Lake Louise Canoe Rental: 10 Tips You NEED to Know

For many, canoeing on Lake Louise is a highlight of their trip to Banff National Park. 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 at Lake Louise, like Moraine Lake, is indeed that radiant turquoise blue. Most don’t bring a canoe with them on their trip to Banff, and there’s no need, as you can get a Lake Louise canoe rental at the boathouse.

If you own a canoe, you’ll have to arrive very early in the morning to secure parking close enough to carry the canoe to the lakeshore, but we’ll dig into all the below!

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Lake Louise Canoe Rental Information

Lake Louise is the most popular attraction in Banff National Park and draws a crowd in the summer months. The trails around Lake Louise fill up, and thousands of people grab their photo in front of spectacular scenery.

It is a magnificent setting, but it can be a little difficult to escape the crowds. One of the best ways to escape the crowds is to take to the water with a canoe.

Canoeing on Lake Louise

That being said, outside of early morning or late evening there will likely be a wait for a canoe rental at Lake Louise, and securing a Lake Louise canoe is first come, first serve.

Once you’re out canoeing on Lake Louise, you won’t have the lake to yourself, but it’s easy enough to keep your distance from other canoes on the lake.

This is particularly easy if you aim to paddle the whole lake as most people tend to stick close to the dock and the middle of Lake Louise. If you want to paddle the entire lake, plan for around one hour, depending on your ability.

canoeing on lake louise .jpg

You can bring your own canoe or kayak to Lake Louise, but there is no public boat launch. That means most visitors will have to rent canoes from the boat dock at Lake Louise. The dock is run by the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, and it’s open daily in-season from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Canoe rentals operate on a first-come-first-serve basis so expect to wait in a line during peak summer. Each canoe rental must have at least one person 16 years old and the maximum number of passengers is 3.

Lake Louise Canoe

As the hotel operates the boat dock hotel guests are given priority treatment with a priority line and reduced rental rates. Hotel guests can also take advantage of a sunrise canoe experience where they can exclusively rent canoes for the early morning and experience Lake Louise before the crowds set in. Reservations for this are required by 10:00 PM the day prior.

As additional experience guests can book the Voyageur Canoe Experience from a 26’ cedar strip group canoe. The guided canoe trip is great for families, and the guide will supply an ample amount of information about the history of the park’s early explorers and wildlife.

Lake Louise Canoe Rental Season and Rental Hours

Canoeing on Lake Louise

Every season is different as it’s entirely dependent on seasonal weather. Generally, the lake thaws around mid-June and the canoe rentals run until the end of September, when the snow begins to fall.

The daily hours are from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., weather permitting as they will close with severe inclement weather. Keep in mind the last boat is around 6 p.m. as the boat dock closes to the public at 6 p.m.

In 2023, the Lake Louise Boathouse is scheduled to open on June 2.

Lake Louise Canoe Rental Rates

Lake Louise
Canoe Rental For Public$155 per hour / $145 per half hour (+tax)
Canoe Rental For Hotel Guests$95 per hour / $85 per half hour (+tax)
Voyageur Canoe Experience For Hotel Guests$60 per adult / $30 for youth
Voyageur Canoe Experience For Non Hotel Guests$75 per adult / $40 for youth
HOURS OF OPERATION (2023): Friday, June 23 – Onwards: 8:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.* (last boat out at 8:00 p.m.) *2024 dates yet to be released.

How Long Can You Canoe on Lake Louise?

lake louise canoe rentals

Lake Louise canoe rental rates are charged by the hour and half-hour, though they are only $10 cheaper for 30 minutes so it’s best to canoe on Lake Louise for the entire hour. An hour on Lake Louise should give you plenty of time to take in the views and canoe around the lake.

Why Are Canoe Rentals at Lake Louise Expensive?

lake louise canoe rentals

I’m sure by now you realize canoe rentals in Lake Louise are pretty expensive. There are several reasons for the prices of canoe rentals. The first is the short season the operators have to recoup their investment as it’s only a couple of months that the Banff lakes are unfrozen.

You also have zero competition, so the Fairmont can set whatever price they see fit, which happens to be the highest in the park. On top of all that, the liability insurance for operating in the park and renting canoes is costly.

If you are looking for a more reasonably priced canoe experience, we recommend canoeing on Emerald Lake nearby.

Can You Reserve a Canoe at the Lake Louise Boathouse?

Can You Reserve a Canoe at the Lake Louise Boathouse?

