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How to Get from Canmore to Lake Louise +BEST Road Trip Stops

How to Get from Canmore to Lake Louise +BEST Road Trip Stops

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I firmly believe that no visit to Alberta is complete without spending some time at the famed, bright-blue Lake Louise. This breathtakingly beautiful town is one of North America’s most popular tourist towns and attracts a whopping 15,000 visitors every day during the busy summer months!  

One of the most popular ways to reach Lake Louise is on a road trip from the nearby and equally pretty mountain town of Canmore, just a 50-minute drive away. Many savvy tourists decide to base themselves in Canmore over Banff because it’s cheaper and just as stunning, plus there are lots of things to do in Canmore!

Because there are so many noteworthy stops between the two towns, such as Banff town and Moraine Lake, we recommend allowing at least one full day to complete this bucket-list-worthy road trip.

I grew up in Alberta, so I have fond memories of doing this drive over the years. In fact, I’ve driven between Canmore and Lake Louise so many times that I’ve lost count! I’ve been to every stop below many times, so I would love to share what to do and what to see at each stop.

In this blog post, you’ll read about my 10 top suggestions for your Canmore to Lake Louise road trip!

Don’t have time to read the full article? The drive from Canmore to Lake Louise is incredibly scenic and can be done either by renting a car and driving yourself, or taking an organized tour. Some of the best stops along the route include Vermilion Lakes, Johnston Canyon, Morant’s Curve, and Lake Louise, of course!

How to Get from Canmore to Lake Louise

A car drives along the Bow Valley Parkway
Bow Valley Parkway
Bailey at Morant's Curve on the Bow Valley Parkway
Morant’s Curve – one of the best stops on this drive!

Renting a car

By far the most flexible way to get from Canmore to Lake Louise is by renting a car and driving yourself. With a car, you’ll have the freedom to stop off wherever and whenever you want along this scenic 79.5 km (49 miles) stretch of road. Trust me, you’ll want to stop often to fill up your phone with photos!

Without stops, driving to Lake Louise from Canmore will take under an hour – but we recommend allowing at least one full day for the full experience.

If you’re traveling from overseas, you will likely rent your car from the Calgary International Airport (the closest airport to Canmore) and, from there, drive the 105 km (65 miles) route from Calgary to Canmore. But you can rent a car from Canmore too if you wish. We usually use Discover Cars to book rental cars as they have great prices and lots of options between different rental car companies.  

Organized tour

Another fantastic option for getting to Lake Louise from Canmore is going as part of an organized tour. Not only will you get to learn all kinds of fun facts and stories from your local guide along the way (as well as at Lake Louise!), but you’ll also get to skip the hassle of driving and purely focus on enjoying the journey. Plus, parking at Lake Louise can be a bit of a mission!

When it comes to exploring Banff National Park for a reasonable price without joining the coach-riding crowds, this small-group, full-day tour would be my top pick. Capped at 14 travelers, this is a fantastic chance to visit both Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, as well as other iconic spots like Johnston Canyon!

But aside from the incredible locations you’ll see along the way, by far the highlight for me is the tour guides. Kasondra especially made the day a complete joy from start to finish, telling us all kinds of fun stories about the area – with plenty that I’d never heard before. Plus, she’s a real pro at taking photos!

With pickup from the Canmore Inn and Suites, this is a great choice if you’re looking for an effortless experience without worrying about driving yourself around all of these iconic spots. Tickets cost $155 CAD per person, which I think is a pretty big bargain considering you’ll be coming home with some priceless memories! But as this is a small-group tour, dates do book up, so it’s a good idea to book in advance.

Looking for something a little more personalized? This full-day private tour of Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway is tailored exactly to what you want to do – with a maximum of 12 guests, you’ll have the entire air-conditioned minibus to yourselves! It also includes a drive up Mount Norquay, which offers some of the best views of Banff town, a visit to Bow Falls, and many more scenic sights.

I’d allow 8 to 9 hours for this particular tour, and pick-up/ drop-off to most hotels in Canmore is included in the price. It costs $2,200 CAD per group, which, if there are 12 of you, works out at $183 CAD per person – not too bad considering it’s a private gig! You can check availability online and book your tour here in advance.

