How to Get to Lake Louise, Canada in 2024

Author: Dan Brewer

Last Updated:

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.

Rocks line the shoreline at Lake Louise, Canada.
The Lake Louise shoreline with the Victoria Glacier in the background.

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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.

red canoes on Lake Louise looking down from Lake Agnes Hike.
Two kayaks on the vibrant turquoise waters of Lake Louise – as seen from the Lake Agnes Tea House hike.

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.

A misty Chateau Lake Louise sits proudly on the shores of Lake Louise Canada.
At the far end of Lake Louise, looking back towards the Chateau and the ski resort.

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.

The view of Lake Louise from the summer gondola at the ski resort.
The view of Lake Louise from the summer gondola.

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.

A stay at the Chateau Lake Louise is a highlight of many luxury tours to Banff, Canada.
The Fairmont Chateau is the only lakefront hotel at Lake Louise, Canada.

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.

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park seen from Rockpile hike.
Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks – as seen from “The Rockpile”

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:

Banff Travel Guide - Digital Download.

Don’t miss out on ANYTHING in Banff!

Our comprehensive Banff Travel Guide has EVERYTHING you need to plan the best trip without feeling overwhelmed or that you’ll miss out.

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.

Quiet and empty Highway 1A - Bow Valley Parkway to Johnston Canyon and Lake Louise, Canada.
The Bow Valley Parkway to Lake Louise, 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.

Luxury Banff tours typically begin and end in Calgary, Alberta.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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.

A car drives on the Bow Valley Parkway towards Lake Louise in Banff National Park with Castle Mountain in the background.
Castle Mountain as seen from 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.

The Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic roads in the world. Many luxury tours to Banff transit this road between Lake Louise, Banff and Jasper National Park.
The Icefields Parkway.

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.

Directions from Edmonton to Lake Louise
Distance: 480 km Duration: 5 hours
Edmonton Car Rental

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.

Starting a luxury vacation to Banff from Vancouver
Vancouver, BC has a stunning coastal and mountain setting.

Directions from Vancouver to Lake Louise
Distance: 800 km Duration: 9 hours
Vancouver Rental Cars

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.

scenic drive from Canmore to Lake Louise in Winter.
Driving towards Cascade Mountain on the TransCanada Highway.

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.

Parks Canada shuttle to Moraine Lake or Lake Louise, Canada.
A Parks Canada shuttle bus to Lake Louise.

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 (check here for latest schedule for Route 8S).

Roam Transit service in Banff National Park, Canada.
The Roam Public Transportation Bus.

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.

There is no uber in Banff, but there is a hop on hop off bus!

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.

Taking a glass-dome train to Banff Canada
Photo: Rocky Mountaineer

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.

  • 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.
A woman takes a picture of the turquoise blue Lake Louise from the Big Beehive hike.
Celine admires the beauty of Lake Louise from the Big Beehive hiking trail.

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.
A good Banff tour will include a visit to the Athabasca Glacier for a ride on an Ice Explorer
The Ice Explorer at the Athabasca Glacier, just north of Lake Louise.

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.

listening to the Banff audio guide with the GuideAlong app.
We enjoyed listening the the GuideAlong audio guide on our way to Lake Louise.

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!

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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.