Lake Louise Guide for Backpackers

Fairview Lookout Lake Louise

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Lake Louise is one of the most scenic destinations in the world. With electric blue glacier-fed Lakes, Rocky Mountains in every direction and an incredible range of wildlife, it’s easy to understand why.

 

I was lucky enough to call Lake Louise home for 2 years.  What I found to be great so about Lake Louise and the Rockies is that once you arrive, you can explore and experience this amazing part of the world for free, or at a relatively cheap price because the best things to do, such as hiking, are totally free.

 

If you love nature, adventure and the great outdoors, Lake Louise is for you.  I hope you find this Lake Louise Guide helpful for planning your trip.

Things to do in Lake Louise Winter

 

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 boardercross 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.

 

During the winter I led snowshoeing tours through the Canadian Rockies, which was the ultimate working holiday job. My favourite snowshoe trails include Fairview lookout (3kms return), Saddleback Peak (10kms), Lake Agnes (6kms), Johnstons Canyon (6kms) and Peyto Lake (2kms).

 

 Lake Louise Guide for Backpackers

 

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 on a frozen lake.

Lake Louise Guide for Backpackers

Things to do in Lake Louise Summer

 

Summer activities include hiking, rock climbing, whitewater 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 lookout, just to name a few.

 

My favourite summer trail is Fairview Peak, followed by Big Beehive and Peyto Lake.

Fairview Mountain Peak

This was my all time favourite hike. The scramble to the top is worth the incredible views. The trail starts from Lake Louise.

 

Lake Louise Guide for Backpackers

Lake Agnes

Lake Agnes is one of the most popular hiking trails in Lake Louise, rated moderately difficult. In summer you can visit the Lake Louise tea house.

Lake Louise Guide for Backpackers

Big Beehive

The Big Beehive Trail is a 10.3-kilometre loop trail starting from Lake Louise, passing Lake Agnes as it leads to the stunning viewpoint pictured below.

Lake Louise Guide for Backpackers

Moraine Lake

You will find the picturesque Moraine Lake within the Valley of the Ten Peaks, just 10 minutes from Lake Louise itself. Moraine Lake is a well-known glacier-fed lake with beautiful green and blue hues, guaranteed to leave you feeling awe-inspired. Moraine Lake is the postcard image of Canada and was once used on the Canadian twenty dollar note back in the 70’s.

Lake Louise Guide for Backpackers

 

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. This will cost around $20 per hour for rentals.

 

Another experience I highly recommend is White Water Rafting. 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 that the sun stays up until approximately 11 pm, meaning you can fit a lot of fun and adventure into one day.’

 

Road Trips from Lake Louise

 

The scenery surrounding Lake Louise is stunning. These are some of the road trips in the area that offer the best views!

 

Icefields Parkway

Highway 93, aka the Icefields Parkway, is just under 150 miles long and runs north from Lake Louise to Jasper National Park taking in much of the scenic beauty of the Canadian Rockies. Along the way, you will find glaciers, waterfalls and wildlife. The journey will be far more important than the final destination.

 

Bow Valley Parkway

 

Two routes run through the Bow Valley connecting Banff and Lake Louise. The fast option is the four-lane Trans Canada Highway. The alternative route is the slower travelled, narrow and winding Bow Valley Parkway. This route is more interesting offering numerous scenic pullouts and viewpoints with interpretative displays. Several picnic areas offer a place to relax and enjoy a meal in the surrounds of nature and beautiful scenery. Trails offer access to popular hiking areas such as Johnston Canyon. The parkway also offers some of the best opportunities to see wildlife in Banff.

Lake Louise Weather

 

Summer: June – August, however, it is warm until late September.

Winter: December – February

 

Summer is Lake Louise is unbeatable.  With warm temperatures and sunlight until 11 o clock, summer is definitely the time to visit. Winter in Lake Louise can get really cold. Spring is a great time to ski/snowboard in Lake.

 

Recommended trip length

 

I recommend staying in Lake Louise for 3-5 nights. For those who love hiking and the great outdoors, you could stay even longer. I lived in Lake Louise for 2 years on a working holiday, and if you have the opportunity to do so yourself, this is something I highly recommend. Read more about my working holiday in Canada. 

 

Getting around Lake Louise

 

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 access many hikes and attractions without a car, 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 in Lake Louise

 

Budget options

Hostel International Lake Louise: this is the cheapest option available in town. The Lake Louise Hostel is one of the best I have stayed at, equipt with 2 large kitchens, large rooms and a common area. I highly recommend the Lake Louise hostel for solo travellers, couples and families.

Lake Louise Campground: If you have camping gear, the Lake Louise campground is a great option for you.

 

Mid-range

Lake Louise Inn:  The Lake Louise Inn is a mid-range option located in Lake Louise town. The hot tub has the best view ever. There is a bar and restaurant in the hotel so it has everything you need.

 

Luxury

Fairmont Lake Louise: For the best views of Lake Louise, you need to stay at the Fairmont.

 

Search for cheap accommodation options here.



Booking.com

 

Eating on the cheap in Lake Louise!

 

Lake Louise isn’t the cheapest destination in terms of eating out; however, there are ways to save.

 

The Lake Louise Hostel – HI-Lake Louise 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 in Lake Louise include:

 

Laggans bakery – This is Lake Louise most popular bakery, located in Samson Mall. 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.

 

Budget for Lake Louise

 

Accommodation 

$ – Expect to pay around $30 CAD for a bed in a hostel dorm room.

$$ – Expect to pay around $150 + CAD for mid-range hotel room.

$$$ – Expect to pay $500 CAD for a luxury hotel room – the Fairmont Lake Louise.

Transport

Car hire starts from $60CAD per day in Lake Louise.

Food

The grocery store in Lake Louise is expensive. If possible, shop in Banff, Canmore or Jasper. You could survive on $15 per day for food if you cook your own meals. A meal in a restaurant will generally cost $15+, CAD – more for drinks.

 

Currency in Lake Louise

 

The currency used in Lake Louise is CAD – Canadian Dollars. Some businesses also accept USD.

Travel Insurance for Lake Louise

 

I recommend getting travel insurance before your trip to Lake Louise. I recommend World Nomads.  If you are still unsure if you should buy travel insurance or not, read this. 

 

Safety in Lake Louise

 

Before setting off on a hiking or outdoor adventure in Lake Louise, be sure to check the weather forecast and be aware of wildlife in the area. Bears are common and it is recommended that hikers carry bear spray. In winter, be aware of the snow and avalanche forecast as the area has a high risk. Always tell someone where you are going and carry a means of communication.

 

Vaccination for Lake Louise 

 

Check the Travel Doctor website to find out if you need any vaccinations for your trip to Lake Louise.

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Disclosure: This Lake Louise Guide for Backpackers contains affiliate links.

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