By bus

One of the most affordable ways of getting to Lake Louise from Canmore is by bus. Of course, this does come with its own drawbacks, but you’ll still get there to see the sights, which might be all that you want!

Brewster Express operates a bus from Coast Canmore Hotel to Lake Louise, which takes an average of 2 hours and costs between $45 – $65 CAD for a round trip, depending on the bus you book. The bus operates five times a day and is a great option for those without a rental car. You will need to book this service in advance on their website

Alternatively, if you’re on a tight budget, you can catch a bus as far as Banff for as little as $10 CAD by buying a ticket with On-It Transit. The bus will drop you off at the Elk Street Transit Hub in Banff where you will walk one minute along Banff Avenue to Banff High School Transit Hub, where you can catch the Roam Transit 8X bus.

This typically runs every 2 hours and can cost anywhere between $3 – $15 CAD for a one-way ticket depending on the time of day you travel. So, in short, you can get yourself from Canmore to Lake Louise via bus for as little as $13 CAD one-way, provided you travel during off-peak hours.

Related Read: Another great road trip is the drive from Calgary to Lake Louise, we’ve listed all the best stops and heaps of essential info in our blog post!

About the Drive from Canmore to Lake Louise

Road with views of the mountains on the Bow Valley Parkway
Yes, it’s one of the most beautiful drives in Canada!

The drive from Canmore to Lake Louise is one of Alberta’s prettiest and most popular drives, that’s because both places are epic tourist destinations in their own right. It follows along the gorgeous Bow Valley Parkway for most of the way (from Banff to Lake Louise), and as I said above, this is one of the world’s most scenic drives and one of the best things to do in Alberta!

Plus, each stop on this list is something to write home about and is unique in its own way. Think bright blue lakes like Vermilion Lakes and the uber-famous Moraine Lake, bustling mountain towns like Banff (I’m sure you’ve heard of it), and even some super-quick but worthy scenic pit stops like Morant’s Curve and Castle Cliff Viewpoint!

It’s a short drive (50 minutes without stops), but we DEFINITELY recommend stopping along the way, several times to be precise. The drive is 79.5 km (49 miles), and we recommend allowing one full day to complete this bucket-list-worthy road trip. If time is on your side, I’d suggest stopping off along the way and spending the night in Banff town or the idyllic Baker Creek Mountain Resort. That way, you can enjoy this journey at a slower pace and truly relish each stop!

The itinerary below is spaced out so that you’re stopping about every 10 minutes, but you can cut that down to just a few select stops if you want to make it to Lake Louise quicker.

Before you start on your road trip, there are a few things you will need to make a note of. If you’re driving to Lake Louise in winter, you will need winter or all-season tires, and it’s best to double-check the driving conditions here before you hop in the car.

On the other hand, a summer trip to Lake Louise means you should prepare for traffic along the way, as it’s the busiest season. Parking at Lake Louise can also sometimes be a problem, as well as at popular attractions like Johnston Canyon, Morant’s Curve, and especially Moraine Lake. So at this time of year, your best option to avoid the crowds is to hit the road early in the morning.

Important Note: Don’t forget to get a Banff National Park Parks Pass! This is a requirement for admission and costs $11 CAD per person ($22 CAD for a group) each day. If you want to stay longer or visit additional national parks, purchase a Discovery Pass for $75 CAD online (it will be delivered to you) which provides unlimited visits for a year!

Best Stops on the Drive from Canmore to Lake Louise

1. Canmore

The Canmore Hoodoos in winter
Canmore in winter!
Reflections of the famous Three Sisters in Canmore
The iconic Three Sisters!

Before hitting the road for your short (50 minutes without stops) but scenic drive to Lake Louise, make sure to spend a couple of hours in Canmore. Ideally, we recommend spending at least a night in this breathtakingly pretty mountain town – there really are so many epic things to do in Canmore. In fact, I have to admit it’s one of my favorite Canadian destinations and one of the best places to visit in Alberta

To put it in simple terms, Canmore is a less-expensive and less-flashy version of Banff – meaning that you still have epic mountain views (the view from here of the Three Sisters Mountain Range is unbelievable) and can enjoy a wide range of adrenalin-pumping activities like caving and white water rafting but on a lower budget.

