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Experience the Lake Louise Summer Gondola

The Lake Louise Ski Resort is one of the most famous ski resorts in Banff National Park. Did you know that the Lake Louise Gondola operates in summer as well?

The Lake Louise Gondola is one of the best Lake Louise attractions. The gondola at Lake Louise is an exceptional opportunity for visitors to Banff to see local wildlife and enjoy unparalleled vistas of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. You’ll even get a bird’s eye view of the famous Lake Louise nestled between the trees and the Victoria Glacier.

Lake Louise Gondola ride in Banff National Park

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Lake Louise Grizzly Bears

The Lake Louise ski area is one of the most important habitats for female grizzly bears in Banff National Park. Taking an open-air chairlift or enclosed gondola at Lake Louise is a safe and fun way to look for grizzly bears in Banff National Park, as you travel over the Whitehorn Wildlife Corridor. No bear sighting is ever guaranteed, but the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola offers one of the best chances to see grizzly bears in Banff National Park.

This isn’t an image from our experience, but we hope for better luck next time we visit!

In the morning, the grizzly bears often lurk in the trees, then start to emerge into the meadows as the day gets warmer. The grizzly bears wait for the vegetation to open back up before emerging onto the open ski runs to start their daily feast on plants like dandelions, grasses and buffaloberries.

Seeing a grizzly bear is one of the most exciting wildlife spotting experiences you can have in Banff National Park. To give yourself the best chance to see a grizzly bear on the Lake Louise Summer Gondola, ensure everyone has their eyes peeled. Don’t just look down, but off to the side, in the forest and even behind you. A grizzly bear sighting is worth the effort!

Wildflowers on Lake Louise Gondola Hikes

Lake Louise Summer Gondola

The Lake Louise gondola is one of four sightseeing gondolas in Banff National Park. Visitors to Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola have the choice of taking a quad ski chairlift or a closed gondola to the upper grizzly bear viewing area.

We recommend the open-air chairlift as it gives you the most visceral experience. Being in the open air allows you to enjoy unimpeded views, smell the fresh mountain air and gives you the best chance to see a grizzly bear.

Chairlife and Gondola at Lake Louise Ski Resort

The ride to the top in a chairlift or gondola is slow and enjoyable. The ride to the top of the Lake Louise Gondola takes about 14 minutes. Along the way, you’ll enjoy beautiful fields of wildflowers, rushing mountain streams and dense evergreen forests. The scene is so magical it’s hard to concentrate on watching for grizzly bears.

As amazing as the ride up the Lake Louise Summer Gondola is, the ride down is simply incredible. The 180-degree views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains are mind blowing. In addition to views of Lake Louise, you’ll love the views of the glacier covered Canadian Rocky Mountains. It’s a sight you won’t soon forget.

Find even more things to do in Banff in the summer here.

lake louise summer gondola view

Lake Louise Gondola with Kids

Riding the Lake Louise Summer Gondola is one of the best things to do in Banff with kids. It’s a incredibly fun experience for the whole family.

We rode the quad chairlift with our two kids (who are 8 and 5 years old). They loved the experience of riding a chairlift in the summer, compared to when we ride one while skiing.

Children under 42” or 107cm must ride in a closed gondola for safety reasons. In addition, children under 12 must ride with an adult.

Kids on Lake Louise Gondola - best Lake Louise attractions

The staff at the gondola were quick with the instructions and made it super easy for the kids to get on and off the chairlift. The chairlift was stopped, so we easily lifted our 5 year old on and they both jumped off when instructed to do so after the ride.

Lake Louise Gondola Hours

The Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola operates daily in the summer (July through early-September) from 8 am to 6 pm. The Lake Louise Gondola hours do change slightly throughout the summer with the hours in September and October reduced to 8 am to 5 pm.

You can arrive before the gondola begins as guest services, the Slopeside Coffee shop and the Ten Peaks Cafeteria all open by 7:30 am.

Always check the latest hours for the Lake Louise Gondola here.

Lake Louise Gondola Prices

To purchase a ticket to ride the Lake Louise Gondola only, it’s $60 for adults, $49 for seniors (65+), $25 for youth (13-17) and $13 for a child (6-12) with 5 and under riding free.

taking kids on Lake Louise Summer Gondola

There are also other Lake Louise Gondola prices that include breakfast or lunch:

  • For the Ride & Breakfast option, add $5 to the ticket price. Breakfast is available at the Ten Peaks Cafeteria in the base area of the Lake Louise Ski Resort.

