Lake Louise is a winter wonderland with snowcapped peaks, marshmallow trees, and spectacular scenery. Pack your skates, skis, and snowshoes, because you’re gonna wanna do all the things! Here are nine fun things to do in Lake Louise this winter.
1. Skate at Lake Louise
It’s easy to see why Lake Louise was named “Best Skating Rink in the World” in 2014 by The Huffington Post! With stunning views of Mount Fairview, Victoria Glacier, the Beehive, and magnificent Chateau Lake Louise, beauty is all around! You can usually skate from mid-December until April, but the most magical time to go is when the Ice Castle is up (January to March, weather permitting). For more information, read: Skate, Snowshoe, or Cross Country Ski on Lake Louise.
You can walk, snowshoe, or ski on Lake Louise during the winter, or take the Lakeshore Trail (4 km return). Even if you don’t make it to Louise Falls, the views are breathtaking! Safety Note: When facing the lake, stay on the right side. There is a huge avalanche slope on the boathouse side of the lake. Also, keep your distance from the ice falls as chunks of ice can fall without warning. For details, see our story: Walk, Ski, Skate, or Snowshoe on World Famous Lake Louise.
For more information regarding sleigh rides ($), visit Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
3. Cross country ski in winter wonderland
With stunning trails and amazing snow, Lake Louise is a dream cross country ski destination. Beginners will love the Bow River Loop and Moraine Lake Road, while intermediate skiers will enjoy the challenge of Pipestone’s rolling trails. Tramline is a lot of fun with kids if you can arrange a car shuttle (or send one person back up the hill for the car). For more information, please visit: The Best Beginner Cross Country Ski Trails in Lake Louise; Amazing Cross Country Skiing at Pipestone, Lake Louise; or Parks Canada – Winter Trails in the Lake Louise Area.
4. Snowshoe to Fairview Lookout or Mirror Lake
Fairview Lookout is a fun, short trail that ends at a beautiful viewpoint overlooking Lake Louise. Only two kilometres return with 100 metres of elevation gain. Snowshoes are recommended for this trail.
Mirror Lake is a small lake at the foot of the Beehive. 2.7 km one way, 295 m elevation gain. This trail tends to get packed down, so you may not need snowshoes.
The popular Johnston Canyon trail is less busy in the winter months, but no less beautiful. In fact, you may find it even more stunning; I know I do! 2.2 km round trip to Lower Falls; 5.4 km round trip to Upper Falls. Bring traction devices as the trail gets packed down and icy. Note that there is a construction closure past Lower Falls from August 15, 2022 until further notice.
6. Go Skiing or Tubing at Lake Louise Ski Resort
Lake Louise is the largest ski resort in the Rockies with great snow, epic views, a tube park, and sightseeing lift. Did you know Lake Louise Season Pass holders TUBE FOR FREE and Lake Louise Plus Card holders can tube for only $5? For more information, visit Lake Louise Ski Resort.
7. Celebrate Winter at the Ice Magic Festival or Banff Snow Days
Update: The Ice Magic Festival has been cancelled for 2023. Check out Banff Snow Days Festival instead.
The Ice Magic Festival is an international ice carving festival and celebration of winter. Every year, we look forward to skating around the ice castle and checking out the ice sculptures (created during the international ice carving competition). You may view the ice sculptures for free on weekdays and evenings, but tickets are required to view them on festival weekends from 10 am – 5:30 pm. For more information, visit Banff Lake Louise Tourism, or check out our Family Guide to the Ice Magic Festival.
8. Explore the Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the world, so it’s a worth a drive if you’re staying in Lake Louise for a few days (at least go as far as the Icefields!). The closest stops to Lake Louise are Bow Lake, Peyto Lake Viewpoint, and Mistaya Canyon (800 m return, note that the parking is often closed when there’s lots of snow). If you don’t mind driving further, the Columbia Icefields are a must see. For more information, please see The Best Stops on the Icefields Parkway. Note that the Glacier Adventure and Skywalk tours do not run in the winter.
9. Special events at Lake Louise Ski Resort
Lake Louise Ski Resort hosts several events all season long that are fun for the whole family (whether you ski or not): World Ski Day, Photos with Santa, Avalanche Awareness Days, Ice Carving demos to name a few. For a complete event listing, visit Lake Louise Ski Resort | Events.
Know Before You Go
- A Parks Canada Discovery Pass / daily admission fee is required to stop in Banff National Park.
- You are in bear country. Review our Bear Safety Tips and keep bear spray accessible. We have seen grizzly bears near Lake Louise in late January and early March!
- Dogs must be kept on a leash.
Lake Louise is located 187 km / 2 hours west of Calgary. Click here for Google Maps directions.
What to Bring
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Base layers, insulated winter boots, a down jacket and windproof/waterproof shell (or insulated ski jacket/parka), gloves or mittens, and toque are must-haves. See our fall/winter hiking gear guide for product recommendations.
For winter hiking, we recommend traction devices such as Kahtoola Microspikes (Available from Amazon and MEC), or Hillsound Trail Crampons (Available at Amazon and Sport Chek) and trekking poles with snow baskets.
You should also carry The Ten Essentials including: water, extra food, extra clothes, a headlamp, a GPS/satellite communicator (or compass) and map of the area, sunscreen (this one is safe for babies), and bear spray. Carry bear spray in a Frontiersman Bear Spray Holster (attaches to your backpack or belt) or Scat Belt.
For snowshoeing, see our Snowshoeing Gear List.
Where to Eat
- For Afternoon Tea (Fairview Restaurant), decadent fondue (Walliser Stube), or a meal with a lake view (Lakeview Lounge), dine at Chateau Lake Louise!
- For fine dining, Deer Lodge is our favorite.
- For coffee and a treat, we always stop at Laggan’s Mountain Bakery and Deli. They make the most amazing gingersnaps (soft, chewy ones!), apple turnovers, and peanut butter cookies!
- The best pizza around is at Timberwolf in Lake Louise Inn.
Where to Stay
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- Most affordable options: Lake Louise Hostel, Lake Louise Inn, and Mountaineer Lodge.
- Luxurious hotels: Deer Lodge (opening for the season on February 10, 2023), Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, and The Post Hotel & Spa.
- Cabins Near Castle Junction (20-25 mins away): Baker Creek Mountain Resort, Castle Mountain Chalets, Baker Creek by Basecamp
- Nearby Lodge (35 mins drive, located on Hwy 93 S): Storm Mountain Lodge
- Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel offers rustic accommodations in a pristine setting, only 29 km from Lake Louise on the Icefields Parkway. For more information see: Get Closer to Nature at Mosquito Creek Wilderness Hostel.