Canmore is also a great place for more relaxing activities like stand-up paddleboarding! If you’ve never tried it before, the lakes are perfect for practicing, and this 1.5-hour intro to paddleboarding class will give you the best start. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll have a new skill and can properly take in all the amazing views around you.

If you’re like us, then you might also like visiting a craft beer brewery every once in a while, and Canmore has you covered on that front! If coffee is more your thing, there are plenty of amazing cafés in Canmore that serve some killer coffee.

Bailey stands on the edge of Grassi Lakes, Canmore
Grassi Lakes!

Situated on the outskirts of Banff National Park, Canmore is also an outdoor-lovers paradise with all kinds of memorable hiking trails just waiting to be enjoyed, like the iconic and family-friendly Grassi Lakes Trail.

This hike is arguably one of the most popular treks in Canmore and boasts views of the Grassi Lakes, which are a deep greenish-blue color, Honestly, you just have to see the lakes in person to truly appreciate their beauty!

The parking lot for the trail is less than 5 minutes from downtown Canmore, and the hike itself is a 4 km (2.5 mile) long trail and gains just 230 meters (750 feet) in elevation, meaning it’s suitable for the whole family. It will take most people roughly 2 hours to complete it there and back. 

Other noteworthy hiking trails in Canmore include the moderate Ha Ling Peak Trail, which has awesome scenery but is quite steep, and one of our favorites, the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk, which boasts some of the best views in the town of the Three Sisters. 

If you visit Canmore in the winter, cross-country skiing is a must. Canmore is known across the globe for its Nordic Centre, which is home to some of Canada’s top cross-country ski tracks! In fact, December is one of the busiest and best months to visit Canmore!

Where to stay in Canmore

If you do decide to spend the night in Canmore (lucky you!), there are lots of amazing hotels in Canmore, and they are generally great value for money.

Coast Canmore Hotel & Conference Centre is our absolute favorite place to stay in Canmore. It is affordable without sacrificing any of the comforts you’ll need for a relaxing and enjoyable stay – suitable for almost all travelers and budgets. They have an onsite pool, hot tub, and fitness center along with a delicious bar and restaurant.

If you’re a budget backpacker and looking for a hostel, then Canmore Downtown Hostel is your best choice! These guys offer clean and comfortable facilities, dorm beds as well as private rooms, and a social atmosphere perfect for meeting other backpackers. You can book a room on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

If money isn’t an issue, then Copperstone Resort may be the luxurious option you’re looking for. It is located a 10-minute drive outside of Canmore which makes for a peaceful escape from the town. There is an outdoor hot tub and many of the rooms are full suites with kitchens and multiple bedrooms. However, rooms here don’t come cheap and are often up to twice the price of most hotels in Canmore.

Related Read: Check out our list of the best 8 tours in Canmore! There’s something for everyone!

2. Banff town 

Bailey at the The Nancy Pauw Bridge in Banff
Bailey at the Nancy Pauw Bridge in Banff
Banff Ave on a summers day
Banff Ave on a summer’s day!

Just over a 20-minute drive (24 km/15 miles) from Canmore is arguably the most popular tourist destination in Alberta, if not all of Canada – Banff. Nestled within the Canadian Rockies, Banff attracts thousands of visitors each year. Stopping in Banff town on your drive from Canmore to Lake Louise is an absolute MUST, as there are tons of things to do in Banff in winter, spring, summer, or fall.

The downtown area is very quaint, and there are many awesome options for places to eat, drink, and shop. With the mountains as the backdrop to Banff Ave, it’s a beautiful place to base yourself in Banff National Park.

Many visitors stay here for a ski holiday because you have great access to Sunshine and Norquay ski resorts – both are within a 15-minute drive of town. Plus, when you’re done on the slopes, you can enjoy all Banff has to offer, including some apres-ski drinks at a couple of the breweries in Banff, including Banff Ave Brewing Co., the first brewery in town!

