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Calgary to Lake Louise Drive (Trip Options & Stops)

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Lake Louise is a popular tourist destination in western Canada. The turquoise blue waters and the cute tea house in the Rockies pull thousands of visitors every summer. In this post, we will cover the various options to travel from Calgary to Lake Louise, attractions to see along the way, and other useful tips.

Calgary is the closest airport to reach Lake Louise. We have embarked on this Calgary to Lake Louise drive trip many times in the past 10 years (in summer and winter seasons), and we have always been awestruck by the majestic beauty of the Canadian Rockies. 

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Where is Lake Louise located in Canada?

Lake Lousie is located in the province of Alberta in western Canada. As mentioned, Calgary International Airport is the closest point of entry for international travelers flying to Banff. 

Lake Lousie is part of the Banff National Park (situated inside the park) and is technically a hamlet. A hamlet is a small community (smaller than a village or a town), with only one road or crossroad leading to the area.

In order to enter Lake Louise, you will have to pass through the gates of Banff National Park, and pay for park fees. 

Park Fees,

  • Adult – Person 18 to 64 years of age – $10 CAD per day or 24 hours*
  • Family/Car – $20 CAD – per day or 24 hours
  • Senior – $8.30
  • Youth (up to 17 years) – Free
  • Commercial group (per person) – $8.30

The 24 hour pass means that you pay for $10 CAD per adult for one day inside the National Park, which also includes travel to Lake Louise. 

If you are a frequent visitor to National Parks in Canada, we recommend opting for the Discovery Pass. It is definitely a money saver. The Discovery Pass is valid for one full year from the date of purchase and it allows you to access over 80 historical, and nature parks in Canada for a set price of $69+ CAD (for adults).

Calgary Tower and Fairmont hotel in one day in Calgary itinerary
Calgary Downtown

Calgary to Lake Louise Distance and Driving Time

  • Distance from Calgary to Lake Louise is 182.5 kilometres (travel via Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W). 
  • Calgary to Lake Louise Driving Time is 2 hours, one way under normal conditions (perfect for day trip too)

In this post, we will also cover travel tips on doing a day trip from Calgary to Lake Louise. On a day trip (say 8 to 10 hours sightseeing and drive time), you pay the same amount. 

READ: How to spend one day in Calgary Itinerary

How to Get from Calgary to Lake Louise

Below you will find all the different ways to travel to Lake Louise from Calgary

Calgary to Lake Louise by Car

COSTS: Gas: $20- 35 CAD one way + Car Rental starts at $23 CAD per day

Our favorite way to travel to Lake Louise from Calgary is by car. We like starting early morning (7:00 am ish), so that we reach Lake Louise centre by 09:00 am for breakfast!

With a car rental, you can make stops along the way, whilst enjoying views of Banff National Park. You can easily rent a car from the Calgary Airport (options for Avis, Enterprise, Budget, etc. are available) to Lake Louise. You can book it online, ahead of time via Expedia and Rentalcars/Booking – two of our favorite travel services sites.

From the airport, you can embark on the Trans-Canada Highway, and head west (and follow signs). If this is your first time in Alberta or the Rockies, we recommend using GPS or Google Maps to make your drive easy. 

Driving through the Canadian Rockies is a treat in the summer months. Sunsets are super late here, so you can make the most of your trip. 

If you are driving in the winter, we have to caution you about blowing snow, and slippery road conditions. Many times we were caught in the snow with poor visibility driving through Banff, when Calgary was all bright and sunny! (yea, the weather can be deceiving). 

Just ensure you are driving slow, and take breaks if driving becomes challenging. As always opt for car insurance, have winter tyres on, keep a blanket and some snacks with you!

READ: How to plan a road trip in Canada

Calgary to Lake Louise by Bus

COSTS: Starts at $69 CAD, takes 2+ hours one way

Rider Express operates a scheduled bus service from downtown Calgary to the village of Lake Louise. The journey takes between 2 to 3 hours. 

