While planning our trip to the Canadian Rockies we reserved a week in Jasper and a week in Banff National Parks. Since it was 180 miles to Banff from Jasper, I thought it would be nice to spend a couple days somewhere in between along the way, maybe in one of the campgrounds off the Icefields Parkway, at Lake Louise or take a short detour to Yoho National Park. Since we were traveling with Chuck and Carla, we discussed the options and decided to stop at Lake Louise, as we wanted to visit it anyway and it would save us a 35 mile day trip from Banff.
But first, more of the amazing scenery from the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) on the way to Lake Louise. I couldn’t stop taking photos out the window.
Although there was a good chance of rain, it was fairly clear until we stopped for lunch at a viewpoint along Bow Lake, just 10 miles before Lake Louise. Still scenic despite the rain.
There is one campground at Lake Louise suitable for RVs, but without advance reservations all 189 sites were reserved. Luckily Banff National Park has an overflow lot just a few miles outside of Lake Louise Village where overnight RV parking is allowed for $10.80 CAD. It’s just a huge gravel lot with a bathroom and trash dumpster but is a popular place. At least we knew our neighbors on one side.
Chuck and Carla got a new neighbor the next day, one of these Wicked Campers, which we’ve seen all over this area. We love the wild artwork and the sayings on them.
This is our favorite.
It turned out to be a great location because we didn’t realize that adjacent to the RV parking lot, which is free for day use, there is also parking for the school bus shuttles that leave every 15 minutes for either Lake Louise, Lake Louise Village, or Moraine Lake.
After disconnecting the car and getting settled while it was still raining and only 45 degrees, we decided to head to Lake Louise Village to get some info and WiFi at the visitor center and wander the shops, then drive over to the lake for a quick glimpse.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
We were a bit surprised by the number of people there but the park brochure suggests visiting the lake before 8 AM or after 7 PM to avoid the crowds.
A little break in the clouds on the way home.
Chuck and Carla and I wanted to hike the trail to the the Lake Agnes Tea House, so the next morning we boarded the shuttle around 10:30 for Lake Louise. It was a bit early and cold for Jim, being in the mid 40s, so he opted for a day to himself. He won’t admit it but I know he likes it when we are traveling with friends so he can send me off for the day without worrying about me.
It was slightly clearer than the previous evening.
Carla insisted on taking my picture in front of the lake.
The trail passed right in front of the Fairmont.
Lake Louise from a different angle.
The trail is a fairly steep climb most of the way, and although the trees blocked our views, the lake appeared even more turquoise from above.
This Steller’s jay was our only wildlife sighting.
We passed Mirror Lake along the way, which was more like a small pond at this time of year.
Chuck and Carla making their way up into the clouds.
Waterfall along the trail.
It was a long line for lunch at our destination, Lake Agnes Tea House, about 2.5 miles and 1,400’ of uphill from the shuttle stop. I started to take a side trail to Little Beehive and an overlook, but I was the only one on the trail, it was dark and wooded, and Chuck had the bear spray, so I decided to turn back and join them in line.
At an elevation of 7,000’ this is the highest tea house in Canada.
Lunch was good, $9 CAD for a cup of tomato barley vegetable soup and home made wheat bread. None of us had tea, which was $7 CAD for a small pot. Supplies are brought in by helicopter once a year, on horseback occasionally, and packed in daily by employees. Because of the fire ban they request that people take their paper trash back down with them. Since we were able to get a table inside we were served on real place settings and were not even given napkins, so we didn’t have anything to take back with us.
The tea house overlooks Lake Agnes.
Looking down over the Fairmont and across the valley to the ski slopes..
While we were almost half way back down I got a text notification on my phone. It was Jim saying he was wandering around the Fairmont and the lake, and if we were close to being done with our hike he would wait on us so we didn’t have to take the bus back. What a nice surprise.
One last look at Lake Louise on the way back.
It was a fun hike despite the cold temperatures, off and on drizzle, and non-stop people heading up and down the trail. After the tea house the trail continues on the longer Six Glaciers trail, which I would love to do another time in better weather.
Jim’s photos of Lake Louise and the Fairmont from a different perspective.
He said the interior was not that impressive.
After we found Jim and the car, we drove on about 8 miles or so to Lake Moraine, another pretty and very popular spot. Traffic was crazy trying to get a parking place and Jim was wishing he hadn’t texted me at that point.
Glad we got to see it anyway.
We thought we might witness this young woman fall into the frigid water, but her friend was able to get multiple pictures of her doing crazy poses on the log without an accident.
We were surprised the park service lets people climb around in this rocky area.
Similar to Lake Louise, there is a lodge and numerous popular trails around the Moraine Lake area, but given the crowds and traffic I would advise taking the shuttle unless you actually get a room there.
Next, the weather deteriorates even more as we move on to Banff.