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31 Best Things to Do in Lake Louise in Winter 2024

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Visiting Lake Louise in winter means stepping into a snow-filled winter wonderland. This idyllic mountain village, located in the heart of Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, transforms into a winter wonderland with snow-covered peaks and frozen lakes, making it the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts. We have compiled our favorite activities and things to do in Lake Louise in winter to inspire you for your upcoming trip!

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31 Best Things To Do In Lake Louise in Winter

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Every year when we travel from Edmonton to Lake Louise via Banff, our drive is filled with jaw-dropping views. I call it, my frosted vanilla cupcake time – because it truly looks like one, especially as you drive from Banff to Lake Louise.

As Lake Louise is located at an elevation of 1731 meters (5,680 feet), winter arrives early in the hamlet. Winter months are from November to early May. Most of the photos pictured here are from November through January. We have also experienced fully frozen lakes from February to March. 

Lake louise short hikes in winter
Lake Louise short hikes in winter

With the arrival of spring/longer hours, (like from April), you can see the lake is melting. April and May are not our favorite times to visit Lake Louise as the lake is half frozen and the pristine turquoise waters are still absent. 

So if you LOVE winters, and want to throw snowballs, enjoy ice sculptures, and drool at the vanilla-cupcake-like scenery, then visit Lake Louise in winter. 

Here are some top activities to add to your Lake Louise itinerary:

1. Enjoy a snow fight or play on the frozen Lake Louise

Canada was the first place, where we experienced snow. And what is better than a (play) ground filled with snow, you can run and soak in or get showered in SNOW! 

This picture is from one of our first trips to Lake Louise/Banff National Park, and it was amazing. So don’t worry if you don’t ski or skate, you can still enjoy a great time at the frozen lake. Just remember to dress warm!

2. Soak in the views of Lake Louise and wander the lakefront

For a leisurely experience, take a delightful winter walk around the perimeter of the lake to fully appreciate its beauty. As the glacial lake freezes, it transforms into a pristine skating rink, offering unparalleled views of the majestic surrounding mountains.

You can wander along the frozen lake or stroll along its shores to fully appreciate its beauty. 

Visiting Lake Louise in winter means stepping into a snow-filled winter wonderland. Here is an ultimate guide to help plan your trip to Lake Louise & beyond
Lake Louise in winter

There are wooden benches and boardwalks where you can simply sit/stand and soak in the breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains and enjoy the winter sun.

3. Enjoy afternoon tea at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

For a relaxed and indulgent activity, treat yourself to afternoon tea at the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This elegant tradition has been a favorite among visitors for over 100 years, offering delicious pastries, finger sandwiches, and an extensive selection of teas. 

Girl at the Fairmont Lake Louise Afternoon Tea

You can make a reservation for an afternoon tea online (without staying at the Fairmont Lake Louise overnight). Typically, each seating is about CAD 75 per person. 

Each sitting/order comes with unlimited cups of tea, and scones with housemade strawberry jam, pastries, sweet treats, and finger sandwiches. You can order for vegan and/or vegetarian menu for food/sweets as well. 

We enjoyed festive treats on our trip and loved how everything was served in royal China, all while taking in the breathtaking views of the frozen lake.

4. Romantic staycation at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Staying at the Fairmont Chateau is a perfect way to admire the snowy world outside from the comfort of your bed. A 4+ star hotel, this property features breathtaking views of Lake Louise and the surrounding Canadian Rocky Mountains. 

Entering Lake Louise in winter
Entering Lake Louise in winter

Originally built in the year 1890 (Canadian Pacific Railway), it was envisioned as a ‘hotel for the outdoor adventurer and alpinist’. Today it welcomes guests from all over the world. 

Gingerbread at the Lake Louise Fairmont hotel lobby
Gingerbread at the Lake Louise Fairmont Hotel lobby

All of your accommodation, dining, plus couples spa packages and ski rentals can be found here!

5. Skate in the natural ice rink at the frozen Lake Louise

In winter Lake Louise turns into a grand ice rink. And ice-skating is one of the popular winter activities at Lake Louise, and it feels amazing against the stunning mountain drop.

Skating season is from mid-December to mid-April, depending on weather conditions. 

Frozen lake louise winter
Frozen Lake Louise winter

It is completely free to access the ice rink. If you do not have skates, you can rent some from the nearby Fairmont Lake Chateau Hotel/ Chateau Ski and Snow, located in the main lobby of the hotel.

