Written by MagdaDH_AlexH on 09 Feb, 2011
Lake Louise is probably the most famous lake in the Canadian Rockies, know for its beautiful landscape, strikingly green-blue water colored by the rock flour carried from surrounding mountains and a luxury hotel (The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise) that's been standing on its eastern shore…Read More
Lake Louise is probably the most famous lake in the Canadian Rockies, know for its beautiful landscape, strikingly green-blue water colored by the rock flour carried from surrounding mountains and a luxury hotel (The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise) that's been standing on its eastern shore since the early years of the 20th century. Lake Louise is a glacial lake situated at 1,750 m above sea level, about 20km from Banff 5km from the hamlet of Lake Louise and the Trans-Canada Highway that turns west towards Golden at the Lake Louise hamlet (while the famous Icefields Parkway continues north to Jasper). We take a Greyhound bus from Canmore to Lake Louise, and get off at the Samson Mall, around which the small not-quite-village of Lake Louise is concentrated. We want to have a look at the famous lake before catching an afternoon bus to Golden, where we have a couch arranged. It's cold but not raining or snowing and although it doesn't feel like May should – more like March or maybe early April – we are hoping that we could have a peek at one of the most famous sights of the Rockies. We don't have a vehicle, though, and the perspective of a four-mile uphill walk along a road (or a three mile uphill walk through possibly bear inhabited woods) provokes a major whinge in the Older Child who is suffering from something between a severe cold and a mild flu and who always feels Very Sorry For Herself when her nose is running. We get fortified by a pie and a hot chocolate in a cafe in the mall and leave our packs in the post office (which seems to be a hub of all activity in the hamlet and functions also as a bus terminal, luggage store, internet cafe and a car hire place) before setting off, slightly gingerly, towards the road to the lake. We walk up and as we walk, we attempt – halfheartedly as there is, after all, four of us – to hitch a lift in any of the cars that are passing us. Amazingly, within about ten minutes a car stops: it contains two French girls who agree to take us up the hill (and who, we find out, are also on the CouchSurfing website, just as pretty much anybody we meet traveling in western Canada seems to be). We pack in (there isn't quite enough space for six in the car, but it's only a few miles) and soon we are getting off in the car park at the top. The 100 meters difference in elevation can be felt easily: it's colder, and there is snow everywhere. The lake is still frozen, with only a bit of melt at the eastern end where the Louise Creek leaves the lake on its 3km journey to the Bow River lower down. The surface is still covered in ice, and snow, and we can't see the famed emerald water reflecting the towering mountains that surround it. But it's still an impressive sight, and we embark on a walk along the lake's northern shore. The landscape is in a monotone now, with shades of white, grey and black dominating. The mountains look forbidding, especially Fairview Mountain on the southern side of the lake, whose rocky crags fall steeply towards the lake. The lack of color makes one concentrate on the textures and patterns of snow, trees and clouds. The glaciers at the head of the lake are blazing white in the sun that trickles through the clouds, but our path is still overcast, and it will remain so all the way to the turning point two kilometers down the trial, when it becomes too slippy, and when the Older Child becomes to whingy and runny-nosed to go on. We are rewarded with a sight of a frozen waterfall at the hillside by the path, have our sandwiches and bananas perching down on large rocks sticking out of the snow and turn back towards the huge pile of the Chateau hotel (it's actually quite easy not to have it in the line of sight, despite its size). As we walk out of the car park, we try to wave a car down (but we are prepared to walk, and downhill will be easier) and one stops before we even get on the road properly. A single guy in his sixties, in a large, black four by four, takes as down to the mall cheerfully and without any problems. We collect our stuff, post a parcel with sub-zero clothing (which we optimistically but reasonably think we won't need anymore) back to the UK and decide to hire a car instead of taking the bus to Golden (it's only a little bit more expensive and will give us a chance to stop and detour on the way). Soon, a little red Dodge is all ours and after a steak dinner we are off towards the Great Divide, Yoho national park, British Columbia border and Golden. Close
Written by jj2 on 07 Feb, 2001
The Columbia Ice Fields are a great day trip from Lake Louise. You can make the round trip in 6-7 hours (driving time to the glacier is roughly 1.5 hours). This is one of the few places in the world that you can…Read More
The Columbia Ice Fields are a great day trip from Lake Louise. You can make the round trip in 6-7 hours (driving time to the glacier is roughly 1.5 hours). This is one of the few places in the world that you can safely journey to the middle of a glacier and walk around. You begin the tour at the visitor center. It is wise to check the snocoach schedules before you leave or when you first arrive, that way you can tour the visitor center at the correct pace. It is enjoyable and educational, providing a context for the history, nature and geography of the Canadian glaciers. When your scheduled snocoach trip is ready, you report to the parking lot for boarding. These are not your average buses. Each bus rides on six huge wheels. The vehicle is specially designed not only to travel on glacial ice but also to travel up and down extremely steep slopes. The driver explained that the bus will actually stop on the steepest slope (up or down) if pressure is released from the accelerator pedal. This was a feature created to prevent run-away buses from careening down the ice roads. You will appreciate this design when you descend from the entry road to the glacier itself.
After a narrated transit from the visitor center to the ice fields, the bus stops and allows the passengers to get out and walk on the glacier. If it were not for the diligent safety inspections, this would be extremely dangerous because the ice is constantly changing with new fractures (i.e., crevasses) opening and closing from day to day. Your first impression of the amount of change that is occuring comes when the driver explains how large the glacier was just 80 years ago. You look up from the road and visualize the huge area encased in ice. The ice expands in the winter, but it shrinks by a greater volume each summer; thus, it is gradually melting away. The second impression that we experience was watching avalanches on the mountains around us, including snow and ice on glaciers above the ice field in the surrounding mountains. It is amazing to ponder the fact that you are standing on a sheet of ice hundreds or more feet deep with water trapped from time immemorial. Close
Written by dch46 on 20 Mar, 2006
Not a good experience. See the lodging section of this review. Very few options, with tired menus and high prices. The only other real choice is Banff, about 35 miles away.…Read More
Not a good experience. See the lodging section of this review. Very few options, with tired menus and high prices. The only other real choice is Banff, about 35 miles away. Close
Written by McGrits on 18 Oct, 2005
Don't miss the stroll around Lake Louise, Emerald Lake, Moraine Lake, and Peyto Lake. See Banff National Park, The Icefields Parkway, and Yoho National Park. There are lots of animal sightings in the area. We saw deer, elk, and smaller critters, but there are also…Read More
Don't miss the stroll around Lake Louise, Emerald Lake, Moraine Lake, and Peyto Lake. See Banff National Park, The Icefields Parkway, and Yoho National Park. There are lots of animal sightings in the area. We saw deer, elk, and smaller critters, but there are also bears, moose, and mountain goats to be found.