I bet you’ve seen pictures of an amazing, turquoise looking lake surrounded by mountains in Alberta. If it’s not Moraine Lake in the photos, it’s most likely Lake Louise – they’re both beautiful and only 20 minutes away from each other. However, if you visit Lake Louise in winter, the mountains will of course still be there, but the lake will be frozen. That means no amazing views and photos of the colourful water.
On top of that, Moraine Lake, which is usually something you’ll want to include when you’re visiting Lake Louise, is pretty much impossible to reach at this time of the year. The road closes for the winter and there’s really no way to get there other than walking – which has its risks, such as crossing avalanche paths.
But don’t let these facts keep you away from a visit to Lake Louise in winter – it has so much more to offer!
We didn’t let the facts above stop us, and we’re so happy that we went! Even if it’s winter, Lake Louise is as good as a must-do if you’re in the area – you’ll have a whole other experience than during summer, but a really spectacular one. Check out all the amazing winter activities Lake Louise has to offer:
Visit Lake Louise in winter – what to know before your visit
– Try to get to Lake Louise as early as you can, since it can be quite hard finding a parking spot. We were lucky and found one directly, but we saw others that had to queue to get one – that’s not how you want to spend the day!
– Put on warm clothes – even if it doesn’t look that cold, it can be quite windy. You don’t want to freeze during this scenic visit, so bundle up!
– Have winter tires on your car. The roads can be quite bad, depending on which road you take. Our general experience is that the Trans Canada Highway is rather well maintained, while some other roads in the area are not. Of course, it will also depend on the weather of the day. However, don’t take any risks – have winter tires on! Another risk factor is driving at dusk or dawn. We did it twice, and both times we had to stop for animals. Last time, we had a cougar crossing the road right in front of our car!
The Ice Magic Festival
This amazing event takes place every year and is one great reason to visit Lake Louise in winter! There’s an ice sculpture competition with some real masterpieces, and when the artists are done the sculptures stay at Lake Louise to be admired of all the visitors. The Ice Magic Festival typically takes place during a couple of weeks in January each year, but the rumour says the sculptures stay there until they melt – which means that you can probably arrive later to see them as well!
If you’re visiting Lake Louise during the Ice Magic Festival, try to go there on a weekday. Not only will it be easier to find parking and less busy, but you can also inspect the sculptures for free – during peak hours on weekends, you’ll need to buy a ticket.
Ice skating on Lake Louise
Can you imagine skating on the lake, with the mountains surrounding you and with a campfire where you can get warm after you’re done skating? There’s even an ice castle on the lake! This is such an unique opportunity and an amazing experience! You don’t need to bring anything, since you can rent both skates and hockey sticks (if you want to have a real Canadian experience) at the Fairmont Hotel right next to the lake. Check out the rates here.
You can even come here to skate under the stars at night!
Drink hot chocolate
This happens to be my area of expertise. When it’s cold outside, what better than snuggling up inside with a large cup of hot chocolate with some marshmallow and whipped cream? You can get this sugar bomb at the Fairmont Hotel, which has an amazing view over the lake. If hot chocolate isn’t your thing for some peculiar reason, they’re also well-known for their afternoon tea. Or, if you have a better budget than we do as backpackers, why not have lunch or dinner?
How to get here
It’s not too tricky to get to Lake Louise – it’s on the Trans Canada Highway. If you’re coming from Banff, you just have to follow the highway for another 45 minutes before getting on the Lake Louise Drive. If you’re coming from the west, Golden, the same applies. However, if you’re coming from the North, Jasper, Highway 93 which is known as the beautiful scenic Icefields Parkway, is the road you’ll have to take.
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