The Lake Louise Gondola is a top attraction in Banff National Park and one of the best things to do in Lake Louise in the summer.
Visitors from around the world head up Whitehorn Mountain to gather a unique perspective over the Lake Louise area. From Whitehorn Mountain, you’ll get fantastic views of Lake Louise herself and Mount Victoria behind her.
From 2101m up, you’ll be able to enjoy the views, start a hike, soak in the scent of sweet wildflowers and glaciers, or dine at one of the most scenic restaurants in Banff.
All About the Lake Louise Gondola
Lake Louise Ski Resort is a ski resort in Banff and one of the top Canadian Ski Resorts. The resort is known all around Western Canada for its scenic beauty. We have skiied at nearly every resort in Western Canada and even the US, and can confirm that the views from Lake Louise are among the best. That’s the winter though, and in the summer the Gondola itself is the main attraction at the ski resort.
Lake Louise has been home to skiing since the 1920s as the gateway to the Skoki Ski Lodge, one of the oldest backcountry lodges in North America. The first lift was constructed in 1954, and a poma was added in 1960. The history of the Lake Louise Gondola dates back to 1959, but the gondola you see nowadays dates back to the late 1980s when the resort expanded and upgraded its ski facilities.
In 1988, the Lake Louise Ski Resort installed its first 8 person Gondola, providing skiers and snowboarders with a more accessible and scenic way to access the Whitehorn Mountains upper slopes, and all the other fantastic terrain off.
Throughout the years, upgrades and renovations have been made to the Gondola. In recent times, the Lake Louise Gondola has become a sought-after summer destination, attracting tourists who want some of the best views in the area for relative low effort!
Where is the Lake Louise Gondola?
The Lake Louise Gondola is in Banff National Park, in the Lake Louise area, at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. It is about a 45-minute drive from the Town of Banff, a 5-minute drive from Lake Louise Village, and 10 minute drive from Lake Louise herself.
To reach the Lake Louise Gondola from Banff, take the AB-1 W ramp toward Lake Louise; the exit will be on your right-hand side. You can also drive the more scenic Bow Valley Parkway, which will take you from Banff to Lake Louise.
How Far is the Lake Louise Gondola from Lake Louise?
The Lake Louise Gondola is at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. This is separate from Lake Louise, located on the other side of Trans Canada.
The two locations’ driving distance is a 10-minute drive or 7km. There is no way to connect the Lake Louise Ski Resort to Lake Louise via a hike.
Is There a Shuttle to Lake Louise?
Lake Louise Ski Resort offers free return shuttles between Lake Louise hotels, Samson Mall and the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Shuttles between Banff and Lake Louise are also available on Roam Transit. Lake Louise Shuttle times and details to Lake Louise for 2023 are yet to be released, but you may stay up to date here.
The Hop On Hop Off Tour Bus also makes regularly scheduled stops at the Lake Louise Gondola.
When Are Lake Louise Gondola Operations?
The Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola is only open during the summer months. This year the operations run from May 19 to October 9, 2023.
When the Lake Louise Ski Resort opens in November, the Gondola mainly provides service to skiers and snowboarders riding at Lake Louise, however there is also a Lake Louise Winter Sightseeing Gondola ticket.
How Much Is the Lake Louise Gondola?
|2023 PRICES: ONE RIDE ONLY|
|5 & UNDER||FREE|
|FAMILY (2 ADULTS + 2 KIDS)||$140|
If you are a Lake Louise Season Pass Holder or Spring Pass Holder, the Lake Louise Gondola is free. If you are a Plus Card holder or a SkiBig3 Pass holder, you get 50% off the Lake Louise Gondola. If you don’t have one of these passes, you will not qualify for Lake Louise Gondola discounts.
Do You Need to Book Tickets in Advance?
You don’t have to book tickets in advance for the Lake Louise Gondola, though it certainly doesn’t hurt if you are trying to stick to a schedule, are visiting on a weekend, holiday, or a beautiful July or August day. Or if you just want to avoid any queues at the ticketing office. The Lake Louise Gondola doesn’t “sell out” and does not operate on a timed system like the Banff Gondola.
There’s no real benefit of booking a ticket in advance unless you also book a guided hike or a ride a dining ticket.
How Long is the Gondola Ride at Lake Louise?
The Lake Louise Gondola is 14 minute ride, so almost 30 minutes of air time between the up and down to take in the views. You can choose between riding a four-passenger empty chair (chairlift) or in the enclosed Gondola.
Do I Need a Tour to Enjoy the Lake Louise Gondola?
A guided tour is not necessary for the Lake Louise Gondola, though you can book a guided hike at the top of the Gondola, which may be beneficial if you are a new hiker or new to the area.