Banff is more than just a ski town, though, and regardless of the season you visit, Banff town is an amazing place with plenty to do. Some of the best things to do in Banff include:

  • Ride the Banff Gondola up Sulphur Mountain – The Banff Gondola is possibly the singular most popular thing to do in Banff – and for a good reason! The views of the mountains and Banff town are out of this world from the top of the Banff Gondola (also known as the Sulphur Mountain Gondola). I rode the gondola during my first Christmas in Banff, and I loved it! At the top of the gondola, you’ll find a restaurant and café, a gift shop, lots of information on the area and wildlife, and my favorite, the boardwalk!
  • Try some winter activities – If you’re traveling in the wintertime, there are tons of amazing winter-themed activities to do here in Banff National Park. This full-day winter-themed tour is ideal for experiencing as many of these as part of a fun and exciting itinerary. From snowshoeing to sleigh riding, to enjoying an afternoon tea at Lake Louise, this is sure to be a day you won’t forget.
  • Check out the Bow Falls Lookout – The Bow River is a stunning river running through Banff’s heart. Turquoise in color, it’s nothing short of picture-perfect. A short 1.5 km (1 mile) scenic walk from Banff town (or drive), you’ll come to the Bow Falls Viewpoint on the river’s edge. Here, not only will you see the river but also the Bow River Waterfall!

Where to stay in Banff town:

There is plenty to do in Banff alone, so if you decide you want to stay here for a bit to break up your road trip from Calgary to Lake Louise, there are a few good options.

For the budget-conscious traveler, the Banff Inn is a great option. It has all the necessities and added perks like a hot tub and spacious rooms, and the staff here are great. It is also one of the best hotels in downtown Banff.

If you truly want a bucket-list-worthy hotel experience, you MUST stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs. It’s especially a great place to stay in Banff if you plan on skiing. This luxurious hotel is actually an old Scottish Castle built in 1888 and declared a National Historic Site.

The Fairmont is the most prestigious of all of the hotels in Banff National Park, offering a range of restaurants on-site to choose from, as well as tons of activities. Guests can go bowling, play tennis, or swim in the large lap pool. So if you’re celebrating a honeymoon or just fancy enjoying a luxurious stay, then booking a room at the Fairmont is a wonderful option!

Related Read: If you want to end your road trip in Banff, you can always hop on one of these Lake Louise tours from Banff to travel the rest of the way!

3. Vermilion Lakes

A lady ice skates on Vermilion Lakes, Banff
Ice skating on Vermilion Lakes

Only 5 minutes from your last stop, Vermillion Lakes is a stunning spot, but you can make this a quick stop (30 minutes or so) if you want to make it to Lake Louise quicker. On a clear day, the surrounding mountains are reflected on the lake’s calm surface, making for an awesome photo opp!

It’s a short drive along Vermilion Lakes Road into the lake, and along the way, you’ll be treated to views of Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain, as well as no less than three pretty lakes. 

If you can make it to the lake for sunrise or sunset, even better because the pink and orange hues reflected on the lake are wow-worthy. Plus, you’re more likely to spot animals near Banff National Park at those quieter times. 

If you’re short on time, just hop out at the lake and snap some photos, but if you have more time, you can bike along the beach here, go hiking on one of the trails, or hit the water and go canoeing! 

If you plan to do this road trip in the winter, you should note that you can go ice skating on the lakes. And you may be lucky enough to see the natural phenomenon of bubbles freezing below the ice. This is caused by methane gas rising from the bottom of the lake. There are many goregous lakes in Banff, but Vermillion Lake is one of the most unique!

Keep in mind if you do plan to go ice skating or walk on the ice that the ice thickness varies across the lakes, so use caution and avoid the area east of the dock at Third Vermillion Lake. If you’re unsure if the ice is safe to skate on, stop at the Banff Visitor Centre ahead of time and ask the staff there, they will have the latest updates on the thickness of the ice.

4. Johnston Canyon 

Water rushes through Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
Water rushes through Johnston Canyon!

Once you’ve left Vermillion Lakes, head back on to the stunning Bow Valley Parkway, where your next stop will be a visit to the iconic Johnston Canyon.

