So you are planning an amazing trip to Banff National Park and now wondering when the best time to visit Lake Louise is and what the Lake Louise weather is like? Well that question is completely subjective to what you want to do and what kind of temperatures and weather.
I love visiting Lake Louise in both the winter and summer. Unlike nearby Lake Moraine, Lake Louise is open and accessible year-round and therefore fantastic most of the time.
I’ve visited Lake Louise now during every month, and the experience during each one is completely different. Let’s dig into the best time to visit Lake Louise.
When is the Best Time to Visit Lake Louise?
Lake Louise Weather in January
Expect Lake Louise to be cold and have a lot of snow in January. The average Lake Louise temperature is -5°C, but you will likely get some beautiful sunny days in the winter. Because of its location in the mountains, you’ll want to get to Lake Louise earlier in the day rather than later. Sometime around 10am will give you optimal sunshine on the lake.
It’s a great time to bring or rent ice skates or walk on the frozen lake. Thankfully when you’re feeling cold you can duck into the Fairmont Château Lake Louise and warm up with hot chocolate. Also, make sure to Ice Magic International Ice Carving Competition that happens every January! If you’re a skier or snowboarder now is a great time to head to Lake Louise Ski Resort for some turns too!
Lake Louise Weather in February
There’s very little change between January and February at Lake Louise. It’s still cold, and it’s still very much winter. Lake Louise will remain frozen for another few months. It’s a good time to walk around the lake, ice skate, and drink hot chocolate at the Fairmont. The days are still short, but they are getting longer so you can maximize your time at Lake Louise more.
Temperatures are still low – very low. It’s one of the coldest times to visit Banff and Lake Louise, but it’s one of the best times to visit Lake Louise if you want to ski epic powder at Lake Louise Ski Resort! It’s still a great time of year to spend days on the slopes and nights back at the lodge warming up.
Lake Louise Weather in March
The average temperature in March creeps above freezing (finally) up to around 4°C. The sun shines over the mountains this time of year (12 hours a day, people), the snow glistens, but it is still very much winter at Lake Louise. Ski season is still in full swing; and you’ll probably still get some epic powder days if you go skiing at Lake Louise Ski Resort.
Like January and February, you can still skate on Lake Louise, snowshoe around the lake, or enjoy a dog sled ride. If you like the snow and feeling like you are inside a snowglobe March is an excellent time to visit Lake Louise. It’s definitely not a bad time to travel to Lake Louise if you’re a powder hound.
Lake Louise Weather in April
Sadly I’m here to report that the weather in April in Banff is still very much wintery, especially in higher up elevation places like Lake Louise. It’s not the best time to visit Banff. That being said, Spring is starting to show up, especially towards the end of the month. The average temperature is 11°C, and the snow is starting to become slushy and spring-like. You can still walk on the frozen lake and skate.
Although in your heart and mind you expect the weather to be warm in April, you have to remember you’re in the Canadian Rockies and it’s winter for what seems like nine months out of the year. Remember to pack warm clothes still. A down jacket, gloves, hats, and boots, can make all the difference.
Lake Louise Weather in May
It’s almost full spring in the Canadian Rockies. Temperatures are creeping up, and there are a few very beautiful and warm days in May. Lake Louise, at the earliest, will be completely thawed by the last week of May. However it really all depends on the year. In 2020 Lake Louise was not thawed until June.
If you’re visiting Lake Louise in early May and wondering if Lake Louise is frozen, it likely still is – with lots of snow in the surroundings. It’s also the last month of the season for the ski resorts, so if you want some great spring conditions head to Lake Louise Ski Resort the first week of May.
Hiking up the Lake Agnes Teahouse or the Little Beehive won’t be ready until the last week of May, but you might have to possibly wait until June depending on the year. I’ve gone the first week of June and it’s been a glorious hike and also gone the second week of June and had to battle snow.
Lake Louise in June
Yay! Summer is finally here at Lake Louise. June, is one of the best times to visit Lake Louise, in my opinion. Lake Louise should be completely thawed now, and the water will be so blue your eyes may hurt!
