Travel to Lake Louise & Do These 5 Things


Photos and text by Gabrielle.

It’s been about 5 weeks since our anniversary trip to Lake Louise, but I wanted to tell you all about it before I forget my best tips — and also because it’s fun to write it up and remember our little getaway. Gosh it was a good trip! When we planned it, we were hoping for a romantic destination — gorgeous hotel room, room service (it was our 20th anniversary after all). But we were also interested in using this getaway to do a lot of planning and goal-making for our next 20 years — so we wanted a place where we didn’t have a mile long wishlist of things we wanted to see.

Turns out Lake Louise was perfect! We didn’t really know anything about the area at all before we booked our room. I’ve mentioned it before, but the only reason I even knew about it, is because I had seen photos in an issue of Victoria magazine when I was 19 years old. Hah!


We flew into Calgary, then rented a car and drove to Lake Louise — about two hours away. Lake Louise is both the name of the little village near the lake, and also the name of the actual lake.

The photos in my memory were so magical that I was more than content with the idea of getting to see the lake, and then sitting in the hotel room working on goals for the rest of the trip. That’s not what happened, but since I didn’t know anything about the area, there was nothing but “see the lake” as far as my destination expectations were concerned.


And that lake! I was sure it couldn’t be as beautiful as it was in pictures, so I actually tried to have low expectations as we approached. But there was no need. Lake Louise is so beautiful it almost looks pretend. It’s stunning!

It’s an adventurous sort of place. If there are theaters or museums or fancy shopping around, I didn’t notice them — they were definitely not the focus. Here it’s all about taking in the magnificent scenery and hiking and getting out on the water. And we did all of that — plus, also worked on our goals. It was pretty much heaven!


If you’re headed to Lake Louise (which you totally should be!), here are my 5 don’t miss recommendations:

1) Canoeing on Lake Louise.
Red canoes, blue water, white glacier, green trees. It doesn’t get more picturesque than that. Go first thing in the morning, or take one of the last boats out and catch the sunset while you’re on the water. Either way, you’ll totally miss the crowds.


2) Hike to the Lake Agnes Teahouse.
There are several hiking trails that start at Lake Louise, and probably the most popular is the hike to the Lake Agnes Teahouse. The Teahouse is a little cabin-y restaurant right on the edge of Lake Agnes. In the photo above, you can see Ben Blair staring out across Lake Agnes at the Teahouse — it’s the tiny building straight across from him.

The Teahouse is unique because there’s no electricity there, and no vehicle access. None! Which means that everything at the restaurant is cooked on a propane stove. And it also means that supplies are helicoptered in, or brought up on horseback. So cool! The food was excellent. They have a hundred different types of loose leaf tea, and fresh-baked goods daily.

Unless you get there really early, expect a line. Happily, the wait went pretty fast, and the food was worth it. Things to remember: It’s cash only (no electricity means they can’t take credit cards). Also, there aren’t even trash cans there — if you bring a picnic, you’ll need to pack out all your own trash.


It’s not a super hard hike, but I confess, it was harder than I was picturing. I had a lazy lake-side walk in my head, but it was a true hike. The nice thing is, you’re rewarded with epic mountain views as you walk.


On the way, you’ll also get to stop at Mirror Lake. See that big mountain above the lake? It’s called Big Beehive. We hiked to the top of it! And it’s #3 on my list.

3) Hike to the top of Big Beehive.
We didn’t originally plan on hiking Big Beehive, but when we got to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, the line was long, so we decided to hike further and eat afterwards. First, we thought we’d just hike around Lake Agnes for a bit, but ended up doing the full hike. Totally worth it!

The hike is mostly a series of switchbacks that take you up, up, up! I had to stop many times to catch my breath, but other than that it’s not a particularly technical hike at all. In fact, most people were wearing hiking books, and many had hiking sticks, but Ben Blair wore slip-on Vans, and I wore basic Converse, and we were both fine.


As you get to the first couple of switchbacks you can suddenly see how teal Lake Agnes is. What a color!


When you get to the top, you’ll find this little structure. Until I got here, I was having the hardest time getting my bearings. But of course, as soon as I reached the top, the views became clear:


When you’re on Big Beehive and look straight down, you’ll see tiny Mirror Lake,


when you look to the left, you’ll see the gorgeous teal Lake Agnes,


when you look to the right, you’ll see the other-worldly minty green Lake Louise!


On the way down, I snapped this photo of Big Beehive. It was funny to think we’d been WAY up there!


4) Drive the Icefields Parkway.
This is maybe more for grownups, unless your kids love being in the car. The Icefields Parkway is one of the prettiest roads in the world. It goes from Lake Louise to Jasper, and the entire drive is magnificent!

Some people drive point-to-point — for example, they might start at Lake Louise, and then drive the whole parkway, ending at Jasper. They might stay overnight in Jasper, explore the area, and drive back the next day.

But we simply drove until we reached the Columbia Icefields, and then turned around and drove back. We put on a book on tape — The Wind in the Willows — and we would stop the rental car whenever we wanted to snap a photo. Which was many, many times.


