Canoeing in the Canadian Rockies: A Majestic Adventure

The Canadian Rockies are known for their breathtaking landscapes and awe-inspiring views. Amidst this natural wonder lies Lake Louise, a place that offers a unique experience to visitors – canoeing across its crystal clear waters towards the iconic Victoria Glacier.

Experiencing the Magic

When you step onto the shores of Lake Louise in the summer, you’ll find the lake abuzz with canoes. This popular attraction can get quite busy, but there are quieter times when you can truly soak in the tranquility. The early evening, after the majority of tourists have left, provides a peaceful canoeing experience. Alternatively, if the boathouse offers early morning rentals, that can be an excellent time to give it a try.

canoe on tranquil lake louise

While you won’t have the lake to yourself during the summer, canoeing still offers a unique perspective and a chance to escape the crowds. It’s a wonderful opportunity to leave behind the hordes of tourists that typically line the lakefront and shoreline trail.

canoe floating towards chateau hotel on lake louise

Renting a canoe for one to one and a half hours gives you ample time to paddle to the far end of the lake and back, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the surroundings.

Canoe Rental Hours and Rates

The canoe rental season usually starts in mid-June, depending on when the lake thaws. It continues until the end of September or early October, subject to weather conditions and reduced hours towards the end of the season. The usual operating hours are from 11am to 7pm, weather permitting, with the last boat going out at 6pm. During peak summer, there might be earlier rental starts.

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red canoes lined up at dock at lake louise boathouse

The rental rates vary depending on whether you are a hotel guest or not. For non-hotel guests, it costs $125 plus tax per hour and $115 plus tax per half hour. Hotel guests enjoy a discounted rate of $85 plus tax per hour and $75 plus tax per half hour. Keep in mind that hotel guests have priority, and there is a separate line for them. To avail the discounted rates, guests must present their room key as proof of their stay.

For an exclusive experience, hotel guests can book an evening canoe trip, departing at 8:15pm. This allows them to avoid the daytime crowds and enjoy the serenity of the lake. The cost for this one-hour experience is $85 per canoe. However, it’s important to make reservations before 6pm the day before. Cancellations or no-shows between 6pm-8pm incur an $85 fee.

canoe rental boathouse on lake louise

Additionally, guests can opt for a voyageur canoe experience, where they can paddle an authentic 26-foot cedar group canoe. This unique adventure costs $55 per person.

Tips for a Memorable Canoeing Experience

To make the most of your canoeing adventure, here are some helpful tips:

  • The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel operates the only canoe rental service on the lake. The boathouse is located on the left-hand side, accessible via a pathway when facing the lake from the hotel.
  • Keep an eye on the weather, as it can change rapidly. The boathouse closes if the lake becomes too windy, rainy, foggy, or experiences snowfall.
  • Temperatures in June and September tend to be cooler, so dress in layers for the morning and evening outings.
  • On warm days, wear a sun hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the strong reflection of the sun on the water. Even on cloudy days, it’s essential to use sunscreen or cover up to prevent sunburn. Don’t forget to bring drinking water.
  • While canoeing, remember to use common sense and follow safety guidelines. Stay seated, avoid sudden movements or rocking the canoe from side to side. Falling into the frigid waters can be perilous.
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row of red canoes in front of fairmont chateau lake louise boathouse

Life jackets are provided for your safety, ensuring you can enjoy your adventure with peace of mind.

Bringing Your Own Canoe or Kayak

Currently, there are restrictions imposed by Parks Canada for water activities in Banff National Park. Therefore, it is advisable to check with Parks Canada for the latest information on using your own canoe or kayak at Lake Louise or any of the lakes and rivers within the park. While there is no public boat launch at Lake Louise, you can carry your canoe from the government parking lot area and launch it from the lake’s shore. Parks Canada provides detailed information on paddling in the parks.

boathouse wooden docks at lake louise

For more information on canoeing opportunities in the Rocky Mountains, including Lake Louise, visit the UpStreamPaddle website at