Lake Louise is a quiet relaxed village in the heart of Banff National Park. It lies 57km from the town of Banff along the Trans-Canada Highway 1 and hosts a small number of hotels. The Lake Louise ski resort offers almost 140 trails and extensive amounts of ungroomed off-piste, being at a high altitude with good snow cannon coverage, the snow is always in decent condition. There is a good variety of runs available for skiers of all abilities, as well as off the snow activities including ice skating and dog sled tours. As part of the Big Three ski area, a full area lift pass will also give you access to Mt Norquay and Sunshine Village, accessible by free shuttle bus. With stunning views from the mountain top and the frozen lake near the Fairmont hotel this resort is a hidden gem tucked away in a spectacular area of the Rocky Mountains.
Approximate Transfer Time
Calgary - 3hrs
Skiing in Lake Louise
Lake Louise is one of three resorts in the Big Three ski area, with Norquay and Sunshine Village, it is the biggest of the three and offers a good variety of different runs to suit all skiing abilities. It has an excellent snow park with some of the largest kickers in the area as well as a great bar/cabin at the base of the park so you can watch all the action.
Local Ski Area
Lake Louise has 4,200 acres of skiable terrain that span 3 main areas, the frontside, the backside and larch mountain. The frontside of Lake Louise has very alpine feel with wide open runs and tree skiing lower down, this area is more suited towards beginners and intermediates with a snow park that snakes from the top of the Grizzly chairlift to the bottom of the resort.
The backside of Lake Louise has a high concentration of black diamond and double black diamond runs, these are the steepest and most challenging runs offering some incredible expert skiing and challenging mogul runs. There are also green and blue alternatives, so beginners can ski the backside too where you will find temple lodge, a bar/restaurant that offers cosy dining in the heart of the mountains.
The larch chairlift is accessed from the backside of Lake Louise and will take you to the Larch area which is the smallest area but has a good variety of skiing and tends to be quieter than the other areas. From the larch chairlift a ski-out run will return you to the main lodge carpark but is a gentle run and can be flat in areas making it tiresome for snowboarders.
Wider Ski Area
Lake Louise, Sunshine Village and Mount Norquay comprise the Big Three ski area which can be all accessed with a full area lift pass. Lake Louise is a 50 Minute bus ride from Banff and is the biggest of the three (over 4200 acres of skiable terrain), offering great snow cannon coverage, a variety of different runs, a fantastic snow park, and some steep challenging terrain accessible on the backside. Lake Louise is often the most popular ski area amongst locals and holiday makers when the snow conditions are good, however you must leave Banff early to ensure first tracks in the fresh snow.
A 20-minute drive from Banff, Sunshine Village offers a broad selection of terrain to suit all skiing abilities, with challenging steep terrain, long easy runs and a selection of snow parks. In the main village area there are a selection of restaurants and bars, including Mad Trappers, a popular cabin style bar and a great place to stop and warm up. If you enjoy Freeride or are looking for challenging terrain, Delirium Dive at the top of the Divide chairlift is an avalanche controlled freeride area offering the steepest terrain in the local area, however, to enter you must have an avalanche beacon or be with a guide/instructor. Delirium Dive is often loaded with snow promising deep powder runs even a few days after the last snowfall.
Mt Norquay is the closest resort to Banff, a short 10-minute bus ride away, and is the smallest of the three resorts but also the quietest. Norquay is a good place for beginners to learn on the short nursery slope which is situated next to lodge area making it easy to warm up and stop if you are tired, there are also some challenging black runs and a snow-park. At the top of the mountain is the Cliffhouse Bistro, a café/restaurant with amazing views overlooking the Banff townsite and surrounding mountains.
Lake Louise Resort Overview
Lake Louise is a small village located 57km from Banff and a 2.5-hour drive from Calgary that follows the bow river through the stunning Rocky Mountains and runs past notable peaks including Temple Mountain and Castle Mountain.
Named after the lake on which the chateau was first built, Lake Louise is a breath-taking glacial lake that completely freezes over in the winter allowing guests to ice skate and walk across it. There are some amazing hikes and walks in the local area although snowshoes and crampons are recommended on certain routes.
The small Samson Mall offers limited shopping including a supermarket and liquor store to pick up provisions as well as souvenir, gift shops and outdoor activity shops. If you are looking for some elegant shopping options, the Fairmont Chateau has a good selection of shops as well as stunning public spaces overlooking the lake including restaurants and bars open to the public.
Lake Louise is a small isolate village and is great for people looking to get away from big crowds and enjoy the solitude of being nested in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.
Restaurants and bars
Being a small village, the dining options in Lake Louise are limited, however some notable places to eat include the Post Hotel and Spa which offers fantastic Canadian fine dining cuisine with a grand selection of more than 2500 bottles of wine to offer the perfect pairing. If you have just finished skiing, try the Powder Keg upstairs in the Lodge of Ten Peaks, offering affordable and tasty food including pizza, chicken wings, and their famous mountain nachos.
On a sunny day the Kokanee Kabin at the base of the terrain park is the perfect place to stop for a drink and a bite to eat, you can enjoy freshly cooked BBQ food whilst sitting by the first and watching the locals flipping and spinning over huge jumps.
Temple Lodge is situated on the backside of the mountain and offers rustic charm in a spectacular setting. It can be accessed via the Glacier Express or Grizzly Gondola and has both a cafeteria, rustic restaurant, and outdoor seating allowing you to stop and take in the beauty of the mountains.
If you want to try a delicious cocktail in a luxury setting, try the Glacier Saloon in the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, they also have daily happy hours so time it right to make the most of your apres.
There are several outdoor activities to stay entertained off the slopes, you could spend the evening ice skating on the frozen lake, go snow shoeing for the day around the stunning national park, or even take a snowmobiling tour through the fresh powder.
The nightlife in Lake Louise is quiet although a few of the bars in the hotels will provide entertainment and bar games through the winter months. Another option is to relax in the Fairmont Chateau Spa and enjoy a massage or soak in their hot pools.
Who is skiing in Lake Louise Suitable For?
As the hotels in Lake Louise are in close proximity to the ski resort, Lake Louise is a great choice for those looking for accommodation close to slopes and for those who want to get up there early and take advantage of the fresh powder
There are some easy green runs on close to the ski school meeting point and lodge making it simple for beginners to get out on the slopes as well as some long winding blue slopes on the front side suitable for those looking to progress. There are some challenging black and double blacks on the back side of the mountain if you are really looking for a challenge.
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