The hike through Johnston Canyon is an easy walk with huge rewards. The boardwalk along the path leads you right into a canyon filled with seven glacial waterfalls that cascade over rocky cliffs. You can get right next to the water flowing from Johnston Creek and close enough to waterfalls to feel the spray of the water on your face! 

Many of the tours that take you from Canmore to Lake Louise will also include a stop at Johnston Canyon, like this full-day tour! I love that you get to explore more of Banff’s expansive beauty on a convenient day trip.

This is also a great place to visit in the winter. The waterfalls freeze over and create layers of giant icicles, which are just incredible to look at. The ice on the Lower and Upper Waterfalls here also takes on a blue color that is super beautiful! It’s a good idea to book a guided ice walk tour in the winter to ensure you’re safe and have the right gear.

Johnston Canyon is open all year, and it’s free to get to – including free parking in one of two parking lots. It is one of the more popular hikes in Banff National Park and is great for families as the path is wide and not too steep. The hike is about 2.5 km (1.6 miles) to get as far as the Upper Falls.

However, you can shorten it and just walk the 1.2 km (750 meters) to the Lower Falls before turning back around to return to the parking lot if you’re short on time.

5. Castle Cliff Viewpoint

Castle Mountain as seen from the Bow Valley Parkway
Castle Mountain as seen from the Bow Valley Parkway

Your next stop along the Bow Valley Parkway as you make your way into Lake Louise is another short but sweet stop. This roadside stop known as the Castle Cliff Viewpoint is just over 10 minutes from Johnston Canyon and is essentially just a viewpoint, so you’ll need no longer than 15 minutes here. It’s just a quick pit stop to stretch your legs and snap some photos!

Once you park up, you’ll need to walk a few meters out to a viewing deck where you can see Castle Mountain clearly. The various rates of erosion of soft shale and hard limestone, dolomite, and quartzite give the mountain its castle-like look (hence its name, “Castle Mountain”).

6. Baker Creek Mountain Resort 

Baker Creek Mountain Resort in Banff National Park, Canada
Photo credit: Baker Creek Mountain Resort

Next up on your road trip between Canmore and Lake Louise is the perfect log cabin getaway nestled in breathtaking natural surroundings. The Baker Creek Mountain Resort is a secluded place to stay in Banff National Park next to the Bow River.

It’s less than 20 minutes from Lake Louise on the Bow Valley Parkway. Yay, you’re almost there!

They have 16 suites and cabins that are cozy and a great place to unwind. Be prepared not to have some of the usual amenities, and take advantage of that! There is no cell service here or TVs. They do have Wi-Fi, but the signal isn’t consistent. It’s a great way to make sure you put down the phone and relax in nature (and the jacuzzi) for a day or two before you continue on to Lake Louise.

Rooms here at Baker Creek start from $398 CAD per night, so this is a bit of a treat, but for a one or two-night stay, this is sure to be an amazing memory! You can check availability and book your stay online here.

7. Morant’s Curve

A train at Morant’s Curve!

Morant’s Curve is one of the most beautiful sights along the stretch of road connecting Canmore with Lake Louise and is one of the most famous stops on the Bow Valley Parkway. It’s where you’ll catch a Canadian Pacific train chugging around the mountain bend, and if you catch it in the frame, it makes for an epic photo!

The best time to see the train here is during the week as trains run more frequently. You’ll typically see a train rounding the bend about every hour on a weekday. But keep in mind that seeing a train is not guaranteed. We once waited here for several hours without seeing a train.

Be sure to watch out for the signs for Morant’s Curve, and then park your car in the parking lot across the highway. Again, this is another quick pitstop on your drive, and once you leave here, you’re on the “home stretch” to Lake Louise!

8. Lake Louise Ski Resort

Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola
Photo credit: The Lake Louise Ski Resort & Summer Gondola

Located just outside of Lake Louise Village on the opposite side of the highway, the Lake Louise Ski Resort is one of the largest ski resorts in North America. It’s the perfect place to stay, especially if you’re visiting Lake Louise in the winter.

The ski resort has access to four mountains with 160 runs. It’s the BEST place for skiing and winter fun, with gentle slopes for beginners and wide-open bowls for more experienced athletes. Plus, the snow lasts here from the first week of November until the beginning of May!

