When first guided to Lake Louise by his native guided, Tom Wilson of the CPR
(Canadian Pacific Railway) described it as a “matchless scene”. The lake, fed by glacial meltwater is an unbelievable blue green colour set against the stark backdrop of Victoria Glacier. Lake Louise is probably the most photographed and beloved scene in the Canadian Rockies. Romantic and relaxing, the pace in Lake Louise attracts people who want to savour the finer and simple charms of life, the stillness of the outdoors, or a quiet walk after dinner. The lake area accommodation offerings views of the mountains and old world charm and elegance amidst the wilderness. The lower village of Lake Louise holds an array of fine dining, high and moderate accommodation and a small shopping area.
ACCOMMODATION – WHERE TO STAY
Lake Louise has an unusual status because of its unique location within a National Park. That extends to the amount and range of accommodation choices. Hotels are located either close to the lake, or close to the Highway and Samson Mall. Due to the short supply and high demand for accommodation, there are no bargains for Lake Louise hotels except in the lowest shoulder seasons. However if you are looking to splurge for a night or two, or prefer the getaway experience, there are mountain lodges, usually in idyllic settings, with spectacular lake views. There are limited condominium style accommodations, but also cabin properties that allow some self catering options.
It is a full 2 -2 « hour drive to Lake Louise from Calgary Airport. The highway is twinned and fast for all but the last 20 minutes. The last section is single lane each direction highway. Once you enter the National Park the speed limit reduces to 90 km/h and is enforced. It is a 40 minute drive between Banff and Lake Louise. Driving from Jasper it takes 3 hours non-stop along the Icefields Parkway. From the west, the closest town is Golden BC, 1 hour away. To drive directly from Vancouver will take approximately 9 hours, dependent on traffic and road conditions. From Calgary, there are airport shuttle transfers available at least every 2 hours. The journey takes longer than driving since transfers will stop in Banff and Canmore.
If you are choosing to stay at one of the beautiful lodges or at the lake, then it is possible to enjoy Lake Louise without a vehicle. This will limit you to just participating in the activities available at that location. If you want to explore, hike or sightsee to other lakes, glaciers and mountain trails then you will have far more flexibility with a vehicle. There is no public transit within Lake Louise or connecting Lake Louise and Banff.
WHAT TO SEE
Lake Louise is all about magnificent mountain scenery and the essence of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The Lake Louise area is dominated by huge peaks, turquoise colored lakes and magnificent glaciers. You also have a pretty good chance if seeing wildlife, especially is you can get away from busy areas.
Being the highest elevation community in Canada and situated deep in the Rocky Mountains, Lake Louise can be cooler than Banff just 40 minutes away. Always bring a sweater or light jacket, even in summer. But summer days in July and August can be sunny and warm and shorts and T shirts are enough. You won’t be swimming in any of the lakes as they are glacier fed and the water is freezing cold. Bring a serious winter jacket between November and May if you plan to spend any time outside hiking or sightseeing. In between seasons, be prepared for anything and as always when in the mountains, dress in layers so you can adapts to weather changes.
All Lake Louise nightlife is contained within the amenities of the hotels. There are no private pubs or clubs in Lake Louise, but the hotels make up for it with lounges and bars. But it is important to note that through summer it is light until at least 10pm so many people are enjoying outside activities until well into the evening.
Despite being in such a small population setting, Lake Louise has a fine selection of world class fine dining, and as it is a vacation resort area, smart casual attire is just fine. Most restaurants are located within the hotels and lodges plus a couple of restaurants around the Samson Mall area. You won’t be disappointed by the cuisine you are served. There is a grocery store for supplies for breakfast, camping or cabin stays.
Lake Louise is not at all about shopping. The Samson Mall area near the highway exit has a small selection of stores. There are of course, souvenirs available as well as a surprisingly good bookstore filled with guides and books with local flavor. You can buy sporting equipment and there is even a bakery for your pastry and espresso fix.
Without a sizeable permanent population, Lake Louise is unlike most towns that offer festivals and special events. The culture of Lake Louise is the mountains and its National Park setting. You will find a wide range of visitors who are just passing through, dedicated hikers enjoying superb mountain trails and even some serious mountaineers and climbers.
|Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise||Lake Louise Inn||Mountaineer Lodge||Paradise Lodge & Bungalows|
|Post Hotel||Deer Lodge||Cathedral Mountain Lodge|
|Moraine Lake Lodge||Storm Mountain Lodge|
|Emerald Lake Lodge|