Lake Louise Accommodations, Tours, Dining and WeatherDiscovered by Stoney natives centuries ago, it wasn't until outfitter Tom Wilson of the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) thought he heard thunder booming through a nearby valley that Lake Louise was uncovered to the rest of the world. In the summer of 1882, Wilson and his Stoney guide Edwin Hunter visited what the natives had described as avalanches on “snow mountain above the lake of the little fishes.” What Wilson saw was what he would later describe as a “matchless scene” and named it Emerald Lake after its spectacular blue-green water. Two years later the name was changed by the Geographic Board to honour Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria and the wife of the Governor General of Canada. The province of Alberta was later named for her as well.
Lake Louise is 2.4 km long, 500 m wide and 90 m deep and resides within Banff National Park a picturesque thirty-minute drive west of Banff. The elevation is 1,731 m, slightly more than a mile above sea level and 200 m above the floor of the Bow Valley. The lake, fed by glacial meltwater, reaches a maximum surface temperature of 9 degrees Celsius in August and is frozen from November until June. With its blue-green water set against the stark backdrop of Victoria Glacier, Lake Louise is probably the most beloved and most photographed scene in the Canadian Rockies. Not only have international royalty, Hollywood stars and heads of state come to Lake Louise to relax, but increasingly the rest of the world is discovering its simple charms as well. Romantic and relaxing, the pace in Lake Louise attracts people who want to savour the finer things of life; a good book in front of a fireplace, the stillness of the outdoors, or a quiet walk after dinner. The Chateau Lake Louise presents lakeside views of the towering Victoria Glacier, offering old-world charm and elegance amidst the wilderness. The lower village of Lake Louise holds an array of fine dining, first class accommodations and shopping. Lake Louise accomodations.
Touring Lake LouiseIt wasn't until 1888 that Tom Wilson cut a trail to Lake Louise. The first building at the lake was a log cabin built that year by Dave White. In 1890, the CPR built its first log chalet that later burned down in 1893. It was succeeded by a split-level wooden structure that housed only 12 guests but was expanded to occupy 200 guests by 1900. With the completion of the 94-room Painter Wing in 1913, the capacity of the building was boosted to a sizeable 400 guests. By 1917, a hydroelectric generator was built on Louise Creek and brought modern comforts to the remote setting. What started as a rustic chalet beside the emerald lake had been transformed into Chateau Lake Louise, one of Canada's grandest hotels. Whereas the Banff Springs Hotel was marketed as an all-around resort in the lap of luxury, the Chateau was marketed by the CPR to appeal to outdoor enthusiasts. The pitch worked as mountaineers, artists and trail riders flocked to Lake Louise and filled the hotel throughout the summers. Another fire in 1924 destroyed one of the wooden wings but a concrete replacement was in place by the next year and the hotel barely missed a beat. The building stayed much the same over the next 60 years as other developments sprung up within the village and surrounding areas. In 1986 the CPR poured $50 million into a massive redevelopment and expansion – the capacity of the hotel is now 1,100 guests in 515 rooms.
Summer is the busiest and most expensive time to visit Lake Louise as outdoor enthusiasts from around the world converge on the area to explore its endless beauty and infrastructure of trails and lakes. One of the most popular tour and spectacular hikes is The Plain of Six Glaciers (commonly referred to as “The Teahouse”). The trail follows the north shore of Lake Louise and passes beneath 100 m cliffs near the lake's far end. The trail then climbs through ancient forest and across avalanche slopes beside the glacial meltwater stream. The trail emerges onto moraines on the north side of the forefield of Victoria Glacier. From this point, six glaciers are visible. The trail follows a short terrace beneath a cliff and then climbs alongside moraines towards the Plain of Six Glaciers teahouse. From the switchbacks just before the teahouse you'll have an excellent view of Lower Victoria Glacier which is rapidly receding into oblivion. Be sure to look for mountain goats near the trail just before the teahouse. During the summer months, the Swiss built teahouse serves lunch and refreshments.