One of the best things to do in Lake Louise in summer is to take the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola up the ski hill to enjoy a spectacular view without hiking up the mountain. This is one of the gondolas around Banff that passes over an area known to have grizzly bears, and it’s not uncommon to spot a few on your ride up! Tickets cost $63 CAD per adult and can be reserved online in advance here.

At the top, there’s the great Whitehorn Bistro to have a meal with a view of the mountains. It’s easily one of the best restaurants in Lake Louise!

9. Moraine Lake

Sunrise reflections at Moraine Lake, Banff
Sunrise reflections on Moraine Lake!

This next stop is a bit challenging to get to, but totally worth it to see the bucket-list-worthy Moraine Lake! Just 15 minutes from Lake Louise is, in my opinion, the most beautiful lake in all of Canada! 

This alpine lake is postcard-perfect, and Moraine Lake is completely free to visit. The renowned Ten Peaks provide the perfect background for this bright turquoise lake. These colossal mountains tower above the lake, creating a beautiful scene that has become famous worldwide.

In fact, I’m sure you recognize the image of the lake above from your social media feed – it’s definitely a popular photography spot for Instagrammers!

You need to know a few things about visiting Moraine Lake before you go. First, parking at Moraine Lake is now next to impossible, as in 2023 the parking lot and access road were closed to personal vehicles. So you’ll need to catch the Parks Canada shuttle, Roam Public Transit, Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle, or take a tour to get here.

Parking was always a nightmare, so this isn’t a huge loss, but you’ll need to plan ahead – especially if you drove to Lake Louise in your own car or a rental car. 

Note – If you have a disability parking pass, you are still allowed in the Moraine Lake parking lot.

When you arrive at Moraine Lake, you’ll find much to do and see. There are a few great hikes at Moraine Lake, take a leisurely stroll along the Lakeshore Trail, hike to Consolation Lakes, visit the Rock Pile (for that famed vista), or if you’re lucky enough to visit in the autumn, DEFINITELY hike the Larch Valley Trail! Whatever you do, Moraine Lake maintains its status as Canada’s most beautiful lake!

Moraine Lake Road is also only open annually for buses and shuttles from June to mid-October. The exact opening and closing dates change yearly based on the snowfall covering the access road and avalanche risk. Outside of these dates, you cannot get to Moraine Lake.

Want to visit Moraine Lake for sunrise?

The only way to visit Moraine Lake at sunrise this year (since the road is closed to personal vehicles) is to either go on this organized tour or book this privately-operated shuttle (the Parks Canada shuttles don’t leave early enough to make it for sunrise.)

The tour begins at 4 am in Banff, and because they are a licensed tour operator, they can access Moraine Lake for sunrise. The tour costs $287 CAD and includes not only a visit to Moraine Lake with hot chocolate and coffee to enjoy, but also an early morning visit to Lake Louise. That means you can visit two of the busiest lakes in Canada without the crowds or the stress of parking/shuttles. You can book the tour here with free cancelation up to 24 hours before.

The new Moraine Lake sunrise shuttle includes transport only from Lake Louise Village but comes at an affordable price of $59-69 CAD per person. They offer a few pick-up times depending on what you have planned at Moraine Lake, with the first shuttle leaving at 4 am and the second at 5 am. You must book your spot online in advance here to avoid missing out.

10. Lake Louise

Bailey stands on a rock at Lake Louise, Canada
Isn’t it gorgeous!
woman stands on the edge of the calm Lake Louise
Lake Louise is one of my favorite lakes in Canada!

You made it! And what a treat you’re in for. While living in the Rockies, I was fortunate enough to visit Lake Louise countless times. Every time I’m here, I make a mental list of all the finest things to do in Lake Louise. I’ve done everything there is to do here, from hikes to restaurants and everything in between!

Relaxing on the Lake Louise lakefront is one of the easiest but most enjoyable things to do. You’ll be speechless when you see the glaciers, mountain peaks, and the lake itself.

There are also lots of fun activities to try here in the winter! You may paddle the lake, skate, or go snowshoeing on the lake if you visit Lake Louise in the winter, and both are traditional Canadian pastimes.

