The turquoise waters of Lake Louise, in Alberta's Rockies, have been photographed so often now, the lake has become something of a cliche for mountain serenity. And yet, nothing quite prepares the visitor for the unearthly beauty of this alpine gem. The lake owes its colour to fine particles suspended in the glacier waters, but few visitors at the world famous Fairmount Chateau Lake Louise are thinking of hydrology as they look out over the waters from the luxury hotel. Down slope from the Chateau, the town of Lake Louise has its own charm. Small but well-appointed with restaurants, accommodation and stores, the town site is an ideal getaway destination in summer when trail riding, hiking, rafting and mountain biking predominate. Wildlife is also a major draw with elk commonly sighted from the road and even the occasional bear. In winter, Lake Louise Ski Hill is the major attraction with its world-class ski runs.
Lake Louise Glaciers:
This massive field of ancient ice covers 325 sq km (125 sq mi) and reaches depths estimated at 365 m (1299 ft). The Columbia Icefield is composed of a massive plateau of ice, and 6 major glaciers (and numerous smaller ones). Straddling the Continental Divide, the icefield feeds three of the continents major river systems: the Columbia, Mackenzie and Saskatchewan. Meltwaters from the icefield flow to three different oceans (the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic). Called a hydrological apex, it is one of only two in the world that feeds three oceans. Markers at the icefield indicate the rate at which the toe of the Athabasca Glacier has receded this century. For a charge, tours of the glacier are given on custom designed Brewster Ice Explorer from the spring and fall. Ice-walk tours are also available April 10th until October 20th.
Icefields Parkway, AB
Located just northwest of Lake Louise, this glacier is visible from the Icefields Parkway. It is part of the Wapta Icefield, which is located on the Continental Divide. The glacier is also a site for backcountry skiing.
Northwest of Lake Louise, on the Wapta Icefield, AB
Visible as the magnificent backdrop of Lake Louise, Victoria Glacier can be seen sitting at the base of Mt Victoria. Melt water from the Victoria Glacier feeds the famous Lake Louise.
Lake Louise, AB
Lake Louise Mountains:
Standing on the Chateau Lake Louise end of Lake Louise and looking directly across these vast waters is Mount Victoria. This prominent mountain forms part of the often photographed scenery that is Lake Louise. Originally named Mount Green, the name was changed in the late 1890s in honour of Queen Victoria.
Lake Louise, AB
This mountain, officially named in 1897, received its name because it resembled something out of the Dolomite Range in the Italian Alps. The mountain is also composed of a mixture of dolomite (a rock that is rare in the Canadian Rockies) and limestone. It rises 2,782 m (9,128 ft) and is easily visible from Highway 93.
31 km northwest of Lake Louise, along the Icefields Parkway, AB
Shared by Alberta and British Columbia, this mountain is found on the Continental Divide and directly on the Waputik Icefield. The mountain is 3,272 m (10,735 ft) tall, and was named after the dean of medicine from the University of Edinburgh.
North end of the Waputik Icefield, along the Icefields Parkway, AB
The Twins refers to North Twin Peak, South Twin Peak and Twins Tower, which are located in the upper Athabasca River Valley on the northeastern end of the Columbia Icefield. Twins Tower is a jutting peak that rises 3,627 m (11,900 ft), and is known for difficult climbing. North and South Twin Peaks are adjacent peaks with North Twin being the taller of the two at 3,684 m (12,087 ft) high.
Northeastern end of the Columbia Icefield, AB
Snow Dome is a mountain that is located on the Continental Divide. The mountain, whose summit is covered entirely by the Columbia Icefield, is known as a hydrological apex, one of two in the world. Water from this hydrological apex feeds three of the world’s ocean (the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic) through various river systems.
On the Columbia Icefield's Continental Divide Icefields Parkway, AB
A 3,394-m-tall (11,136 ft) mountain, this towering peak is visible from Highway 1 and Highway 93N. The mountain is home to Hector Glacier, a glacier that caused destruction to the Molar Creek valley in 1938 when a large chunk broke off.
Address: Bow River Valley, east of Hector Lake, AB
Eiffel Tower and Eiffel Peak
Located near upper Moraine Lake Valley, Eiffel Tower and Eiffel Peak are separated from each other by a small gap. The tower is a free standing 3,080 m (10,105 ft) tall formation directly neighbored by the slightly taller Eiffel Peak. Both are visible from the town of Lake Louise.
Lake Louise, AB
This 3,211-m-high (10,535 ft) mountain is located in the upper Sunwapta River Valley, on the border that separates Jasper and Banff National Parks. Visible from Highway 93 N, this peak covers three kilometers of the boundary.
Upper Sunwapta River Valley, AB
Lake Louise Lookouts & Observation Decks:
The Fairview Lookout offers views of Chateau Lake Louise and Lake Louise itself. The lookout is accessed by a short hiking trail that provides visitors with interpretive displays at the top that tell the history of the Chateau. The hike is about one hour long.
Lake Louise, AB
A short hike through an alpine meadow takes visitors to the crest of Parker Ridge which provides an excellent view of the Saskatchewan Glacier, the largest tongue of the Columbia Icefield. Other visible glaciers include the Athabasca, Andromeda and Castleguard glaciers.
Address: 113 km (70.6 mi) S of Jasper/l 17 km (73 mi) N of Lake Louise, AB
Lake Louise Bodies of Water:
Moraine Lake and Valley of the Ten Peaks
Formerly pictured on the back of the Canadian $20 bill, this emerald green lake is set before a backdrop of sharp peaks. To the N is Mount Temple, the highest mountain in the Bow Range and third highest in Banff National Park, A good area for hiking. Visit the Parks Canada Information Bureau in the town of Banff or the Visitor Centre in Lake Louise for information on the trails.
12 km (7.5 mi) E from Lake Louise access road
Peyto Lake and Bow Summit
The highest point on the Icefields Parkway is Bow Summit, 2088 m above sea level. Here the road crosses alpine meadows near the source of the Bow River before dropping into the Mistaya Valley. From the lower parking area at Bow Summit, a short trail takes you uphill to the Peyto Lake lookout.
190 km (118.75 mi) S of Jasper/40 km (25 mi) N of Lake Louise, AB