginning of the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail. If you decide to walk the entire trail and back, it will take you about an hour.
Canoeing on Lake Louise
Canoeing on Lake Louise is a highlight for many visitors to Banff National Park. Lake Louise is probably the most iconic place to rent a canoe in Banff. It’s one of the most breathtaking sights in the world. It’s difficult to imagine a more beautiful setting to paddle through as you gaze out at Mount Victoria and the hanging Victoria glacier.
There’s no need for fancy photo editing because the water in Lake Louise is truly that radiant turquoise blue. While not everyone brings a canoe to Banff, you can rent one at the Lake Louise boathouse.
If you have a canoe, you’ll need to arrive early in the morning to find parking close enough to carry the canoe to the lakeshore. This is one of the activities available at this lake that you will most likely never forget.
Hike From Lake Louise
Lake Louise is a spectacular piece of wilderness with numerous hiking opportunities. It’s difficult to find a bad hike in this area, whether it’s to a mountain peak, a picturesque alpine lake, a glacier field, or a historic teahouse. Lake Louise, which shines a brilliant blue and serves as the centerpiece of Banff National Park, is at the heart of all these hikes.
Many hikes begin in Lake Louise and offer spectacular views of the turquoise lake, surrounding mountains, and awe-inspiring glaciers. Any hiker who gets to hike around Banff National Park and Lake Louise should consider themselves extremely fortunate.
These trails are also great for combining; for example, we hiked to Lake Agnes, Big Beehive, and then scrambled up Mount Niblock all in one day. On another hot summer day here, we hiked to Mirror Lake, then to the Little Beehive, and finally to Mount St Piran.
Another excellent option is to hike the Big Beehive to the Plain of Six Glaciers for a memorable day in the mountains. The following are the best Lake Louise summer hikes:
- Lake Agnes Tea House
- Plain of Six Glaciers
- Beehive Circuit (Little Beehive and BIg Beehive)
- Devil’s Thumb
- Saddleback Pass
- Mount Fairview
- Mount St Piran
- Mount Niblock (Scramble)
- Mount Whyte (Hard Scramble)
Scenic Trail Horseback Riding
Take a scenic horseback ride from Lake Louise to explore some of the incredible trails. You have a nice selection of rides to choose from, ranging from a two-hour ride to a seven-hour full-day ride.
We’ve taken up horseback riding as a new hobby in the last year after spending time on a horseback safari and at a Dude Ranch. It’s a fantastic experience, and we recommend it to anyone who is interested in riding. We even took a five-day horseback ride into the Banff backcountry!
Brewster Adventures offers horseback tours up to Lake Agnes; see their full schedule here. There are also tours to the Plain of Six Glaciers and the Highline. Their tours start around $200 and range in price.
For more experienced riders, head to Kananaskis Country or Golden, where you can travel with operators who have advanced-level rides with lope or canter.
Scramble to a Mountain Summit
If you’re wondering what our favorite thing to do in Lake Louise is, we recommend climbing to the top of a mountain. There are several great mountains around Lake Louise that can be reached without technical climbing. This transitions into the realm of alpine scrambling, which is somewhere between rock climbing and hiking.
Hands are usually required, and there is a risk of serious injury or death. Not all of these are difficult, and some are more akin to hiking. Of course, there is the physical feat, but if you want to say you’ve summited a Canadian Rockies mountain, try Mt. Saint Piran or Fairview Mountain, both of which are classified as easy scrambles.
Devil’s Thumb is also an excellent introduction to scrambling for experienced hikers. If you try, I recommend wearing a helmet because other hikers frequently knock loose rocks down the steep trail.
Of course, not everyone starts out as a beginner! For more experienced scramblers, try Mount Niblock (a difficult scramble with some exposure) or Mt Whyte (one of the Rockies’ most difficult scrambles that border on rock climbing without a rope). These are not places to put your skills to the test and pose a real risk of death, so they are best left to those with mountain experience.
Lake Louise also offers some difficult mountaineering objectives, such as Mt. Lefroy and Mt. Victoria, both Canadian Rockies classics. There are excellent companies in Canmore and Banff to learn more about mountaineering or to hire a guide.
Views of the Alps from the Lake Louise Gondola
In the summer and winter, one of the best things to do in Lake Louise is riding the gondola. The Lake Louise Gondola is open almost all year. When the snow melts in the summer, the Lake Louise Ski Resort switches to summer operations. During this time, Lake Louise transports visitors up their chairs and cable cars for spectacular mountain views without the need for any leg work.
From Lake Louise Gondola, you can explore the mountain on your own, eat at the Whitehorn Restaurant with breathtaking views, or join one of their guided hikes to learn more about flora and fauna of Banff National Park. This is an excellent way for families to enjoy the hiking experience and views around the lake in a safe manner.
They frequently spot bears along the grassy ski slopes, so there’s a good chance you’ll see one. Last year, visitors were treated to a sighting of a mother grizzly bear nursing her cubs beneath the gondola.
Kayak or SUP on Lake Louise
You can only rent kayaks or SUPs in Banff or Canmore, so if you want to kayak or SUP at Lake Louise, you’ll need to bring your own or rent one from one of those locations.
During the summer, the Banff Canoe Club rents kayaks and paddleboards. A stand-up paddleboard is the easier option because inflatable rentals can fit in a rental car and be carried to the lakeshore.
However, keep in mind that you’ll still need to find parking at Lake Louise, which is difficult in the summer. If you’re lucky enough to kayak or SUP here, you’re in for a treat.
Hike To Skoki Lodge
The historic Skoki Lodge is a Lake Louise cabin lodge in Banff National Park’s backcountry and one of the best Banff cabins. The lodge is only accessible by hiking or skiing 11 kilometers from the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
It was founded in 1930 as one of the first backcountry ski lodges in North America. Ski touring, cross-country skiing and telemark skiing are popular winter activities.
Pay a visit to the Lake Agnes Tea House
The Lake Agnes Tea house hike is a popular summer activity in this lake. It’s also one of the most iconic and popular hikes in Banff National Park, with visitors enjoying it for well over a century.
It concludes at the Lake Agnes Teahouse, which has been serving visitors since it first opened in 1905. A rustic old cabin on the shores of Lake Agnes, overlooking a rushing waterfall.
Its popularity is perhaps its only drawback, as the teahouse can draw a crowd with a line out the door during the summer months. Nonetheless, it is a classic that concludes at the lovely Lake Agnes, an ideal spot for lunch. This is an easy-to-moderate hike above Lake Louise that is appropriate for all Banff visitors.
The Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike takes less than two hours and is a must-do in Banff. However, be advised that it is a busy one. Continue climbing to the Big or Little Beehive and on to Devil’s Thumb to avoid the crowds (and get better views). The earlier you get up and going in the summer, the better. Lake Louise and the Lake Agnes Teahouse Trek are a little chaotic by mid-afternoon.
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Drive The Bow Valley Parkway
Taking one of the most scenic drives in the world is one of the best things to do in Lake Louise in the summer and winter. Visitors can drive or ride their bikes down the Bow Valley Parkway from Lake Louise to Banff.
While the highway is much faster, the Bow Valley Parkway is much more scenic and takes a much slower pace.
The road winds through the valley, past scenic overlooks, picnic areas, and attractions such as Johnston Canyon and Castle Mountain. It’s a beautiful drive that’s popular with cyclists in the summer and offers a great opportunity to see wildlife.