6. Hikes in and around Lake Louise in winter

Although most hiking trails turn into snowshoeing heaven, you can still enjoy a short walk/hike in and around the Village of Lake Louise. There are walking trails surrounding the frozen lake, leading up to the Chateau Hotel nearby. 

Winter Lake Louise strolls
Winter Lake Louise strolls

Always pay heed to snow/weather alerts located near the lake. 

7. Snowshoeing in and around Lake Louise Banff National Park

Snowshoeing is so much fun in Lake Louise. As mentioned the hiking trails are essentially converted to snowshoeing areas. Care has to be taken to not cross beyond a particular portion, as you might be embarking onto the avalanche terrain.

Snowshoeing and winter hikes near Lake Louise
Snowshoeing and winter hikes near Lake Louise

There are many trails to explore in Lake Louise, from easy walks to more challenging routes that lead to stunning viewpoints. Rent snowshoes from one of the local outfitters and embark on a peaceful and scenic adventure through the snowy landscape. 

Keep an eye out for wildlife such as moose, elk, and deer along the way!

As always, dress for the weather. 

  • Mirror Lake via Lake Agnes hiking trail: This trail starts at the Chateau Lake Louise, from there, follow the main Lake Agnes trail through the forest. (5.4 km or 3.35 miles return with 295 m elevation gain)
  • Lake Louise Lakeshore: One of the popular and easy trails, starting in front of the Chateau Lake Louise to the lake’s end. Embarking on this means being welcomed to a 100 metres tall frozen waterfall. (4 km or 2.4 miles return, without elevation gain)
  • Louise Creek: Another easy option. Start from the village mall – Samson Mall, and walk along Lake Louise Drive to the Bow River bridge. (5.6 km or 3.47 miles return)

8. Tobogganing at Lake Louise winter activities 

Tobogganing is a classic winter activity that is fun for the whole family. In tobogganing, you essentially enjoy winter views while using a tube. It is a natural system (used by the First Nations community), without any mechanical work – just ride down from a hill slope. Thanks to the snow slips and gravity! 

There are designated toboggan hills located near Lake Louise Village, where you can rent sleds and enjoy the rush of sliding down snow-covered slopes. Toboggans and sleds can be rented or purchased in Banff town, or Fairmont hotel.  

This is a great way to spend an afternoon with loved ones and create lasting memories.

9. Enjoy cross country skiing and snowboarding at Lake Louise Ski Resort

Lake Louise is renowned for its world-class skiing and snowboarding opportunities. From the village of Lake Louise, the renowned Ski resort is just minutes away. You can catch a free shuttle from the Samson Mall (or Lake Louise hotels) to reach the resort. 

Lake Louise Ski Resort is open from mid-November to early May depending on conditions for winter activities.

Lake Louise Ski Resort
Lake Louise Ski Resort

The Lake Louise Ski Resort offers 4,200 acres of skiable terrain and is one of the largest ski resorts in North America. The resort boasts breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and is equipped with modern facilities such as high-speed chairlifts. 

Each chair lift has something for everybody from easy to advanced or difficult ski levels. You can also enjoy a Sightseeing Gondola ride to get on top of the mountains.

If you have never skied before, you can opt for guided snowshoeing tours offered here. Either way, just for the gorgeous views of the lake and Mount Victoria, a trip here is worth it!

Click to get a cross-country skiing lesson in Lake Louise

10. Go tubing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort

You can also enjoy snow tubing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. In this, you can enjoy a ride down snow-covered slopes via a towing system in an inflatable tube. 

The resort offers two designated tubing lanes and provides all necessary equipment – making it the perfect activity for all ages. You can check out more information about the tube park at the Lake Louise Ski Area. 

11. Enjoy a fun horse-drawn sleigh ride near the lake 

Another romantic thing to do in Lake Louise in winter is to enjoy a traditional horse-drawn sleigh ride along the lakeside trail. This service is open from early December to mid-April depending on conditions. 

Horse Sleighing in Lake Louise
Horse Sleighing in Lake Louise

It is also an enjoyable activity for families to have fun together. 

12. Try dog sledding in Lake Louise

For a unique and unforgettable experience, try dog sledding in Lake Louise. Book a guided tour with a local operator such as this one. This thrilling activity is suitable for all ages and allows you to experience the backcountry in a truly authentic way.

So get cozy under blankets as you glide across the frozen lake and through snow-covered forests while being led by a team of energetic and lovable dogs. 

13. Enjoy fondue at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

During the winter season, when the snow-covered landscape of Lake Louise creates a magical ambiance, there is nothing quite like indulging in the warm and comforting embrace of fondue. 