The whole drive is turquoise rivers, glacial lakes that practically glow, and insane mountains. I couldn’t stop taking photos.


We were there in August — which I assume is probably the best weather of the year. And it was definitely gorgeous! You would think it would be absolutely mobbed with people, and sometimes, Lake Louise itself did feel quite touristy. But there were stretches on the parkway, where we could pull off by a lake and feel like we were the only people in the world.

The whole area encompasses several Canadian National Parks, and obviously, it’s a well-known destination, yet somehow you feel like you’re the first person to discover it.


I’ve spent a decent amount of time in the American Rockies and I’m a huge fan, but I have to admit, the Canadian Rockies blew me away! They feel like a much younger mountain range — as though they haven’t been worn down yet. The whole area is simply stunning. It was hard for me to comprehend.


5) Go see Moraine Lake and scramble on the giant rock pile.
Lake Moraine is a short drive from Lake Louise. By the time we got to this lake — on the same day we drove the Icefields Parkway — we had seen a whole lot of glacial lakes, so I confess, I probably wasn’t as impressed as I should be. That said, we really loved visiting!

There is this giant rock pile at the entrance, and it’s wonderful to scramble to the top and take in the views of the lake from above.


Pretty spectacular, right?!


To reach the rock pile, you walk across this log-jam at the base of the lake. Very adventurous! And we only saw one person fall in while we were there. : )

This was the last stop on our trip, and we didn’t have as much time as we wanted there, but if you do have time, you can rent kayaks there as well.


And that’s my little report. I hope you enjoyed it! It makes me want to go back as soon as possible. We weren’t there long — we arrived at Lake Louise on a Monday afternoon, and drove back to Calgary on Thursday around noon, but I can easily say it’s one of the best trips we’ve ever taken.

How about you? Have you ever heard of Lake Louise? Or have you been? I’d love to hear!

P.S. — We stayed at the hotel that’s right on Lake Louise (it’s called the Fairmont), and it is lovely. Very luxe. But there are places nearby that aren’t as expensive, and you can still access the lake in all the same ways that hotel guests can. I’d say worth a splurge if it’s a romantic trip, but with the kids, we might have preferred staying in nearby cabins.

34 thoughts on “Travel to Lake Louise & Do These 5 Things”

  1. You perfectly captured our amazing Canadian Rockies! I live 2 1/2 hours from Jasper, and my husband & I often make the incredibly scenic drive from Jasper to Lake Louise. It never gets old! I’m so glad you and your husband had a wonderful trip, and thank you for your beautiful description of a very lovely part of my Canada!

  2. I grew up hearing about beautiful lake Louise from my mom. She went there on a band trip in 1960 and often told me how beautiful it was. When I was 20, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. During a break from her chemo, my dad loaded us up in the car and we made the drive from Utah to take my mom back to that place she loved so much. It was everything my mom had said it was! Lake Louise is very dear to my heart… my sweet mother continues to be in remission now- 15 years later – but my dad passed away from a heart arrack soon after that great trip.

    1. Such a sweet memory, Jennie! I’m tearing up just thinking about it. Your good dad trying to take your mother somewhere she loved. Now I’m homesick for my own father. I miss him. I’m sure you miss your father as well.

      Thank you for the lovely comment.

  3. Thank-you for giving such a wonderful review of beautiful Lake Louise. I grew up in Calgary and have been in and through the Rockies so many times that I confess, I was taking them for granted. Your account made me appreciate what a special place it is. I now live on the westernmost tip of Canada, just across from Port Angeles, in Victoria, and there’s no going back to the Prairies, but the one thing I really do miss was the ability to jump in the car on a whim and head to the mountains. Sometimes there’s an inversion, where it is -28C in the city but the mountain warms up to -2C and then people call in sick and ski instead. I used to snowboard at Lake Louise every Thursday – up at 7, on the gondola by 9, amazing snow all day, back in the car by 3, home breast-feeding the twins by 5. Good times. The Fairmont has the loveliest views of the lake, but the Post Hotel in the village is the best hotel and the best restaurant. I hope you make it back – make sure you stop in Banff next time. Touristy, but still great.

  4. So beautiful!! When I saw that you visited Canada I was so excited! I’m from the east coast, different but wonderful as well! Nova Scotia has some incredible spots and they are always, always quiet – year round. I live in Germany now, but my dream is to get a little piece of land near the sea there, to visit and share with friends and family who need to do some focused self care or planning or quiet work or, of course, play! Nova Scotia is Canada’s ocean playground, so our license plates say. ;)

  5. Lake Louise is so beautiful! My parents lived there for two years when they were first married. It was such a tiny community then that the ski hill was the only thing open in the winter (even the chateau wasn’t open!). My parents had international ski team members over for dinner quite often, and when my mom got pregnant with me, she would have nightmares about bears coming into the trailer and having to climb up a ladder to the roof while pregnant! My middle name came from Mt Victoria, one of the mountains around the lake. My dad worked for the railway on various engineering projects so we always got to live in cool places – but that’s the place I wish I’d been around for!

