Where to View Wildlife in Lake Louise
There are lots of opportunities to view wildlife in Lake Louise. All throughout the Canadian Rockies, there are chances of spotting wildlife.
The drive to Lake Louise in itself is a great place to start
If coming from Calgary, there are two routes you can take.
1) TransCanada #1 Highway is a wonderful drive with chances of seeing some of the mountain wildlife.
2) Bow Valley Parkway from Banff to Lake Louise, is Highway 1A. This incredibly beautiful stretch takes a slower, more casual drive with a better chance of seeing wildlife compared to the TransCanada.
Once in Lake Louise, whether in the hamlet or near the lakeside, there are trails around the lake and surrounding area.
*Lake Louise Summer Sightseeing Gondola (at Lake Louise Ski Resort) -A totally unique way of seeing wildlife from the view of a drone. This is a very popular stop to possibly see a grizzly, moose or whatever may be out as you make the connection with the Alpine landscape. (*This is a commercial gondola, www.skilouise.com, for more information)
*Moraine Lake (access only from mid-May through mid-October) – This is one of the most popular spots in Banff Park and is just a 20-minute drive from Lake Louise. Parks Canada also has a shuttle available between Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Many opportunities for viewing wildlife along this stretch and once you arrive at the lake itself.
*Icefields Parkway – from the TransCanada #1 Highway, north on Highway 95. This route travels from Banff National Park into Jasper National Park. This parkway is simply, one of the most outstanding nature drives in the world. Altogether it is a good 4-hour drive, but one of the most memorable you’ll ever take. As you experience the Rocky Mountains up close and personal, the area’s wildlife can be seen at any time. There are so many opportunities to turn-off and venture off the highway, also many, many provincial stops along the way as well.
What Wildlife can be seen at Lake Louise?
There are many different species of wildlife that can be seen in and around Lake Louise.
Male ram has the large curled horns, the female has shorter, smaller partially curved horns.
Grizzly bear or Black bear
The shoulder hump of the grizzly is the most obvious difference between a grizzly and a black bear. Also, a grizzly’s ears are round and low, a black has taller ears, and a grizzly has long light-colored claws, while the black has short dark claws.
Grizzly bears prefer more open areas, whereas the black bear sticks closer to wooded areas. Obviously, either bear can be found in those areas, these are just preferences.
Lake Louise has the highest concentration of breeding female grizzlies with Banff National Park.
Looking more like a horse than the largest member of the deer family. Bull moose display huge antler-racks that splay-out like the palm of a hand. Looking at times like placid animals, moose can be very dangerous wild animals. Stay a good distance even though it seems you may be able to get closer.
Common to see a heard of these majestic animals throughout the Lake Louise area. Some do migrate to higher elevations in summer, yet many remain in the lower areas of the valleys.
Elk do grow new antlers every year in preparation for mating season in the fall. After rutting-season it’s common to see on the bull-elk where the antlers have fallen off, just above the ears.
If you spot a cougar and get a great picture, consider yourself lucky as the largest cat in Canada is a very rare sight. Cougars hide in waiting for their prey and do their best to stay away from humans – so if you are out walking and want to keep them at distance, make lots of noise as you walk.
Much like its cousin the cougar, spotting a Lynx is another rare event. Smaller than a cougar with very prominent pointed-ears and just as wild. Very much a winter hunter as well, seeing one in warmer months is truly rare.
The pack mentality is the wolf mentality. If you, again, get lucky and spot a wolf, it’s been a great day. Most single wolf sightings are quick, so be ready. Hiking through the backwoods could be one of the few ways to actually witness the wolf pack.
Smaller than wolves, but sometimes a little more daring (just as they are within cities).
Other golden or bald eagles, osprey and hawks, there are too many bird-species to list here. If you are a bird person, you know what you are looking for.
Where to see wildlife in Lake Louise
Highway 95 Wildlife Stops along Hwy 95
*Tangle Falls*Jonas Creek
*Athabasca River Viewpoint & Athabasca Falls
*Mosquito Creek to Crowfoot Glacier
*Bow Lake to Bow Summitt
*Bow Summitt to Lower Waterfowl Lake
*Highway 93A Junction (24kms parallel to Hwy 95, then rejoins)
*Saddleback Pass, Fairview Mountain, Mirror Lake, Lake Agnes, Devil’s Thumb, Mount Whyte and Mount Niblock – all offer wilderness trails and hiking to the nth degree, but no vehicles.
LAKE LOUISE Hamlet: A world-wide bucket list location.
*153 kilometres (95 miles) west of Calgary, is the diamond-in-the-rough of Banff National Park, Lake Louise. There are two areas in Lake Louise, one is the lake location itself and the other is the small hamlet of 700, about 4 km down the hill from the lake.
*Originally known as the ‘Lake of the Little Fishes’, by the Stoney Nakoda First Nations, it was renamed after Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, Princess Louise Caroline (1848-1939).
*Rock-flour carried by glacial melt-waters is the reason for the unique, mesmerizing turquoise blue of Lake Louise.
Thoughts before you drive:
*Park Passes are required if you are stopping in any of Canada’s National Parks.
(For information on any national parks, contact www.pc.gc.ca for more information).
*Bring proper clothing for a day drive as Rocky Mountain weather systems can and do, change quickly and dramatically.
*A good zoom camera and good binoculars will certainly enhance your mountain experience.
*Be respectful of the surroundings, especially the wildlife.
*It is against the law to feed wildlife.
*Have a good map (usually found on most phones)
Another Way to Spot Wildlife on the way to Lake Louise
Hwy 40 Kananaskis Trail
Another way to spot wildlife on the way to Lake Louise is on Hwy 40. This is one of the most appreciated drives through the Rocky Mountains, Highway 40 has everything on this drive including paved roads all the way. Many chances to stop and watch, picnic or photograph, as the scenery even without wildlife, is truly spectacular.
From June to December, at the junction of Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, you can choose to turn into Upper Kananaskis Lakes area or continue south on Hwy 40 to the town of Longview.
You can take the Smith-Dorrien Trail to Canmore from Upper Kananaskis Lakes, to complete the circle route, or go back northbound on Hwy 40 to Hwy 1 (about 45 minutes from Upper Kananaskis to the Trans-Canada Hwy 1, east of Canmore).
Grizzly and black bears, moose, elk, bighorn sheep are some of the larger animals to see, again near early morning or early evening are best viewing times.
*From December 1 to June 15, Hwy 40 is closed to south traffic for at the boundary to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, while access to Upper Kananaskis Lakes is all-year-round.
Transportation from Calgary to Lake Louise
There are a few different ways to get to Lake Louise. You can drive yourself, as long as you are careful in the winter as the roads can get quite icy. Alternatively, you can leave the driving to the professionals. You can hire private transportation from Calgary to Lake Louise and relax, enjoy the ride and get some great photos along way. This is also beneficial for those who plan to visit from out of town so that you do not have to worry about travel directions.