When you enter Banff National Park, you are immediately struck by its vastness. In the winter, the mountains tower above with their snow-covered peaks and the snowy pines go on like an endless, seemingly impenetrable sea. During my visit to Lake Louise, we were lucky enough to have waist-deep powder, which meant one of the only ways to explore the park was by snowshoe. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise offers day and night snowshoe tours from its lakeside cabin, which is stocked with a variety of styles of old-school wooden snowshoes. Our group opted for modern versions since we wanted to hike up steep trails into the park.

Our guide Mike set the pace, pointing out animal tracks of hare and squirrel along the way. Most people stroll around the lake in snowshoes but hiking up the mountain, cutting through the deep powder proved to be quite a workout. A little over an hour into our hike, we reached a clearing and Mike let us wind our own way down through the trees, gliding downhill in the powder. He even urged us to “huck” off jumps and land in the pillowy powder below. Throughout our two hours we didn’t see another person. I love snowboarding on the big mountains, but there’s something special about being alone in the middle of the park on a blue sky, powder day.

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Skating in a Mountain Landscape

When the blue-green waters of Lake Louise freeze over in winter, it becomes one of the most scenic skating rinks on Earth. Just steps from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, the skating rinks enjoy the same stunning view of the Victoria Glacier, but with an added physical twist. Whether lacing up the skates for a game of shinny—that’s a Canadian-ism for pond hockey—or learning to skate for the first time, skating on Lake Louise is an essential Canadian Rockies winter activity. The ice surface is maintained from December to March, weather depending.

Your Guide to A Truly Unforgettable Lake Louise Winter Vacation

If you want to have a truly unforgettable Lake Louise experience, visit in winter. The combination of snowy alpine landscapes surrounding this piercing aqua blue water mixed with the kind of deep soul soothing silence I’d never felt before is capital A Awesome in the truest (non cliché) sense of the word. Located just two hours west of Calgary, Lake Louise in Alberta is a completely different world come summer, when tourists flock by the masses to hike and stay in the park’s historic lodges. Explore some of the best winter highlights including skiing in the Canadian Rockies, pond hockey and a look inside the incredible Fairmont Lake Louise.

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