If you don't have a full day to spare or want a hike that won't test the joints, the Lake Louise Shoreline trail features a 1.9 km walkway that is wheelchair accessible. The Lower Consolation Lake hike is also an easy walk and is a great place to see natural wildflowers. The hike to Lake Agnes is popular tour for the view it offers and the cozy teahouse on the shoreline. The easy 250 m hike to the Moraine Lake Rockpile offers the best views of the gorgeous lake and the Wenckchemna Peaks. Larch Valley, a steep 3.2 km hike with 352 m in elevation gain also offers exceptional views of these same peaks. Serious mountaineers will want to conquer Mt. Victoria, one of the most frequently climbed mountains in the Canadian Rockies.
One of the major attractions in the Canadian Rockies is the Columbia Icefield, located on the boundary of Banff and Jasper National Parks. One of the largest accumulations of ice and snow south of the Arctic Circle, it covers an area of nearly 325 square kilometres. The continuous accumulation of snow feeds eight major glaciers including the Athabasca, Dome, and Stutfield Glaciers, all visible from the Icefields Parkway. The Columbia Icefield is a true "continental divide," for its meltwater feeds streams and rivers that pour into the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans.
Facing the Columbia Icefield Visitors' Centre lies the Athabasca Glacier - a tongue of ice 6 kilometres long and one kilometre wide descending almost to road level. Take time for Brewster's Ice Age Adventure, a tour onto the icy slopes of the Athabasca Glacier. You will travel in a specially designed Brewster Snocoach to the middle of the glacier, on a 5 kilometre round trip journey. Your driver/guide will explain how glaciers are formed and point out interesting geological features as you travel in safety and comfort. At the icefall below the glacier headwall, you will have the option of stepping out onto ice formed from snow falling as long as 400 years ago.
After this unique adventure, you can retire to the Columbia Icefield Centre to relax over lunch or dinner and watch the light change over the ancient rock and ice.
In winter, the major draw to the area is alpine skiing at the Lake Louise ski resort. With over 4,200 acres of skiable terrain and the longest run stretching over 5 miles (8 km), Lake Louise is the biggest ski resort in the Canadian Rockies and one of the largest in North America. While there is no accommodation at the base of Lake Louise due to its location in Banff National Park, its day lodge is considered one of the best in the world and overnight lodging is just a short five-minute drive away. Accommodation in Lake Louise during the shoulder and winter months is very affordable and can be several times lower than the summer rates. During the summer, one chairlift operates at Lake Louise Ski resort to whisk passengers to Whitehorn Lodge for a great view of the Bow Valley and the mountains near Lake Louise.
The village of Lake Louise is small and vastly different from Banff and Canmore in terms of size and amenities. Lodging in Lake Louise is limited in comparison and consists mostly of hotel suites with a very limited supply of condo and cabin style units often ideal for families. For luxury, the aforementioned Chateau Lake Louise and the Post Hotel in Lake Louise Village are two of the finest hotels in Canada and offer exceptional onsite amenities including some of the best dining in the Canadian Rockies. Moraine Lake Lodge offers quiet seclusion and is ideal for honeymooners while the Lake Louise Inn is both affordable and practical for any length of stay. Deer Lodge beside the Chateau Lake Louise is an economical alternative to its neighbour. Baker Creek Chalets, fifteen-minutes outside of Lake Louise near the Castle Mountain junction, offer some of the area's only cabin-style chalets at a very reasonable price. Another very popular tour spot is Emerald Lake Lodge just outside Field in Yoho National Park. A thirty-minute drive from Lake Louise, Emerald Lake is entrancingly beautiful and offers some of the best hiking, sport fishing, trail riding and canoeing in the Canadian Rockies.
One of the great benefits of staying in the Lake Louise area during the summer is its proximity to Yoho National Park and the Icefields Parkway, the primary connection with Jasper. If quiet relaxation coupled with outdoor adventure in a spectacular setting is on your vacation menu, few resorts in the world can compare to Lake Louise.
| Banff, AB|
| Canmore, AB|
| Kananaskis Country, AB|
| Lake Louise, AB|
| Waterton, AB|
| Jasper, AB|
| Radium, BC|
| Invermere, BC|
| Fairmont Hot Springs, BC|
| Panorama, BC|
| Kimberley, BC|
| Fernie, BC|
| Golden, BC|
| Special Collection|
| Accom Index|
Rockies Destination Index