Lake Louise is one of the most scenic destinations in the world. With electric blue glacier fed Lakes, Rocky Mountains in every direction, an incredible range of wildlife, it’s easy to understand why.
Lake Louise is a must do destination on any backpackers list who is planning a trip to Western Canada. I am lucky enough to be able to live and work here and really get to know the area. What I have found to be great about Lake Louise and the Rockies is that once you get here, you can explore and experience this amazing part of the world for free or at a relatively cheap price, for example hiking is one of the best things to do in Lake Louise and it is totally FREE! Experiencing the Rockies is totally doable on a backpacker’s budget. And if you are looking for an adventure packed trip involving outdoor activities, Lake Louise is the ideal destination.
Winter activities in and around Lake Louise
Lake Louise offers a vast range of outdoor winter activities including downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, ice-skating, dog sledding, hiking and ice climbing.
Downhill skiing and snowboarding at Lake Louise Ski Area is a popular activity, and in my opinion, one not to be missed. Lake Louise has some of the most diverse terrain catering for advanced to beginner skiers and snowboarders. The ski area has 145 marked runs, 10 lifts, 1700 hectares of tree runs, a boarder cross track and a park for the more advanced riders. Cost is around $100 per day, if you have your own gear.
Lake Louise Ski Area also has a snow tubing park for those of you looking for a fun activity. If you are not a snowboarder or skier you can always take the sightseeing Gondola to the top to get some breathtaking photos to show your friends and family back home.
Last winter I led snowshoeing tours through the Canadian Rockies. The photo below is from a snowshoeing trip up Saddle Back peak in Lake Louise.
My favourite snowshoe trails include, Fairview lookout(3kms return), Saddleback Peak(10kms), Lake Agnes(6kms), Johnstons Canyon(6kms) and Peyto Lake(2kms).
Saddleback Peak Lake Agnes
Another cheap and exciting activity is ice-skating on Lake Louise. With the cost of rentals at $12, it’s a bargain, and what better place to ice skate than amongst the rocky mountains on a frozen lake.
Summer activities in and around Lake Louise
Summer activities include hiking, rock climbing, white water rafting, mountain biking, canoeing and horseback riding.
Hiking is a popular activity for backpackers as, not only is it free, it offers some of the most amazing views in the world.
Lake Louise has an abundance of hiking trails, including the Plain of Glaciers Tea house hike, Lake Agnes, Saddleback Pass, Paradise Creek, Fairview Peak, Big Beehive, Little Beehive and Fairview look out, just to name a few.
My favourite summer trail is Fairview Peak, followed by Big Beehive and Peyto Lake.
Fairview Mountain Peak
If you get to Lake Louise or Moraine Lake and don’t feel like hiking, rent a canoe and explore the lake from the water top. Although slightly expensive, it is a truly amazing experience.
Another experience I highly recommend is White Water Rafting. Again, it comes with a cost but in my opinion is well and truly worth it. Rushing down the glacier fled rivers at high speeds gets your heart pumping, and is guaranteed to leave a smile on your face for days.
The great thing about summer in Lake Louise is the amount of sunlight in a day. With sunlight until approximately 11pm, you can fit a lot of fun and adventure into one day.
Summer: June – August, however it is warm until late September.
Winter: December – Feburary
Summer is Lake Louise is unbeatable. With warm temperatures and sunlight until 11 o clock, summer is definitely the time to visit Lake Louise.
Winter in Lake Louise can get really cold, however if you are visiting to ski or snowboard this wont bother you.
Spring is a great time to ski/snowboard in Lake.
Recommended trip length
I recommend staying in Lake Louise for 3-5 days.
You can get to Lake Louise from any location in Canada via Greyhound.
If you arrive via Calgary Airport… Brewster bus service takes you directly to Lake Louise.
The town of Lake Louise is small. You can still access many hikes and attractions however to take full advantage of your time in the area I would recommend hiring a car as there is so much to see and do.
Where to stay
For budget travellers:
HI Lake Louise: the cheapest option available as it is the only hostel.
Lake Louise Campground: If you have camping gear.
Search for cheap accommodation options here.
Eating on the cheap!
Lake Louise isn’t the cheapest destination in terms of eating out; however there are ways to save.
HI-Lake Louise Alpine Centre has two huge, fully equipped kitchens, which I would recommend making use of. Out of the all the hostels I have travelled to, HI-Lake Louise Alpine Centre has the nicest facilities making it a home away from home. Unfortunately, grocery shopping in Lake Louise can be expensive, so if given the opportunity I would recommend bringing in groceries from Banff, Jasper or home.
Cooking meals is a great way to save money. After a big day out, however, sometimes you want to eat out. Cheap places to eat include:
Laggans bakery located in Samson Mall is the cheapest place to grab a bite to eat. With a large selection of pastries, pizza, pies, bagels and more, you can pick something up to eat from around $2-50 to $6.
Trailhead Café Also in Samson Mall. Trailhead is the place to go if you looking for a delicious wrap or sandwich. Wraps will cost around $7-10.
Mountain Restaurant Another favourite, and a great option if you are starving after a huge day on the hill is a Mountain Burger. It is as big as it sounds and is guaranteed to satisfy. It will cost $14.
Hopefully this helps you to save $$ and time planing while living in Lake Louise!
This photo was taken on the Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and Lake Louise.