Lake Louise gondola offers breathtaking views of Lake Louise and Victoria Glacier, wildlife watching, hiking trails, and more. Here’s our guide & tips for visiting Lake Louise gondola in summer.
I’ve been living near the Rockies for almost a decade and never rode the gondola at Lake Louise in summer. I used to work on the gondola in Banff and felt that I didn’t need to ride another gondola.
That changed after becoming a mom and wanting to do many fun activities with our boy. We visited when he was a little over a year old. And I must say, we all had a blast.
Let us take you through our visit to Lake Louise Gondola, so you know what to expect with lots of tips at the end.
Our experience with Lake Louise Summer Gondola
Located in the stunning Bow Valley, the Lake Louise gondola is an amazing spot year-round. In winter, they offer a world-class skiing experience (think Swiss Alps), and in summer, there are hikes and views, but the possibility of seeing grizzly bears is probably the most enticing.
We visited on a hot day in September. Pulling into the parking lot near the Day Lodge, I was surprised by its size. I bet there’s never a shortage of parking spots.
The Day Lodge has a big restaurant where you can order a meal but also can eat a meal you brought yourself or heat baby food in the microwave. The wooden swing on the terrace was a huge hit for all of us as we admired the views of the ski resort.
Riding the Lake Louise gondola
We bought the tickets on the spot (kids under 5 are free) and went outside towards the gondola. Our boy enjoyed running around on the grass, and lots of cyclists were enjoying their beer or ice cream on the patio at Banded Peak Base Camp. I learned the restaurant hosts a summer cycling challenge, Parkway to Pint.
As we were nearing the gondola, I could see the look of amazement in our boy’s eyes. Once we stepped into the enclosed gondola, he was mesmerized that we were moving. It’s always a more memorable experience with kids through their curious eyes.
We were looking all around on the ski slopes in hopes of seeing bears, but we weren’t lucky this time. The higher the gondola went, the more views of Lake Louise across the valley opened up. Victoria Glacier above the lake is so vast that you don’t realize it seeing it from the lakeshore.
It took around 15 minutes to arrive at the top of the gondola; then, we went straight to the viewing platform – see the view below or on video here.
We had a picnic at the sheltered picnic area; our boy enjoyed the tiny chipmunks running around and smelled all the flowers around us. The comfy wooden chair offered us a great time to chill and take the views in.
We’ll be back this year so we can hike the beautiful trails this side of the Lake Louise area has to offer.
Lake Louise Summer Gondola information
Banff National Park offers several sightseeing gondolas – Mount Norquay, Sunshine Meadows, Banff Gondola to Sulphur Mountain and Lake Louise.
Hands down, the best ratio of views/activities/price has the Lake Louise summer gondola.
You can choose to ride in an enclosed gondola or open chairlift, see Lake Louise and Victoria Glacier, hike among wildflowers, and even see grizzly bears, black bears, mountain goats, and other wildlife.
Lake Louise Gondola location
Lake Louise Gondola is located at the Lake Louise Ski Resort in Banff National Park. Whether you’re visiting from Banff (60 km from Lake Louise) or Jasper (235 km from Lake Louise), you take Trans-Canada Highway.
From Banff, the scenic Bow Valley Parkway has a new access restriction. The Banff to Castle Junction section is closed to vehicles in May, June, and September to provide a more enjoyable ride for cyclists (you can enter Bow Valley Parkway at Castle Junction and drive to Lake Louise). You can drive the entire length of Bow Valley Parkway in July and August.
If you’re looking for the fastest way to reach Lake Louise Gondola from Banff, take Trans-Canada Highway and exit towards Lake Louise Ski Resort on Whitehorn Drive.
Note that Lake Louise and Lake Louise Gondola are not at the exact location; they’re 7 km apart. From Trans-Canada Highway, you take the same exit but then turn either left on the fork to Lake Louise or turn right to Lake Louise Gondola.
Parking at Lake Louise Gondola
The parking lot at Lake Louise Gondola is giant. They even state that you’re guaranteed to find a spot, no matter how big your car or RV is.
One of the best features of Lake Louise Gondola is Park & Ride option to Lake Louise lakeshore. You can park at Lake Louise Gondola, and after your visit, ride their shuttle to explore Lake Louise hassle-free (the parking lot at Lake Louise is often full in summer and costs 21 Cad/vehicle/day).
Find their free shuttle schedule here, all you need is a gondola ticket or sales receipt from a gift shop or restaurant, and you can ride for free!