Heading to the Fairview Lookout, Lake Agnes Teahouse, and even the Beehives are attainable now as the snow has melted in most of the higher elevation places. Although attempting summits like Devils Thumb, Mount Niblock, Fairview Summit, and Mount Whyte will need a few more weeks.
I love visiting Lake Louise in June because it’s summer, the weather is amazing, the water is Kool-Aid blue, and the crowds aren’t at their peak…yet.
It’s possible to rent a canoe now and hit up the water. Lake Moraine Road should be open by now and a fun thing to do is combine Lake Louise with Moraine Lake for the day!
Lake Louise Weather in July
July is without a doubt the best time to visit Lake Louise. It is a beautiful summer month in Banff. Rainfall is low and if you’re lucky your vacation will be filled with sunshine and long days. The snow is melting and the average temp is 24°C, but you will still need a jacket at night especially if you are doing any mountain hikes.
However, July means crowds, and lots of them. One of the first places these crowds head is Lake Louise, so you can expect to have lots of people surrounding you when you visit. To avoid the crowds aim to visit Lake Louise at sunrise or in the evening. Midday is the worst time to visit Lake Louise and you will have a very tough time parking (more on that later).
All that being said, it really is beautiful in Banff National Park in July and cannot be beaten.
Lake Louise Weather in August
Lake Louise in August is just as good, if not better than July. I really consider August the best time to visit Banff. Long days and warm weather is what you can expect at Lake Louise. The good news is that most of the snow should be melted off the higher peaks as well. Meaning if you wanted to scramble Devils Thumb or Mount Niblock it should be almost totally snow-free.
Crowds are still here, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a parking spot if you arrive after 8am or before 6pm.
One of the best things to do at Lake Louise during this time is hire out a canoe, bring your own canoe, or stand up paddleboard! Hiking the Plain of Six Glaciers will also prove to be beautiful. When you are done at Lake Louise make sure you save time to head up to Lake Moraine or cross the highway and venture up the Lake Louise Gondola for some absolutely incredible views! August is just another fantastic time to visit Lake Louise and Banff National Park.
That being said, if you thought July is busy you haven’t seen August. With school holidays and everyone getting their summer on you’ll still see lots of people around the town of Banff and main sites.
Lake Louise Weather in September
Things begin to cool off slightly in September, but it’s still relatively warm… for Banff National Park, that is. The average temperature for this month is around 18°C, but nights – as always – can feel quite cold.
It’s the true start of fall, which makes it one of the best times to visit Lake Louise. There are generally fewer tourists than during the summer months, but you will still have people visiting for Labor Day and in late September chasing the larches and fall colors, and there are plenty of Larch Trees around Lake Louise.
For the best views of golden larches head up Saddleback Pass. It’s still possible to canoe out on the lake and there’s plenty of hiking to be had. Just keep in mind that it is September, and the weather can be changeable, so make sure you check the forecast before you head out on an adventure (and be prepared with waterproofs).
Lake Louise Weather in October
There’s still plenty of sunshine in Banff in October, but it’s most definitely fall weather and you should plan your trip to Lake Louise accordingly. Early October means it might still be larch season and a good time to go hiking, so it’s not a bad time to visit Lake Louise! The temperature on average is about 10°C, and after dark, it can drop below freezing. All I can say is layers, layers, and layers. This is pretty much your last month to enjoy Lake Louise before it is frozen.
So get out on that canoe, but wear a life jacket, falling in would surely shock you to hypothermia quickly. By mid-October, the first snow of the season will begin to fall (if it hasn’t already in September), which makes it a beautiful time to visit Lake Louise. I love seeing the trees dusted in snow while Lake Louise is still thawed.
If you want to head to Moraine Lake this is your last month to do it. By mid October, Moraine Lake road will close for the season.
Lake Louise in November
If you’re lucky, and I mean really lucky, you might be able to ice skate on Lake Louise before the snow falls onto the frozen lake, it happens every few years, but it’s only for a very short window (think one to two days). If you catch it right you’ll be skating on frozen blue Kool-Aid. Yup, November at Lake Louise means that it’s winter again and you can expect to find Lake Louise frozen.
The good news? Lake Louise Ski Resort opens up in Late November and there is plenty of early-season skiing fun to be had. The other good news? It’s the locals season in Banff National Park. The summer tourists are gone and the holiday tourists have yet to arrive so it’s a very quiet time to visit Lake Louise.
Don’t forget to check out the Lake Louise Alpine Ski World Cup which happens the last weekend of November and the first weekend of December!
Lake Louise in December
December is one of the best times to visit Lake Louise! Truly there are few places that are as amazing for the holidays as Banff National Park. The holiday cheer is in the air and it’s absolutely beautiful. The Fairmont’s Ice Castle is built by Mid December as well as the famous ice bar. Head here with family and friends to feel merry and cherry. It’s the perfect time to enjoy a horse drawn carriage around the lake.
Another fun thing to do is ski or snowboard at Lake Louise. It’s also a fun Banff Christmas Day activity once the presents are unwrapped. The Holidays are a busy time to visit Banff National Park, but not nearly as busy as the summer. So it’s still very easy to get parking and enjoy Lake Louise to the fullest. Just dress warm and get to Lake Louise early. It’s the shortest month of the year and you can expect the sun to be set by 5pm!
How Late is Lake Louise Open?
Lake Louise is a natural setting and doesn’t have set open and closing hours. The lake is accessible all day and night, though it’s best to visit during the day. It’s worth noting that attractions and things like the Icebar and canoe docks at the Fairmont will close down come night time.
History of Lake Louise
Interestingly enough Lake Louise was originally named Emerald Lake by Tom Wilson leading an early survey party in 1882. The name didn’t last long because in 1884 it was named after Alberta’s Governor General’s wife Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll. The name Emerald Lake then shifted to the nearby lake of Emerald Lake 39 km away from Lake Louise where the name did stick.
In 1890, Cornelius Van Horne a Canadian Pacific Railway manager built a large one-story log cabin on the shore of the lake. The small cabin was called the Chalet Lake Louise and he would accommodate just 50 guests in its first year. Over the next two decades, the hotel saw several upgrades and by 1912 it had drawn in 50,000 visitors. The beauty was drawing in major public figures and the hotel quickly expanded to a luxury property by 1920 earning the name of Hollywood of the North.
Mountaineering in North America and Canada for that matter is closely tied with Lake Louise, and Banff National Park. In fact, in 1897 the first mountaineering death in North America occurred on Mount Lefroy. You can get great views of this mountain on the Plain of Six Glaciers hike. The mountaineering death spurred the Canadian Pacific Railroad to hire Swiss mountaineers to help with the safety of visitors hoping to mountaineer in the park.
Over the years more mountaineers would follow and the Swiss impact on the Canadian Rockies can be seen to this day. Many restaurants around Banff serve up fondue, mountaineering is a popular hobby for locals, there are two teahouses that serve hikers around Lake Louise, and a series of alpine huts are managed by the Alpine Club of Canada. The Swiss mountaineers would also have a major impact on bringing the sport of skiing to the forefront in the Canadian Rockies which eventually opened up Lake Louise to winter tourism and a year-round destination.
So Then When Is The BEST Time To Visit Lake Louise?
As you can see, Lake Louise is a year-round destination. It’s such a spectacular part of the world that it’s never a bad idea to visit. In the winter months, you can enjoy sleigh rides, ice skating, ice climbing, skiing, and snowshoeing. While during the summer you’re spoilt for activities and the views are spectacular. Since the lake is fed by Glacier melt its water level and color change based on temperatures.
To ensure warmer weather, and a good chance to witness the most vivid turquoise water visit Lake Louise from late June to August. That being said the color never leaves and you can witness the melted lake until October when the lake freezes over. Every few years the lake freezes over enough to skate on before receiving significant snowfall. This means you can ice skate on a frozen ice surface that is the same dizzying turquoise blue.
If you want to vacation in a winter wonderland the best time to visit Lake Louise is between December and March.
