• 5 ( 6 Ratings)

Canada

Crown Jewel of Banff National Park

01 Nov 2021 By Raj Patel

Every once in a while, we seek time-off from our busy schedules to awaken our senses with the beauty of nature. Living in Canada offers numerous such options but a trip to Lake Louise Alberta is probably topmost on my list. Considered to be the jewel of Banff National Park, Lake Louise leaves its visitors gobsmacked. A year-round destination, the character of the lake and its surroundings changes from season to season and it is truly difficult to choose the best time of year to visit Lake Louise. I have been fortunate to experience the myriad facets of Lake Louise during different seasons as well as during the transition. Being just a 2-hour drive from Calgary, where I live, we escape to the mountains every chance we get. A huge bonus is the scenic drive with the most striking views as we meander through the Rockies.

Our first trip to Lake Louise Banff National Park many years ago was during the summer months. July is the perfect time to explore this iconic place in the Rockies. In Canada, during summer, the days are really long with sunrise at around 5 am and sunset around 10 pm, almost 17-18 hours of daylight. This is ideal for a day trip where one can make the most of the glowing dawn, warm midday and lingering dusk. We arrived bright and early and were welcomed by a beautiful carpet of wildflowers leading to the indescribably beautiful glacial lake. The turquoise waters glistening in the sun's glory was a sight to behold.


Shimmering turquoise waters engulfed by striking mountains, the perfect spot for a photo


Lake Louise is known as the hiking capital of the world. This does not imply that there are only mountain summits to reach. There is a wide array of options to choose from, be it casual strolls or intense hikes. On this trip, it was all about slowing down and relaxing for us, so obviously we chose the Lake Louise Shoreline Trail. This flat trail is along the lake shore, and we were immersed in the beauty of the lake and the striking mountains that contained this exquisite natural wonder. The good thing about this walk is that there are information plaques along the sidewalk that are like periodic commentaries along the trail. It is a perfect way to take a break as well as learn some interesting facts about Lake Louise Banff National Park. In the summer, there are plenty of visitors, many of whom choose this easy, relaxed trail to absorb the mind-blowing beauty of one of the most breathtaking views on earth. Camping in and around is also an attraction. Watch out for grizzlies as they are found in plenty in this area.


Summer in Lake Louise is bustling with visitors


Fairmont Lake Louise

We all love the best view in the house, right? Well, when in Banff National Park, the best view of Lake Louise is from Fairmont Lake Louise. This iconic resort is nestled in the lap of Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This year-round luxury alpine resort is embraced on all sides by nature in all its glory. Complementing the surroundings is the elegant and luxurious interior of this palatial historic resort built in 1890. Originally built as a base for outdoor enthusiasts, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has now become the landmark resort in Banff National Park. The ambience, the views and exceptional food and beverage experiences come at a premium cost, which is well worth it. Fairmont Lake Louise is like a fairy tale castle at the edge of wilderness.


Named after Princess Louise Caroline of Alberta, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise offers the best view of Lake Louise and its surroundings


Winter Wonderland

The inexpressible beauty of Lake Louise allured us back sooner rather than later. Dazzled by its beauty in summer, we were also curious to see what Lake Louise looked like in the winter. We headed to Lake Louise Banff National Park in January which is peak winter and were welcomed into a winter wonderland. Where we saw turquoise blue waters in the summer, in that exact same spot we saw endless snow. Where is Lake Louise we exclaimed! But of course, we were standing on it! With an average annual snowfall of 3 meters, the Lake had completely frozen and become a playground for tons of winter activities. The best time of year to visit Lake Louise for outdoor winter enthusiasts.


At Lake Louise with my wife, enjoying the winter wonderland


Ice Magic Festival

Winters in Lake Louise is synonymous with the Ice Magic Festival. It is an ice carving festival with a 20-year history set in the picturesque surroundings of Lake Louise. The festival kick started with an ice carving competition. Exceptional ice artists from world over come here to indulge their skills and showcase their talent. Around 24 internationally recognized ice carvers participate working in teams of two to sculpt spectacular ice figurines. Hosted by The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, this 34-hour competition involves skill, physical strength, precision and artistry. During the competition, we wandered amongst the emerging sculptures watching the magic in action and interacting with the artists. We also voted for our favorite team. Post the competition, these epic masterpieces are on exhibit over the two-week long festival. Memories of this experience is etched forever in our minds.


These stunning ice sculptures are carved out of enormous blocks of ice


Having experienced summer and winter in Lake Louise, my wife and I were discussing the stark contrast of Lake Louise during both seasons. This led to us wondering how the lake changes from snow/ice to water...Is there a chance we can witness this? Yes, of course. It's called the transition period. This prompted yet another trip to Lake Louise, this time during the month of May. When we arrived at Lake Louise Banff National Park, we were welcomed by yet another avatar of Lake Louise. We saw patches of emerald interspersed with white. The snow and ice were gradually melting giving way to emerald waters. Interesting to note is that the lake attributes its brilliant color to glacier waters full of fine rock particles that refract the light.


Transition time in Lake Louise - a little ice, a little water


Be it summer, winter or the season in between, all are BEST times of year to visit Lake Louise. This place is one of the most photographed glacial lakes in the world, but I have to say, the most stunning photos also don't do justice to the place. While the summer view is mesmerizing, the winter view is equally spectacular. The frozen lake and a white blanket of snow covering the trees, buildings and houses make for a picture-perfect view. It is truly a winter wonderland!


There is something magical about winters in Lake Louise


It is probably evident to you by now that my wife and I are smitten by Lake Louise. It is always on our itinerary whenever we have visitors. It is a place that one should not miss when in Canada, anytime of the year. From being dazzled by its glory in the summer to fascinated by its beauty in the winter, a visit to Lake Louise is an experience of a lifetime, alluring us back every chance we get.

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