Gourmet Swiss fondue dinner on a winter evening
Gourmet Swiss fondue dinner on a winter evening

One of the best places to experience this culinary delight is the renowned Walliser Stube located within the enchanting Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This delicious meal consists of dipping pieces of bread, meat, and vegetables into melted cheese or chocolate – a perfect way to warm up after a day in the cold. 

The dining room is amazing and you’ll enjoy stunning views of the frozen lake while you dine.

Alternatively, you can also visit the Fondue Stubli at the Post Hotel, another delightful destination to indulge in traditional Swiss fondues. Whichever option you choose, both establishments offer an unforgettable fondue experience amidst the breathtaking beauty of Lake Louise.

14. Ice Magic Festival in Lake Louise (January every year)

Imagine walking through an ice castle, peeking through the window, and looking at the mountains or the chateau. Yes, the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival makes it happen. 

Sculptures in Lake Louise
Sculptures in Lake Louise

The Ice Magic Festival is an international ice carving competition held at the shore of Lake Louise, where talented ice carvers from around the world turn blocks of ice into breathtaking sculptures, adding even more magic to your winter visit. 

This festival occurs every year in January (starts mid of the month), and is partly free to view.

Ice Magic festival Lake Louise
Ice Magic festival Lake Louise

Tickets are required on weekends during peak visit times. Entry is also restricted to 1.50 hours, as you watch the ice cravers at play. 

15. More Lake Louise Winter Events

During winter, there are a lot of seasonal events and activities conducted by the Banff and Lake Louise tourism. Some of the winter festivals to make note of are

  • Ice Magic Festival: This is one of the MOST popular festivals in Lake Louise. As mentioned above, it is held in January for a fortnight. 
  • SnowDays Play Zone: This is a fun snow-filled activity for all ages. Held in the first month of January, SnowDays Play zone welcomes you to showcase your snowboarding or skating skills, while swaying to the DJ, under the winter sun!
  • Brewski Festival: Held at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, the Brewski Festival welcomes foodie lovers to try out ciders, local craft beers, and spirits. This event is conducted in March. 

17. Photograph the winter wonderland and pretty skies

One of our favorite things to do in winter in Lake Louise or Banff for that matter is to photograph the magical wonderland – all whitewashed in snow. Evening skies also look a lot prettier in the mountains.

We use our Sony Mirrorless Camera or Sony a7iii for our photos.

17. Stop for coffee or a meal at the Lake Louise Village complex

Located at the base of Lake Louise Ski Resort, the Lake Louise Village complex offers a variety of dining options – from casual cafes to upscale restaurants. Warm up with a cup of hot cocoa or indulge in a hearty meal while taking in the stunning mountain views.

There is ample parking space for vehicles, and other than cafes you will also find souvenir and gear stores in the complex. 

18. Enjoy a drink at the Chateau Lake Louise Ice Bar

One of the most delightful experiences in Lake Louise during winter is savoring a steaming hot toddy or a cup of hot chocolate in the great outdoors. 

Located on the lakeshore, the Chateau Lake Louise ice bar offers a perfect spot to unwind after a day of adventures or even during an evening skate. This unique bar is made entirely of ice and offers an unforgettable experience – sipping on cocktails while surrounded by frozen sculptures and glittering lights. 

19. Enjoy a day at the Lake Louise Spa

Enjoy a day of pure relaxation and indulgence at the Fairmont Lake Louise Spa. 

The spa at Fairmont Lake Louise offers a variety of treatments that cater to different needs and preferences. For those seeking relaxation, there are a range of massages and facials available, using natural products and techniques to soothe both the body and mind.

Spa in Lake Louise
Spa in Lake Louise

From traditional spa treatments to unique experiences inspired by the Canadian Rockies, there’s something for everyone at Fairmont Lake Louise Spa. Foot treatments start at CAD 90 (aptly called the Hiker’s Foot therapy), and body massages are CAD 205 to 280 for couples.  

In addition to traditional spa treatments, Fairmont Lake Louise Spa offers a unique experience that is inspired by the local landscape of the Rockies!

20. Watch (or play) a game of pond hockey on the frozen Lake Louise

Ice hockey is a popular sport in Canada, and there are few places more picturesque to watch or play a game than the frozen Lake Louise.

Pond Hockey Lake Louise
Pond Hockey Lake Louise

Pond hockey is a friendly and casual version of ice hockey. It’s played on frozen bodies of water, such as lakes, ponds, or rivers. The game requires minimal equipment – just skates, sticks, and a puck – making it accessible to anyone who wants to give it a try.

