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Although it is 195 km (120 miles) from Lake Louise, Calgary International Airport ( YYC ) is the closest airport. Calgary Airport is served by major international airlines such as Air Canada, American Airlines, Continental and Northwest. Here is a complete list of airlines flying into Calgary International.
Rental car from Calgary Airport: Upon arrival at the airport, most travelers opt to rent a car as it provides them with the most flexibility. The drive from Calgary Airport to Lake Louise takes between two and a half hours and three hours, but it is very scenic. If you arrive from a Canadian departure point, it takes you about half an hour to collect your luggage from the airport carousel. If you arrive on an international flight, it takes about an hour to clear immigration and customs at Calgary Airport. So you need to consider that it could take up to four hours to reach Lake Louise from the time that you land. It is recommended that you undertake the road journey only if you can reach Lake Louise in daylight. The scenery as you approach the mountains is very beautiful, and it would be a shame to miss it. Besides that, you need to consider how tired you will feel if you have undertaken a long flight to reach Calgary and if you are feeling jet lagged. Finally, consider that wildlife is most active at dusk, and driving through Banff National Park as darkness approaches requires extra caution. If you will be landing in Calgary at night, it would be better to spend that first night in Calgary and continue to the mountains the next morning. In that case the most convenient part of Calgary in which to stay would be the northwest quadrant. That is explained in more detail on the TripAdvisor page entitled Inside Calgary : Hotel Districts . The road that links Calgary and Lake Louise is the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1). The portion of this road that passes through Calgary is known as 16th Avenue North. Driving regulations and information for the area are online at Alberta Traffic Safety . It also is recommended that you read the TripAdvisor page entitled Inside Banff National Park : Driving in the Mountains .
Calgary Airport shuttle bus: For travelers who do not wish to rent a car, there are two shuttle services from Calgary International Airport to Banff and Lake Louise: Banff Airporter and Brewster Connect. Shuttle service is less popular with summer visitors, who need to be able to travel quite extensive distances from Lake Louise in order to enjoy the many lakes, waterfalls, canyons and glaciers that the Canadian Rockies have to offer. A car is the most convenient method of sight seeing in the summer and fall. Airport shuttle service is more popular with winter visitors, who usually travel to Lake Louise specifically for skiing. In that case, the shuttle buses that connect Lake Louise's hotels with the ski slopes and with the town of Banff often are adequate for the duration of the visitor's stay in Lake Louise.
Taxi: Lake Louise Taxi offers a service from Calgary Airport to Lake Louise. Taxi trips need to be booked in advance by calling (403) 522-2020. A taxi is not the most cost effective way of getting from Calgary Airport to Lake Louise.
The most convenient way to get from Edmonton International Airport ( YEG ) to Lake Louise is to drive a rental car . The distance is 450 km (280 miles). The drive takes between 5 hours and 5½ hours. The shortest route is to drive south on Queen Elizabeth II Highway (formerly Hwy #2) to Calgary and then west on the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1) to Banff and Lake Louise. If you want to bypass Calgary's traffic, turn west before you reach Calgary. There are a few opportunities for doing so. Probably the most convenient one is at the south end of Airdrie, which is the last town you reach before Calgary. As you reach the end of Airdrie, turn west onto Big Hill Springs Road. When you reach the T-junction with Hwy #22, turn south. Drive through the town of Cochrane. When you reach the interchange with the TransCanada Highway (Hwy #1), take the exit to go west towards Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise. Don't worry about missing this exit; the interchange has the only highway overpass on Hwy #22, making it easy to identify.
VIA Rail 's westbound train connects Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Edmonton to Jasper. VIA Rail's eastbound train takes passengers from Vancouver to Jasper. In addition, the Rocky Mountaineer's Journey through the Clouds route connects Vancouver and Jasper, while its Rainforest to Gold Rush route connects Whistler and Jasper. From Jasper you can rent a car and drive to Lake Louise. Alternatively, you can catch a bus from Jasper to Lake Louise. There is no train service to Lake Louise. The Rocky Mountaineer train that covers the Kicking Horse Route from Vancouver to Banff and Calgary passes through Lake Louise, but it does not stop in Lake Louise. Rocky Mountaineer offers coach transfers from the town of Banff to Lake Louise.
Many travelers from other parts of Canada as well as from the United States opt to reach the area by car. Driving regulations and information for the area are online at Alberta Traffic Safety . It also is recommended that you read the TripAdvisor page entitled Inside Banff National Park : Driving in the Mountains .
Lake Louise invariably is included in the itineraries of guided coach tours through the Canadian Rockies.
Greyhound operates a scheduled bus service from downtown Calgary to the village of Lake Louise . The journey takes between 2 ½ hours and 3 hours. Greyhound is not recommended as a way of getting from Calgary International Airport to Lake Louise. You first would need to get from Calgary Airport to downtown Calgary in order to catch the Greyhound bus. If you want to access Lake Louise from Calgary Airport, it would be more convenient to catch an airport shuttle bus.
