Pro tip, right off the bat: when you’re visiting Lake Louise, you do NOT want to get a late start.
You know what we did? We got a late start.
Driving down the Trans-Canada Highway, I was irritable and Luke was rolling his eyes so hard I’m shocked he stayed on the road. And then we saw it: the lighted, roadside sign blinking and telling us that the Lake Louise parking lots were full, and all traffic should divert to the overflow lot.
Boyfriend Perspective: Seriously, I’m surprised my eyes didn’t roll out of my head at this point.
Dun dun DUNNNNN. This isn’t terrible – except for the fact that the overflow lot is miles from the lake, and that you take a yellow school bus shuttle to get to your final destination. So, we parked in the gravel lot, climbed aboard, and then waited for departure time in a bus that smelled vaguely of feet.
Don’t get a late start.
Experiencing Lake Louise in the Fall
When you finally arrive at the lakefront, the first thing you think is, “Wow, Instagram was right. This is stunning!”
This is quickly followed by “Wow, how did Instagram NOT show all of these people?!”
It’s true – the waterfront is packed. Selfie sticks, iPads, and voracious groups of photographers are busily getting their Insta gratification on the lake’s boardwalk and surrounding walkways. If you’re looking to get that iconic shot, your best bet is to be extremely patient, or to attempt a stack. And this is considered an off-season!
Boyfriend Perspective: Don’t be surprised if you see people taking their wedding pictures at the edge of the water…..maybe more than a few people did this while we were there.
On the upside, you literally can’t ask for a lovelier view. Fun fact, the stunning color of the water comes from super fine rock flakes, ground out of the mountains by the glacier, which are light enough to stay suspended in the water and act as prisms when the light hits it, reflecting the blue/green parts of the spectrum.
Also, the facilities around the lake are clean and well-maintained. Even better, the weather in the fall is nothing short of ideal in this area. Wear an insulation layer with your jeans and hiking boots, and you’re set.
Boyfriend Perspective: You’ll also want to bring cash if you plan to hike to the teahouse, some snacks, and water, ’cause we absolutely didn’t forget those things before a 6 hour hike. Heh. Heh heh.
Other things to note:
- Tourist season apparently means very little. Even in what’s supposed to be a tourist off-season, the paths around Lake Louise were jam-packed. Getting pictures that weren’t crammed and jammed with other visitors was a huge challenge. We blame Instagram for making this such a photo destination 😛
- The crowds don’t hike much. Once you get away from the lakefront area and start heading up the trail to Lake Agnes, the crowds die down.
- Wear your comfy shoes! Luke did really well in his Pumas, but my boots ended up killing my ankles. You don’t need super technical shoes, but comfy and sturdy one will serve you very well.
Boyfriend Perspective: Don’t mock my Pumas!!! They’ve been with me through Icelandic snowy waterfalls, French summer pavement, and now Canadian mountain hiking in Fall. So many memories……of me bitching and moaning mostly, but still.
- Water color varies by day and weather. We’ve all seen how beautiful Banff’s turquoise water is – but the cool (and potentially inconvenient) thing is the weather definitely impacts the color. Blue skies? Bright water. Cloudy skies? Ehhhhh, but still beautiful.
Beyond the waterfront
If you’ve had enough of the touristy vibe, Lake Louise is also home to several hiking trails, ranging widely in difficulty and distance.
- to Lake Agnes and the Lake Agnes Teahouse
- up Big Beehive (somewhat accidentally) for a killer view of Lake Louise down below