What is there to do in Lake Louise in winter, you ask? So much! I started my career at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and got to live right on-site. This gave me the opportunity to experience everything winter has to offer in the Canadian Rockies.
Here are 33 incredible things to do in Lake Louise in winter that I recommend you experience!
1) Go skiing or snowboarding at Lake Louise Ski Resort
Lake Louise Ski Resort is one of the largest ski resorts in North America making it one of the best places to spend the day, regardless of your ability level.
2) Take a snowshoe tour
Both Lake Louise Ski Resort and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise offer snowshoe tours (the latter for hotel guests). This unique experience is one of the best things to do in Lake Louise in winter months that you can’t do anywhere else.
3) Drive the Icefields Parkway
One of the most scenic drives in the world, winter can be the best time to do this drive if you want to see the majestic Canadian Rockies covered in snow. Be sure you have appropriate snow tires for winter.
4) Dine in Lake Louise Village’s historical railway station
Built in 1910, Lake Louise Station is available for visitors to enjoy lunch or dinner in turn-of-the-century ambience.
5) Go Cross-country Skiing
Cross-country skiing is a fun and adventurous way to explore the Lake Louise area in winter. Several organizations in Banff National Park provide tours and lessons.
6) Take a Horse-drawn Sleigh Ride
Step into the past and enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride along the shores of Lake Louise towards Victoria Glacier. Brewster has offered these excursions for over a century. They run during the daytime and evening. You can also get a private sleigh for two if you’re feeling romantic!
7) Check out the ice sculptures along the lakeshore
Ice Magic Festival, an international ice carving competition, takes places every January in Lake Louise. You can see the works of art all winter long.
8) Stay in a castle
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is one of the most iconic hotels in the world. The best part of such a great place, is waking up and looking out at the mountain peaks from your private room. A runner up is soaking in their hot tub after a busy day enjoying all the things to do in Lake Louise in winter.
9) Try wild ice skating
Nothing is as quintessentially Canadian as skating outdoors in the winter. Skate rentals are available at Wilson Mountain Sports in Lake Louise village or at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, or you can bring your own skates.
10) Do apres at an outdoor ice bar
A really special thing to do in Lake Louise in winter is to enjoy a hot toddy or cup of hot chocolate outside. The Chateau Lake Louise ice bar is located on the lakeshore. You can relax here after your day of adventures or stop by wild you’re enjoying an evening skate.
11) Go dog sledding
One of my favourite experiences while living in Lake Louise was going dog sledding down the Great Divide trail. The location starts about half way up the mountain between Lake Louise village and Lake Louise itself. If you’re driving from the town of Banff, there is a parking lot at the trailhead where you can meet your guides. Reach out to Snowy Owl or Kingmik Dog Sled Tours to book your tour.
12) Play a game of pick up on Lake Louise in winter
While hockey isn’t our national sport (that’s actually lacrosse), playing a game of pick up on an outdoor skating rink is as Canadian as it gets. Bring your own skates and hockey stick or rent them in Lake Louise.
13) Visit an ice castle
This one-of-a-kind castle is built right on Lake Louise in the winter. Depending on weather conditions, it’s usually done in December and is there all winter long. You can skate through it or around it, too!
14) Go for a winter hike on Johnston Canyon Ice Walk
Be sure to bring a pair of ice cleats and hiking or ski poles with you as the trail can be quite slippery. The views across the suspension bridge as you hike to the frozen waterfalls is just beautiful. The best way to get here in the winter is driving from Banff town along the Bow Valley Parkway.
15) Learn about the Indigenous Peoples of the surrounding area
Long before the railroad was built, Indigenous Peoples called this land home. Immerse yourself in the important Indigenous culture and history through the resources available at The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.
Creating your Banff winter itinerary, too? Add these activities to it.
16) Go tubing!
One of the fun things for families of all ages is snow tubing. Visit the tube park at the Lake Louise Ski Area.
17) Have fondue
Lake Louise in winter is the perfect place to enjoy the warm, cheesy goodness of fondue. You can try this experience at the Walliser Stube at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise or Fondue Stubli at the Post Hotel.
18) Hike to Fairview Lookout
Depending on the winter weather conditions, you may need snowshoes or ice cleats for this winter hike. Fairview Lookout is just over 2 km out and back, with an elevation gain of 161 metres.
19) See frozen waterfalls
There are 7 dramatic waterfalls at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park. The cold temperatures turn them into frozen waterfalls from December to April.
20) Go sightseeing
See the best views of the Canadian Rockies from the sky. Lake Louise Ski Resort offers sightseeing on its gondola. If you want to make the short drive along the trans-Canada highway to Banff, you can go sightseeing up the Banff Gondola.
