When I visited Lake Louise in 2009, it was a remarkable glacier-tinted shade of greenish-blue. This time, it was white. Or at least, the snow on top of it was.
A stop at Lake Louise is an essential part of the wintertime experience in Banff National Park. The lake freezes solid in winter, allowing you to safely take a walk out into the middle of it.
But you don’t have to walk far. The edge of the lake is right next to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, a huge resort hotel with impossibly great views, and high prices to match. If money is no object, stay here…
… and you can wander out onto the ice, for a hockey game…
… or play around this ice castle, built with chunks of the frozen lake, on top of the frozen lake.
Ice sculptors put some impressive touches on the castle…
… including windows that look back on the Chateau.
Even though I thought the weather was still incredibly cold, there were signs that spring was on its way. Not only were drips starting to form, but the ice on the castle was starting to show obvious signs of thinning.
Speaking of thinning…
… you will notice a few warning signs…
… near the lake’s outlet, which is next to the Chateau. Of course, you need to avoid this area.
I’m also willing to bet that ice skating might not be as smooth and effortless as you’d experience on a well-manicured indoor rink.
Despite the warning signs, you can still feel quite safe as you wander out onto the lake. Just be sure to stay on the well-trampled paths. If you venture out into untouched snow, you could sink down into a layer of slush that forms between the ice and snow.
If you’d rather ride than hike, catch a sleigh ride.
The horse-drawn sleighs follow the lakeside trail, between mid-December and mid-April. As of 2012, they cost $28 for adults, $24 for children, and the ride lasts about 45 minutes to an hour.
Or, build a snow man.
Here’s the time-lapse, dash-cam video of the drive from Lake Louise to Banff, via Trans Canada 1: