The Banff area has some of the most beautiful waters for canoeing and kayaking.
Canoe and kayak rental season in the area begins whenever the lakes thaw, which is usually around June, and ends towards the end of September.
The hours of operation vary from 10/11:00am to 6/7:00pm daily, though no rentals are typically allowed in the last hour. For example, in mid-June, Lake Louise kayaking closed at 6pm, so the last rental was at 5pm.
Boat rentals are typically available for either a half an hour or an hour. During slow seasons, you may be lucky enough to be allowed to rebook for additional time when you dock.
Lake Louise is famous for its stunning turquoise lakes, the beautiful Victoria Glacier in the backdrop.
Though you can experience this beauty from the shores, canoeing/kayaking is a truly magnificent way to get even more up close and personal!
There is only one kayak/canoe rental on Lake Louise and it is operated by the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel aka. the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Boathouse. The boathouse is located on your right hand side if you are facing the lake, with the hotel behind you.
Canoes are available on a first come, first serve basis. They can’t be reserved.
The lake is patrolled by lifeguards who are employed by the canoe rental company. Life jackets are also provided, and are not optional.
Prices for rentals vary by season: early season (June/July), peak season (late July/August) and late season (Fall/early-September). Early season prices are $65 CND per hour and $55 CND per half hour. These prices do not include taxes. Line-ups can get quite long; get there early!
Early season prices for Fairmont Chateau, Lake Louise hotel guests are $45 CND per hour and $35 CND per half hour. Prices do not include taxes. There is a guest priority line that is separate from the general public. A room key is required as proof you are a guest of the hotel.
Hotel guests can book an evening canoe experience where they can avoid the daytime crowds for $85 CND per canoe for one hour. It departs at 8:15pm. Reservations must be made by 6pm the day before and cancellations after 6pm and no shows will not be refunded.
The maximum number of people allowed in the canoes is 3 adults or 2 adults and 2 small children under 55 lbs. One person in the boat must be at least 16 years of age. For more information, visit the Fairmont Chateau, Lake Louise.
If you are driving, the best way to get to the canoe/kayak spot is to search for Lake Louise (North Lakeside). The closet airport to Lake Louise is the Calgary International Airport. It is roughly a two hour drive from Calgary to Lake Louise, but there are many other ways to get to Lake Louise and the Banff area from Calgary if you do not want to drive.
Tips Before You Go
- Check the weather forecast: the weather changes rapidly and the rental office closes if it becomes too windy, rainy, fogged in or heavy snow falling.
- Dress warm: the temperatures in the mountains (Banff and surround areas) remain lower longer than other areas of Alberta/Canada. Mornings and evenings, even in the late summer, may also be cold. I travelled in mid-June and though it was 10°C when we first arrived, it was almost 4°C by 4:00pm.
- Bring Extra Clothes: water temperatures are typically 2°C or lower, so if you fall in, those extra clothes will come in handy!
- Bring sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses: the crystal clear water is very reflective on warmer days, save yourself the discomfort and come prepared.
Have your own Kayak or Canoe?
You may also bring your own canoe or kayak to use at Lake Louise or any other lakes or rivers within the Banff National Park. However, there’s no official public boat launch spot, so you will have to carry your canoe from the parking lot area and launch it from shore of the lake.
More information on managing your own canoe or kayak is available at the Parks Canada website.