Lake Louise Gondola prices & opening hours in 2023
The fees for Lake Louise Gondola are:
- 60 Cad/adult
- 25 Cad/youth (13-17)
- 13 Cad/child (6-12)
- Kids 5 & under ride free
- Holders of Lake Louise season pass ride free
- (As of 2022, they no longer offer discounts for Alberta residents)
Remember that these prices are for one ride only (and don’t include 5% GST). If you see a bear and want to stay on the gondola going up and down, that’s not an option.
There’s an option to purchase a Ride & Dine package to enjoy a meal at Whitehorn Bistro with Lake Louise views.
Lake Louise Gondola operating hours in summer:
- 9 am – 4 pm May 26 to June 22
- 9 am – 5:30 pm June 23 to July 31
- 9 am – 6 pm Aug 1 to Sept 4
- 9 am – 5 pm Sept 5 to Oct 9
If you arrive before the operating hours, you can purchase Ride & breakfast package for 10 Cad extra and enjoy breakfast at Ten Peaks Cafeteria at the main lodge. The Cafeteria always opens 30 minutes before the operating hours of the gondola.
Visiting Lake Louise Gondola with kids
Riding the Lake Louise summer gondola with kids is so much fun, as you could already see above. Even the little ones always find something to play with, and every new experience enriches their life.
Gondolas and chairlifts stop at the station so even children can hop on by themselves. Kids under 5 ride free, and if they’re below 106 cm in height, they have to ride in an enclosed gondola. To be honest, the experience is just as amazing, and you can even open the side windows. And of course, all children under 12 must ride with an adult.
At the top of Lake Louise Gondola, kids can enjoy visiting a Wildlife Interpretive Center with life-sized animals.
Viewing platform at the top of Lake Louise Gondola
After a 15-minute gondola or chairlift ride, you arrive at the top of Lake Louise Gondola. You just went from 1,646 meters to 2,088 meters above sea level!
The wooden viewing platform has a sign of surrounding mountain peaks and provides excellent views of Lake Louise and Victoria Glacier and colourful meadows under the gondola.
The viewing platform is the safe area on top of the Lake Louise Gondola as an electrical fence protects it, so you don’t have to worry about visiting with small kids. The fenced area extends below the viewing platform towards the Wildlife Interpretive Centre with toilets, a drinking water fountain, and the Whitehorn Bistro.
Grizzly bears sightings at Lake Louise Gondola
Lake Louise is a prime grizzly bear area, and meadows at Lake Louise Ski Resort especially.
While bear sightings are common, they’re not guaranteed. Bears are wild animals and you cannot expect them to make an appearance to satisfy tourists.
While we didn’t see any bears on our visit, we saw lots of them along the Icefields Parkway. Read our post about wildlife in Canada to learn about all the best places to see animals.
To increase your chances of seeing bears at Lake Louise Gondola, ride the gondola early in the morning or before closing. See their wildlife sightseeing calendar here.
Hiking trails on top of Lake Louise Gondola
When you get off the gondola, you enter the hiking trails through a gate of the electrical fence. You can join a guided hike or explore on your own.
The most important thing you need to have for hiking at Lake Louise is a bear spray and make lots of noise while hiking as this is a prime grizzly area (you can buy or rent a bear spray at Sports Alpine Ski and Sports Boutique at the main lodge).
Hiking packing list for the Rockies
You can choose from 3 hikes (see the map below):
- Kicking Horse Pass viewpoint – 1.7 km round trip
- Pika Trail – 2.5 km round trip
- Ptarmigan Valley viewpoint – 3.4 km round trip (it’s an extension to the Pika Trail)
What to do next after the Lake Louise summer gondola?
- Head to Lake Louise lakeshore to enjoy the lake or hike to see the Lake Louise from above; we love Mount St Piran Hike; it’s the least crowded hike in the area.
- Drive the scenic Icefields Parkway to Jasper with countless glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, and wildlife.
- Hike through Johnston Canyon to see several waterfalls and mineral springs Ink Pots at the end.
- Visit the breathtaking Moraine Lake (only 17 km away), but read our Moraine Lake guide first, as it’s not very easy.
- See the mesmerizing Peyto Lake from the newly built viewing platform.
- Go stand up paddleboarding on Lake Louise or Vermilion Lakes, here are the best SUP location in Banff.
- Choose an activity from our comprehensive guide of 100 things to do in Banff National Park.
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