For all-ages fun, fantastic dining, and the best views in Lake Louise with no crowds, and larches in late Sepember, head to Lake Louise Summer Gondola.
Lake Louise Ski Resort’s Summer Gondola is one of Banff National Park’s best-kept secrets. With stunning scenery, fantastic dining with an unparalleled view, awesome wildlife viewing opportunities, larches in autumn, and free parking, the whole family can enjoy an alpine adventure without any effort. Soar to a height of 2,101 metres (6,893 feet) in a gondola or open-air chair, keeping an eye out for grizzlies that are often spotted on Whitehorn Mountain.
From the top, snap a selfie with Mount Temple, Lake Louise, and Victoria Glacier in the background. After, attend an educational presentation on the Viewing Platform, visit the Wildlife Interpretive Centre, and savor a sumptuous lunch at Whitehorn Bistro. The bistro offers delicious alpine fare made with locally-sourced ingredients, Canadian craft beer, cocktails made with spirits from Alberta’s finest distilleries, and BC VQA wines – with panoramic views from the patio.
Hike to spectacular viewpoints (guided and self-guided hikes are available), enjoy the gondola / chairlift ride down, then take the free shuttle to Lake Louise. It’s the perfect, stress-free way to explore Lake Louise!
Disclosure: Lake Louise Summer Gondola generously hosted our experience, but all words and opinions are my own.
Our Experience at the Lake Louise Summer Gondola
As we pull up to Lake Louise Ski Resort, we feel a little giddy, like we’ve been magically poofed to a secret spot. There are no “parking lot full signs” here, just a couple dozen cars and mountains for miles. It’s a rare find in Banff National Park in the summer; especially somewhere so scenic! We score rockstar parking in front of the lodge, and are able to get gondola tickets right away. Although Thursdays are quieter than weekends, having been here a few times, we know – and love – that this side of Lake Louise is so peaceful.
With rain threatening, we opt for an enclosed gondola for the ride up (an open air chair is also available and recommended, weather permitting, for best photos). When we’re able to tear our eyes away from the dramatic scenery, we scan the mountain for bears. Lodge staff told us “a couple bears were seen playing the other day,” but the weather seems to be keeping them away. It’s all good; there’s plenty to see on the 14-minute ride like rushing streams, wildflowers, glaciers, and jagged peaks (and ground squirrels, my kids’ favorite, LOL).
At the top, we savor the views from the Viewing Platform, reveling in the fact that we only have to share it with two other people! From here, it’s a short but sweet 400-metre walk to Whitehorn Bistro. Signs along the path describe the Seven Wonders of Lake Louise, endangered species found locally.
Dining at Whitehorn Bistro
Whether you dine at Whitehorn Bistro before or after your hike, you can count on delicious alpine-inspired fare and spectacular views from the best patio in Lake Louise. Cool off with a local craft beer or cocktail, share a cheese fondue or charcuterie platter before the main course, and save room for a decadent dessert. There’s a kid’s menu too! We loved the lettuce wraps, flat ironed steak with scallops, chicken fingers, and cherry chocolate torte.
Seating is first come, first served. Limited reservations are available from 11 am – 12 pm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 403-522-1310 at least 24 hours in advance to book your table.
MORE Dining Options at Lake Louise Summer Gondola (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
Lake Louise Ski Resort has more dining options at the base of the gondola:
- Lodge of Ten Peaks Café: June 19 – Sept 19 (8:30am – 11:00am – Breakfast; 11:00am – 3:30pm – Lunch)
- Slopeside Coffee: open July 3 – Aug 16 (8:30am – 6:00pm); Aug 17 – Sept 7 (8:30am – 6:15pm); Sept 8 – Sept 19 (8:30am – 6:00pm).
- Banded Peak Base Camp Smokehouse & Patio: open June 29 – Aug 16 (10:30am – 6:30pm); Aug 17 – Sept 7 (10:30am – 7:00pm); and Sept 8 – Sept 19 (10:30am – 6:30pm).
Wildlife Interpretive Centre & Interpretive Programs
Learn about the creatures great and small that call the Rockies home at the Wildlife Interpretive Centre through life-size displays, interpretive panels, and videos. Interpreters are also available to answer your questions.
15-minute Interpretive Presentations are offered daily at 11:00 am and 2:00 pm near the Viewing Platform until September 19, 2021 (weather permitting).
Hiking Trails at Lake Louise Summer Gondola
From the top of Lake Louise Gondola, there are three stunning hiking trails to choose from:
- Kicking Horse Viewpoint: 1.7 kilometres return
- Pika Trail: 2.5 kilometres round trip
- Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint: 3.4 kilometres round trip
Since you’re already near treeline, you can enjoy panoramic views most of the time on all three hikes!
Note that hiking is not permitted in areas beyond these trails because there is an active wildlife corridor on the lower mountain.
For a richer experience, sign up for a guided hike at Lake Louise Summer Gondola. Hikes from 45 minutes to 3.5 hours are available. Professional guides can tell you all about the area’s history, geography, flora, and fauna. For more information, visit Lake Louise Ski Resort | Guided Gondola Top Hikes.
Know Before You Go
A Parks Canada Discovery Pass / daily admission fee is required to stop in Banff National Park.
You are in prime grizzly bear territory! If you plan on hiking outside the electric fence, it is recommended that you hike in a group of four, make noise frequently (“Yo Bear!” works well), and carry bear spray. You must stay on the trail as well; there are wildlife closures in effect due to wildlife corridors on the mountain. Staff at the Wildlife Interpretive Centre can give you more tips on staying safe in bear country. You can also check out our Bear Safety Tips for Hikers. If you don’t have bear spray, we highly recommend going on a guided hike.
It is a a few degrees cooler at the top of the gondola, so bring a light jacket or hoodie. A windproof/waterproof layer is always good to keep in your backpack too – just in case.
Last, but not least, don’t forget your camera! With some of the best views in Lake Louise, you’ll want to capture them (until your next visit).
Lake Louise Summer Gondola is located at Lake Louise Ski Resort, two hours west of Calgary. Click here for Google Maps directions.
The Lake Louise Summer Gondola is open 9 am to 4 pm daily until October 9, 2023. Check the board at the top of the gondola for last lift down!
For More Information / Book Tickets Now
For more information, or to book your tickets now, please visit Lake Louise Ski Resort & Summer Gondola.
CURRENT PROMOTIONS: Save on dining at the Lake Louise Summer Gondola when you purchase a Ride & Dine Package. Choose from breakfast or lunch at The Lodge of Ten Peaks, or gourmet lunch at Whitehorn Bistro.