Buses leaving from Calgary to Lake Louise depart from the following stops

  • Downtown Greyhound Station, 
  • Downtown Red Arrow Office, 
  • North Red Arrow Office, 
  • Crossiron Mills,
  • Deerfoot Casino, 
  • YYC Airport, 
  • Downtown Marriott or Downtown Delta.

Drop off areas are as follows

  • Lake Louise Bus Depot, 
  • Lake Louise Inn, 
  • Fairmont Chateau, 
  • Deer Lodge, 
  • Post Hotel or Husky.

Rider Express can be booked via BusBud and it is a good option if you are exploring Calgary for a day or two, and then connecting to Lake Louise (tickets start at $69 CAD). Otherwise, we recommend using the shuttle from the Airport to Lake Louise, as operated by Brewster Express (love their services)!

Shuttle buses from Calgary Airport to Lake Louise 

Shuttle services are available from Calgary YYC Airport to Lake Lousie by Brewster Express. Their services also include Canmore, Banff, Kananaskis, and Jasper among others. 

One way adult fares start at $71.00 CAD, and you can save 15% when you book a round trip.

*Note: There are no Greyhound or Red Arrow bus services from Calgary to Lake Louise at this time (November 2020)

Banff Airporter is another popular bus service option from Calgary International Airport. However this service ends in Banff, and you have to take another bus/shuttle to Lake Louise (not direct service, must be booked separately).

Calgary to Lake Louise Drive
Lake Louise Drive

Calgary to Lake Louise by Guided Tour

COSTS: $460 CAD per person (includes return trip, 2 nights accommodation, sightseeing) 

You can visit Lake Louise from Calgary on a 3-day tour. This tour also includes a sightseeing itinerary, 2 nights accommodation and return transportation. Although we have not taken this particular tour, this is the only one available that covers Lake Louise from Calgary on a short 3 day trip. 

The trip itinerary also includes Banff and Yoho National Park sightseeing. You can check out reviews, and other departure dates here

Alternate Option: Calgary to Banff day tour, provided by GetYourGuide, our favorite tour provider

Calgary to Lake Louise by Train

COSTS: Starts at $3070 CAD (6 nights)

We get often asked, if there is a train from Calgary to Lake Louise? Short answer is – Yes, and No.

There is no direct train service from Calgary to Lake Louise. However, there is one option – Rocky Mountaineer. 

The Rocky Mountaineer is the only train that travels between Vancouver and Banff or Lake Louise, and they offer a rail tour from Calgary via motorcoach and train. They are the only ones to offer this service. And this service is also seasonal.

If you are keen on a scenic train journey, here is what you can do. 

You can book a ride via Rocky Mountaineer. This package is called the ‘Journey through the Clouds’, and it includes one way train packages that begin or end in Calgary. The tour is 6 days in duration, and covers Calgary, Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper all the way to Vancouver. (You can also book this tour in reserve, starting in Vancouver). 

As mentioned, the entire trip is not a train ride. It is a mix of a tour, a rental car/motorcoach transfer between Banff National Park, Lake Louise, Vancouver, and Calgary.

Calgary to Lake Louise by RV and Campervan

COSTS: $75 and $150 CAD per night to rent campervans or small trailers. Renting an RV is great for longer trips is a good idea as the costs can average to less than $75 CAD per day.

Here are some tips if you are traveling from Calgary to Lake Louise by RV. Of course, the distance and time traveled is the same as driving by car. 

But it is very common to see campervans in Banff National Park, road tripping through the Canadian Rockies. There are many RV and campervan rental companies in Calgary that you use to book. 

Things to see on a Calgary to Lake Louise Drive

Ice Magic festival Lake Louise
Ice Magic festival Lake Louise

Day trip from Calgary to Lake Louise

With a 2 hour drive, you can easily explore Lake Louise on a day trip from Calgary. Sometimes when accommodation is expensive in the Rockies, we stay near the Calgary airport and then explore from there. 

