seLake Louis is one of the most popular attractions in Banff National Park (Alberta, Canada). Located at only 3.1 mi (5 km) from the Trans-Canada Highway and about 124 mi (200 km) from Calgary International Airport, this glacial lake is opened and accessible for visitors in all seasons. While the area is particularly popular in the winter for its ski resorts (Sunshine Village, Lake Louis Ski Resort, and Norquai), non-skiers are typically not bored at all when visiting Lake Louis during the snow season.
If you are a snow enthusiast, you might be interested to know that in Banff snow typically starts to fall in October. On the other hand, ski hills usually don’t open until November or even December, which is good to know if you are a skier or would like to become one. The typical winter season lasts for 4-5 months, a time during which the area is a hot spot for festivals, competitions, and concerts.
Things to Do at Lake Louis whenever there Is Enough Snow
1. Skiing (duh). Lake Louise Ski Resort is located at approximately 3.7 mi (km) from the lake. While many know it for the famed back bowls, the resort has plenty of ski opportunities for skiers of all levels. If you don’t like the resort’s name (since you always have to mention the full name in order to distinguish it from the lake or the village) or anything else about it, Sunshine Village and Norquay ski resorts are at only 45 minutes drive away. The area surrounding Lake Louise also offers cross-country skiing.
2. Ice skating! As long as you know how to do it, you would probably enjoy ice skating on Lake Louis. In this experience, you will be surrounded by not-average mountain peaks, maybe looking at the sky while doing it (and still paying attention at what you are doing), tasting the snow, looking at how good or bad other skaters are, thinking at the cold water below you, thinking how cool it is to be on a snowy vacation, and even admiring Chateau’s architecture.
3. Snowshoeing sessions. For those who aren’t familiarized with the term, it is worth mentioning that snowshoeing is a type of trekking where you walk over the snow with the help of footwear that can displace weight over a significant area. This activity is thought to have started as early as 6,000 years ago and helped humans survive in challenging mountain environments. Today, snowshoeing is quite cool when you want to visit Lake Louise and many similar places around the world.
4 & 5. Dogsledding and sleigh rides. Yes, Lake Louise is one of those places where you can get a Husky ride on an Inuit sled. Some believe dogsledding is cruel while others argue that they are not harmful to the dogs. Based on the limited information I have, it is difficult for me to discuss who I believe is right. As an alternative, you can go for a sleigh ride along the lakeside trail.
5 & 6. Snow tubing & snowmobiling. Other two wowy approaches to snow driving are snow tubing and snowmobiling. At Lake Louise Ski Resort, you will find the Sunny Tube run where you can snow tube all day long. While this can be fun, I feel that snowmobiling is even better. If you want to take the tour of the Banff National Park in winter mode, the snowmobile tours seem to be by far the best way to do it.
7. Ice Walking. You can do this at Johnson Canyon, where you will journey on suspended catwalks, and see the Bow Valley Parkway and the grotto of the upper falls, among others.
Lake Louis Festivals & Competitions This Winter
Time to talk about the major festivals and competitions that will take place at Lake Louise and its surroundings this winter. I have ordered them chronologically.
1. Christmas in Banff (November 17, 2018- January 1, 2019). It’s a long Christmas in Banff, which should not come as a surprise in a place that has it all: plenty of snow, pines, Christmas lights, decorations, parades, and bonfires, among others.
2. Lake Louise Audi FIS Ski World Cup (November 24-25 & November 30- December 2, 2018). As the name suggests, this is a world ski competition. If you want to feel in the middle of an international crowd and see how some of the world’s best skiers compete with each other in Super-G and downhill races, this is the time for you. The downhill competition will take place on November 24 for men and November 30 for women. The Super-G races will take place on November 25 for men and December 2 for women.
3. Torchlight Dinner & Ski (date to be published). This rather odd event consists of a lot of food, drinks, live music, dancing, as well as torchlights. To be more specific, it seems that people gather at a restaurant called Whitehorn Bistro where they eat and listen to music for a while and then go for a walk followed by escorts (with torchlights?). After testing a snowy run, they eventually reach a place called Sitzmark Lounge where they start eating and dancing again. I know…I know… I don’t get it either…but maybe it’s fun.
4. SnowDays (January 16-January-January 27, 2019). This event consists of skating, ice carvers, skiing, snowboard competitions, and even live concerts! With so many things to do, it seems that SnowDays are one of the best days of the year to spend some time in Banff.
5. Ice Magic Festival (January 17- January 27, 2019). This is the festival of artistry where ice takes many forms, albeit not by magic. More specifically, the Ice Magic Festival consists of a competition where internationally-known ice carvers sculpt a towering from blocks of ice on the shores of Lake Louise.
6. Lake Louise Pond Hockey Classic (date to be published). As the name suggests, this is a hockey competition that takes place on Lake Louise. Whether you like hockey or not, it is one of those events that likely gathers many people and makes the place more entertaining than the average.
Is Lake Louise in the Winter Your Thing?
It may be time to find out if Lake Louis during winter is your thing. Whether you are into skiing, competitions, or festivals, there’s likely at least something for you in Lake Louise. Who knows, perhaps you can even find out what that Torchlight event is all about.