Next to Lake Moraine, Lake Louise is one of the most famous lakes in Canada. The lake is located in Banff National Park in the Canadian province of Alberta and is surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. With a size of 2 (1.24 miles) km long and 1 km (0.62 miles) wide, the lake is quite small. Depending on the weather and season, Lake Louise is sometimes deep blue and sometimes greenish turquoise. Thus, the appearance of the lake can change within a very short time. The lake gets its unique color from the so-called rock flour, which gets into the lake from the melt water of the surrounding glaciers. We were paddling on Lake Louise at the end of June and would like to give you the most important information if you are also planning a kayak tour on Lake Louise.
Key facts about the paddling tour
1 – 3 hours
no traffic noise
azure water, stunning mountain scenery, surrounded by forests
The best time for kayaking and canoeing on Lake Louise
Between mid-June and mid-September, kayaking or canoeing on the Lake Louise should be possible and the weather should also be suitable. Don’t forget that Lake Louise is a glacier lake at 1600 m (5250 feet) altitude and is often still frozen in May. We recommend to start your tour either in the early morning or in the late afternoon, or better in the early evening. This is especially recommended in the summer as the days are long and the sunrise and sunset create a particularly beautiful atmosphere. If you want to visit Lake Louise in the morning on a weekend, then it is better to be there between 7 and 8 AM., so that you can get a parking space or do not have to wait long for it. If there is no other time, you should plan more time and be prepared to find masses of tourists at the lake. Because during the high season, Lake Louise is very heavily visited by tourists on all days.
Canoe rental at Lake Louise and prices
If you want to rent a canoe, canoe rental is available from mid-June and depending on the weather until the end of September or beginning of October. The rental is open from 11 AM to 7 PM., with the last rental of boats at 6 PM. In the high season, the rental station sometimes opens earlier. The rental price for a canoe is outrageously high, $145 per hour / $135 per half hour (+tax). Hotel guests at the Chateau Lake Louise Hotel get a small discount, bypass the rental queues and can even rent canoes in the evening at 8:15 PM, thus bypassing the large crowds. This is not surprising though, as the hotel is the operator of the canoe rental. The canoe rental is the only canoe rental on the lake. Boats can also not be reserved in advance.
Is it even worth renting a canoe? If the weather is good, it is an unforgettable experience to explore the lake and escape the crowds on the shore. A canoe can accommodate up to 3 adults, which then significantly reduces the price per person. We definitely recommend renting a canoe for at least an hour to avoid possible rush. Once you are on the water, you will immediately notice that the lake has something magical and invites you to relax.
We had the luxury of exploring Lake Louise with our own inflatable kayak. So we started early in the morning and were completely alone on the water. There are already inflatable kayaks around $150(e.g. Intex Explorer K2 or Challenger K2), which costs slightly more than the rent. The advantage is that you can start your tour earlier or later in the day, stay longer on the water and thus really explore the lake in peace and enjoy it to the fullest. There is more information in our inflatable kayak guide if you are interested in owning an inflatable kayak.
INTEX CHALLENGER K1
for 1 person
pump and paddle incl.
INTEX CHALLENGER K2
for 2 persons
pump and paddles incl.
INTEX EXPLORER K2
for 2 persons
pump and paddles incl.
Our kayaking tour on Lake Louise
Let’s get to the actual route or tour on Lake Louise. Due to the small size of the lake, a route planning is not necessary. Nevertheless, we would like to share our route with you with numerous pictures, so that you get a small impression in advance, what to expect.
From the parking lot it is only a few 100 meters (300 feet) to the lake. The shore at the hotel is very well laid out with walkways. This walkway leads to the canoe station on the left side. At the front part of the walkway are most of the tourists to take a picture of themselves and Lake Louise. At this walkway you can also ideally start the paddling tour with your own kayak or canoe.
We arrived at Lake Louise at 7 AM. It was on a Monday in June and there were very few people. We had spent the night before at the Lake Louise campground. We had left the tent set up and had breakfast at Lake Louise. From 8 AM it began gradually that more and more people came to the lake. Shortly after that it started to rain. Therefore we could start our tour only at 10 AM.
Camping at Lake Louise
There is a large campground on the outside the town Lake Louise. In the high season you should book a site in advance. There is one campground for RVs and one for tents and cars. Camping is relatively cheap compared to the hotels and lodges there. In addition, you are within a few minutes by car at the lake and can visit Lake Louise in the evening or early morning comfortably.
Shortly after the rain, there was no one else on the lake again. We decided to set up the boat and were within 15 min on the water. For many tourists we were a kind of attraction, because we were the only ones with our own kayak and then even the only ones paddling on Lake Louise. After not even 10 min we were far away from the shore and paddled along the left shore. We were lucky and the cloud cover broke. Even in the cloudy weather the lake had still had an incredibly beautiful atmosphere. Nevertheless, we could now see more and more of the mountains and they were immense. The passing of the clouds on the mountains was also unique to watch.
We continued paddling along the left bank and the forest thinned out. The shore was now covered by an avalanche of boulders that looked like small stones from a distance. We stopped often while paddling to enjoy the mountain scenery.
At the end of the lake there was even snow on the shore. For the way back we took the shortest way. We recommend you to take more time for the first half of the tour, because we felt the landscape from the perspective much more beautiful. On the way back, the large hotel catches the eye. The forests and the distant mountains seem a bit monotonous compared to the scenic diversity enjoyed on the first part there. So the first half took us 1.5 h, the second part 30 min.
Many wonder how long you should rent a canoe. Generally, one hour is enough to explore most of Lake Louise. Half an hour would definitely be too little. If you have the time and the budget, we recommend two hours. This is where having your own inflatable boat is an advantage. We had met a couple who also started a tour on Lake Louise after us with their own inflatable kayak (Intex Explorer K2). More information about the lake can be found on the page of the Banff National Park.
Other Activities in Banff
Banff National Park offers countless other opportunities for hiking and paddling enthusiasts. We would like to briefly introduce you to other activities we have done in the region.
Paddling Lake Moraine
Just 20 km (12.5 miles) away is Lake Moraine, one of Canada’s most famous lakes. With its small size, it can also be paddled in a morning or afternoon. We paddled Lake Moraine on a summer evening and it was one of the best experiences of our Canadian trip. Read more in our tour report about Lake Moraine.
A few miles north begins the Icefield Parkway, which connects the Banff and Jasper National Parks. The highway is considered one of the most beautiful roads in North America. We drove the Icefield Parkway in both directions and would not want to miss the experience. We were even lucky enough to see several black bears along the way.
Hiking the Sunshine Meadows Trail
The Sunshine Meadows Trail is said to be one of the most beautiful trails in Banff. Depending on the day, you can get to the trail either by gondola or by bus from Sunshine Village. On the website of Sunshine Meadows Banff you will find the exact departure information. At the top you will find small pretty lakes and well laid out hiking trails, which can be hiked in 3-4 hours. We can only recommend the hike, because it gives another insight into the mountains of Banff.