Anyone can join and participate in a game of pond hockey and hang out – it is more of a community building and having fun in the snow (rather than keeping scores or winning and losing).

Whether you’re a seasoned hockey player or have never stepped foot on the ice before, playing a game of pond hockey on Lake Louise is an unforgettable experience. The crisp mountain air, the sound of skates gliding across the ice, and the stunning views all contribute to the unique atmosphere of this activity.

Lots of fun activities on Lake Louise

If you’re not up for playing, watching a game of pond hockey can be just as enjoyable. Grab a hot chocolate from the cafe located inside the Fairmont hotel, and watch the locals show off their skills on the ice.

21. Embark on one of the most scenic drives in the world

The Icefields Parkway is an absolute must-do when visiting Lake Louise in winter. This breathtaking 232 km (144.15 miles) scenic drive takes you on a mesmerizing journey between Lake Louise and Jasper National Park, showcasing some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes you’ll ever encounter. 

icefields Parkway Jasper to Lake Louise
Icefields Parkway Jasper to Lake Louise

Picture yourself surrounded by towering glaciers, their icy majesty sparkling in the winter sun. 

During winter, driving conditions can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to have a well-maintained vehicle with winter tires and to check the weather and road conditions beforehand. Be sure to take plenty of breaks along the way to soak in the breathtaking views!

Sunwapta Falls viewing area
Sunwapta Falls viewing area

While driving the Icefields Parkway, there are plenty of places to stop and take in the beauty of the surrounding landscapes such as Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Falls. 

Jasper National Park – If you have additional time on your hands, you can complete the drive to hit Jasper National Park. Jasper is located 3 hours from Lake Louise. Ensure you check the weather for this day trip so that you can return safely in the evening, as 3 hours one way is a long (slow) drive in the winter. We do recommend staying for the night or more. 

Anyhow, on a clear day, you can drive the Icefields Parkway (#93N) to enjoy some gorgeous views of the Rockies. 

Even if you drive for about 30 to 40 minutes, the drive is worth it. This route doesn’t close for the winter, although many activities in Jasper, including Jasper SkyTram are not open in the winter. 

22. Enjoy the drive – Bow Valley Parkway

The Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy-1A) runs parallel to the Trans-Canada highway connecting Banff and Lake Louise. It is one of the scenic drives in the Canadian Rockies. 

You might also encounter wildlife on the way. Take it slow, and soak in those views!

23. Visit the Peyto Lake in winter

Lake Peyto is a glacial lake that makes for a great stop as you drive from Lake Louise to Jasper via the Icefields Parkway. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the park, attracting thousands of visitors each year. While it is known for its stunning turquoise color during the summer months, not many people know about its beauty in winter.

Peyto Lake, Banff, Canada
Peyto Lake, Banff, Canada

During winter, Lake Peyto transforms into an otherworldly landscape, blanketed in snow and ice. 

The emerald waters are frozen for most of the winter months (into spring), creating a mesmerizing contrast against the surrounding snow-covered peaks. The lake viewpoint is accessible in winter, and it offers a unique opportunity to experience its serene beauty away from the crowds.

Aside from its picturesque views, Lake Peyto also offers a variety of winter activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing (accessible near the left of the upper bus parking lot for the Peyto Lookout).

Moreover, winter is the perfect time for wildlife sightings at Lake Peyto. You will find a diverse range of animals including elk, bighorn sheep, wolves, and moose along the drive.

24. Enjoy Banff town and ride the Banff Sightseeing Gondola

Of course, if you are staying in Lake Louise, make sure to take some time to explore the beautiful town of Banff as well. In addition to its stunning natural landscapes, Banff offers a wide range of exciting winter activities that you won’t want to miss out on.

Planning the perfect Christmas in Banff
Planning the perfect Christmas in Banff

Banff town is decorated in festive spirit with Christmas Parade, markets, and seasonal festivals that you must not miss. 

Banff Christmas on Mountain top

One must-try experience is taking a gondola ride to the Sulphur Mountains, where you can not only enjoy breathtaking views but also have the opportunity to take memorable photos with Santa himself. 

To stay updated on the seasonal events happening in the national park, be sure to check out the Banff Lake Louise tourism website.

Banff National Park in winter

If you’re a fan of hiking, Banff has plenty of guided winter hikes to choose from, allowing you to immerse yourself in the serene winter scenery while exploring the trails. 