On a day trip, you must stop at the following spots,

  • Start at 07:00 am from Calgary downtown or airport hotel
  • Stop at Cochrane (35 minutes from Calgary), or at the Ghost Lake Reservoir
  • Then Canmore (20 minutes outside of Banff, about 1.25 hours from Calgary)
  • Banff (you can also break for lunch)
  • Johnston Canyon (optional)
  • And finally – Lake Louise

Calgary: We don’t live in Calgary, but we love it. We are only 3 hours away in Edmonton, and Calgary downtown is where you will find us when we are in town. We have a detailed guide to all the fun things to do in Calgary from Stephen Ave, Calgary Tower, Fort Calgary, Heritage Village Park, Glenbow Museum, and more. 

Cochrane: Cochrane makes for a great day trip from Calgary, just like Lake Louise. You can stop at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary and take a walking, or an interactive tour, perfect for wildlife lovers. You can book a tour here

We like opting for this route to Banff, as well and stop by the Ghost Lake Reservoir in the winters or early Spring.  

Canmore: Canmore is one of the prettiest small towns in Alberta – we love it! From wandering the town centre to quick strolls at the Policeman’s Creek, you can’t skip Canmore. This is our favorite spot for lunches as well (our favorites: K Bakery, SpiceHut – Both have great Indian cuisine offerings). 

Banff Gondola Views
Banff Gondola Views

Banff: Of course, needs no introduction. This is where you will pay for entry fees and enter the national park area. If you have time on your hands, you can explore Banff Avenue, Cascade Gardens, head to the Sulphur Mountain Gondola, and Vermillion Lakes.

Stopping by Lakes: From Banff town, you can make quick photo stops at Two Jack Lake and Lake Minnewanka. 

(The popular Lake Moraine, on the other hand, is easily accessible from Lake Louise Village. It is located off the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1). So when you drive uphill on Lake Louise Dr, you will see an access road for Moraine Lake on your left, and keep driving for about 11 kilometres to reach the parking area).

Johnston Canyon: From Banff to Lake Louise, you can make a stop at the Johnston Canyon, located on the Bow Valley Parkway. A visit to the canyons will take 3-4 hours of exploring. In the winters, there is an ice walk conducted from Banff (with return trip), where you can enjoy the beautiful ice formations in the canyon! Highly recommend it, if you are extending your stay in the Rockies. 

Things to do in Lake Louise

Things to do in lake louise in winter

Finally you are here – at Lake Louise!

Lake Louise is delightful at any time of the year. Each season welcomes you with a different perspective of the lake – it is lovely in the summer adorning blue turquoise colors, and in the winters it is frozen rock solid in pretty white!

Here are some of the finest things to do in Lake Louise

  • Visit the lake in the summer, and go canoeing
  • Hike Agnes Tea House Trail (summer)
  • Eat at the Lake Louise local cafes at the hamlet/town center
  • Stop by the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel, and enjoy an afternoon tea. This is where you will find skate rentals in the winter. 
  • The Hotel is also the venue for the popular (and free) Ice Magic Sculpture festival that takes place in January – February (part of Snow Days by Banff Lake Louise Tourism.)
  • In the winter, you can skate at the frozen lake, surrounded by stunning mountain views
  • Plan to visit the Lake Louise Ski Resort for winter sports: this resort was voted #1 in Canada – in 2019!
  • During winters, you can also opt for a horse-drawn carriage ride or dog-sledding tour.
  • More Winter Activities: Here is a detailed guide to visiting Lake Louise in winter
  • Accommodation: Find hotels in Lake Louise or book one of the Best Airbnbs in Banff and Lake Louise

We hope you found this post with transportation and sightseeing options from Calgary to Lake Lousie useful. Have a safe drive!

Calgary to Lake Louise Drive

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