Lake Louise has been hanging out near the top of my bucket list for quite some time now, and this past week I was finally able to cross it off! Planning my trip out to Calgary in late March was a slightly risky move on my part with it being shoulder season and all, but I could not have had better weather for my first time here.
The drive up to Banff National Park on the Trans-Canadian Highway is enough to make your heart stop. From the city of Calgary you can see the mountain range stretch along the horizon, but nothing compares to seeing them up close and personal. No matter where you look you are dwarfed by their enormity and awed by their beauty. Never in my life have I ever felt so small before. This place is so humbling, and continued to leave me speechless for the duration of my trip. By the time we reached the turn off to Lake Louise I didn’t think it could get any better, but it had only just begun.
The only time in snowed on my visit was when we first arrived at the The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This hotel sits at the end of the lake and provides the perfect vantage point from which to ogle over the magical landscape. Inside there is a cafe where you can grab a coffee or a quick bite to eat, and a formal dining area where they often serve afternoon tea! From there we went on a hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House. This trail is rated as moderate but it took us longer than usual to get to the top due to the fresh powder on the ground. That, and the fact that my lungs were still adjusting to the altitude change! Unfortunately with snow comes fog, so a number of the mountain tops were not visible when we first started our hike. All things considered, it certainly felt like a winter wonderland!
After a two hour hike and lots of heavy breathing we arrived at the Tea House! It was around this time that the sun began to peak through the clouds and over the mountain tops, quite literally leaving me breathless. I have never been so high up or seen such amazing views before. Nothing compares to the feeling you get after doing something you didn’t think was possible. Trust me when I say there were many points along the way where I didn’t think my lungs could do it, but it was so worth it in the end.
The Tea House was built in 1901 to serve as a refuge for hikers and serves specialty tea and homemade baked goods daily (the supplies are brought in by helicopter)! While we were the only people on the trails that morning, in the summer when the ice has melted you can see the waterfall that runs out of Lake Agnes and stop in for a quick bite to eat.
By the time we got back to the bottom of the mountain the lake had started to fill up with tourists. There was a giant ice sculpture in front of the hotel, along with a few ice skating rinks shoveled out on the lake. I was thankful that our early start meant we got to see the lake and take some pictures with no one else around because it is certainly a hot spot! Hopefully some of these photos can help give some indication of scale, but everything here is so much bigger than it looks in these photos!
Seeing this magical place in March only fueled my plans to visit Calgary again in the summer time. If it is this beautiful with a layer of snow covering the trees and mountain tops I can only imagine how amazing it looks when everything is bright green and the water is that legendary shade of turquoise I was able to get a quick glimpse of in Canmore! Lake Louise, you’ve stolen my heart. I will be back.