Things to Know Before Visiting iconic Lake Louise, Alberta

Lake Louise has been drawing in visitors to the Canadian Rockies for over a century. The alpine lake in Banff National Park is a wild turquoise blue color fed by glacier melt and set by a backdrop of Mount Victoria and a hanging glacier. This pristine piece of wilderness draws in millions of visitors a year.

It’s hard to find a more majestic and awe-inspiring place in the world than Lake Louise. After taking in the spectacular scenery, go for a hike, climb, ski, or canoe in the area. Lake Louise is an image that will last with you for a lifetime. Here’s all you need to know before visiting Canada’s famous lake.

Tips for Visiting Lake Louise (Lac Louise)

Lake Louise is the crown jewel of Banff National Park and has been drawing visitors to the Canadian Rockies for over a century. The large lake is flanked by large mountains and has a spectacular backdrop, with Mount Victoria topped by a massive glacier. If I were to name 50 places you have to see before you die, Lake Louise easily gets a top spot.

Where is Lake Louise?

Lake Louise is located 60 km northwest of the town of Banff. It will take you about 40 minutes to get there from the town of Banff, 60 minutes from the town of Golden, 20 minutes from the town of Field, and 50 minutes from Canmore. Lake Louise sits at an elevation of 1600 meters.

The History of Lake Louise

Quick Facts

  • Lake Louise was first named “Ho-Run-Num-Nay, which means the Lake of Little Fishes, by Stoney natives that had settled in the area.
  • The first accommodation on Lake Louise was built in 1890 and was a simple log cabin.
  • The Fairmont Chateau began operating year-round in 1982.

Lake Louise Parking Info

Parking at Lake Louise is no longer free.

While parking at Moraine Lake typically requires you to park between 5-6am in the summer, parking at Lake Louise is slightly better. Between mid-June to October, parking at Lake Louise is a struggle. You’ll want to arrive before 8:00 a.m. to secure a parking spot at Lake Louise, which means an early rise unless you stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

We’ve never had a problem parking at Lake Louise during the shoulder season or winter. Granted, the wintertime does involve winter driving conditions, and there is often ice or snow in the parking lot. The holidays around Christmas and the New Year can be a busy period.

Lake Louise parking in the winter

Parking congestion has been a problem in the past. There is only one-two road leading up to Lake Louise, with a dead-end at Lake Louise itself. If there is no parking, parking attendants will turn you around. There is nowhere to sit and wait for a spot to become available. By the end of this ordeal, you wasted 30 minutes if you didn’t secure a parking spot.

Thankfully, Parks Canada has introduced a helpful shuttle to assist visitors in getting to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Shuttles can be boarded at the Lake Louise Park and Ride, located at the Lake Louise Ski Hill. We’ll touch on that in this article, but first, a few popular questions.

Is it Free to Park at Lake Louise?

Lake Louise introduced paid parking from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. between  May 13 to October 10, 2022. Paid parking dates align with the operation of the shuttle. You will also need a valid Parks Canada Pass for all National Parks of Canada. Look for pay stations when you arrive at Lake Louise; the fee is $12.25 per vehicle per day. You’ll need to input your license plate number into the pay kiosk. You cannot park overnight at Lake Louise lakeshore.

Is There Free Parking in Lake Louise?

There is no free parking at Lake Louise Lakeshore. The Great Divide parking lot was a popular free option, but the lot is now closed to relieve pressure on the grizzly bear population. Free parking in the Lake Louise village requires a 4km uphill walk to the lakeshore, which we do not recommend.

Can I Park Overnight in Lake Louise?

You cannot park overnight at Lake Louise.

Are there Places to Park an Oversized Vehicle at Lake Louise

There are designated spots for RVs and campervans to park at Lake Louise. However, parking spots are limited, so utilizing the Park And Ride shuttle is best.

Is There an Entrance Fee to Lake Louise?

Lake Louise is free to enjoy. You need a valid Parks Canada pass to recreate in any of the National Parks of Canada.

What Time Should I Get to Lake Louise?

The shuttle bus is the best option to visit Lake Louise. The Lake Louise parking lot fills up during the summer between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. I would recommend getting there before 8:00 a.m. to ensure a parking spot. We often visit Lake Louise in the evening (after 7pm) when many have left for the day. During this time, you can usually get a spot quickly.

In the winter, parking at Lake Louise is much easier, and you should not have an issue parking anywhere at the Lake Louise Lakeshore outside of the holiday season.

How do I get from Banff to Lake Louise Without a Car?

Your best option is to take the Roam Transit bus. Roam Route 8S is the Lake Louise Scenic (Other stops include Johnston Canyon and Protection Mountain Campground.) Route 8x is the Lake Louise Express and runs between Banff and Lake Louise. Or by joining an organized tour like this Moraine Lake/Lake Louise combined tour or the Hop On Hop Off Bus.