For a touch of nostalgia, why not enjoy a horse sleigh ride in Banff? It’s a wonderful way to embrace the winter spirit and create lasting memories. If you’re a food enthusiast, don’t forget to indulge in a delicious castle food tour at the iconic Banff Springs Hotel.

Wildlife in Banff winter

Last but not least, don’t miss out on the chance to go wildlife sightseeing in Banff during the winter season. Joining a guided wildlife tour will allow you to spot and learn about the fascinating wildlife that calls Banff home.

You may like this tour: For a unique adventure, consider embarking on a snowshoeing tour to Kootenay National Park from Banff, where you can discover the beauty of the snow-covered landscapes.

25. See frozen waterfalls on the Johnston Canyon Ice Walk

Johnston Canyon is located 30 minutes outside of Lake Louise.

During summers, it is a hiker’s heaven, and in the winter you can embark on the ice-walk tour. They are led by an experienced guide, who will take you around and then to the iconic upper falls, a glittering tower of ice that rises 30 meters.

Johnston Canyon in winter girl hiking

You can also embark on this hike on your own, just ensure you have ice cleats and climbing equipment on you. 

From the Johnston Canyon trailhead, you can start the moderate 2.7-kilometer (1.67 miles) hike with 135 meter elevation to the Upper Falls. As you walk along the steel catwalks built into the canyon walls, you can see stunning views of the ice canyon and river below.

Johnston Canyon in Banff with Winter Snow

26. Soak in the warm waters of Banff Hot Springs

After a day of outdoor adventures, there’s no better way to unwind than soaking in natural hot springs.

Just a short drive from Lake Louise, you’ll find Banff Upper Hot Springs – a heated mineral pool with stunning views of the surrounding mountains. This is the perfect way to soothe sore muscles and enjoy some relaxation time amid the winter landscape.

Banff Hot Springs is open all year long, and you can also rent towels and swimwear, in case you have forgotten to bring yours. 

27. Check out Minnewanka Lake in winter

Winter is a magical time at Minnewanka Lake, located in the heart of Banff National Park. With snow-covered peaks and frozen waters, the lake transforms into a winter wonderland that is not to be missed.

One of the best ways to experience Minnewanka Lake in winter is by taking a guided tour on snowshoes. The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who will take you on a journey through the pristine winter landscape surrounding the lake. 

You’ll learn about the geological history of the area, as well as interesting facts about the local wildlife and flora.

We enjoyed winter walks on the frozen lake. It was so much fun! 

For those looking for a more relaxing winter experience, simply take a stroll along the lakeshore. The views are just as stunning and you may even spot some winter wildlife, such as elk or deer, roaming around. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can also try ice skating or enjoy cross-country skiing. 

28. Take a day trip to the Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

If you’re looking to explore beyond Lake Louise, consider taking a day trip to nearby Emerald Lake. Located in Yoho National Park, Emerald Lake is a stunning winter wonderland with vibrant blue waters surrounded by snow-covered mountains.

Learn how to plan a road trip in Canada. Here is our tried and tested road trip planning guide, packed with practical tips and trip inspirations.
Near Lower Spiral Lookout Yoho National Park

Although many of the sightseeing attractions like the Takakkaw Falls are closed for the season, there are still some amazing things that you can do here. You can rent cross-country skis or snowshoes and embark on a self-guided tour around the lake, or simply relax and take in the breathtaking scenery. 

As you travel from Lake Louise we also recommend adding a side trip to the Burgess Shale Fossil Beds, for a guided hiking tour. This area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to 508 million years old fossil beds that contain soft-part imprints. 

29. Hike the Marble Canyon, Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park is home to many beautiful hiking trails, each with their unique scenery and challenges. One of the most popular hikes in the park is the Marble Canyon trail. This 1.4km (.89 miles) hike takes you through a stunning canyon carved out by the rushing waters of Tokumm Creek.

As you make your way along the trail, you’ll be surrounded by towering walls of limestone and dolomite. Along the way, you’ll encounter several bridges and viewpoints that offer breathtaking views of the canyon and surrounding mountains. These are perfect spots to stop and take in the beauty of your surroundings, and maybe even snap a few photos.

The turquoise waters of the creek flow below, making for a picturesque scene.

The trail is rated as easy and is perfect for beginners and hikers of all levels. However, there are some steep sections and stairs to navigate, so proper footwear is recommended.

30. Visit the Abraham Lake in winter

Located an hour and a half away, is the man-made frozen lake – Abraham Lake. Accessing this lake in the winter is a challenge, so ensure you gas up and carry snacks on your road trip

Abraham Lake

To capture the frozen methane bubbles underneath, opt for a visit in late December to February, when the possibility of sighting bubbles is very high.

