During the winter months Lake Louise is a magical wonderland. Many days consist of bright blue skies that contrast against the landscape of glittering deep white snow. At such a high elevation winter arrives early and stays long. Between November and May the area becomes a vast playground for winter activities. It offers a world class ski resort and one of the most beautiful outdoor skating rinks. With the exception of the Christmas holidays the accommodation prices are greatly reduced from the summer rates.
Winter Activities In Lake Louise
There’s a hill perfect for tobogganing right next to the Chateau Lake Louise on your left as you stand at the lakeshore facing the hotel. Tobaggans can be rented from Chateau Mountain Sports within the hotel.
Try ice skating on Lake Louise, one of the most beautiful outdoor rinks in the world. The skating rink is usually cleared in early December and an ice castle is built. Skates are available through Chateau Mountain Sports in the Fairmont Chateau Hotel.
Lake Louise is a cross country skiing paradise. There’s an extensive system of groomed trails surrounding the lake and the property around the Chateau Lake Louise hotel. The trails range from novice to advanced. Some popular trails are the Fairview Loop near the hotel, the groomed portion of Moraine Lake Road, the Great Divide Trail that runs along the Banff/Yoho Park Boundary and the Bow River Loop near the village. Rentals are available through Chateau Mountain Sports within the hotel, lessons or guided skiing tours can be arrange through the concierge. Ski rentals are also available at Wilson Sports at Samson Mall in the village. Planning Tips, Safety And Trail Reports For Cross Country skiing in Lake Louise
Dogsledding tours operated by Kingmik take place just minutes down the hill from Lake Louise at the (1A) Great Divide Highway. Let a team of huskies guide you through the gorgeous winter scenery. Tours operate from late November to mid-April depending on weather and snow conditions.
There’s some excellent areas around Lake Louise to snowshoe. If you have never done it, it’s very easy to learn. One of the easiest trails to try is the Lake Louise Lakeshore with virtully no elevation gain. Another popular trail is to the Fairview Lookout. Rentals are available through the same sources as listed above for Cross Country skis. If you would prefer a snowshoeing tour there’s one available to a sacred First Nations site called the Paint Pots trail in nearby Kootenay National Park.
Leisurely Things To Do During Winter In Lake Louise
Enjoy a leisurely walk along the snow covered trail to the back of Lake Louise. It’s a peaceful way to experience the winter surroundings and majestic mountains. Look for ice climbers on the frozen Louise Falls.
Stop in at the Lake Louise visitor center. They have a variety of information brochures about the area and a cozy fireplace area where you can sit and read through them. They also show videos and have exhibits on how the Rocky Mountains were formed as well as park history and native wildlife.
On Wednesday evenings in November and February the visitor center has talks and hosts guest speakers. Enjoy hot chocolate or tea while historians and local wildlife experts give presentations about the history of Banff National Park and Lake Louise. Admission is free, the talks start at 8pm.
Browse through the shops in the Fairmont Chateau hotel, many of them feature Rocky Mountain inspired goods. Check out the tiny bookstore near the lobby, it has many historical and inspiring Rocky Mountain based books.
Enjoy a traditional horse-drawn sleigh ride along the lakeside trail to the back of Lake Louise. You can make reservations at the Brewster desk inside the Fairmont Chateau lobby. Available from early December to mid-April depending on conditions.
If you are staying in Lake Louise and it’s a clear evening head out away from the lights of the Chateau Hotel to experience the night sky. The views of the stars and constellations can be amazing. Or try and catch a pink sunset. The sunset can be as early as 4:30 pm depending on the month of your visit. Sunset time chart for Lake Louise
Winter Activities At The Lake Louise Ski Resort
Snowboarding and skiing on the famous Rocky Mountain powder is one of the most popular activities in the area. The Lake Louise Ski Resort has one of North America’s largest ski areas with over 4000 skiable acres on several different mountain faces with 145 named runs. Each chair lift offers an easy and more difficult way down so people of all abilities can enjoy the resort. Locals love the Lake Louise ski hills for the extensive amount of space on the mountain and lack of crowds that are often found at other resorts. It is just a short distance from the village of Lake Louise, across the Trans Canada Hwy. Lessons are available if you are new to either sport. Open from mid-November to early May depending on conditions.
