Plan Ahead: Best Tips for 2024 Travel to Lake Louise

Written by
Staff Writer
January 29, 2024
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First Published on

Picking the Perfect Season for Your Lake Louise Adventures

Nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise is a captivating destination that enchants visitors throughout the year. The timing of your visit can significantly impact the experience you seek:

Winter: As temperatures drop, Lake Louise transforms into a winter wonderland. The frozen lake sets the stage for activities such as the Ice Bar and Lake Skating, available from mid-December to mid-April (conditions permitting). However, it's important to note that the road to Lake Moraine is closed during this chilly season so don’t expect to know that one off your list during this time of the year.

Spring: If you opt for spring, be aware that the lakes remain frozen until late May. Hiking enthusiasts will need to wait until late June for the trails to thaw and re-open.

Summer: Late May marks the beginning of a vibrant season at Lake Louise. Turquoise lakes and blossoming wildflowers create a picturesque landscape, and hiking enthusiasts can hit the trails starting late June.

Fall: As autumn sets in, Lake Louise undergoes a stunning transformation. The lakes retain their liquid form, and the landscape transitions to a golden hue, adorned with Larches. The road to Lake Moraine closes around mid-October, signalling the end of the fall season.

Before You Go

A Park Pass is required for all visitors; you can purchase these online or at all park entry points. The cost of the pass covers very important conservation and maintenance of the area.

In terms of seasonal considerations, in winter (December to March), roads and trails can be snow-covered, so winter tires and proper snow gear are necessary for safety. Wildlife is active year-round, so be aware of wildlife safety guidelines.

Photo Credit: Love from Steph

Secure Your Basecamp

Selecting the perfect accommodation is essential for crafting an unforgettable Lake Louise experience. For peace of mind, we strongly recommend booking in advance. If you prefer proximity to Lake Louise, consider Baker Creek by Basecamp, a mere 15 minutes away, offering a choice of Jacuzzi Suites or Private Cabins, nestled in the heart of Banff National Park.

If you’re drawn to the charm of Banff, consider Basecamp Suites Banff on Banff Ave. Offering exclusive accommodations with direct access to the renowned Banff Avenue, it offers a central and distinctive experience.

If the charm and convenience of Canmore is calling your name, discover budget-friendly options at Basecamp Lodge Canmore or Lamphouse Hotel, offering more traditional hotel-style accommodations. While Basecamp Resorts Canmore and Basecamp Suites Canmore offer more of a cozy home-away-from-home set up. Or you can indulge in a luxurious stay at MTN House Hotel, where 5-star comfort and upscale Canadian cuisine at Rhythm & Howl await.

Basecamp Resorts Canmore

With convenient access to Lake Louise, Banff Avenue, Downtown Canmore, and the Highway, our accommodations unlock the doors to a multitude of exciting adventures.

Parking at Lake Louise

Lake Louise Drive remains open throughout the year, ensuring accessibility, whether you're visiting during the winter for ice skating or during the fall for the renowned larch season. The parking area at Lake Louise is free from November to April but incurs a fee from May to October between 7 am and 7 pm. It's worth noting that the parking lot tends to fill up by 8 am on most days from June through October.

Lake Louise. Photo Credit: Scott Bakken @scottcbakken

Lake Louise/Moraine Lake Shuttle

For those planning to visit Lake Louise during the summer and early fall, the best option is to utilize the Lake Louise Shuttle service. We strongly advise booking your shuttle seat well in advance, particularly if Moraine Lake is also on your must-see list. It's essential to remember that there is no parking or public road access available at Moraine Lake, so you must arrange for either a group or private shuttle to reach that destination.

Private shuttles are available directly from Baker Creek by Basecamp for both guests and the public. The shuttle service runs from 8am to 2:30pm June 1st to October 15th, 2023, giving you plenty of time to explore both Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. Plus, starting at just $25 per person, it's an affordable option for those on a budget.

Get more details.

The Lake Louise/Moraine Lake Shuttle booking for the 2024 season will open on Thursday, April 18, 2024, at 8:00 am MT. The shuttle service to Lake Louise Lakeshore will operate from May 17 to October 14. For Moraine Lake, the shuttle service will be available from June 1 to October 14. During this period, reservations for 40% of the operating season will become available. The remaining 60% will be released on an ongoing basis 48 hours before each departure throughout the season.

