After leaving Kootenay but before reaching Yoho, you’ll drive through a small portion of Banff National Park. The highlight of this 17-mile (27 km) stretch of Trans-Canada Highway 1 is beautiful but busy Lake Louise. The tiny town, lake, and chateau share the Lake Louise name, and while all three are usually crowded, the blue-green lake back dropped by snowy peaks and a magnificent Chateau are much too pretty to miss.
Unless you need groceries or gas, skip the town and head directly to the lake. Known to the Stoney Indians as “Lake of the Little Fishes” lovely Lake Louise was named in 1884 after one of Queen Victoria’s five daughters. England’s renowned queen herself wasn’t slighted—the glaciated peak at the end of the lake, Mount Victoria with its cascading Victoria Glacier, are both named in her honor.
From the parking lots, paved pathways lead to the shores of the lake and the magnificent Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel. Rent a canoe from the boathouse or enjoy the grandiose lake setting on foot. The flat Lakeshore Trail leads past Chateau Lake Louise’s flower-filled grounds, around the right edge of the lake. At an elevation of 5,680 feet (1,731 meters), it’s often chilly outdoors, so after a stroll, warm up inside the elegant Chateau. It’s hard to imagine that this luxurious lodge began as a single-level wooden structure in 1890 when only a mere 100 visitors stayed each summer! Although the well-appointed rooms come with a hefty price tag, the ambiance, fine dining, and spa amenities are just as substantial.
Another great way to enjoy Lake Louise’s mountain scenery is via the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola (used by skiers in winter and by tourists in summer). Located at the Lodge of the Ten Peaks, a short distance from the Chateau, the 14-minute smooth ride up to an elevation of 6,850 feet (2,088 meters) is breathtaking! The views from the platform perched at the top are superlative, so you’ll want to linger as long as possible (an interpretive center is also up there). If you’re not afraid of heights, choose an open chair for your ride instead of an enclosed gondola car and look down for a moment. Lake Louise is known as “Home of the Grizzly Bear” and you can sometimes spot them (and other animals) while gliding through the alpine air.
Banff National Park of Canada Phone: 403-762-1550
Please check back next week; part 3 covers Yoho National Park!Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com