While I don’t want to say this is genetic, I guess to some extent; it is, that being my spirit for adventure. My dad was a cameraman for the Travel channel, so I grew up hearing the stories and seeing the videos. On occasion, though rarely since I was in school, I’d trek along, offering what help I could with his camera, earning my keep a bit. One of those excursions took us to Lake Louise in Canada, and I always vowed I’d return one day, on my own, my adventure travel journey.
Lake Louise is a gift from Mother Nature, beautiful, serene with clear waters and the Canadian Rockies as a backdrop. Without a doubt it’s a little piece of heaven, attracting year-round visitors, ice skaters in the winter, paddlers in the summer and lovers of nature during every season.
I’ll admit to wanting to trek the world, visiting the great faraway places, but when I read this article TIM LINK TO ARTICLE about living the life of adventure traveling on a budget, that’s when I knew it was time to return to Banff National Park and the icy waters of Lake Louise.
FACTOID: Lake Louise is surrounded by six glaciers.
One of the great things about Lake Louise is the variety. It doesn’t matter what catches your interest, from downhill skiing in the winter, to hiking any of the many trails, or sitting quietly contemplating the Rocky Mountains as the sun slowly sets and the stars begin to twinkle. Pardon me if I wax philosophically, but once you visit, you’ll understand the emotions, the park, the people, the spirit, it reaches inside you and ignites the spirit of adventure.
My passion is whitewater kayaking, and while there are more dangerous rivers, the Kicking Horse river offers plenty of challenges but is perfect for a family rafting trip. There are outfitters in the area, or if you’re like me, you can grab the paddle and go solo.
FACTOID: The Kicking Horse River in British Columbia garnered its name in n 1858 when James Hector was exploring the area. It seems his pack horse was spooked and kicked him.
As Far As You City Folk Can Go
Perhaps one of the reasons this area is so popular is the location. Of course, it’s beauty is spellbinding, but the fact it sits on the very edge of the wilderness, with the next town three hours away and after that, it’s a silent and lonely road all the way to Alaska. When night comes, there is a quiet stillness that settles in, causing nearly every visitor to take a breath and simply gaze into the infinite starry night.
That said, it’s not all quiet meditation, this area contains some of the best powder skiing on the planet if that’s your passion. If not, then there is ample wildlife to satisfy even the most ambitious photographer.
The area itself and particularly the Village of Lake Louise caters to everyone, no matter your choice of activities. If you come to ski, snowboard or ice skate, there are ample amenities to make your stay comfortable, and the people you’ll meet are friendly and always willing to help. The area is on the TransCanada highway, so getting there isn’t an issue, but when you arrive, the whole world seems to open in front of you.
Adventure Holiday Activities
As mentioned, my passion is whitewater, but not everyone is the same and the adventures adorning the Lake Louise area are wide and varied. You can come prepared, or visit any of the local outfitters, who are ready and able to lend a hand in any of the following areas.
Take a trip to the backcountry via cross-country skiing or hiking.
There are countless trails ranging from easy to difficult if backpacking gets your motor revving.
If you come in the winter, ice skating on the lake is a rare pleasure. Everyone is welcome from the novice to the future Olympian. Need lessons, there are instructors ready to offer tips and tricks.
For the truly adventurous, ice climbing. That’s certainly not for everyone, but the waterfalls that catch the light so easily in the spring and summer, are perfect for climbing when the freeze comes.
My favorite, whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River. This is a river charged with emotion, and your trip will be an adrenalin-charged rode sure to create memories to last a lifetime.
Fancy a zip line tour through the pristine scenery of Banff? This is one ride you won’t soon forget and way better than any amusement park ride.
What about a guided ATV tour through the park? You’ll learn the history of the area, and visit the most scenic spots without breaking a sweat.
Some enjoying skiing the pristine powder slopes, others cross-country skiing. And others prefer snowmobile tours through a pristine winter wonderland; the choice is yours.
In essence, whatever your passion is, you and find it on the waters of Lake Louise and the deep pine forests of the area. And while British Columbia may be considered the wild country to some, there are just enough amenities to cater to everyone, whether you want to rough it, or sit quietly and dream the day away. If you fancy seeing how the locals live, you might want to visit Golden, a true great Rockies town that is friendly, funky and ready to cate to your every whim from rustic, but modern cabins, to some of the greatest fishing and golfing to be found. In short, if you’re ready for some adventure traveling, but your spouse or friends want a bit of luxury, everyone can find what they need, it’s a piece of heaven with the Canadian Rockies as a backdrop.
What happens when you are filled with the enthusiasm of adventure traveling, but someone you’re with, friend, spouse, kids or whomever, just isn’t interested in the beauty and activities that you find so satisfying. Well, they need to have a good time too, and there are ample opportunities for the non-hikers in the group, almost too many to mention, but we’ll try.
- Visit the glaciers in your car, or take a glacier tour. Be sure to dress warmly.
- Stop by the Lake Louise visitors center and watch videos on the park history while sipping coffee or hot chocolate by the fire. Ask what time is sunset, then go outside and watch something miraculous. Check the time; it only lasts about ten minutes.
- Enjoy the luxury of The Post Hotel, come in time for tea, which is served every afternoon. Watch the skaters spin and twirl on the skating rink tucked just outside the wide windows. Feeling adventurous, rent some skates and have a go.
- Take a sleigh ride around Lake Louise. Watch for the ice climbers laboring up the frozen Louise Falls. Take pictures of the ice sculptures on the shore, placed there during the international ice carving competition.
- Wednesday nights in February, the Lake Louise visitors center hosts an evening of history and lore, served with hot tea and hot chocolate. You’ll listen and learn from both locals and historians, unveiling the history of the area.
