This is why you need to do the Lake Louise Gondola

To say Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful and iconic spots in Canada’s Banff National Park would be an understatement. The lake itself is one of the most photographed lakes in the world, and Lake Louise Gondola sweeps you up 6893ft (2102m) for insanely pretty views of its turquoise waters. Most folks head to Lake Louise in winter for its amazing ski runs. But it’s also open in summer and is one of the best spots in the world for grizzly bear viewing.

Lake Louise gondola
It’s hard to believe you can get this close to wildlife at Lake Louise Ski Resort. (Photo credit: Shannon Martin)
Disclosure: Travels with Baggage sometimes receives compensation and/or hosted travel and sample products related to blog posts. This story may include affiliate links for which we receive a small commission at no extra cost to consumers.

Lake Louise Gondola

Once the ski season ends, Lake Louise opens up its gondola for summer sightseeing. Because it’s not just skiers who love these alpine peaks and meadows. The Canadian Rockies are most definitely where the wild things are.

Bears (black and grizzly), lynx, wolves, mountain goats, elk deer, moose, big horn sheep, wolverines and cougars all call Lake Louise home and each of these creatures can be spotted from the gondola.

Lake Louise Summer
Unless it’s raining, go for the chairlift vs the gondola car for fresh air and better pictures. (Photo credit: Travel Alberta)

Fret not, they’re all roaming below you, while you’re going up the mountain on the chairlift or from the comfort of an enclosed car. Let me tell you, it’s such a rush to watch wildlife forage for food, while you safely spy on them from above. For the best pictures, you want to ride on the open air chairlift, though.

Lake Louise Summer Gondola

It takes approximately fourteen minutes to be whisked up to the top of Lake Louise Ski Resort with their summer gondola operation. Along the way you’re likely to spot Rocky Mountain wildlife and a kaleidoscope of wildflowers. At the top, 6 mountain ranges are visible, which makes it an envy-inducing spot to snag family photos.

I double dog dare you to tell me of any other patio in the Rockies with a view as good as this. (Photo credit: Lake Louise Ski Resort)

After arriving at the summit, you ought to grab a bite and a brew at Whitehorn Bistro (more on that below) and wander through the Wildlife Interpretive Centre. There’s also complimentary programs led by Interpretive Guides so you can learn more about the wildlife and natural wonders that flourish in this area.

Stroll around the summit on a variety of hiking trails or opt for a guided walk if you’re unsure what to do in a bear encounter.

lake louise gondola wildlife viewing
You can tell a grizzly bear by it’s upper back hump. (Photo credit: Travel Alberta)

Lake Louise Bears

One surprising benefit that ski hill development brings is their wide open spaces attract grizzly bears and other animals during the summer months. As a result, one of the best spots to view grizzlies in their natural environment is at Lake Louise Ski Resort.

When we went in July, we spotted a lone male grizzly bear foraging through the grass. Score! But then 3 minutes and several hundred feet later, we spotted a mama bear with her two cubs! We were fully content. But wait! It gets better, yet.

photos lake louise summer gondola
How adorable is this, I ask you? (Photo credit: Travel Alberta)

While strolling back to the gondola to head down, we spotted yet another female grizz with her two cubs about 500 feet above us. They were moving so fast, scrambling uphill. We just assumed it was the same mama bear we saw on the way up, but it wasn’t.

We knew this because we saw the original mama bear on our way down. Then we saw the lone male again! So that’s 5 sightings and 7 bears within our two hour visit.

grizzly bear from lake louise gondola
You’ll want your camera battery fully charged between hitting the gondola!

Bears and other potentially scary wildlife populate this entire national park. It’s their home, after all. You don’t want to assume one area is any less populated with bears than any other.

Always carry bear spray on hikes in bear country, and check with Parks staff, plus online reports for wildlife sightings before embarking on any outdoor activity in the mountains.

lake louise grizzly bears
It’s rare to see two adult bears together. Could love be in the air? (Photo credit: Travel Alberta)

Whitehorn Bistro

There’s definitely fewer restaurants in Lake Louise than in the town of Banff. (Banff is like  small city in summer, while Lake Louise remains a village.) One of the best restaurants is Whitehorn Bistro, up at the top of Lake Louise Ski Resort. There’s several dining options on mountain, but the bistro is tops.

From the patio at Whitehorn Bistro, you’re privy to sweeping views of Victoria Glacier, Cathedral Mountain and the iconic turquoise lake. And the food is divine. If you’re sharing, go for the cheese fondue or the charcuterie board. Both are excellent, as are the mussels.

Whitehorn Bistro has awesome veggie forward dishes, too. (Photo credit: Chris Moseley)

7 Fun Banff National Park Facts

  1. Established in 1885, Banff National Park is Canada’s first National Park and the third oldest protected park in the world.
  2. Lake Louise was named after Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta. She became the wife of the Marquis of Lorne who was Governor General to Canada in the late 1800s.
  3. Banff is named after Banff, Scotland, the birthplace of two of the original Canadian Pacific Railway directors.
  4. Banff National Park has the largest cave system in Canada with 18 km of known passage ways – mostly found near the Columbia Icefield.
  5. There are more than 1000 glaciers in Banff National Park.
  6. The mountains in Banff National Park date back 120 million years ago.
  7. The most endangered species in Banff National Park isn’t the elusive wolverine nor the grizzly bear. It’s the Banff Springs snail! This fresh water snail that lives along Sulphur Mountain and at Cave and Basin National Historic Site is found nowhere else on earth.