  6. Such beautiful photos – adding Lake Louise to my life list! I would LOVE to hear more about your goal setting process, too – how you went about it, any materials or discussion questions you used, and maybe even some of the goals you set! :)

      1. Yes, please do this post on your goal setting as soon as possible. My husband and I are about to do this as we just hit 26 years of marriage (today in fact!), and I am planning a similar type of getaway. Wish we were heading to lovely Lake Louise – loved the pics. You kept mentioning a lot of tourists, but it looked like you had the place practically to yourselves!

  7. I went to Lake Louise last year as part of a trip to Banff. What a wonderful place to visit! I tagged along with my husband who was going there for a conference- I don’t think that we ever would have thought to go to Banff on our own, but now that we’ve been, we totally want to go back. I recommend it to anyone that loves to be outside- we had a wonderful time!

  8. Calgary is my hometown and I hate that my family didn’t go to the national parks very much. Now that I’m in Washington State I’m looking forward to exploring the area as an adult with my children.

  9. I’m Canadian, but from northern Ontario – straight north of Duluth, MN if that helps :) so I didn’t ever really see the Rockies growing up. So when I lived in Australia and all the oldies kept saying “oh, Canada, we loved touring the Rockies” and I had to say “Oh… never been…”. So the first trip back, we toured around and then again another time. Definitely so gorgeous.

    I’d also add hot springs to your list for next time. Not only the one in Banff, but so many scattered throughout the region – sitting out in the cold totally warm in the hot water.

  10. Isn’t the whole area just so spectacular! I’ve been once in summer and once in winter and it’s hard to chose which I preferred (frozen waterfalls are pretty amazing, and all those pines along the ice field parkway heavy with snow – oh my!). So glad it lived up to expectations for you!

  11. How serendipitous this post is! My husband and I are planning our 20th anniversary and are going to Lake Louise! Boy did you just make things a lot easier for us, so thanks! I also really love the idea of talking about our goals going forward. Where did you stay? We are planning on staying at the Fairmont Chateau.

  12. My husband proposed to me on the Big Beehive. He was concerned the whole time of falling or dropping the ring on those switchbacks, meanwhile I was in heaven! So nice to see when someone else visits the area and hear their experiences. Awesome trip for you both!!

  13. I’ve been waiting to hear your review of Lake Louise ever since you said you had gone. I live in Calgary and you probably drove right past my neighbourhood on your way to the mountains. It is definitely beautiful and I am quite lucky being able to go during every season. It’s fun in the wintertime too when you can walk across the lake and they have a big ice carving competition.

  14. You made this homesick Calgarian cry! We skied at Lake Louise every winter Saturday of my life. The Banff Springs Hotel remains one of the most magical places I have ever been and everything about the Canadian Rockies fills me with awe, and worship! It just never gets old. Thanks for the raving reviews and helping to shed light on one of Canada’s many gems! How I miss it!


  15. I live in Calgary and we are Chileans, the first thing we did when we arrived Calgary was know Lake Louise and take a canoe with a 11 month baby. Was great!! Now we go, mostly when we have visitors from Chile. It’s gorgeous in winter and summer. The hotel in Banff is marvellous too. Love your review, we definitely will go to Agnes tea house next time will go there.

  16. I loved reading this! One day in Banff was part of our two-week road trip over the summer, and it was one of my favorite days by far! The beauty really can’t be put into words. I really wish we had rented canoes (next time!), but we just spent the whole day hiking–we started by going around Lake Louise, then up and over Big Beehive, down the switchbacks to Lake Agnes, past the tea house, then back to Lake Louise. We were disappointed in the tea house though…we were starving and a lady on her way out gave us a head’s up that she’d just waited an hour for a peanut butter sandwich, so we moved on. :)

  17. These photos are absolutely incredible!! Moreover, the trip looks like a truly unforgettably beautiful one. I love being in places where the majesty and grandeur of nature around you really puts things into perspective. Love the gorgeous shot of the canoes you shared! As the littles have gotten older it has been nice to be able to partake in some of this beautiful in a more active way. Canoes, rowboats, light hiking, these things are all possible now and give the trip added dimensions and new perspectives. Don’t you think so? Love it.

  18. I love the Icefields Parkway drive!! I always wondered about the mountain names, how they were formed, history of the first explorers in the area etc. I used to go to the Visitor’s Centre in Banff and rent a GPS audio tour that was FANTASTIC! I just looked it up online and, if you can believe it, there is an app for it: Icefields Parkway GyPSy Driving Tour

  19. Park Pass fees help pay for the most popular places and services in the park – including the scenic parkways, day use areas, trails, public safety, and information services. The fees remain in the national park where they are collected.

  20. Thank you for sharing this post about Lake Louise! You mentioned that if you did this trip with kids you would rent a cabin. Can you recommend the best places to stay with kids?

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