31. Spend a slow day in Canmore – eat, join a brewery tour, shop 

Spend a day in Canmore, a charming mountain town just an hour’s drive from Lake Louise. While Banff and Lake Louise may be more popular tourist destinations, Canmore offers a quieter and more authentic experience for visitors.

Festive spirit in Canmore

Enjoy a brunch (or lunch) at one of Canmore’s many cozy cafes or restaurants. From classic Canadian pancakes and bacon to healthy avocado toast, and Alberta beef sandwiches, there are lots of amazing places to choose from for a sit-down experience. 

Canmore is also home to some of the best craft breweries in Alberta, and a brewery tour is a must-do for beer lovers. Take a guided tour of Grizzly Paw Brewing Company or Canmore Brewing Company, where you can learn about the brewing process and sample some delicious local beers. 

After a delicious meal and some tasty brews, spend the afternoon exploring Canmore’s charming downtown area. With an array of unique boutiques, art galleries, and souvenir shops, there is plenty to see and buy in this quaint mountain town. Pick up some handmade jewelry or locally-made souvenirs to remember your trip.

Canmore Nordic Centre

In terms of outdoor activities, you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding at the nearby Canmore Nordic Centre, or embark on a lovely stroll on the Policemen’s Creek Trail, located near Main Street. 

Visiting Lake Louise in Winter: Essential Tips for your trip

As you can see there are tons of amazing things to do in Lake Louise from winter sports and romantic sleigh rides to ice festivals. If you are headed to Banff National Park, add a trip to Lake Louise, you won’t be disappointed.

Things to do in lake louise in winter

Getting to Lake Louise from Banff in winter

Lake Louise is located inside Banff National Park. Calgary International Airport is the closest airport to get to the lake.

Banff town to Lake Louise is only 40 minutes away. You can opt for an overnight stay at the lake, or return to your Banff hotel in the evening. 

There are no entry fees to the lake, and parking is free. At the lake area are washrooms, and of course tons of winter activities.

Prefer to book a day tour? Here is a recommended full-day tour of Lake Louise from Banff town

Temperatures in Lake Louise in Winter

When planning to visit Lake Louise during the winter, it’s essential to know the temperatures you’ll be facing. 

The average temperature in Lake Louise during winter ranges from -19°C (-2°F) to -10°C (14°F). However, these temperatures can drop significantly at night, reaching lows of -30°C (-22°F) or even colder. So make sure to pack warm layers and a good winter coat!

  • November Average Temp. High/Low: -1 C (30.2 F)/ – 13 C (8.6 F)
  • December Average Temp. High/Low: – 6 C (21.2 F)/ – 19 C (-2.2 F)
  • January Average Temp. High/Low: – 6 C (21.2 F)/ – 20 C (-4 F)
  • February Average Temp. High/Low: -1 C (30.2 F)/ – 17 C (1.4 F)
  • March Average Temp. High/Low: 3 C (37.4 F)/ – 13 C (8.6 F)

Several factors contribute to the temperatures in Lake Louise during winter. One of the biggest factors is the elevation. Lake Louise sits at an altitude of 1,750 meters (5,741 feet), which means the air is thinner and colder than at sea level.

Completely frozen Lake Louise

Another factor is the proximity to the Rocky Mountains. The surrounding mountains trap cold air in the valley, resulting in lower temperatures.

Lastly, weather systems can also affect temperatures. A warm Chinook wind can bring a temporary rise in temperature, while a cold front can cause a significant drop.

Essential items to pack for Lake Louise in the winter

To enjoy your winter trip to Lake Louise, it’s crucial to stay warm and comfortable. Here are some tips to help you brave the cold:

  • Pack layers: Layering is key when it comes to staying warm. Start with a base layer made of moisture-wicking material, add an insulating layer, and top it off with a waterproof outer layer.
  • Wear proper footwear: Bring boots that are warm, waterproof, and have good traction for walking on snowy or icy surfaces.
  • Cover exposed skin: Frostbite can occur in minutes when temperatures drop below -20°C (-4°F). Make sure to cover your face, hands, and any other exposed skin with warm clothing or accessories.
  • Stay hydrated: It’s easy to forget to drink water in cold weather, but staying hydrated is crucial for regulating body temperature.
  • Take breaks indoors: Every once in a while, take a break from the outdoor activities and warm up indoors. Enjoy a hot cup of cocoa or relax by the fireplace.

