Lake Louise & Banff Ice Festival

Getting outside the city is a breath of fresh air. It took us many trips to figure out how we needed to travel. Since we don’t drive, most of our trips were to other cities. We like visiting cities but they feel too much like home in a different setting. A vacation is to getaway from it all. Banff was the perfect place to getaway and on this day, we were headed to Lake Louise. 

Castle Mountain on our way to Lake Louise.


We didn’t go dog sledding. It sounds like a cool adventure but I don’t go on any tours or rides with animals like dog sledding, horse carriage rides, etc. My thing is – I don’t know how they are treated so just avoid it.

Our tour made a stop to drop folks off who went dog sledding.

Lake Louise is located in Banff National Park and is named after Princess Louise Caroline Alberta (1848-1939), Queen Victoria’s 4th daughter. The settlement was originally called Laggan and it was a stop along the Canadian Pacific Railway. The train station was preserved and moved to Calgary’s Heritage Park. Lake Louise is south of the Icefields Parkway (a beautiful scenic route), along Alberta Highway 1A.

Horse drawn sleigh ride around Lake Louise.

Fairmont hotel in the back ground. People walking on the frozen lake, it doesn’t thaw out till June!

We booked the Lake Louise tour with Discover Banff Tours, we actually used them for everything except for our night photography workshop. We would definitely use them again for future trips and we loved all our guides. Anik was our guide today, she’s really fun and enthusiastic. This tour is basically hotel pick up/drop off, and spending the day at Lake Louise which is a 45 minute drive from our hotel. You have some free time and can go snowshoeing, carriage riding, hang out at the the hotel grounds, and go dog sledding. We were extra fortunate to visit during the Banff Ice Festival.


We opted to check out the ice sculptures and to walk on Lake Louise. The details were amazing and watching the artists work was very cool.

The hotel Fairmont is also located here so you can stay at Lake Louise but it’s expensive. We’re thinking if we can get a good rate, we’d like to stay for 2 nights next time so we can explore and play. Really I just want to spend half a day to lie in the snow. We also didn’t have enough time to explore the lake area because we had to get back for the ice carving contest.

This was our very first time walking and rolling on a frozen lake. Snow is irresistible to me and I feel the need to roll in it. I’ve never had this much clean snow to play in! Rolling is more my thing, I’m a snow baby. Vic is a fish, he loves the beach, snow second. I love the snow and all I wanted to do was lay in it, put my headphones & sunglasses on, and snow bathe. Totally gonna do that next time. We had to get back to the parking lot so we could see the 1 hour ice sculpture contest which was a drive away at the ski resort. But at least I got to make a few snow angels.

The 1 hour Ice carving contest was impressive, seeing what the artists can create in so little time. This is Anik’s favorite part of the festival.


One of our friends said Lake Louise looked a bit like Narnia. Maybe, it definitely felt magical but nature usually is.

I got really winded walking from the parking lot to and from the hotel Fairmont. It really scared me at first because it felt like I didn’t have air but realized I was feeling the altitude. We were about 5249ft/1599.9m up, this is the highest we’ve ever been. Everyone else including Victor were fine. Pretty sure my body hates me, whenever I leave my time zone, my body clock stays on east coast time for the whole trip, so my body didn’t like adjusting to thinner air. Just take it easy, take smaller breaths, and hydrate. This trip taught me I’m sensitive to altitude, during our photo workshop, our instructor told me that she lived there for a few years and still feels winded going from Banff (4537ft/1382.8 m) to Lake Louise (5249ft). She said she knows some people that are active, in good shape and even they get their butts whipped by the altitude; other people are fine. She said I may be one of those people that are very sensitive. I felt weird whenever we went up higher and lower (felt really weird, not in good way). Here’s what Denver says to do to adjust to their great heights. I’m rethinking active vacations above a certain altitude, my body can’t adjust in the short time span of a trip. This didn’t ruin our vacation but it gave me something to consider when deciding where to go and what kind of activities to do.

Walking to the Chateau.

Something funny happened at the Lake Louise parking lot that it deserves it’s own post.



4 thoughts on “Lake Louise & Banff Ice Festival

  1. Thank you, as you don’t know how refreshing those photographs look at this time of an unusual UK heatwave that started early in June and continues into the foreseeable future!

    1. Thanks! It’s so humid here. We’ve had some nice days but we also have really miserable ones. Was debating holding off on this till winter but I needed the winter scenes!

  2. You are making me miss snow again, and I swore after I left Minnesota that I would never live wherever they had measurable snow in the winter! (Actually I hate ice more, especially in places where they don’t throw sand and salt on the walks.)

    Banff looks beautiful. Where did you stay while you were there? The price per night of hotels seems to be skyrocketing, even for the crummy ones along the freeways. I also love horse-drawn carriages and sleighs, but unless I know the horses are being treated well, I won’t ride them either. I remember on a sweltering evening, seeing a horse-drawn carriage on Fifth Avenue by Central Park and thinking how miserable it must have been for both horse and driver. Then the horse suddenly bolted and began running down the street. Luckily there was relatively little traffic that night, and cars were able to stop until the driver got the horse under control. (Not gently, either. Lots of rein pulling and braking.) But it made me not want to ever ride a carriage in New York, even if the weather was more pleasant.

  3. There must be a strategy for breaking out the ice pictures during this hot summer – probably similar to the one I used when breaking out the Rose pictures in the depths of last winter.

    I used to go to Colorado in winter to ski (and visit a sister). I learned to give myself at least a day in Denver to acclimate, in Colorado even the bottoms of the ski runs are at 9000 feet!

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