There are few places in Canada more beautiful than Lake Louise. A stunning glacier-fed, turquoise lake, surrounded by towering Rocky Mountains and glaciers, you will never forget the beauty of this iconic Banff lake. It’s remote location within Banff National Park makes it a little challenging to get to, so you may be wondering how to get to Lake Louise. We’re confident you’ll find the perfect way to get to Lake Louise below.
What You’ll Find in This Article on How to Get to Lake Louise:
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Where is Lake Louise, Canada?
Lake Louise is one of the major tourist destinations within Banff National Park. Found within the western province of Alberta, Lake Louise is located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies along the TransCanada Highway near the border of Banff National Park and Yoho National Park.
Key Lake Louise Locations
Visitors to Lake Louise need to be aware the term, “Lake Louise” can refer to many different locations in the area. Locals (like us) can generally figure it out based on context, but it can get quite confusing for people visiting Lake Louise for the first time. To help you follow along, here are the key locations in Lake Louise:
1. The Lake Louise Area
The title of this article is “How to Get to Lake Louise, Canada”. In this context, we are describing the entire Lake Louise area, which includes the stunning turquoise lake itself, the village and the ski resort. In order to effectively plan your trip to Lake Louise, you’ll need to understand the various locations within this tourist hotspot.
2. Lake Louise (the actual lake)
The star attraction of the Lake Louise area, is in fact, the stunning glacial lake called Lake Louise.
3. Lake Louise Village
Located about one minute south of the TransCanada Highway, the Lake Louise Village is a small community of shops, restaurants, hotels, gas stations and some housing (mostly for area employees). Lake Louise Village is home to Samson Mall, which is an important location for services offering transportation in the area.
4. Lake Louise Ski Resort
Located north of the TransCanada Highway, the Lake Louise Ski Resort is one of the Ski Big 3 winter ski resorts within Banff National Park. During the summer months, the Lake Louise Ski Resort is home to the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola and the Parks Canada shuttle system.
5. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
An original CPR railway hotel, the luxury 5-star Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the only hotel on the lakeshore. If the Fairmont is a bit out of your price range, don’t worry as there are many excellent Lake Louise hotels for every price range.
See if the Fairmont is right for you in our complete review of the Chateau Lake Louise.
6. Moraine Lake
The setting for the Valley of the Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake another highly-sought after destination in the area. Figuring out how to get to Moraine Lake has its own set of challenges.
Closest Airport to Lake Louise, Alberta
Lake Louise does not have an airport, in fact, the closest airport to Lake Louise is the Calgary International Airport (YYC), located 200 km (125 miles) away.
Alternate airports to consider for trips to Lake Louise include:
- Kelowna International Airport (410 km)
- Edmonton International Airport (440 km)
- Vancouver International Airport (800 km)
Need Help Planning Your Trip?
Our Banff Travel Guide has everything you need to get the MOST out of your trip to Banff!
7 Ways to Get to Lake Louise
Depending on where your trip to Banff National Park originates, you’ll have seven main transportation options for how to get to Lake Louise:
1. Driving to Lake Louise, Canada
The most common way visitors get to Lake Louise is by driving. No matter which direction you come from, the drive will pure visual pleasure – a stunning drive through the majestic Canadian Rockies to one of the most beautiful destinations in Canada.
The most common driving routes to Lake Louise are:
From Calgary to Lake Louise
The driving route from the closest airport to Lake Louise begins with an easy drive on the bypass freeway in Calgary to the TransCanada Highway. Once on Highway 1, the excitement will build as you can see the Canadian Rockies ahead of you through the flat, prairie landscape.
The final hour of the drive passes Kananaskis Country and the Town of Banff enroute to Lake Louise. This is a very enjoyable drive through the heart of the Rocky Mountains.
Directions from the Calgary Airport to Lake Louise
Distance: 200 km Duration: 2 hours
Calgary Rental Cars
From the Town of Banff to Lake Louise
Visitors have two options for driving between the Town of Banff and Lake Louise. The TransCanada Highway is the quickest and most efficient route, with outstanding Rocky Mountain scenery along the way.
If you have a little more time, the Bow Valley Parkway scenic drive is a fun alternative, with improved wildlife viewing opportunities. The Johnston Canyon hike, one of the most popular attractions in Banff National Park, is found along the Bow Valley Parkway.
