We visited Lake Louise on a sunny day in early October, after the first snowfall in the Rockies, so the surrounding landscape was covered in a fresh layer of snow. It turned out to be the perfect day at one of the most beautiful (and popular) destinations in the Canadian Rockies. We spent a few hours exploring the lake, including a hike into the valley for up-close views of glaciers. After our hike, we came back towards the parking lot, and the mid-afternoon reflection on the lake was perfect!
Lake Louise was definitely our highlight in Banff National Park and one of the most enjoyable days we had in the Rockies. One of the reasons for its popularity – aside from the views – is the fact that it is an easy lake to visit. The parking lot isn’t far from the main viewpoint, and we saw everyone from extreme hikers to Japanese Businessmen in suits. It wasn’t until we went for a walk that we truly got to see Lake Louise in its full glory.
We hadn’t planned on spending most of the day exploring Lake Louise; we had originally wanted to go see Moraine Lake in the same day, but the road up was recently closed for the season due to the extreme winter conditions. We were sad that we didn’t get to see it, but it meant we could spend more time at Lake Louise and would find another worthy attraction to stop at on our way to east Banff.
We arrived around 9 in the morning after a quick breakfast in Lake Louise. The main parking lot was nearly full which also meant that the main viewing area was full of people fresh off the tour buses, fighting for a place to take pictures of the incredible view. This is also where the world-famous Fairmont Lake Louise is located. We tried to imagine what the views from the penthouse balconies must look like. We looked at the hotel in envy; we had slept in our car the night before.
We decided to go for a short walk around the lake and we quickly left the crowds behind the further we walked. We had not planned on going for an actual hike, originally we just wanted to take a short walk to find a different view of the lake. When we got to the far end of the lake, there were only a handful of people, and some of them were walking up the valley.
We noticed that the trail up towards the glacier was fairly well packed down, and we decided to see how far we could go. The trail wasn’t perfect, and we had to walk carefully at times due to the ice, but we kept pushing each other to go “just a little bit further” to see if the next viewpoint was better.
This was the best decision of the trip. We hiked up for just over an hour towards one of the most beautiful viewpoints we have ever been to, on the edge of the Plain of the 6 Glaciers. We found a clearing and were surrounded by some of the most incredible scenery; jagged mountains, snow-covered trees, icicles hanging off rocks and the incredible glaciers. Behind us, we could look down at the tiny lake below.
It was a pretty mind-blowing experience.
From this final viewpoint, we knew we had made it. We wished we could have planned ahead, as the trail went further into the mountains, but we were out of drinking water and had no snacks. We found a pretty great spot and the valley in front of us was spectacular. It was one of the best 360-degree views imaginable.
As you can tell from the following pictures, this place was out of this world!