Overview of Lake Louise, Alberta
Written by Greg and Heather Burke
Lake Louise Ski Resort is the Canadian Rockies' biggest ski resort with over 4,200 acres of ski terrain. It's also one of the most beautiful ski resort in the world, located within Canada's first National Park - Banff National Park. Lake Louise has tons of terrain on four mountain faces including the Front Side, Larch, Paradise, and the Back Bowls, and one of the longest seasons in North America from early November to May. Located just 5 minutes from the pretty village of Lake Louise, The Post Hotel and the famous Chateau Lake Louise, the ski resort is also near the town of Banff and even more skiing at Sunshine Village and Mount Norquay.
Having skied Lake Louise, we can tell you the views are stunning, and the terrain is vast. The Front Side is well served by two high-speed quads, the lower mountain Glacier Express and the aptly named Top of the World Express. From the base, you can also take the 6-passenger Grizzly Express Gondola. Lots of great cruisers flank the front side, as well as a few terrain parks and some steep runs on the upper mountain. Lake Louise hosts World Cup Downhill racing here every November. To get to the real summit, Mt Whitehorn at 8,652', you take a Summit Platter lift, read: not ideal for snowboarders. This old school lift does keep skiers and riders of lesser ability from accessing this more expert terrain. The Back Bowls of Lake Louise reminds us of Vail's Back Bowls. Lake Louise's Back Bowls have countless double black diamond chutes and a few wide open bowls for advanced and expert. The Canadian Rocky Mountains stretching out in all directions are magnificent from this vertical vantage point, especially Mt Victoria at 11,375'. There are just a few groomed runs on the Back Side, and all the terrain funnels down to a cat track trail. The Paradise and Ptarmigan Lifts delivers you out of the Back Bowls back to the Front Side or you can continue on to the Larch area, which is like Vail's Blue Sky Basin beyond the Back Bowls for great glades and a few cool cruisers.
Lake Louise’s iconic location and impressive terrain are the headliners, but the beautiful on mountain ski lodges are spectacular as well. The grand timber Lodge of The Ten Peaks graces Lake Louise's front side base. Inside the Lodge of The Ten Peaks is spacious with soaring log ceilings, ski shops, services, a cafeteria and the Powderkeg Lounge and Great Bear Room featuring table service and fireplace, big screen TVs. Next door, the original Whiskey Jack Lodge has ski services and an upscale Northface Bistro where lunch is served with Chef's buffet stations and a slope view.
The mid mountain Whitehorn Lodge reached by the Glacier or Grizzly Express makes our Best Ski Resort Dining in Canada list. Ski into Whitehorn for a beer, a Bison Burgers or cheese fondue in the newly renovated alpine modern atmosphere. The real highlight though is the view of Lake Louise and Temple Mountain's glaciers - bring your camera. Located on the backside, Temple Lodge offers rustic charm in a log lodge with a large deck for those sunny spring ski days. Temple Lodge is the only spot for a break from the slopes when you are skiing the back side, with a cafeteria and Sawyers Nook restaurant. Just remember you have to ski back.
The best après ski activities at Lake Louise is the Whitehorn Lodge Après Ski & Dinner. In the afternoon you ski into the Whitehorn Lodge for après ski drinks and dancing to live music while other skiers head down and home. Following après, you get a freshly groomed run with a headlamp and the ski staff escorts. A smorgasbord of food and more live entertainment await you at the Sitzmark Lounge at the base.
There is no on-mountain lodging, Lake Louise is a National Park Land. For Lodging at Lake Louise, the legendary Chateau Lake Louise perched on the glacial lake, and the historic and posh Post Hotel in the quaint village of Lake Louise are two grand ski lodging options. Both are very close by to the ski slopes and both offer exceptional guest rooms, suites and fine dining in the heart of Canada’s first National Park. or stay where Will and Kate lodged on their royal honeymoon at Skoki Lodge, a 10-kilometer snowshoe or Nordic ski to a remote, rustic - arguably romantic chalet with a private chef, but no plumbing.
Lake Louise Ski Resort is owned by Charlie Locke, interestingly he founded Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) in the 1990’s, growing his ski resort collection to eight ski areas from B.C. to Quebec: Fernie, Kicking Horse, Kimberley, Nakiska, Mont Sainte Anne, and Stoneham. In 2003, he sold RCR and then bought back his favorite Lake Louise in 2008. Today his daughters Kim and Robin Locke are learning the Lake Louise ski biz from their mogul father.
You must ski Lake Louise, considered among the most scenic ski resort in the world. Include a few days skiing here in a Canadian Rocky Mountain trip visiting Banff's Sunshine Village Ski Resort 40-minutes away, and perhaps a ski safari to Kicking Horse and Revelstoke with heli-skiing or cat skiing mixed in for adventure.
If you are going to Banff...make sure you pay a little extra and stay at the world renown "Banff Springs Hotel" or the "Chateau Lake Louise". It is worth paying a couple of hundred dollars more to live like a king or queen!
I haven't skied Norquay or Sunshine (I've heard Sunshine is a challenge) but Lake Louise ski area is great. Then the main street in Banff has a lot to offer as well and the food is great.