Directions from the Town of Banff to Lake Louise
Distance: 60 km Duration: 35 minutes
From Jasper to Lake Louise
The drive from Jasper to Lake Louise is entirely along the Icefields Parkway – one of the most scenic drives in the world. The non-stop views of the Canadian Rockies on the Icefields Parkway are jaw-dropping, and you’ll have a chance to stop and enjoy the world-class attractions at the Athabasca Glacier.
Directions from Jasper to Lake Louise
Distance: 230 km Duration: 150 minutes
From Edmonton to Lake louise
The first 350 km of the drive from Edmonton to Lake Louise is not very exciting, but once you reach Abraham Lake, the scenery becomes much better. You’ll finish your drive on the southern half of the Icefields Parkway.
From Vancouver to Lake Louise
Many international visitors choose to begin their Canadian vacation in Vancouver, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I love the drive from Vancouver to Lake Louise as the scenery is so varied.
The entire province of British Columbia is on the windward side of the Continental Divide. As a result, BC gets significantly more rain and the forests are quite lush. The drive from Vancouver to Revelstoke are through lush rounded mountains, but the jagged Rocky Mountain scenery begins once you pass Revelstoke. The drive from Revelstoke to Golden to Lake Louise goes through the Rogers Pass and features very beautiful mountain scenery.
A Caution About Driving to Lake Louise, Canada
Because driving to the Lake Louise area is so convenient, there is a potential downside to be aware of. In the summer, vehicle congestion and a shortage of Lake Louise parking can be a significant problem. In fact, Parks Canada will often close the roads into Lake Louise due to overflowing parking lots.
If you are staying at a Lake Louise hotel, you’ll be allowed through the roadblocks, but if your travel schedule permits an alternate form of transportation, you may wish to consider it.
A Recommendation for Driving to Lake Louise
The last thing visitors driving to Lake Louise want is to drive all the way there, only to find the access roads blocked off by Parks Canada staff. If, like most visitors, your trip to Banff National Park will be by car, we strongly recommend you take advantage of the Lake Louise shuttle service offered by Parks Canada and/or private operators.
In a nutshell, visitors park at the massive Lake Louise Ski Resort parking lot and then take a Parks Canada Shuttle to the Lake Louise. We encourage you to read our posts on the Lake Louise Shuttle and the Moraine Lake Shuttle.
2. Buses to Lake Louise
The aforementioned Lake Louise shuttles get you around the area, but for those not already here, there are several convenient ways to get to Lake Louise by bus:
The Brewster Express Bus
The Brewster Express bus offers bi-directional service between Calgary to Banff, Canmore, Kananaskis, Lake Louise and Jasper. Passengers can get picked up or dropped off at a wide variety of area locations, including the Samson Mall, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, the Post Hotel, the HI Hostel, Lake Louise Inn or the Deer Lodge.
Mountain Park Transportation
A locally run company, Mountain Park Transportation has been offering shuttle bus service from Calgary & Banff to Lake Louise for nearly 25 years. Mountain Park Transportation offers convenient pickup and drop-off locations, including the Calgary Airport, the Crowfoot LRT station, or right at the door of most Town of Banff and Lake Louise hotels.
The Rider Express Bus
The Rider Express offers bus service between Calgary and Vancouver, with a stop at Lake Louise Village. Upon arrival in Lake Louise, passengers will be dropped off near the Shell gas station, across the street from the Samson Mall.
This convenient bus route to Lake Louise also has stops in Canmore, Banff, Golden, Revelstoke and many more.
The Roam Transit Bus
The Roam public transit bus offers year-round service between the Town of Banff and Samson Mall at the Lake Louise Village. The schedule does change in each season, so always check the current schedule. In the peak summer months, Roam also offers a Lake Louise Scenic Route that goes along the Bow Valley Parkway. The Lake Louise Scenic Route (Route 8S) will begin on July 1st in 2023.
3. Hop On Hop Off Bus
If you are basing your Canadian holiday in Banff, a fun alternative for reaching Lake Louise is the Hop On Banff bus. This hop-on hop-off bus runs a scheduled bus service between the Town of Banff and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Unlike many of your other options to reach Lake Louise, the Hop On Banff bus takes you right to the shores of Lake Louise itself.
In addition to the Lake Louise stop, the Hop On Banff bus stops at the Johnston Canyon hike, the Lake Louise summer gondola, and the very-hard to get to Moraine Lake.
4. Train to Lake Louise
Currently, there is no way to get to Lake Louise by train.
The Rocky Mountaineer, one of the best luxury tours to Banff, is a famous rail journey across the Canadian Rockies. Although you will see Lake Louise as a featured destination on many of their rail journeys, their train does not actually stop in Lake Louise. All visits to Lake Louise on Rocky Mountaineer tours are via motorcoach.
5. Take a Day Trip to Lake Louise
A convenient way to get there without the logistical hassles of driving or shuttle buses is to visit Lake Louise on an organised tour. Here are a few great Lake Louise tours to consider:
- A bucket list item for many people visiting Banff National Park is to see the sunrise at Moraine Lake. Radventures offers an exciting opportunity to see the Moraine Lake sunrise, followed by a visit to the Lake Louise lakeshore before the crowds arrive. Pickup for this tour is in the Town of Banff.
- Discover Banff Tours offers a Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Sightseeing Tour. This popular half-day tour offers hotel pickup in Banff and visits to both the Lake Louise lakeshore & Moraine Lake.
- Explore Banff Tours also offers a full day tour from your hotel in the Town of Banff or Canmore to the Lake Louise lakeshore and Moraine Lake. (GYG)
- This private full day tour from Calgary features stops at many of Banff National Park’s top attractions, including Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Lake Minnewanka, the Town of Banff, and more.
6. Visit Lake Louise on a Multi-Day Tour
A wonderful way to see not only Lake Louise, but the surrounding Canadian highlights is to join a multi-day tour. We have a full blog post about the best luxury tours to Banff, which all feature a stop at Lake Louise.
For those visitors to Banff not interested in a luxury tour, here are some excellent tours to consider:
- National Geographic Journeys (in partnership with G Adventures), offers an exciting, upscale 12-day tour of Western Canada. This once-in-a-lifetime National Geographic tour features stops in Calgary, the Town of Banff, Lake Louise, the Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park, Whistler, Vancouver and Victoria.
- Trafalgar Tours offers an excellent 7-day tour through the Alberta mountain parks. The Canada’s Rockies Tour begins in Calgary and features stops in Jasper National Park, Lake Louise, Canmore and the Banff Townsite. There’s even an option to add a two-day journey on the famous Rocky Mountaineer all the way to Vancouver.
7. Private Transfer to Lake Louise
It won’t be the cheapest way to get to Lake Louise, but a private transfer is another option to reach Lake Louise. A private transfer is actually a price competitive option when you are traveling to Lake Louise with a large group. Although the total cost of a private transfer can seem high, when splitting it over several passengers, it becomes more reasonable.
Explore Banff Tours & Transfers offers private transfers from the Calgary airport or downtown Calgary to your hotel in Canmore, Banff or Lake Louise. The private transfers from Explore Banff Tours can accommodate groups up to 14 people.
Banff Park Fee
It’s important to note, that all visitors to Banff National Park require a park pass. Some of the tours listed above will include a park pass, but if it doesn’t explicitly state it, then you should ask to make sure.
Get all the information you need about the Banff Park Pass.
A Banff National Park Audio Guide
No matter how you decide to get to Lake Louise, our final recommendation for visitors to Banff National Park is to pick up the inexpensive Banff audio tour from GuideAlong. This GPS activated app is filled with tons of fun and interesting facts for landmarks between Calgary and Lake Louise.
I’ve lived near Banff my whole life, and I learned all sorts of fun facts with this fun audio guide. I’m confident it will make your trip to Banff and Lake Louise more enjoyable as well.
We hope you found this post about getting to Lake Louise useful and that you enjoy your visit to one of Canada’s most beautiful destinations!
Dan Brewer, a life-long Alberta resident, calls Canmore home along with his wife and two kids. He is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada, where he gets to share his passion for the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Dan, along with his family, love being outdoors doing one of the many activities they enjoy in the mountains: hiking, mountain biking, paddleboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
When he's not in Canmore enjoying one of his favourite local hikes, you can find him hoping on a plane to explore a new country with his family or working on one of their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.