I think it is fair to say that everyone who visits Banff expects to include a visit to Lake Louise during their stay. Lake Louise is about 35 miles west of the village of Banff. It is an incredibly beautiful alpine lake with a glacier above its southern flank. The ice melt and sediment give the lake a beautiful blue hue … And the iconic chateau hotel, built in the late 1800s, adds geometrically to the lake’s charm. The hotel can be seen over my left shoulder in the above picture.
Before returning to our recent visit, allow me to digress to my initial visit to Lake Louise about 50 years ago. I was camping at a youth hostel in Banff and made the drive over to see Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. No big deal … I got in my car, drove over, parked at the Chateau, and walked through the hotel and along the lakeshores. It was popular, but not a Disney feel.
Comparing to present day … Driving ourselves, unless we left before sunrise or after dinner, was never considered. We bought tickets on a transport bus at a specific time to avoid the hassles of not being able to park a private car. The bus going over was about half full and left us off at the lake entrance. Walking into the Chateau was limited to registered guests. Like I did 50 years ago, we had hoped to dine at the chateau while gazing out at Lake Louise … No go … So we joined the throngs and snapped the pic above, illustrating the glacier past the far end of the lake. Despite the circus, it is still beautiful. And to get away from most of the crowds, we walked the shoreline trail to the far end of the lake. Two miles out and only the serious visitors walk this far. I did notice that it is possible to rent kayaks and paddle across the lake. There were also a couple trail options that headed higher on the slopes and left even more tourists behind.
We headed back and took a couple more pics from the shoreline. We also found a nice tavern just down the road from the Château and had a nice dinner. One other perk … As you see in the photo below, we are wearing more than one layer of clothing. Banff in July is very comfortable, unlike the 90+ degree days we experienced in the USA on the road to get here. We are 5,000 feet above sea level at Lake Louise.
As mentioned earlier, Moraine Lake is a short drive higher into the mountains. It is smaller, but every bit as blue as Lake Louise. I recall having a great hike there during my 1971 visit. Today, visitors boarded a bus at the lower parking lot for the ride into the mountains. Mrs Bear and I decided to pass on this option. I did not particularly like the DisneyWorld feel, but we were also concerned about getting on a packed bus with newer, more contagious strains of COVID lurking. So we ate a little slower, enjoying the views of the lower lake’s glacier, and got on the shuttle for the ride back to Banff. Overall, I don’t think Mrs Bear felt this experience was worth the crowds and buses.