21) Experience the UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Did you know Banff National Park and Jasper National Park are both deemed UNESCO World Heritage Site? Learn more about the history of the surrounding area by visiting the Whyte Museum.
22) Visit Peyto Lake
Just a 30 minute drive along the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise, is Peyto Lake. While the lake will be frozen and snow covered in winter, it’s still the perfect location to get some fresh air and exercise, and take in some of the best views of the Canadian Rockies.
23) Do a photography workshop
Want to capture the magic of this beautiful place? A session with Banff Photo Workshops is the way to do it!
24) Try ice climbing
If you’re looking for something unique to learn, this has got to be one of the best winter activities. Even if you’ve never even seen ice climbers before, you can take a lesson. It is open to all levels and abilities.
25) Indulge in Afternoon Tea
What better place to enjoy Afternoon Tea than on the shores of a glacial lake at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. In addition to the regular menu, there is also a children’s tea menu. Be sure to let them know if you have dietary restrictions, like gluten-free, which they are able to cater to. While it may feel like a treat, you don’t need a special occasion to experience Afternoon Tea.
26) Take ski lessons in Lake Louise
\Whether you’re a complete beginner or would like to improve your technique, lessons are a great way to improve your ability on the slopes. There is a range of offerings at Lake Louise Ski Resort depending on budget and comfort, from private lessons to group lessons to women only.
27) Get a massage
After enjoying so many fun Lake Louise winter activities, you’ll need a massage your tired muscles. Visit Ascent Physical Therapy or The Spa at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
28) Hike Marble Canyon
This may be the most incredible winter wonderland hike you’ve never heard of. Located in Kootenay National Park just off the Icefields Parkway, this stunning hike takes you across multiple bridges that span the narrow gorge. While it’s a short and easy hike that will take about 30 minutes, you’ll need to have snowshoes to do it in the winter.
29) Stop at Morant’s Curve
One of the most popular Lake Louise winter stock photos over the decades, you’ve probably wondered where to spot that iconic image of a train passing through the Canadian Rockies. The point is called Morant’s Curve and you can find it by following directions to this location.
30) Do some yoga
Sign up for a wellness retreat at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise or take a complimentary yoga class (hotel guests only) this winter. If you’re in Banff town, visit one of the local yoga studios.
31) Catch the sunrise
The great thing about being in Lake Louise in winter is that the sun rises later. That means that you’re almost guaranteed to catch it. Book a lake view room at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and watch the sun’s rays as they light up Victoria Glacier.
32) Visit Moraine Lake
The road to Moraine Lake is closed in the winter but you can get there by cross country skiing. It’s great exercise and one of the best places to see without the summer crowds.
33) Check out Abraham Lake
If you have time when you visit Lake Louise, then you should definitely see Abraham Lake. It’s about a 90 minute drive down the Icefields Parkway. Best known for wild skating and the incredible ice bubbles beneath the frozen lake, you’ll want to visit here in the early season before the lake is covered with a lot of snow.
Your questions about Lake Louise in winter, answered:
Is Lake Louise worth visiting in winter?
Without a doubt, yes Lake Louise is worth visiting in winter. There are so many things to do and there aren’t the large crowds of tourists like in the summer months.
Can you walk around Lake Louise in the winter?
Yes, you can walk around Lake Louise in winter just like in summer. Follow the path to the back of the lake where you may see ice climbers. You can also rent a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes and go straight across the lake.
Is Lake Louise frozen in December?
Usually by December Lake Louise is frozen. However, pay attention to safety signage at the lakefront as it will give you indication as to whether or not you can walk, skate or ski across the lake.
Is it safe to drive to Lake Louise in winter?
So long as you have appropriate tires on your vehicle, it is safe to drive to Lake Louise in winter. I’d suggest having winter driving experience to feel confident with the drive. If you don’t, there are several shuttle buses from Calgary to Lake Louise that you can take.
Is Moraine Lake better than Lake Louise?
Moraine Lake and Lake Louise are so different – I don’t think you can say one is better than the other. Because they are so close together, I recommend visiting both. Then you can decide if Moraine Lake or Lake Louise is your favourite lake in the Canadian Rockies.
How do you get to Lake Louise in winter?
Lake Louise is in the heart of Banff National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The closest airport is Calgary International Airport. Once you land here, you can rent a car or take the Brewster Express airport shuttle. It is approximately 200 km along the trans-Canada highway from the Calgary International Airport to Lake Louise.
Have you visited Lake Louise yet or is it still on your bucket list? Let me know in the comments?
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