Book your shuttle through Parks Canada Website.

Shuttle Pick-Up

You are required to park at the Park & Ride Shuttle lot and board the shuttle from there. The Lake Louise Park and Ride (free parking) lot is situated at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, precisely at 1 Whitehorn Road.

Plan Your Day & Pack Accordingly

Summer (June to August): Summer offers warm weather and the full splendor of Lake Louise. Pack lightweight, breathable clothing for daytime, but also include a couple of layers for cooler evenings. Essential items include sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and a good pair of hiking shoes. Planning your day should involve early starts to avoid crowds at popular spots like Moraine Lake and the Lake Agnes Tea House. Consider canoeing on the lake or taking leisurely hikes in the afternoon.

Lake Louise. Photo credit: Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka

Fall (September to November): Fall brings cooler temperatures and stunning autumn foliage. Layered clothing is key, with a mix of warm and waterproof items. Bring hats and gloves, as mornings can be quite chilly. Hiking is still enjoyable, and the golden larches in areas like Larch Valley are a must-see, check out our Larch blog for the best viewing locations and when to catch them. Wildlife viewing is also excellent during this season.

Larch Valley. Photo Credit: Paul Zizka, Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Winter (December to March): Winter transforms Lake Louise into a snowy wonderland, perfect for skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. Pack warm clothing, including insulated jackets, thermal layers, snow pants, and waterproof boots. Don't forget accessories like gloves, beanies, and scarves. Days are shorter, so plan outdoor activities for the appropriate daylight hours. Evenings can be spent enjoying the cozy amenities of Baker Creek by Basecamp.

Spring (April to May): This season is a mix of winter and summer. The weather can be unpredictable, so pack a combination of warm and lighter clothing, waterproof gear, and sturdy footwear. Early spring still offers winter sports opportunities, while late spring is great for witnessing the thaw and the start of the hiking season. Be aware of trail conditions and closures, as some paths may still be snow-covered or muddy. You can check on AllTrails or Parks Canada.

During every season, it’s important to stay hydrated and carry a daypack with essentials like water, snacks, a first-aid kit, and a map. Always check the weather forecast and park notices before planning your activities, as conditions in the mountains can change rapidly. By being well-prepared, you can fully enjoy the unique beauty Lake Louise offers throughout the year.

Recommended Viewpoints and Lookouts at Lake Louise

Fairview Lookout: This short hike leads to a beautiful viewpoint overlooking the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and the lake itself against the backdrop of the Victoria Glacier.

Big Beehive Lookout: After a more challenging hike, this viewpoint offers stunning panoramic views of Lake Louise and the surrounding mountains.

Big Beehive Lookout. Photo Credit: Paul Zizka, Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

Lake Agnes Tea House and Lookout: Located above Lake Louise, this spot provides a gorgeous view of the lake and its surrounding peaks. The historic tea house is a great spot to rest and enjoy the scenery.

Lake Agnes Lookout. Photo Credit: Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka

Remember to check trail conditions and weather forecasts before heading out, as conditions can change rapidly in the mountains. Also, be prepared with appropriate gear and respect the wildlife and natural environment in these areas.

Top Activities to do Near Lake Louise

  • Lake Louise Ski Resort: In winter, this is a prime location for skiing and snowboarding with stunning views.
  • Icefields Parkway: Drive one of the most scenic highways in the world, with stops at Peyto Lake, Bow Lake, and the Columbia Icefield.
  • Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing: Various trails offer great opportunities for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter months.
  • Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola: Offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Wildlife sightings, particularly grizzly bears, are a bonus.
  • Hiking: There are numerous trails for all skill levels. Popular hikes include the Lake Agnes Tea House, Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House, and the Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail.
  • Canoeing on Lake Louise: Rent a canoe and paddle on the serene, emerald waters of Lake Louise for a unique perspective of the Victoria Glacier.
  • Visit Moraine Lake: Just a short drive from Lake Louise, this lake is famous for its vivid blue waters and the stunning Valley of the Ten Peaks. Ensure you book your shuttle ahead of time, their seats sell out fast, and there is no public parking/driving at this lake.
Lake Louise Ski Resort. Photo Credit: Banff and Lake Louise Tourism

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