When is the Best Time to Enjoy the Lake Louise Gondola?
The Lake Louise Summer Sightseeing Gondola is only open during the shoulder and summer season months. For the best weather, the best time to visit is in July and August, though if you stay in late September, you will get a bit of yellow in your views as this is when the larch trees turn a bright golden color before losing their needles – and there are plenty of larch trees around Lake Louise!
To avoid crowds and midday heat it’s best to visit on a midweek day in the early morning or late afternoon.
Is the Lake Louise Gondola Open in the Winter?
The Lake Louise Gondola is open in the winter to service skiers and snowboarders at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. There is also a winter sightseeing gondola that is open daily from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. It’s a great time to visit and see the peaks covered in blanket snow.
You can also book a short snowshoe tour in the winter or combine the sightseeing gondola with the tube park. Winter prices vary slightly, but not too much. You get much better value on the Lake Louise Gondola in the summer, when you can do a bit of hiking in the area.
|WINTER SIGHTSEEING GONDOLA PRICES|
What Are the Lake Louise Gondola Hours?
Hours will be released in the summer; stay up to date here.
Is the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola Busy?
The Lake Louise Gondola is busy during summer, particularly on weekends and holidays. If the weather is beautiful, you can expect to find plenty of people at the Lake Louise Gondola.
The best way to avoid crowds is to arrive around opening or later in the afternoon before the Gondola closes for the day.
Is There Parking at the Lake Louise Gondola?
There is ample parking at the Lake Louise Ski Resort (where the Gondola is located). You do not need to reserve parking in advance.
Hikes From the Lake Louise Gondola
Unlike the Banff Sunshine Gondola there aren’t a plethora of hiking opportunities from the top of the Lake Louise Gondola. However there are two notable short routes from Whitehorn Lodge if you want to stretch your legs. You must hike with bear spray when hiking anywhere in Banff.
- Kicking Horse Pass Viewpoint Trail: This trail is under 3km with 175 meters of elevation gain following a steep gravel road.
- Pika Trail: This trail is just under 2 km round trip with 200 meters of elevation gain. You get great views over the Valley and can continue to the ptarmigan viewpoint. Visit in July and August and you’ll be surrounded by colorful wildflowers.
In all honestly, neither of these hikes are the most invigorating in Banff, and if you want to spend your time hiking we suggest picking others in the area. A few of our favorites are Plain of Six Glaciers or the Beehive Circuit.
We break down all our favorite Banff hikes here!
Can You Hike to the Top of Lake Louise Gondola?
Unlike the Banff Gondola, there is no trail up to the top of the Lake Louise Gondola, and you may not hike through the area. This area is a protected wildlife corridor.
The best thing to do is pack your hiking pack and enjoy one of the hikes at the top of the Gondola, or head over to Lake Louise and enjoy one of those hikes in the area, like the hike up to Lake Agnes or the Plain of Six Glaciers.
Can You See Wildlife on the Lake Louise Gondola?
The Summer Gondola at Lake Louise is renowned as one of the safest spots in the Canadian Rockies to observe a variety of wildlife, including grizzly and black bears, lynx, moose, mountain goats, elk, deer, and many other fascinating species.
The animals are free to roam all 6000+ square Km of Banff National Park and beyond, but they naturally stay around this area due to the bountiful food sources found naturally on the slopes. Keep an eye out for them while riding the Gondola. Some things to remember:
- Do not feed the animals from the Gondola! Keep these animals wild.
- Do not drop any wrappings from the Gondola. Banff is a natural place – let’s keep it that way.
- Visit earlier or later in the day. Animals are more active during these times as they try to beat the day’s heat.
- Don’t yell at wildlife from the gondola to get there attention. Let the wildlife be in their natural habitat.
- Bring your binoculars or zoom lens for a better view!
- If you plan to do any hiking, bear spray is a must-have in the area.
What Restaurants Are At The Lake Louise Gondola?
The Whitehorn Bistro is one of the most famous and scenic restaurants in Banff National Park. You can enjoy a meal at the Whitehorn Restaurant while visiting the Lake Louise Gondola.
You can also grab snacks and more cafeteria-style food at the Lodge of Ten Peaks Cafeteria at the base.
If you’re visiting the Lake Louise Gondola with food in mind, we suggest you choose one of the Ride and Dine Packages. The Ride and Breakfast combines a Sightseeing ticket with a hot breakfast at the Lodge of Ten Peaks. While the Ride and Lunch combines a Sightseeing ticket with a lunch at the Lodge of Ten Peaks.
