Lake Louise Paddle

Ah, Lake Louise. The icon of Canadian Rockies in my books. This was the highlight and focal point of our 2020 Rockies Road Trip.

I’ve visited Lake Louise many times with my family before, but we’ve never been on the lake due to time constraints and high cost of canoe rental here.

I often wondered what it would be like to paddle on the turquoise, Tiffany-blue waters of Lake Louise, breaking the mirror-like stillness on the lake. I wondered if that might upset the tourists trying to take a photo of the perfect reflections. I wondered how long it would take to reach the back of the lake, and how cold the water is. I wondered and I wondered. This time, I set out to find out.

When we arrived at Lake Louise, the lake was as beautiful as I remembered. We splurged and booked a stay at the magnificent Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The bell service staff was beyond helpful, allowing me to store my pumped-up boards in their storage room for the duration of our stay.

Everyone looked a little tired from the road but the sunset on Lake Louise was too good to miss.

We went to check out the canoe rental and started getting some ideas about how to tackle paddling Lake Louise. The lake shore was dotted with very low profile concrete steps, so it’s very easy to launch a board.

The next day, when we found some downtime in the afternoon, I pumped up my paddleboard and jumped at the first opportunity to take a crack at the lake.

There were a lot of tourists in the afternoon, so the paddle felt somewhat like a show. With so many people watching, the stake of falling in was quite high! I noticed a group of tourists taking photos of the lake with me in it, so I joked “I got room for one more on my board!” Got a good chuckle out of them. Seriously though, I thought if someone ran a gondola business like that of Venice, they could earn a good buck. But it would most likely kill the natural beauty of the place. Let’s keep it at the red canoes and small hand-carried watercraft.

The glacier-fed water was very cold even in the afternoon, so it could actually be a safety concern if someone fell into the lake and couldn’t get back up quickly.

Tourist shots!

I went paddling again early the next morning, and was rewarded with a magnificent sunrise.

I was the first on the water and had the lake all to myself. It was magical. The sky, lake, and mountains continuously changed colors as the sun rose higher, all the while the lake was completely mirror-still. Very few tourists walked on the lakeshore, and as I headed to the middle of the lake, their voices faded away very quickly.

Me and the Lake.

I paddled leisurely and reached the end of the lake. There was a lot of sediment of rock flour, which is finely powdered rock formed by glacial erosion, that gives Lake Louise its world famous cloudiness and color.

As I paddled back, a few people arrived on their kayaks. The canoe rental hasn’t opened yet, so the lake was still very quiet and serene. If you want to paddle Lake Louise, I would highly recommend getting there before 7am for a daybreak paddle.

Of course, I had to share this fantastic experience with my family. So we headed back out for a sunset paddle, this time with Tina and Junior in tow.

Tina took a few minutes to warm up, and then she proceeded to stand up and head straight for the end of the lake.
We had to work hard to catch up to Mom!

If not for the imminent darkness, Tina would have reached the end of the lake. Paddling at dusk is also very quiet and tranquil, but you are paddling with a deadline. Unless, of course, you are prepared for night time paddling with navigation lights and warm clothes, then you can stay until your heart’s content.

Our final paddle on Lake Louise was a whole family event. We got 2 canoes and headed for an evening paddle with Grandpa and Grandma.

We wore masks in all public places.
Wilson’s first canoe ride, he rode like a champ.

Grandpa and Grandma gunned for the full length of the lake, while we sat and chilled on our canoe and enjoyed the quiet stillness.

With Tina on baby duty, only I had a paddle on our canoe, but it’s still quite maneuverable.

With Mom’s gentle touch and the rocking of canoe, Little One fell asleep pretty quickly. Best case scenario!

Later we found out that Junior also fell asleep after they reached the sandy beach at the end of the lake, so Grandpa fashioned a bed for him.

It’s only possible to take two little ones paddling and have them both fall asleep because we were on canoes. It’s much easier to keep them dry and comfortable compared with a paddleboard, where it’s impossible to avoid the occasional splashes. It’s also quite easy to just have the back person do all the paddling, so it’s feasible to bring a baby onboard and taken care of by the front person. Also, one would have to do something stupid (like standing up or run into an object at speed) to tip a canoe on a calm lake like this, so it’s very beginner friendly.

Would I trade my paddleboards for a canoe? Heck no! Paddleboard gives you way more freedom of movement, as you can stand, kneel, sit, lie down, or do yoga moves. You are more connected to the water and the environment, as nothing forces you to be “in the present” than the risk of falling over. It’s a full body workout. And if you do fall over, it’s much safer and easier to get back onto a paddleboard than a canoe or a kayak. So, we will stick to our plan of training our younglings to become comfortable on the paddleboards!

  • Difficulty – very easy
  • Boat traffic – no motor boats
  • View – world-class
  • Facilities – limited parking during peak season, best to arrive early morning or after sunset
  • Overall score – 12/10

With a score of 12/10, is Lake Louise my best paddle ever? No… it was soon surpassed by Moraine Lake on the this 2020 Rockies Road Trip

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