You know those trips that leave an imprint on your heart? That’s Lake Louise for me. From the food we ate (bring on the bison!) to the sites we visited (gondola, hot springs, etc.), it’s a magical place that everyone needs to experience, starting with the Fairmont Lake Louise, a bonafide castle.
This post was last updated in September 2021.
Traveling to Alberta
While I’ve gone into extensive detail about Banff, it occurred to me that my trip coincided with the death of my grandmother, and due to a particular amount of chaos that ensued trying to get myself to Calgary and, from there, back to Tennessee, I never quite did Lake Louise justice.
My first visit to Alberta was in July, prime travel conditions for Canada, once that will entice you to relocate even. Whereas, I’m often stuck going at it alone, I was able to bring a guest this time. Did I take my husband? Nah. This was a dream girls’ trip in the making.
My study abroad pal Evan, a med student who was my partner-in-nightly-Strongbow-consumption while we were both studying abroad in Edinburgh, turned out to be the perfect travel buddy to bring along for a couple of leisurely days in Banff and Lake Louise following 48 hours on the Rocky Mountaineer.
Where is Lake Louise?
While Banff is the center of commercial activity in the area, there’s not a whole lot to do per se in Lake Louise, that’s kind of precisely why you go there. In my professional writing, I try to use trite vocabulary like picturesque, magical, atmospheric, awe-inspiring, majestic (which I refer to as “Lonely Planet words”); well, let’s just say Lake Louise was all of the above and more. I could have been perfectly content for the duration of my stay staring at this:
You see that in the background, way up high? A glacier. It’s a bit bizarre to be sweating cobs while donning a paper-thin sundress, when a massive 10-ton block of ice hovers above you not far in the distance. We spent our sole day in Lake Louise doing what many travelers who came before us did, as well, by soaking up an array of outdoor activities. We kayaked the length of the lake (note to sole kayak rental place: $50+ for an hour’s rental is a BIT excessive):
Then, we went on a bit of a wildlife safari/hike around the perimeter hoping to spot a moose, or a long-horned sheep at the very least. Instead, we saw this:
It looked like a beaver, only bigger and meaner. A groundhog? A woodchuck? I screamed and looked for a place to run. Alas, there was nowhere to go. So I jumped on a rock instead, until it glared me down, shrugged and waddled off into the brush. Initially, I feared it might be a ROUS; instead, it turned out to be merely a particularly rotund marmot of unusual size.
Many people who travel to the area come to check the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise off their life list. Evan and I stayed there a night. While I won’t say it was the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in—it is a tad overpriced and I’ve visited plenty of California properties that are much nicer in terms of actual accommodation—simply put, you’re paying for the view and the experience. After all, this was the sunrise view from our suite window:
The property is so large, in fact, that I had to revisit the front desk often for a map or directions to somewhere or the other, directions which were doled out like so: “Take the third left after the harpist, travel down the corridor, you’ll find yourself in the west wing alongside a grand piano, then take the elevator up five floors.” Needless to elaborate, the place is massive.
It happened to be Evan’s birthday the night we stayed there, so we got all gussied up and found ourselves indulging in $100 worth of fondue at the hotel’s Walliser Stube restaurant with new pal, Killian. Not a bad way to ring in your quarter-century celebration, eh?
Alas, in there mere 24 hours we spent at the lake, our dream of seeing a “bear jam” (in which a grizzly serves as a roadblock) or spotting elk just outside our window was never realized, but I’d say I left Canada fulfilled and with even more of an incentive to return, very soon.
For other Canada inspiration, check out these travel tips:
- Taking My Mom to Canada: A Multigenerational Trip to Alberta
- Real-Life Narnia: A Guide to Jasper, Lake Louise & Banff in Winter
- On the VIA Rail: A Train Ride Across Canada’s Rocky Mountains
- Looking for a Winter Trip to Canada? Here are 5 Wonderland Getaways
- Canada’s Big 3: A Guide to Skiing in Banff + Lake Louise
Wow, absolutely gorgeous and definetly looks like a place I would love to go to now, well maybe not now, but in a few months. However, it also sounds like I might not be able to take fully advantage of it cause I would be worried about my finances the whole time.
The Rockies take my breath away every time I go there. These photos are AMAZING.
except next time, it will be more east coast…like, say, toronto-ish. heh.
ps. have lived in canada for almost 12 years and have yet to make it to banff. am jealous. i’ve heard (and seen) that it’s amazing!
I worked at Lake Powell’s resort in Arizona over the summer. Same deal – you’re paying for the view when you stay there. And the amenities. The resort itself was like Motel 6.
I guess I forgot about our giant northern neighbor. I had no idea water could be that aqua in Canada. Then again it is just a reflection of the sky..
Actually, for having worked in lake louise for quite some time (best place in the universe if you enjoy the outdoors), the coloration of the water is actually due to a mineral washed down from the glaciers into the water. when you stand beside the lake, you notice that the water is actually not as clear as you would expect it to be. It looks kind of like if blue-ish sand had been lifted from the bottom.
