In summer, around 10,000 visitors a day make the journey from the Bow Valley floor up to Lake Louise. By noon the tiered parking lot is often full. From the parking lot, a paved trail leads in front of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise to the lake’s eastern shore. The lake is 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) long, 500 meters (1,640 feet) wide, and up to 90 meters (295 feet) deep. Its cold waters reach a maximum temperature of 4°C (39°F) in August. The snow-covered peak at the back of the lake is Mount Victoria (3,459 m/11,350 ft), which sits on the Continental Divide.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a tourist attraction in itself. Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to take the pressure off the popular Fairmont Banff Springs , the chateau has seen many changes in the last 100 years, yet it remains one of the world’s great mountain resorts. No one minds the hordes of camera-toting tourists who traipse through each day—and there’s really no way to avoid them.
The immaculately manicured gardens between the chateau and the lake make an interesting foreground for the millions of Lake Louise photographs taken each year. Aside from soaking up the view, hiking is one of the few activities you don’t have to pay for. At the lakeshore boathouse, canoes can be rented for $50 per hour, or you can take a trail ride from Lake Louise Stables (403/522-3511) for $72 for two hours.