My least favorite time to visit Lake Louise would have to be May when the lake is not fully unfrozen yet, but things are warming up. So all the elements come together to form a bit of a giant gloomy mess. However, if you’re visiting Banff in May and can only see Lake Louise during this month it’s still worth it to visit!
When Does Lake Louise Melt?
The ice on Lake Louise usually melts the first week of June. This is season-dependent so it has occasionally thawed earlier and a little later. That being said it’s safe to assume the lake will be unfrozen by June.
When Does Lake Louise Freeze?
Lake Louise usually begins to freeze in November. The month of October usually brings heavy snowfall in the area and the Lake Louise Ski Resort usually opens up the first week of November around the same time the lake freezes.
What Time of Day is Best to Visit Lake Louise?
We’re pretty sad to say that’s Lake Louise’s beauty and popularity are also its downfalls. The demand to see the lake by almost every visitor to the park means you’ll need to be there by about 7am in the summer. On weekends even earlier.
If you don’t feel like waking up early to see the lake don’t fret too much. Parks Canada has a bus service available from the Lake Louise Park and Ride (called the overflow) lot off of the TransCanada highway. There are signs on the highway so it’s tough to miss the Park and Ride lot. It’s on the left side of the highway if you are driving from the Town of Banff. Although, be forewarned when this lot fills up they will start turning people away and you’ll have to think of alternative plans. (See the best things to do in Banff here).
You can also choose to stay at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise on the lake or many of the Lake Louise hotels in the village offer shuttles so you don’t have to deal with parking. As it gets late in the evening the crowds do thin out and you can usually get a parking spot in the evenings when everyone else is having dinner. We’ve never struggled to get parking at Lake Louise in the winter months.
If you are feeling active we’ve also parked at the Lake Louise village and rode our bikes up to Lake Louise before, although it’s all uphill, but a fantastic workout!
Canoeing on Lake Louise
There is likely no place more quintessential to rent a canoe in Banff than Lake Louise. It’s one of the most spectacular scenes in the world. It’s tough to find a more spectacular scene to paddle through as you look out to Mount Victoria and the hanging Victoria glacier. No need for fancy edits on your photographs the water in Lake Louise like Moraine Lake is truly that radiant turquoise blue.
You can pick up canoe rentals at the Lake Louise boathouse because even if you have your own you’d have to arrive very early in the morning to secure a close parking spot to carry the canoe.
- Location: Fairmont Lake Louise Boathouse
- Canoe Cost: $125 first hour / $100 additional hours
- Season: Mid June to October
Can you bring a private canoe, kayak, or SUP to Lake Louise?
Visitors are allowed to bring their own personal watercraft to any of the lakes or rivers within Banff National Park. The tricky part with Lake Louise is acquiring a parking spot and then launching from the lakeshore. Of course, you can get inflatable SUPs like us and pack them up a lot smaller than a canoe.
Lake Louise Lodge Accommodation
There is only one place to stay on Lake Louise, and that is the famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Staying at the lake allows you to take advantage of the lake at all times of the day and they have a private parking lot so you’re guaranteed a spot to park. But there are plenty of places to stay in the area of Lake Louise, see our posts below.
When Are Holidays at Lake Louise?
The Lake is always busy in the summer, but you should take note of the following holidays as they are also busy times.
- Victoria Day Long Weekend – 1st Monday of May.
- Canada Day – July 1st
- Heritage Day Weekend – 1st Monday of August.
- Labour Day Weekend – 1st Monday of September.
- Christmas – December 24th and 25th
Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies
- Travel Insurance: We don’t recommend traveling without travel insurance. World Nomads offers competitive rates for all travelers.
- Hotels in the Rockies: From luxury hotels to wilderness cabins, there are plenty of places to stay in the Rockies. See all our favorites here.
- Pack for the Rockies: See our full Alberta packing list here.
- Get Around: We suggest either renting a car to get around, or embarking on an epic campervan trip with companies like Outdoorsy.
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The Banff Blog Facebook Group is your headquarters for the Canadian Rockies travel advice and information. Including hike info and off-season travel information. This is also a place where you can meet one another when you need adventure buddies.