In summer, about 20,000 visitors per day make the journey from the Bow Valley floor up to Lake Louise. By noon the tiered parking lot is often full. An alternative to the road is one of two hiking trails that begin in the village and end at the public parking lot. From here several paved trails lead to Lake Louise’s eastern shore. From these vantage points the dramatic setting can be fully appreciated. Lake Louise is 2.4 kilometres (1.5 miles) long, 500 metres (1,640 feet) wide, and up to 90 metres (295 feet) deep. Its cold waters reach a maximum temperature of 4°C (39°F) in August.
FAIRMONT CHATEAU LAKE LOUISE is a tourist attraction in itself. Built by the CPR to take the pressure off the popular Banff Springs Resort, the chateau has seen many changes in the last 100 years, yet it remains one of the world’s great mountain resorts. No one minds the hordes of camera-toting tourists who traipse through each day—and there’s really no way to avoid them. The immaculately manicured gardens between the chateau and Lake Louise make an interesting foreground for the millions of Lake Louise photographs taken each year. At the lakeshore boathouse, canoes are rented for $40 per hour.
The snow-covered peak at the back of Lake Louise is Mount Victoria (3,459 metres/11,350 feet), which sits on the Continental Divide. Amazingly, its base is more than 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) from the eastern end of Lake Louise. Mount Victoria, first climbed in 1897, remains one of Banff National Park’s most popular peaks for mountaineers. Although the difficult northeast face (facing the chateau) was first successfully ascended in 1922, the most popular and easiest route to the summit is along the southeast ridge, approached from Abbot Pass.
Getting to Lake Louise
Lake Louise is 56 kilometres (35 miles) northwest of Banff along the TransCanada Highway, or a little bit longer if you take the quieter Bow Valley Parkway. The HAMLET OF LAKE LOUISE, composed of a small mall, hotels, and restaurants, is in the Bow Valley, just west of the TransCanada Highway. Lake Louise itself is 200 vertical metres (660 vertical feet) above the valley floor, along a winding four-kilometre (2.5-mile) road. AS parking at Lake Louise is limited, the best way to reach Lake Louise is by shuttle bus from the Lake Louise Ski Resort or the town of Banff. For more information see the Lake Louise Shuttles page.