This 4-hour winter-themed tour to Lake Louise departs from Banff and includes plenty of time to explore the lake, with lots of interesting guided commentary along the way. You’ll also be provided with snow shoes, which are super handy at this time of year, and don’t forget to take photos of the snowy wonderland while you’re here.

Lake Louise also has some fantastic hikes! The Lake Agnes Tea House Trail is one of my favorites, and it begins at the lake’s edge and takes you well over Lake Louise, where you can glance down and see areas of the lake from afar. If you’re not a big hiker or want to learn more about the area, you can book a guided hiking tour, which takes you all over the Lake Louise wilderness. This tour takes off from the Fairmont Château Lake Louise, so this is a good option if you drive yourself.

One thing to note, Lake Louise can get very busy in the summer. So, you will definitely need to have a plan for parking at Lake Louise lakefront, otherwise, book the Park and Ride in advance. Paid parking is also now in effect during the summer months at Lake Louise Lakefront and costs $36.75 CAD per day, from 3 am to 7 pm.

This is one of the main reasons I think taking an organized tour is a good idea. It takes any of the stress and logistics out of your day and you can simply enjoy Lake Louise’s beauty! Plus, they include a ton of information about Lake Louise and recommendations of what to see so you can make the most out of your time here.

Related Read: If you want to continue on another epic Albertan road trip, then, check out our guide to the drive from Lake Louise to Jasper!

Where to Stay in Lake Louise

Views in the Lakeview Lounge
Views in the Lakeview Lounge at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise

If you’re planning to spend more than one day in Lake Louise, then you’ll need somewhere to stay overnight. Being such a small village, options are very limited, so you should book as far in advance as possible. Below are my top three choices in all budget categories:

HI Lake Louise Alpine Center – $

For budget travelers, the Hi Lake Louise Alpine Center is the best option in Lake Louise Village. The location is right in town, they have a shared kitchen, basic but comfortable rooms, and friendly staff. You can choose between dorm rooms or private rooms.

With rooms starting from $193 CAD per night, it is by far the cheapest place to stay in Lake Louise, and honestly, it’s a nice hostel where we’ve actually stayed a few times. You can book it online with Hostelworld.com or Booking.com!

Lake Louise Inn – $$

The Lake Louise Inn is still a budget-friendly option but a little fancier than the above hostel. The hotel features an indoor pool, onsite restaurant and bar, modern rooms, and even apartments for larger groups. It basically has all the comforts you’d expect at a standard hotel and the reviews are really good.

A one-night stay at the Lake Louise Inn starts from $220 CAD for a twin room. With an ideal location that’s right in the heart of Lake Louise Village, you can book the Lake Louise Inn online here.

Fairmont Château Lake Louise – $$$

For those with a bigger budget, you can’t look past the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. The hotel sits on the shoreline of Lake Louise with epic views in the most stunning of locations. I’ve added spending a night or two here to my personal bucket list! There are also a few restaurants in the hotel that are only available to hotel guests, not to mention the onsite spa.

Of course, a stay here doesn’t come cheap – that’s why many people choose to enjoy their honeymoon here! A one-night stay here starts from as low as $660 CAD per night but can rise above $2000 CAD in the peak seasons. It’s a great idea to book in advance to secure the best rates.

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $22.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is mesmerizing!

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.

Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel at the edge of Lake Louise in Banff
Thanks for reading!

Taking in some of the most beautiful landscapes and locations in the Rocky Mountains, the drive from Canmore to Lake Louise is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience! And I’m so jealous that you’re going to be doing this epic drive soon! Whether you’re planning a honeymoon in Lake Louise, a family vacation, or just a weekend getaway, this is an awesome place to spend some time.

As always, if you have any other questions about the drive from Canmore to Lake Louise, feel free to reach out and ask! Before you go, be sure to check out some of our other guides:

BANFF ITINERARY – How to Spend 1, 2, or 3 Days in Banff

8 BEST Alberta Road Trip Itineraries (From 1 Day to 14 Days)

Lake Louise Gondola VS Banff Gondola: Which one is Better?!

16 BEST Stops on the Drive from Edmonton to Canmore