On a clear day purchase a “sightseeing only” ticket to ride an enclosed gondola to the top of the mountain. The views of soaring peaks are spectacular, look across the valley to spot Lake Louise back dropped by Mount Victoria. Don’t forget your camera! Sightseeing gondola tickets (non-ski/snowboard) are available 9am to 4pm depending on conditions. https://www.skilouise.com/lift-tickets.php
Tubing is a fun event that the entire family can enjoy (4 years and older and minimum height of 42 inches). The Lake Louise Ski Resort has a specific tubing run as well as a beginners area. For a small amount you can add on the Sightseeing Gondola ride to your tubing ticket.
The Lake Louise Ski Resort does guided snowshoe tours every day during the winter season. For more information or booking contact email@example.com, or call 1-403-522-1385.
Lake Louise Winter Festivals And Events
The first racing of Alpine Ski World Cup begins in Lake Louise in late November and early December. You can watch and cheer on some of the best male and female skiers in the world race at speeds of up to 130km/hr. This is the only event of its kind held in Canada.
The races are part of the Winterstart Festival, four weeks of fun activities and events held throughout Banff National Park from mid-November to mid-December. The Lake Louise Ski Resort kick-starts each race day an hour before race time with a FREE Fan Cheering Zone and Kid ZONE. FUN for the whole family. No lift ticket is required.
The annual Ice Magic Festival is held in late January. It’s an international ice carving competition that takes place on the property of the Fairmont Chateau hotel near the shore of Lake Louise. You can watch the carvers in action or view the ice sculptures afterwards. The carvings remain for as long as the weather elements allow, sometimes into February. Check the schedule for free viewing times of the sculptures and for other free and ticketed activities during the festival. There are events at the lake and in the village. Ice Magic is just one of the events held during Banff National Park’s Snowdays Festival. From mid-January through the first week of February there are various events and entertainment to be enjoyed in the park.
Lake Louise Pond Hockey Classic is held in late February. It is two days where you can watch teams of players play old fashion games of shinny the way it used to be played on backyard rinks and frozen ponds. These games just happen to be played on one of the most picturesque frozen rinks in the world. The teams of players that sign up are usually Emergency Service workers such as fire, police and EMS, as well as business and their clients that have come out to enjoy a fun weekend.
Appreciate Winter From Indoors With A Warm Beverage Or A Bite To Eat
Enjoy lunch or High Tea while gazing at the view of the frozen lake and snow covered mountains at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel. Or grab a hot chocolate to go from the Chateau deli and take it to the top of the stairs that lead to the Victoria Ballroom. There are a couple of seats in front of massive windows that look out to the lake. There’s also a large mezzanine above the main lobby with a larger selection of seating and fireplaces.
Hang out where the locals go for a cappuccino and sweet treat at Laggan’s Deli located in the Samson Mall in Lake Louise or at Bill Peyto’s Café for food and drink. In addition to the main dining area there is a common room upstairs where you can take your coffee or tea, there’s a selection of books available to read.
Book afternoon European style tea at the luxurious Post Hotel in the village of Lake Louise.
Take in an evening drink at the Glacier Saloon in the Chateau Lake Louise, the Outpost located in the lower level of the Post Hotel in the village or the Explorer’s Lounge at the Lake Louise Inn.
Day Trips From Lake Louise
Stop by the visitor center in nearby Field, B.C. It’s just 15 minutes west of Lake Louise. They have displays and information about the Burgess Shale, the famous fossil bed located in Yoho National Park. One of only two places in the world where fossils of soft-bodied creatures have been found. Try the tasty lunch menu at the Truffle Pigs Bistro.
Take the 45 minute drive to Emearld Lake to cross country ski or snowshoe around Emerald Lake. The open area of the lake is a great place to explore. Enjoy lunch or dinner in the historic Emerald Lake Lodge, or a light snack or hot chocolate in the lounge.
If the road conditions are favorable and it’s a clear blue sky day the drive along the Icefields Parkway (#93N) is spectacular. Rent some snowshoes and make your way to the Peyto Lake lookout for a stunning winter view. The parkway runs all the way north to Jasper, but you don’t have to drive the entire way. Even the first half hour of scenery is incredible.
Rent or bring your own ice cleats and walk to the frozen falls in Johnston Canyon. The views of the snow covered canyon and frozen blue ice of the falls are spectacular. Look to see if you can spot any ice climbers from the viewing platform for the upper falls.
Enjoy a drive along the Bow Valley Parkway (the old 1A Highway) and see if you can spot any wildlife. Stop for lunch at the Baker Creek Chalets. (reservations might be needed)