Several years back, our nearly annual trek out west took us a bit further north than usual. While it is customary for us to travel to northern New Mexico and Colorado, and we have, on a number of occasions, ventured farther north to spend some wonderful times in Montana at Glacier National Park, this particular year we decided to include Canada as part of our trip. While we had taken a trip to the Toronto/Ontario area a few years before, we were anxious to get our first glimpse of the Canadian Rockies.
We had reserved a site at the Lake Louise Tent Campground in the Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Upon arrival we found the entire campground surrounded by a bear-proof metal fence, which made us feel both safe and imprisoned at the same time, and set out to investigate the area. I have previously written about our first stop, Lake Louise, and our hike to the Plain of the Six Glaciers and its Teahouse looking out at the gigantic Victoria Glacier. But there is much more to see and do here than we could hope to cover in our short four day visit.
We also learned a bit of information about Lake Louise, the body of water. The first Americans to visit the lake, the Native Americans, named it the “Lake of Little Fishes.” They cherished the crystal-clear blue-green water and the booming sounds of avalanches thundering down the mountains. The first European to view that lake was CPR surveyor Tom Wilson in 1882 who named it “Emerald Lake.” It was renamed Lake Louise in 1884 by the Canadian Geological Survey in honor of Queen Victoria’s daughter and the wife of Canada’s Governor General at the time.
In the 1890’s, the shore of the Lake was chosen as the base for a new “luxury hotel for adventurers” and the beautiful Chateau Lake Louise was born. The nearby railroad town of Laggan was renamed the village of Lake Louise and became a base for hikers, mountain climbers and skiers.
Even today, Lake Louise maintains a more rustic and adventurous charm than nearby Banff. It is worth the trip for the impressive scenery and the multitude of outdoor activities, including some of the best and most diverse hiking trails in the world. Whether you are in the area for a day, a week or a month, there is plenty to keep you busy.
For more information about camping in Canada, read more about how to RV Alberta and things to do in Alberta.