Save this post for future reference:


Headed to Banff National Park? Read these, too!

Secrets of Fairmont Banff Springs

This is the wildest trip you can take in Banff National Park

Where you can do outdoor yoga and barre in Banff

What you need to know before hiking Larch Valley near Lake Louise


About The Author

39 thoughts on “This is why you need to do the Lake Louise Gondola”

  1. Joanne Cornock

    My favourite wildlife to spot in Banff national park… bears, birds, deer, elk!

    1. Tammy Henry

      We usually go out to Sheep River area, west of Turner Valley and almost always see some type of wildlife! I would love to see grizzlies though at Lake Louise or Moose!

  2. Samantha Plett

    I’d love to see a wolf! (from a distance HAHA)
    I’ve seen just about everything else in the rockies but wolves, and they have always been my favourite northern wild animal.

    1. Ana Vafadar

      Bear sightings and encounters are magical, though I really want to see Rocky Mountain sheep, I saw them once many years ago climbing off a cliff at the Icefields pwy, and haven’t see one since!

  3. Kyle Bullock

    Seeing bears never gets old! Usually I only get a quick glimpse of brown/black fur through the bushes as we drive by. Moose (Meese?) are/is? another good one! Last summer we saw 3!

  4. Crystal Finlay

    Would love to see bears and wolves, but really all mountain wildlife is a thrill when you get the rare glimpse of them!

  5. Jessie Machell

    Omgosh this would be AMAZING, love all wildlife, would love to see em all (never gets old no matter how many times you spot em). Bears, mountain goats, wolves etc yes please ???????????????? #TravelsWithBaggage Aislin Poppy wanna see a wolf kiddo ❤

  6. I would love to see a bear! Or a moose on the loose! This city girl hasn’t seen either before!

  7. Anita Kumar

    I would love to see bears. They fascinate me. Would love the chance to win this package for my family.

  8. I wouldn’t want to get more then 300 yards to a Grizz! I love seeing elk and moose!

  9. Jennifer Stuart

    I am interested in seeing most wildlife (bears included) from a safe distance.

  10. I’ve been lucky to see a fair bit of wildlife while hiking, including a few bears, thankfully without incident! On the chairlift would be awesome!
    I would love to see a white mountain goat!

  11. Tricia Archibald

    I would love to see pretty much any of the animals that live in the mountains. We did the breakfast and gondala combo at Lake Louise. It was too foggy to see any animals. Would love to get back before the snow falls again.

  12. Tania Thompson

    Wouldn’t mind seeing a fox perhaps out in Banff or Canmore. I thinking that viewing from the safety of your car is ok, just don’t get out!

  13. Barb Matwie

    I would love to see some bighorn sheep. Sometimes you can walk the streets of Banff and look up and see Wildlife but then again out on some of the trails I would love to see baby anything. It just makes my heart skip a beat. It would be so awesome to see it from a gondola

  14. What a great prize! I would love to see a bear. I think that viewing wildlife in their natural habitat is an amazing experience . Banff is always such an amazing place to visit because of all the things we get to see while we are there.
    My husband and I have lived in Calgary our whole lives and have never experienced going up the gondola. It would be an experience of a lifetime

  15. Belinda Berg

    I LOVE seeing bears and that is one of the many reasons we love living in Calgary
    This years, the bears seem to take the day off when we go exploring in the mountains
    We have been to Lake Louise (twice) the gondola (once) Spray Lake Trail (twice) Bow Valley Parkway and the Ice Field Pathway
    We would love to see the bears from the gondola this year.

  16. Vanessa Taylor

    I would love to see the mountain goats and some baby cubs! Usually we see wildlife in passing on the highway so I’d love to take some binoculars and really get a good look from above!

  17. Jenny Wilson

    I’d love to see mountain goat families and perhaps a wolf spotting would be pretty exciting!

  18. Carolyn Brooke

    Seeing any wildlife is a treat! Pikas are adorable, elk are so graceful, seeing a bear is such an awesome experience. I feel blessed whenever I have the chance to see our beautiful, natural world.

  19. Lori Stainer

    Grizzlies would top my list though I love to view all animals. Theres something so amazing about them all. Didn’t realize Lake Louise had a gondola. Another bucket list for me to experience and bring my camera in the hopes of getting some awesome pictures.

  20. Lori Stainer

    Seeing a Grizzly Bear would top my list but love to see and photograph all nature.

  21. Kristina V

    Bears and elk – love driving the bow valley park way at dusk – but often seen wildlife when least expecting it!

  22. Sybille Mikaelsen

    I’ve seen a lot of wildlife while travelling by car and hiking in the Rockies, but it’ll be a neat experience to see Grizzlies from the safety of the Lake Louise gondola!

  23. I’d like to see mountain goats and bears (though from a safe distant viewing point) in the mountains (Banff, Jasper or Waterton.

  24. Rachel Rasmussen

    I’m grateful to have been able to see a lot of animals out in the wild in one form or another, always at a safe distance. It’s be cute so see a raccoon? ????????‍♀️ Hahaha

    1. It would! But I think your chances of seeing a racoon at the Lake Louise gondola are low 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top