Canoes are rented on a first-come/first serve basis. If you are a non-Fairmont guest, you can expect to stand in line for well over an hour to rent a canoe at Lake Louise.

Lake Louise Boathouse Things to Know

  • Anyone visiting Lake Louise can rent a canoe at the Lake Louise boathouse. The rental house is not just for Fairmont guests. Though Fairmont guests have a separate line and are given priority over nonguests.
  • Up to 3 adults can use one canoe at the boathouse. Any person weighing more than 55lbs is considered an adult at the boathouse.
  • Lifejackets are provided at the boathouse for every guest on the canoe. Everyone must wear a lifejacket while paddling with a rental.
  • Dogs and children are allowed on the Lake Louise canoes.
  • Stand-up paddleboards and kayaks are not available at the Lake Louise boathouse. The only flotation device you can rent here is a canoe.

Tips For Canoeing on Lake Louise

Tips For Canoeing on Lake Louise
  • Temperatures are very cool in the shoulder months of June and September. When you go out on the water, be sure to pack in layers to remain warm.
  • Weather on the lakes, particularly the large bodies of water, can change rapidly. Keep an eye on the horizon if it’s looking like a storm or the wind starts to pick up it may be time to get off the water.
  • Take sun protection seriously on warm days as the water reflection is very strong. We suggest making sure you have a hat, long sleeve shirt, and sunglasses.
  • Bring a water bottle in case you start heating up in the peak summer.
  • Remain calm and don’t rock the boat when out on the water. The glacial-fed Lake Louise is frigid all year round and you’re not going to be a happy camper if you end up in the water and require rescue.
  • Canoe rental operators provide life jackets so make sure to take advantage.

The Voyageur Canoe Experience at Lake Louise

The Voyageur canoe experience is offered through the Fairmont for $60 per adult and $30 per child (for hotel guests). This allows groups up to 12 to enjoy canoeing on Lake Louise in an authentic 26’ cedar strip canoe with a guide.

The guides will be able to tell the group all about the area and the history of the land. This experience must be reserved in advance through the Fairmont.

Non hotel guest rate: $75+GST per adult, $40+GST per youth (ages 8-12)

Can You Bring Your Own Canoe Or Kayak on Lake Louise?

Lake Louise
Us with our own canoe on Lake Louise

Yes, you can bring your own canoe or kayak to Lake Louise or any body of water within Banff National Park. As stated earlier, there is no public boat launch at Lake Louise which means you’ll have to carry your canoe from the public parking lot, and then awkwardly launch your water device from the lakeshore with plenty of people around. It’s certainly doable, we’ve done it several times and it’s no big deal, just as long as you’re prepared to do so.

We’ve found the best place to launch a canoe or kayak yourself is just past the bridge walking towards the hotel. On the left are a few significant steps that make accessing the water easier.

This is all, of course if you can get a parking spot at Lake Louise, as they fill up fast in the summer months. We love to go for a SUP on the lake by arriving early in the morning for a hike and then relaxing on the water in the afternoon.

To prevent the spread of Aquatic invasive species visitors must now fill out a Self Certification Permit with Parks Canada for any nonmotorized watercraft entering the water. This includes kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. The Self Certification Permits can be found online.

Alternatives to Renting a Canoe at Lake Louise

Emerald Lake

Canoeing on Lake Louise is a fantastic experience, but renting one can eat up a lot of time if you have to wait in line, and it’s pretty expensive. We use our own personal canoe to enjoy the lakes in the Rockies. Though, we know this isn’t possible for most visitors. Some alternatives to renting a boat at the Lake Louise boathouse are:

  • Rent a kayak or stand up paddleboard for the day with Banff Canoe Club and drive to Lake Louise.
  • Canoe on Emerald Lake, Emerald Lake is another magical lake nearby to canoe on, and is a fraction of the cost of Lake Louise.
  • Buy a stand-up paddleboard. I am not kidding when I say that our inflatable stand up paddleboards are one of our best purchases. If you plan on doing lots of paddling for your trip, it may be worth buying one.

Should You Canoe on Moraine Lake or Lake Louise?

Moraine Lake
Canoeing on Moraine Lake

Of course, canoeing on both lakes is ideal! Though we know that not everyone has the time or budget to canoe on both lakes. We have canoed on both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake and have no preference over the other.

They are both fantastic places to take in from the water. Because of parking restrictions at Moraine Lake, I would say that canoeing on Moraine Lake is less busy.

