The lakes around Banff National Park are irresistible. So one of our first destinations while in the Banff area was the famous Lake Louise.
We set out late in the afternoon to see Lake Louise and another well-known lake, Moraine Lake. Our purpose was to scope out the possibility of kayaking the lakes, which are both located in absolutely stunning settings.
Lake Louise was jam packed with people although as it got a bit later the crowds thinned a bit. But it’s a beautiful jewel of a lake.
And we found out that we’d have to walk our kayaks down a short trail and put in by the walkway. Not ideal. Probably an intentional way to avoid competition with their rental canoe outfit, where they charge $55 per hour (!!!).
And yet I briefly entertained the idea of taking Angel out with us on a canoe – that might make it worth the steep price. But I decided that a glacial lake was not the best place to test whether Angel would remain still while sitting in a canoe. But for anyone who has a pup that will stay still in a canoe, they do allow dogs.
After spending a little time by Lake Louise, we continued to Moraine Lake, about fifteen minutes away. It was late afternoon, but we still encountered a bit of a delay for parking due to the fact that Moraine Lake has a much smaller parking area.
Moraine Lake is just as beautiful as Lake Louise but just a bit less touristy. And their canoe rentals are “only” $50 per hour.
Moraine Lake is yet another brilliantly colored lake surrounded by mountains with glaciers. The lake was once featured on the back of the $20 Canadian bill. It’s hard to say which of the two lakes is the more beautiful. So I won’t 🙂
We found that access to a put in for kayaks at Moraine Lake was much easier, just a short walk from a dropoff area. And the reason that we easily found the perfect spot was that a young couple were putting their boats in the water.
While chatting with them we found out that they are traveling around the world, tent camping. Roberto and Bella are a young couple who’ve had many adventures and publish an adventure travel magazine called the Expeditioners. Hector took photos of the couple on the lake and sent them copies.
We left relatively early to beat the rush. Hector wanted to take a photo of me similar to one he’d seen on the cover of a book and so he climbed up a rock pile that’s next to the lake for his shots. I was practically alone on the lake as the photos show.
A little while after he joined me a few canoes came out on the water. They had the luxury of boarding from a dock, but we had to walk in the water to board – it was freezing! The lake is quite small so it’s a super easy paddle. But once we reached the far end, we only saw a few canoes.
There is a trail around one side of the lake and Hector spotted a couple having some snacks by the water. So he paddled over to them and asked them to take our photo. Turns out they were from Switzerland and said this area reminded them of their country. And they took a nice photo of us.
We left Moraine Lake thinking we might take the kayaks down again over at Lake Louise and go for another paddle. But by the time we got to there it was really crowded and so we just took a little walk around the lake.
But we were so enchanted by Lake Louise that we returned a third time, this time with plans to take the gondola to the top of the Lake Louise ski area and go for a hike. It was quite cloudy that day, but the rain hadn’t started, so on the advice of the staff, we took the chair lift instead of the gondola for a better view.
The Lake Louise Ski Resort is located in the midst of prime grizzly bear habitat, and the ride on the gondola and chairlift ride to the top are known for bear sightings.
What is interesting is that there is an electrified fence that goes around the ski area base and the parking lot and another around the area at the top of the gondola to prevent grizzlies from getting into the inhabited area. It’s a massive fence.
We didn’t see any bear on the way up, grizzly nor black. But saw lots of mounted bear and other animals at the interpretive center, with very informative exhibits on the various wildlife found in the area.
Next we had a quick picnic lunch, then set off for our hike. In order to hike from the top you have to exit the electrified fence. With signs that say that you should travel in groups of at least four and take bear spray. We were two and had no bear spray.
We were looking around to see if someone else was going to hike when we did to make a the recommended foursome, but no luck. But Hector convinced me to go, and we took one of the shorter trails known for the best view but also because it looked like it was going to rain soon.
We reached the overlook and the weather was getting stormier, but the view was amazing. Mountains, glaciers, beautiful Lake Louise in the foreground and, at the head of the lake, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This iconic hotel was originally built over 100 years ago as a summer cabin, and rebuilt in 1911 after several fires destroyed the original structures.
And we didn’t find bear but we found a cute little pika 🙂