  • Ride & Lunch is an additional $10 for a hot lunch at the Ten Peaks Cafeteria.

  • The Gondola & Gourmet is an additional $25, you then receive $30 dollars towards a gourmet lunch at either the Whitehorn Bistro at the top or the Banded Peak Base Camp smokehouse at the base area.
Coffee shop at Lake Louise Gondola

Note: the Lake Louise Gondola offers a reduced price for Alberta Residents for gondola rides. Tickets must be purchased online 24 hours in advance.

If you live in the area and have a Lake Louise Winter Season Pass, then you can ride the summer gondola for free – making this one of the best free Banff activities in summer for you!

Lake Louise Gondola Location

The Lake Louise Gondola is located at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Driving is the most convenient way, but there are many ways to get to Lake Louise.

From Banff, take Highway 1 west towards Lake Louise and exit on the Banff Bow Valley Parkway exit towards Lake Louise. Rather than turn left to Lake Louise, stay right at the fork onto Whitehorn Road/Bow Valley Parkway. Stay on this road (turns into Whitehorn Drive) until you reach the ski resort.

Lake Louise Gondola Location - Lake Louise Ski Resort

Given the Lake Louise area is a fair distance from the Town of Banff, visitors to the Lake Louise area may wish to spend a portion of their Banff vacation at one of the best hotels in Lake Louise.

Lake Louise Gondola Parking

Given that the Lake Louise Gondola is at the ski resort, there is plenty of free Banff parking to be had.

Louise Gondola Viewing Area

At the top of the chairlift, visitors can enjoy exploring a safe area protected from the massive grizzly bears by electric fence.

Just downhill of the Lake Louise Summer Gondola is the viewing platform. The vistas of Lake Louise and her surrounding mountains are worth the price of admission alone. There’s a very helpful interpretive sign helping you know which mountains you are looking at from the viewing platform. Try to count the number of glaciers – there’s a lot!

viewing platform - Lake Louise gondola summer

Also within the safety of the electric fence is an interpretive walking trail down to the Wildlife Interpretive Centre. The Lake Louise Gondola Interpretive Centre is a small, but very enjoyable experience. Inside, you’ll be treated to a display of the main animals of the Lake Louise area, with a wide variety of stuffed specimens, ranging from grizzly bears, black bears, cougars, Lynx, mountain goats and much more.

Wildlife Interpretive Centre - Lake Louise summer sightseeing gondola

You’ll also find toilets and a refilling station for your water bottles.

Our kids both really enjoyed the Wildlife Interpretive Centre, where they got to get up close to some of the animals in our area. The staff at the interpretive centre were incredible with the kids, answering all their questions and ensuring they enjoyed every moment of it.

Wildlife Interpretive Centre - top of Gondola at Lake Louise

Lake Louise Gondola Restaurant – Whitehorn Bistro

Also found safely within the electric fence and just above the interpretive centre, is the Whitehorn Bistro. The views from this upscale Lake Louise restaurant could be some of the best restaurant views in the world.

The Whitehorn Bistro has a massive outdoor patio treating its patrons to incredible views of the mountains around Lake Louise. The patio is surrounded by glass, allowing unimpeded views from any table.

Whitehorn Bistro Patio - Lake Louise Ski Resort

We enjoyed the local game and cheese platter, while our kids had a very fancy macaroni and cheese off the kids menu. The service was excellent and the food was amazing.

kids meal at Whitehorn Bistro - Lake Louise Gondola

The Whitehorn bistro is not for people visiting Banff on a budget, but it’s an experience atop the Lake Louise Summer Gondola which we’d highly recommend.

Other Restaurants

The Whitehorn Bistro is the only restaurant at the top of the sightseeing gondola at Lake Louise, but there are other options down at the base area. The Ten Peaks Cafeteria has hot lunches and the Banded Peak Base Camp smokehouse offers another opportunity to eat on a patio with incredible views.