Canoes in Banff

Canoeing on Moraine Lake

If you’re not keen on waiting in line or paying the high prices for a canoe rental at Lake Louise, there are other locations that you can head to in the Banff National Park. You can check out our post on canoe rentals in Banff for more information.

Where to Stay in Banff

For a small mountain town, Banff has a plethora of accommodation options. Some of our favorites are:

  • Banff Springs Hotel: Most luxurious place to stay in Banff. Definitely a splurge, but worthwhile if you are celebrating a special occasion.
  • Baker Creek Resort: Cabins in the wilderness of Banff. If you are looking for somewhere away from the hustle and bustle of downtown this is for you.
  • The Rimrock: Is a super great pet friendly option in Banff. It’s close to Sulphur Mountain and the Banff Hot Springs.
  • Canmore: You can always stay in the nearby town of Canmore! One of our favorite hotels is the Lady Macdonald Country Inn.

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About Cameron

Cameron is a resident of Canmore, Alberta. After traveling the world for six years, he settled down in the beautiful Bow Valley with Natasha. He has been featured as a travel expert with numerous publications worldwide and has spoken on several occasions about the power of travel. He has a passion for all things in the Canadian Rockies and loves to spend his time snowboarding, scrambling, camping, biking, and trail running. Conservation is a deep fundamental in his life, and he aims to inspire others to care about our natural world. You can learn more on the about us page.

If you have found the content on this site helpful to your trip planning please consider supporting The Banff Blog. You can say thanks directly by buying us a coffee. All support is much appreciated!

18 thoughts on “Lake Louise Canoe Rental: 10 Tips You NEED to Know”

  1. Recoup their costs? $115 per half hour? The canoes, paddles and life jackets would easily be “recouped” in a couple of weeks. But hey, rich foreign tourists will pay even if it’s a ripoff for locals.

  2. Would anyone advise bringing their own kayak? We are looking into planning a trip to Banff for late June 2022 but have been looking at buying a couple kayaks this summer, and wondering if it’s worth it to pack them across the US into Banff. Not sure if it’s easy enough/worth it, to get them launched and not have to worry about the lines and possibly not getting a spot that day.

    • We bring our own canoe and paddleboard all the time. It is worth it if you don’t mind towing them around. Then it gives you the opportunity to kayak on many Banff lakes.

  3. Hi, Is it best to do the canoe or short hike (lake trail / Fairview Lakeview)? Unfortunately we do not get to the hotel until 5:00pm and leave early the next day (initially we were to get there at 1:00pm but was changed). Thank you.

    • I would go for the canoe, but if you are visiting in the summer keep in mind the sun doesn’t set until 10pm or so so you would have time to do both if you wanted.

  4. Hi Natasha, Cameron: this blog was super helpful so thank you! I will be in Banff toward the end of August and wanted to bring my inflatable kayak (I work for a company here in the US who makes them!). I just booked the shuttle to avoid the parking and also got my Self Certification Permit and Parks Canada day pass. Luckily my kayak is pretty lightweight and durable and I think I can launch from the shore at Lake Louise though it looks rocky. I’ll be there on a Saturday so I may have a crowd watching me! 😉 Just wanted to say thanks and will check out the prints to support the blog!

  5. Hi Natasha, we wanted to kayak on Lake Louise, but you only mention canoeing. We are staying Canmore . Would you know if any water activities would be open yet from June 1-5? We’d love to kayak on LL and also any ideas where we can go white water rafting for newbies nearby to Canmore?

    • Hi Grace,

      You can kayak on Lake Louise, but you’ll have to bring your own kayak. Which you can rent from Banff Canoe Club
      in Banff. It’s hard to know if the lakes will be thawed the first week of June, though chances are they will be. You can go white water rafting on the Kicking Horse River or float trips on the Bow River.

  6. Love this post, super helpful. We are bringing 2 inflatable kayaks, if parking is full can we just drop them off with someone from our party at the lake then have the driver take the shuttle back? Or do we need bring the inflatable kayaks on the shuttle?

    • If parking is full it’s unlikely staff will let you through and you’ll most likely be turned around before being able to drop anyone off, though it’s all up to the discretion of the parking staff member!

  7. Is it possible to canoe both Lake Louise and Moraine in the same day with my own canoe? It seems reasonable to do so from a time stand point, but is it even possible to bring my canoe down to Moraine somehow? I have a 14 foot 6 inch canoe that weighs 85 pounds. I have a dolly that I can attach to the back of my bike, if necessary.


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