I loved Banff! The little town is SO cute, and the Grand something resort in Banff is AMAZING. I always wanted to take a romantic trip there.
I’m so glad you had a lovely time in our little (big) country! Next time come to Vancouver, and you’ll fall in love for so many other reasons, I promise!
love it! i that is so going to be my next long roadtrip!
Gorgeous pictures! Banff is definitely on my list of must-visit locales. (And as nice as it looks in winter, I would totally want to go in the summer like you did – that water is RIDICULOUSLY blue!)
I swear, some of those photos are so amazing I almost can’t believe they weren’t Photoshopped.
Everywhere I look, people are blogging about their mountain adventures and mine was canceled at the last minute. It is a cruel, cruel world.
BUT Lake Louise is breath-taking. Thanks for sharing.
Only you can pull of a tube dress whilst in a canoe. Seriously. I need to rethink my wardrobe. It looks gorgeous there! I need to get to Canada.
Your pictures are gorgeous and if the color of the water was hard to capture in that video than I can’t even believe how beautiful it must have been in person.
Gorgeous pictures, but where are the shots of your feet? 😉 I keeed, I keeeed!
Is it bad that I have absolutely no desire to visit Canada? Well, I didn’t until I saw your photos. I tend to think of Canada in terms of snow and ice and well, more snow, and as I’m more of a summer girl, those thoughts have kept me away. It looks absolutely beautiful, though! And I also have to add that I love your dress in the last shot. Gorgeous color on you!
Holly’s posts made it look like an awesome place! But these photos, in the summer with NO SNOW, make me want to book a trip right now!
Umm…..you have THE. BEST. JOB. EVER!!!! I am so jealous. These pictures look surreal.
I lived in Calgary for 15 years and spent summers meandering Lake Louise – and winters riding the mountain, and these pictures bring the memories flooding back – they’re really spectacular. Thanks for sharing.
Oooo, I’m a Holly and I LIVE HERE (There)….weird hey?
It’s gorgeos….but the 8 month winter gets a little tedious.
I have planned a trip there for quite some time. Amazing photos. I’m not really into the whole party vacation crowd. I like to relax and take in the scenery on my trips. I’ve been planning a trip here since 2005, but haven’t had the chance to go yet. I hope to get there by 2012.
Are there any places outside the hotel that let you sit down and take in the view? Like benches or whatever?
You know, we were only in Lake Louise for two days so I actually didn’t venture off the property! But we did take a long stroll around the lake and were the only people there–there were a lot of rocks and places (on the ground) along the shoreline where you could sit and be peaceful!
You should also try to make it to Banff if you have the time. It’s about an hour away, and buses travel between the two areas regularly. Such a gorgeous place for wildlife and scenery.
What month did you go and what was the weather like? Do you remember? I want to go when it is cool, but not quite cold yet. Some time when the weather is in the mid 60’s.
I was there in July. It was PERFECT. Probably 70s the whole time, sunny, blue skies. I imagine end of August/early September would be about when you’re looking for.
Thanks for the responses. From your pictures, it looked like you were the only one out there in the lake. Is it usually more crowded out there? From your short time there, how crowded was the overall area? Every picture I ever see of Lake Louise looks nice and calm, but people have told me before it can get pretty crowded, so I have no idea what to expect.
I spent a week in Lake Louise, Jasper, and Banff and your pictures remind me that it was the best trip of my life, and literally, the most breathtaking scenery I’ve ever experienced. However, you say there isn’t much to do in Lake Louise and I have to disagree a bit. If you love the outdoors, look no further. My husband and I hiked to 9,000 feet to “the Beehive” and the trail starts right at the Chateau. We hiked the “Plain of 6 Glaciers” trail, and we were novice hikers- right up to the glacier. We white-water rafted the Kicking Horse river in wetsuits. We took a 10 min. drive to next-door Moraine Lake Lodge which is smaller but just as gorgeous as Lake Louise (the Moraine Lake Lodge sits right beside the lake and is much less expensive but same views), and canoed the lake and hiked the perimeter. Then we hit the Columbia Icefields Parkway and drove up to Jasper (maybe a 3 hour drive is all) and stopped all along the way at places like Peyto Lake and Bow Lake, which are just as gorgeous, and saw moose, and mountain goats, and yes, bears! Not to mention the best scenic drive pit stops you’ll ever come across. So you just have to venture out a bit away from the hotel and look around the area- there is SO much to do if you explore a bit.
Wow, those are stunning photos! Although I’m Canadian, I have yet to visit Lake Louise…it’s high on my list though. I’m glad the marmot turned out to be friendly!
Hi, I am just discovering your blog and loved your comment about Alberta. Well you see, I am from Montreal but now live in Calgary. We are really priviledged to live only 1 hour away so really Banff and Lake Louise are basically in our backyard. If you are ever back in the neighborhood, please let me know. Looking forward discovering the new places you will be going to. And thanks for all the great tips about the photography gear you carry around when travelling…loved the pictures of the sea creatures….keep up the great work. Carine
This looks absolutely stunning! I really thought BC had the market cornered on gorgeous Canadian scenery, but it looks like Banff needs to go on my list 😀