There are some winter essentials we always rely on when we are out and about in Canada. Number 1 is a winter parka; of course, accessories go with it from colorful beanie/warm cap, gloves, scarves, and warm boots. 

Lake Louise winter activities
Lake Louise winter activities

So this is my/our winter packing list. 

  • Winter Parka: Invest in a nice warm parka jacket to enjoy the winters outside. Here is my favorite jacket from The North Face. It has a good length and is super warm. Click to view this winter jacket.
  • Base Layers: Super important to wear long johns or base layers (top and bottom), to stay warm and toasty. Click to view my favorite pair bottom here, and top here
  • Winter Boots: Wear warm boots that come with a good grip. They are super handy as you walk in the snow, or on icy pavements. Buy my favorite pair here
  • Warm Beanie: I was not a fan of wearing caps, but it is essential for winters in Canada. Wear something in bright colors for a contrasting look to the white background. Find inspiration here
  • Also pack: Warm socks, warm gloves, pretty scarf

Where to stay in Lake Louise?

There are amazing Lake Louise hotels where you can spend a night or more while exploring the beauty of this stunning destination. Here are some suggestions on where to stay in Lake Louise, based on your budget and preferences.

Bridge near the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Bridge near the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Fairmont Château Lake Louise (Luxury)

If you want to experience true luxury during your stay in Lake Louise itself, look no further than the Fairmont Chateau. This iconic hotel is situated on the shores of Lake Louise and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. It also has a variety of upscale restaurants and activities, such as sleigh rides and ice skating.

Plus you will be so close to the lake and its amazing activities!

Book your stay here

Baker Creek Mountain Resort By Basecamp Resorts (Mid Budget)

Located just a few minutes away from Bow Valley Parkway, Baker Creek Mountain Resort offers a unique stay in Lake Louise. With cozy log cabins, gourmet dining options, and stunning mountain views, this resort is perfect for those looking for a tranquil retreat.

The property has about 30 rooms, all equipped with a balcony, along with a stone fireplace, and a fully equipped kitchen with a microwave, coffee & tea makers, and refrigerators.

Book a stay here

Lake Louise Inn (Mid Budget)

Lake Louise Inn is a charming hotel that features cozy rooms and suites. It also has a hot tub and indoor pool for guests to enjoy. There is also a nice restaurant -Timberwolf Pizza & Pasta Cafe on site where you can hang out.

Book your stay here

Mountaineer Lodge (Budget)

If you’re on a tight budget, Mountaineer Lodge is a great option for your stay in Lake Louise. This family-owned hotel offers comfortable rooms and suites, as well as amenities such as complimentary breakfast and free Wi-Fi.

It’s also conveniently located near popular attractions like Lake Louise Ski Resort and the Lake Louise Gondola.

Check availability and book your stay here

HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre (Budget)

For a more budget-friendly option, consider staying at the HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre. This hostel offers both private and dorm-style rooms, as well as a restaurant and lounge area for guests to use. Plus, it’s within walking distance of popular hiking trails and the famous Lake Louise.

Book your stay here

No matter where you choose to stay in Lake Louise, you will be surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty and have access to a variety of activities and amenities.

READ: Best Airbnbs to stay in Banff, Lake Louise and Canmore

Lake Louise Winter Guide: Frequently Asked Questions

Which are the coldest months in Lake Louise?

The coldest months in Lake Louise are December, January, and February. These months also have the highest chance of snowfall, making it the perfect time for skiing or snowboarding.

Can you see the northern lights in Lake Louise?

The answer is yes but with some important considerations.

While Lake Louise does offer a prime viewing location for the northern lights, they are not visible year-round. The best time to see them is during the winter months, from October to March. During this time, the skies are darker and clearer, providing optimal conditions for viewing the aurora.

In addition to timing your visit during the right season, it’s also essential to check the weather forecast before heading out to try and catch a glimpse of the northern lights. Cloudy or stormy weather can obstruct the view and make it difficult to see them.

Can you visit Moraine Lake from Lake Louise in winter?

Moraine Lake and Lake Louise are two of the most iconic attractions in Banff National Park. These stunning glacial lakes draw millions of visitors every year with their crystal clear turquoise waters surrounded by towering mountains.

Canadian Rockies Moraine Lake
Canadian Rockies Moraine Lake

One question that often comes up for travelers is whether they should visit both Moraine Lake and Lake Louise during the winter months. The answer is yes, you can visit both lakes in winter, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

However, it’s important to note that access to the Moraine Lake road is closed from mid-October until late May due to snowfall. This means that if you want to visit Moraine Lake during the winter, you will need to snowshoe/hike or ski. 