- Go snowshoeing on the flats of Emerald Lake. It’s a short drive for an experience few ever do in this world of snowmobiles and ATVs. You can rent what you need, then sip hot chocolate at the lodge when done.
- Visit Burgess Shale Park and see fossils dating to the Cambrian explosion, when life blossomed on the planet.
- Go tobogganing, enjoying the thrill of gliding down a gentle hill near Chateau Lake Louise
- Write a note home (yes, snail mail) written from one of the historical writing desks overlooking the lake, at Chateau Lake Louise. You’ll be taking part in a tradition dating back to the early days of the areas while sipping hot cocoa and meditating on the beauty outside.
- Learn a little about the history of Lake Louise at the visitor’s center by watching the video, Lake Louise, A Mountain Legend. Have lunch at the Lake Louise train station, a restored railway station complete with full-sized train cars and historical pictures.
- Delve into the history of Kicking Horse pass and relive the hardships and triumphs as hard frontiersman build the railroad. If you feel like drifting down memory lane, drive the Trans Canadian highway along the same route. Legend says that on clear, crisp days, you can still hear the sound of men pounding in the rails.
- Fly a kite. Yes, a kite, take a drive to the town of Field, only a short 20-minute drive. Park at the visitor’s center and catch the breeze flowing down Kicking Horse pass.
- Try bird watching. Step quietly and bring binoculars, then watch as the ducks migrate north and a variety of birds search for their meals. The best times are early morning and evening.
- Take pictures of wildlife, which abound in the valleys along the Ice Fields Parkway. With snow still on the mountains, wildlife seeks the valleys for their food, affording visitors rare opportunities for close-up views.
WARNING: Stay in your cars and do not feed the wildlife.
- Watch for the bright yellow lilies which bloom early along Emerald Lake. Take plenty of pictures, but please, don’t pick the flowers.
- Rent a bike and picnic at the great divide. It’s a six-mile journey with moderate elevation changes. If some want to bike, and other drive, it’s possible, just ask a local for the driving route, then meet at the picnic area.
- Rent a canoe and paddle Moraine Lake. If you begin with a short hike along Rockpile Trail, you can experience the deep, rich color of the lade. Canoe rentals are located lakeside.
- Stay up late and experience the ethereal light of the midnight sun. In mid-summer the light often lasts until midnight, adding an ethereal touch to Lake Louise. Take a walk along the shore for a night of inspiration.
- Have a family day and plan a picnic at the Corral Creek picnic area. This is a perfect way to spend a lazy afternoon. Build a fire, roast some hot dogs, then watch the ducks and maybe spy an owl.
- Listen and learn about the park at an evening show, and the admission is free. You’ll learn about the area from Parks Canada interpreters. The shows happen in the evening both at Lake Louise and the Kicking Horse visitors centers.
- Get up early and experience the beauty and grandeur of Mother Nature’s wildflowers along the Moraine Lake Road. Colors, scents, and beauty are right along the road, or pull off and take a short walk in the woods.
- Take a thrilling, frigid dip in Lake Louise, which is fed by glaciers. If you’re not interested in the frigid waters, a ten-minute drive to Herbert Lake will find warmer waters, a diving board and beach area.
- Come on out for a nightly baseball game at the Lake Louise Recreation Center. It’s all good fun and a beautiful way to enjoy the twilight light.
- Sit on one of many benches along Lake Louise and simply gaze outward. You’ll see people from all areas of the world coming to visit world famous Lake Louise.
- Get a little wet at the waterfalls of Wapta Falls Yoho National Park’s. As the glacier melt and feed the rivers, the waterfalls are spectacular, signaling with rainbow mists and pounding energy. A two-mile hike to the bottom of the falls is well worth the climb back up.
- Have a picnic at Rose Lake. Rose Lake is a favorite for locals and relatively quiet and serene. A short one-mile hide will take you to the lake and through both a new growth and old forest.
- Ride horseback to Lake Agnes and experience the majesty of the ancient trees. As fall enters the air, the trees turn a brilliant gold, and when set against an azure sky, there can be no greater view.
- Take a walk through time on the Past Trail from the Kicking Horse Campground. You’ll see interpretive displays outlining the struggles of building the narrow gauge railway through the pass. The trail is about a mile long, but gains 300 feet, wear your hiking shoes.
- Take a mountain bike along the-the Bow River Loop. Make it a morning or twilight ride to experience the heavenly light and stellar view of the mountains. Bike rentals are available.
- Sip hot chocolate and join the conversations at the local youth hostel. You can spend an hour or a day in the grand upstairs room, enjoying the views, reading the books and meeting new friends.
- Visit one of the Lake Louise gift shops and while away the hours, thinking of what gift or trinket is most memorable.
- Go ice skating. If the timing is right, you’ll experience frigid temperatures, but clear skies, perfect for a frozen lake and an enjoyable day ice skating. It’s unlikely Lake Louise will freeze, as it’s deep, but Lake Herbert and Agnes are regularly frozen over.
- Learn about the glaciers and geology of the area. You can go rock hunting, or simply visit the local gem store for a history lesson about how the area was formed.
- Listen and learn from locals, historians and a variety of speakers every Wednesday night in November at the Lake Louise Visitor Centre. Admission is free, and there is hot chocolate to boot.
- Go ice skating at the Lake Louise skating rink. There is hot chocolate readily available, a staple for the area and time of the year. Skate rentals are available as well as a roaring fire to warm your toes.
- Go dog sledding with a true Northerner. The 35-minute ride will have the Huskies howling and you sailing through the winter wilderness.
- Go dancing and enjoy the nightlife. Sure, this is the north and near the wilderness, but people still want to have fun and do so nightly at some local night spots.
Lake Louise is truly adventure travel at its best. Maybe I’ll see you there.