The best value, however, is with the Gondola & Gourmet, which includes a Summer Gondola Lift Ticket plus $30 towards a gourmet meal and beverages at the Whitehorn Bistro or the outdoor smokehouse, Banded Peak Base Camp.
Can You Bring Pets on the Lake Louise Gondola?
Due to safety concerns, pets of any kind are not allowed on the Gondola, except disability assistance pets. If you require a special needs pet aid, please inform the staff.
Is the Lake Louise Gondola Wheelchair Friendly?
While the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola strives to be completely wheelchair friendly, they are not. There are disabled parking spaces along the wooden fence in the main parking lot, paved pathways to the lodge, and washrooms are wheelchair accessible.
A complimentary shuttle is available for transport between the parking lot, The Lodge of the Ten Peaks, and the Gondola, and a shuttle for transportation between the sightseeing gondola (once at the top) and the Wildlife Interpretive Centre and Whitehorn Bistro.
However, to access the gondola, wheelchairs need to be folded. So if you think your wheelchair may be too big, it’s best to inform the staff or call ahead if you have questions or concerns about accessibility at the Lake Louise Gondola.
Do You Need a Parks Pass to Visit the Lake Louise Gondola?
Lake Louise is within Banff National Park, and all visitors need a valid Parks Canada Pass. See more details about the Parks Pass here.
Where Can You Stay Near the Lake Louise Gondola?
There are currently no accommodation options are the Lake Louise Ski Resort. However, there are plenty of Lake Louise Hotels near the village of Lake Louise and at Lake Louise herself.
Of course, there is the Fairmont Château Lake Louise, the most expensive and famous spot to stay in the area. Other favorites include Paradise Lodge near Lake Louise and Baker Creek Cabins along the Bow Valley Parkway.
Where to Stay in Lake Louise in the Summer?
Is the Lake Louise Gondola Worth the Price?
The Lake Louise Gondola is definitely worth the price. The views from the top are hard to beat unless you plan to do a lot of hiking around Banff!
Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful areas in the world, and it’s tough to compare the beauty.
Lake Louise Summer Sightseeing Gondola Shuttle
The Lake Louise Summer Sightseeing Gondola offers a free shuttle for gondola pass holders from June to October. The shuttle runs between the gondola, Samson Mall and the Lake Louise lakeshore.
What is the Best – the Banff Gondola, Lake Louise Gondola, Mt Norquay Chairlift, or Sunshine Gondola?
This is like comparing apples, oranges, and blueberries! All gondola experiences in Banff provide different views and experiences.
The Banff Gondola has the most facilities at the top, including a few restaurants and a nicely constructed boardwalk to enjoy. You get fantastic views of Cascade Mountain and the Town of Banff. However, it is possible to hike to the top to save money.
The Banff Sunshine Gondola is recommended to assist in hiking around Sunshine Meadows, one of the best places to visit during the wildflower season.
The Lake Louise Gondola provides limited hiking opportunities and things to do compared to the others. Still, the views of Lake Louise, the Victoria Glacier, and Mount Temple are incomparable and much more “wild” compared to the Banff Gondola. You have a higher chance of spotting wildlife on the Lake Louise Gondola.
The Mt Norquay Chairlift is less expensive than all the other options, but it is only a chairlift. However, the chairlift brings visitors up to astonishing heights and gives fantastic views over Mount Rundle. It’s also much closer to the Town of Banff than the Lake Louise Gondola.
Read More: ULTIMATE Banff Gondola Comparison Guide: Lake Louise, Sunshine, Banff, Norquay? Which is Best?
I Can Only Splurge on a Few Activities in Banff? Which One Should I Choose?
All of these Banff attractions cost upwards of $50+ per ticket, so it’s understandable that you cannot do all of them, nor should you – there are plenty of free things to do in Banff!
We suggest you pick one gondola experience and one lake experience!
What Things Are There To Do Nearby?
There are plenty of things to do in the Lake Louise area!
Take a scenic drive down the Bow Valley Parkway, watch for trains at Morant’s Curve, hike to the Fairmont Lookout, Canoe on Lake Louise, or have an afternoon tea at the Fairmont! You can see all our ideas for things to do at Lake Louise here!
Cover image courtesy of TravelAlberta
Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies
- Hiking in the Rockies: Purchase an AllTrails subscription to have a mobile map on you as you hike.
- Hotels in the Rockies: There are many places to stay, from luxury hotels to wilderness cabins. See all our favorites here.
- Pack for the Rockies: See our complete Alberta packing list here.
- Get Around: We suggest either renting a car to get around, you can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip with companies like Outdoorsy.
- Fly For Free: Turn your spending into airline miles and points with travel credit cards (that’s what we do!). See our favorite travel credit cards. We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals!