Canoeing In Lake Louise – Tips, Rates, Know Before You Go

Canoeing in Lake Louise is one of the top things to do in Banff National Park and a must-do for any Banff itinerary. There is no better way to experience Lake Louise than paddling in one of its many iconic red canoes. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is a must, especially for a first time visit.

If you have canoeing on Lake Louise on your bucket list and have questions like, how much does it cost to canoe on Lake Louise? Or when is the best time to canoe at Lake Louise? This guide details everything you need you know to make your Lake Louise canoe experience unforgettable! 

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Canoeing In Lake Louise

Renting a canoe is a great way to really take in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds Lake Louise, including the Victoria Glacier that stands tall above the lake. 

The Boathouse at Lake Louise is operated by the Fairmont Chateau and is located on the left side of the lake.

If you have no experience canoeing, the employees at the Boathouse will give you tips prior to departing. The person who will do most of the steering will sit in the back.

I found that the majority of visitors to Lake Louise will only canoe to about one quarter of the lake, if you have strong arms I’d recommend to go as far as you can to really have a piece of the lake to yourself. The further you are away from the shoreline the quieter it will get.

The weather in Lake Louise can change rapidly. If you visit on a windy day canoeing can become a bit of an arm-workout! The wind typically blows “down” the lake towards the hotel. For this reason it’s important to row towards the glacier as soon as you get into your canoe. You want to stay away from the hotel side as there is a fast-running river that you can get caught out by.

The beautiful blue waters of Lake Louise.

Tips To Know Before You Go

  • Arrive at Lake Louise before the Boathouse opens. Not only is Lake Louise spectacular when it’s quieter but traffic on the lake will be far less first thing in the morning.
  • Think about who will sit where before you depart on your canoe. Whoever will be doing most of the steering will sit at the back of the canoe. (AKA your Insta-Husband)
  • Bring Layers – A sunny day at Lake Louise can look super warm, but the wind and cold temperatures from both the lake and surrounding glaciers can make a canoe trip very chilly. 
  • Pack your valuables in a dry bag. At some point during your Lake Louise canoe experience you will get wet. Whether that is a little or a lot. 
  • Life Jackets are provided but you can also bring your own.
  • Payment options include cash and credit card.
  • Be prepared for a windy day on the lake. Canoeing in the wind is a work-out. If you aren’t used to canoeing, consider returning at another time. 
  • At least one passenger in the canoe must be 16 years or older.
  • Dogs are permitted on the canoes. Ensure that you do not tie your dogs leash to the canoe in case it were to tip. 
  • The wait for a canoe rental can be as long as 3-hours in the height of summer (July & August)

How many people can fit in a canoe at Lake Louise?

There are different canoes that can be rented depending on your party size. A standard canoe will fit two people, but if you have three people in your party, then you may need to wait until a canoe with a middle seat becomes available. The maximum that a canoe can fit is three adults or two adults and two children under 55 pounds (sat in the middle).

We also noticed that some canoes have the fabric weaved seats rather than the hard plastic seats. We find these more comfortable so requested this particular kind of canoe. But again it depends on availability. 

As canoes come into the dock, they are going back out almost immediately due to the high turnover of guests. You may not get to request a type of canoe, and I would recommend taking the first one unless you are at the Boathouse first thing in the morning. 

Canoeing in Lake Louise - a bucket list experience in Alberta.

Can I use or bring my own canoe?

Yes, you can bring your own canoe, kayak or paddle board to Lake Louise. If you are bringing your own canoe, you may want to think about getting to Lake Louise quite early in the morning to ensure you get a parking spot close to the lake. 

Carrying a canoe is not easy, so having a parking space close to the lake will make your walk easier. There is no public boat dock at Lake Louise so this is another reason you should opt to arriver earlier than later. 

Many people opt to bring inflatable kayaks or paddle boards instead as they are easier to transport and get into during busier times. 

As of summer 2021 new rules have been put in place if bringing your own canoe, kayak or paddle board. You will not have to fill in a Self Certification Permit with Parks Canada – this is for all non-motorized watercraft. These new rules are to help prevent the spread of Aquatic invasive species. 

Remember to clean, drain and dry your watercraft before arriving.


Can I reserve a canoe at Lake Louise?

No, reservations are not an option. Whether you are a hotel guest of the Fairmont or not, you will not have the option to reserve a canoe. However, if you are a guest of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, you will have the option to bypass the standard standby line and join the much shorter, sometimes non-existent, line specially for guests. 


Lake Louise Boathouse Hours

In the height of the summer the Fairmont Lake Louise Boathouse is open from 8:30am to 6pm. This can differ seasonally, so always check ahead of your trip. You can check the Fairmont website or give them a call. 

Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta
The shore of Lake Louise, Alberta

Voyageur Canoe Experience

If you are visiting with a family or maybe just canoeing for the first time and don’t feel comfortable in your pwn canoe, then the Voyageur Canoe Experience is the perfect alternative. The Voyageur Canoe is a 26” cedar strip canoe that can hold up to 12 people. This experience is led by a guide who will share knowledge and stories about the local wildlife, indigenous people and early explorers. So it is more than just a canoe rental. 


Sunrise Canoe Experience

Staying at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has its perks, the Sunrise Canoe Experience is one of them. Lake Louise is jaw-dropping at sunrise, and with the lakeshore being so quiet early in the morning, this makes the perfect time for canoeing. This experience is exclusive to hotel guests only.


Is canoeing at Lake Louise worth it?

Renting a canoe in Lake Louise does not come cheap, but is it worth it? As a first time visitor, I would say yes. This question is open-ended and depending on who you ask you may get a different answer. For a lot of people a vacation to Banff and Lake Louise is a once in a lifetime trip. If you are returning to Lake Louise, you may want to skip the canoe experience or just opt to canoe another lake, such as Moraine Lake. 


When is the best time to Canoe Lake Louise?

Getting to Lake Louise early in the morning is honestly the best way to experience it. The lake is beautiful no matter what time you happen to stop by, but if you really want that one of a kind experience, early morning is the way to go. Seeing Lake Louise when very few people are there and everything is calm and quiet is an entirely different experience, and truly it can’t be beaten! 

For this reason, I recommend staying a night or two in Lake Louise during your trip to the Canadian Rockies to allow you to get ahead of the crowds and make your experience much easier. 


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Canoeing Lake Louise, Banff National Park
Canoeing in Lake Louise - everything you need to know
Canoeing on Lake Louise

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