Lake Louise Gondola Picnic Area

If you’d like to eat while atop the Lake Louise Summer Gondola, a fun alternative to the Whitehorn Bistro is the set of picnic tables near the viewing platform. There are a few picnic tables under umbrella tents, while some picnic tables are exposed to the sun. Every table will enjoy amazing mountain views.

picnic area - Lake Louise Gondola

Lake Louise Gondola Hikes

Aside from a chance to see grizzly bears (which we unfortunately did not get to see during our visit), our other reason to take the Lake Louise Summer Gondola was for the opportunity to hike.

Visitors to the top of the Lake Louise Summer Gondola do not have to remain within the safety of the enclosed electric fence. There are two enjoyable hikes to choose from.

Hiking the Pika Trail - Lake Louise gondola hikes

The Kicking Horse Pass Viewpoint hike is a short 1.7 km out-and-back hike to a viewpoint just northwest of the viewing platform. This is the shorter and easier hike of the two Lake Louise gondola hikes.

The second hike atop the Lake Louise Summer Gondola is the Pika Trail to the Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint. This Lake Louise hike is twice as long as the Kicking Horse Pass hike at 3.4 km out-and-back. Hiking to the Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint can be steep in spots, but it pays off with a viewpoint much different to the one you get from the top of the sightseeing gondola trailhead.

hikes from sightseeing gondola in Lake Louise

The Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint looks down over the backside of the Lake Louise ski area. From this vantage point on a ridge, you enjoy a brand new vista of beautiful Rocky Mountains. The valley down below is where the popular Hidden Lake trail is. To have an opportunity for not just one, but two incredible Rocky Mountain vistas on a single, easy/moderate hike is an amazing opportunity for visitors to Banff National Park.

View from Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint - Lake Louise Gondola hikes

We hiked to the Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint with our two kids during our visit up the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola. The trail starts on a short section of narrow trail before joining a wider road, which you’ll follow the entire way. Though the road got steep at times, this hike was easily manageable with our kids (8 and 5 years old).

Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint - Lake Louise Gondola hikes

Given the width of the road, it gave us an opportunity to hike side-by-side, which we don’t often get to do. Even better, were the views this open trail offered the entire time.

hiking with kids at Lake Louise Gondola

We had originally planned to do both hikes, but were getting pressed for time. We were glad to have chosen the Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint hike as it gave us the most variety from what could already be seen from the viewing platform.

Given that this is prime grizzly territory, it’s recommended to hike in groups of 4. It’s important to educate yourself on bear safety in Banff National Park before venturing out. We always carry bear spray in an easily accessible place (not in your backpack) and make plenty of noise (easy to do when hiking with kids).

Not an image from our experience.

There are also guided hikes available for anyone who is interested in learning more about the area, about bears or just for added comfort.

While you are in the area, don’t miss the Best Hikes in Lake Louise and the Best Hikes in Moraine Lake!

What to Bring for the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola

  • Bear Spray – Bear spray is a must if you plant to leave the fenced in area at the top of the sightseeing gondola. You can rent or buy bear spray from Sports Alpine Ski and Sports Boutique in the Lodge of Ten Peaks in the base area.

  • Water Bottle – You’ll need plenty of water on a hot summer day. There is also a refill station in the Wildlife Interpretive Centre.

  • Sunscreen & Hats – Both the gondola ride and much of the area at the top are very exposed with very little shade. Plus you don’t want to miss out on lunch on the incredible patio at the Whitehorn Bistro. Sunscreen and hats are a must!

  • Insect Repellant – If you plan to head out on a hike in the area, especially in July, bring insect repellant as well.

  • Layers – It can feel much cooler higher up so be prepared with an extra layer.

Find all our recommended hiking essentials here.

Gondola - Best Lake Louise Attractions

Thank you to Ski Louise for hosting our visit on the Lake Louise Summer Gondola.

Other Things to do in Lake Louise

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Experience the Lake Louise Summer Gondola! One of the best things to do in Lake Louise in the summer. Visitors can enjoy a sightseeing chairlift to spot grizzly bears, an interpretive centre, dining and even guided hikes.

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Celine Brewer, a local Canmore resident, is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada. She has a passion for being out in the mountains any time of year. In the summer, you'll often find her hiking or mountain biking. In the winter, she enjoys cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking the most.

As much as she loves the mountains, she also loves travel! When she's not playing outdoors at home, she's either traveling the world with her husband and two kids or working on their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.