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