The hike to Moraine Lake from Lake Louise is challenging and should only be attempted by experienced hikers or those who are well-prepared for wintry conditions. It’s also worth noting that there are avalanche risks along this route, so it’s important to check the current conditions and plan accordingly.

Lake Louise views
Summers at Lake Lousie: Lake Louise open all year round

As for Lake Louise, it’s open year-round and can easily be accessed by car, tour, or public transportation.

Can you park at Lake Louise in the winter?

During the peak winter months of December through March, parking at Lake Louise can be challenging due to the large number of tourists and skiers who visit the area. The parking area is large, and with a little patience, you will be able to secure a spot.

Parking at the Lake Louise area

Remember that parking at Lake Louise is not allowed overnight without a backcountry permit.

Can you drive to Lake Louise in the winter?

Yes! You can drive to Lake Louise during the winter months. However, there are a few things that you should know before heading out on the road.

First and foremost, make sure that you are prepared for winter driving conditions. The roads leading to Lake Louise can be icy and snowy, so it’s important to have proper tires on your vehicle as well as a full tank of gas. Make sure to also pack some extra warm clothes, blankets, and snacks just in case you encounter any unexpected delays.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the weather in Banff National Park can change quickly and unexpectedly, especially during the winter. It’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before heading out on your trip and to be prepared for any potential road closures or delays due to heavy snowfall or high winds.

You can also visit Parks Canada’s website for up-to-date road conditions and closures.

As always make sure to follow posted speed limits, keep a safe distance from other vehicles, and be aware of your surroundings. 

Does Lake Louise freeze in the winter?

Yes, Lake Louise does freeze in the winter. It usually starts to freeze around mid-November or early December, depending on weather conditions. The freezing process begins at the shoreline and gradually spreads towards the center of the lake. 

The lake freezes over completely by mid-January, creating a massive outdoor skating rink that measures approximately 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) in length and covers an area of 34 hectares (84 acres). The frozen lake provides a stunning backdrop for these activities and offers an entirely different perspective of the surrounding mountains.

Is it worth going to Lake Louise in the winter?

Nestled in the heart of Banff National Park, Lake Louise is a popular travel destination but is it worth visiting when the temperatures drop and the snow starts falling? YES, IT IS!

While Lake Louise is undeniably beautiful year-round, there’s something truly magical about seeing it in the winter. The entire area is transformed into a winter wonderland, with snow-covered mountains, frozen waterfalls, and a glistening frozen lake. The views are simply breathtaking and worth braving the cold weather for.

Gorgeous Lake Louise in the winter
Gorgeous Lake Louise in the winter

As one of the most popular tourist spots in Banff National Park, Lake Louise can get quite crowded during the summer months. But in the winter, the crowds thin out significantly, making it the perfect time to visit if you prefer a quieter, more peaceful experience. You’ll have more space to explore and take in the stunning scenery without dodging other tourists.

Don’t let the cold weather stop you from enjoying all that Lake Louise has to offer. Winter is when some of the best outdoor activities are available! From ice skating on the frozen lake to cross-country skiing through the snowy trails, there’s no shortage of things to do. You can even try your hand at dog sledding or snowshoeing for a unique and unforgettable experience.

After a day of outdoor adventures, you’ll want a warm and cozy place to relax and unwind. Luckily, Lake Louise has plenty of charming lodges, hotels, and cabins to choose from. Many of them offer stunning views of the lake and mountains and provide a cozy atmosphere to snuggle up in after a day in the cold.

Winter is also the perfect time to indulge in some delicious food and warm drinks at Lake Louise. Whether you’re looking for a hearty meal at a mountain lodge or a hot chocolate by the fireplace, there’s something for every taste and budget. 

And let’s not forget about the iconic ice bar located right on the frozen lake – the perfect spot for unique cocktails and a one-of-a-kind experience.

So pack your bags and get ready to experience the beauty and wonder of this frozen paradise. Happy travels! 

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8 Comments

  1. Wow your photos are gorgeous! I would never have envisioned going to Canada in winter but now I want to go! Every photo is stunning and really looks like a winter wonderland. If I had the right gear and clothes it would be fun to go hiking, tubing and give cross country skiing a try!

  2. I loooved visiting Lake Louise in the wintertime. It is sooo cool to see the contrast between that crazy blue water in the summer, and the stunning icy wonderland in the winter. Your photos are fabulous and are bring back happy, ice-filled memories.

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