If you arrive in Jasper by train, you can rent a car from Avis , Budget , Hertz , National , or Thrifty and drive to Lake Louise. From April 15th through October 15th, Brewster operates a bus service from Jasper to Lake Louise. From the beginning of December through the end of April, you can catch the Mountain Connector shuttle bus from Jasper to Lake Louise.
The Edmonton MagicBus ski shuttle provides a one-day round-trip from Edmonton to Lake Louise Mountain Resort on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the winter skiing season. The bus departs Edmonton at 4.30 a.m., stops in Airdrie for breakfast, and arrives in Lake Louise at 10.00 a.m. The bus departs from Lake Louise at 4.30 p.m., stops in Airdrie for dinner, and arrives back in Edmonton at 10.00 p.m. Service from Red Deer and Airdrie is available on request.
The distance from Vancouver to Lake Louise is 795 km (490 miles). It takes 9½ hours to drive, not counting stops. The TripAdvisor page entitled Inside Vancouver : Getting to the Canadian Rockies provides detailed information on the options for reaching Lake Louise from Vancouver.
It is 560 miles (905 km) from Seattle to Lake Louise. The drive takes 10½ hours, not counting stops. If you fly to Seattle, rent a car, do a driving tour through the Canadian Rockies, and fly out of Seattle again, be sure that you have the car rental company's authorization to take their vehicle across the US-Canada border. A written notation to this effect on the rental agreement is sufficient. If you will be doing a one-way trip, flying into Seattle and flying out of Calgary or Edmonton, the one-way drop off fee on a car picked up in the United States and dropped off in Canada may be prohibitively expensive. If you find this to be the case, you might consider transferring from Seattle to Vancouver by Quick Shuttle or Amtrak , and then renting a car in Vancouver. You'll still be charged a one-way drop off fee, but it likely will be lower than would have been the case if you'd taken delivery of the car in Seattle.
You can fly to Kalispell, rent a car, and do a circular driving tour through the Canadian Rockies and Montana ’s Glacier National Park before flying out of Kalispell again. You need the car rental company's written authorization to take their vehicle across the US-Canada border. Be sure that there is a notation to this effect on the car rental agreement. If you want to fly into Kalispell and out of Calgary or Edmonton, you will find that the one-way drop off fee on your rental car is very high.
If a winter visitor wants a break from skiing and would like to drive around the area and take in the scenery for a day or two, it is possible to rent a car in Banff townsite . The town of Banff is 45 minutes' drive from Lake Louise. Getting from Lake Louise to Banff in order to take delivery of a rental car would involve a ride in a shuttle bus.
When you enter any one of the national parks, you will be required to pay a national park entry fee. An entry pass that you buy for one of Canada's national parks is valid for all of Canada's national parks. That is a good thing, because Banff National Park is contiguous with three other national parks: Kootenay, Yoho and Jasper National Parks. A visit to Banff National Park very frequently includes a visit to one or more of these other mountain national parks. If you are on a guided coach tour, it is possible that your national park entry fee is included in the fare that you paid for the tour. National park entry fees are explained in detail on the TripAdvisor page entitled Inside Banff National Park: National Park Entry Fee .
If you will be driving to Calgary International Airport and catching a US-bound flight, it is recommended that you read the TripAdvisor page entitled Inside Calgary : Departing for USA . That page explains how much time you need to allow for the drive, for checking in, and for clearing US immigration and customs at Calgary Airport.
Summer travelers who have only a short time to get from Lake Louise to Vancouver or Seattle sometimes imagine that flying rather than driving will save them time. In reality, flying from Lake Louise to Vancouver saves only 3½ hours compared with driving. The reason that flying is less efficient than you might think is that you cannot fly from Lake Louise. You have to drive from Lake Louise to Calgary, and fly out of Calgary. Flying from Lake Louise to Vancouver takes about 7½ hours door-to-door (3 hours to drive from Lake Louise to Calgary Airport, the 1 hour that you should allow for contingencies during the drive, 1 hour to check in for a domestic flight, the 1½ hour flight, 30 minutes to collect your luggage from the carousel at Vancouver Airport, and 30 minutes to drive to downtown Vancouver). By comparison,it takes 9½ hours, not counting stops, to drive from Lake Louise to Vancouver. Suppose you stop a couple of times during the journey. That will bring your total driving time up to about 11 hours. When you consider that the drive from Lake Louise to Vancouver takes you through mountain range after mountain range, and that you would miss that scenery if you flew, the 3½ hours that you would save by flying does not seem worthwhile. In winter, however, flying makes a lot of sense. Winter road conditions in the mountains of British Columbia can be nerve-racking. If you insist on driving through British Columbia in winter, you would be wise to allow 24 extra hours in case an avalanche, rock slide or blizzard causes a road closure. It also is recommended that you read the TripAdvisor page entitled Banff National Park : Driving in the Mountains .