Grizzly bear viewing is at its best at Lake Louise, located in Banff National Park, Canada. Lake Louise is a ski hill in winter but come summer its grassy slopes make for ideal grizzly bear habitat once all the snow has melted.
Visitors to Lake Louise are escorted up to the Interpretive Center via chair lift or gondola, visitors choice. We chose the open chair both times. As you enjoy the peaceful ride up, you peruse the slopes for wildlife.
This is the perfect safe way to see a grizzly bear in their natural habitat. While we didn’t see any grizzly bears, we did see a deer on our way up and thoroughly enjoyed the ride, taking in the silence.
Once you’ve reached the end of the lift, you have several options. There is a sightseeing platform in which you get breathtaking views of turquoise Lake Louise, Victoria Glacier, along with looming Mt Temple, also partially covered in a glacier.
I’ve hiked a lot in the Lake Louise area and can honestly say this is the best view I’ve seen in the area. I couldn’t stop snapping pictures.
Recommended Reading: The Best Way to Experience Castle Provincial Park in Alberta
After enjoying the views, we went to the Interpretive Center. The Interpretive Center is impressive. Side by side are a stuffed black bear and a grizzly bear so that visitors can see the difference between the two bears.
Also featured are numerous other animals found in the Canadian Rockies, all with signs containing more information about the species.
The Interpretive Center was very informative, yet entertaining at the same time. Lake Louise Gondola works closely with Parks Canada in order to obtain the animals for educational purposes and more importantly to share information about the presence of grizzly bears in the area.
Visitors can also partake in one of the award-winning interpretive programs ranging from free indoor presentations offered several times a day, or for a small fee one of the themed guided walks. The interpreters I spoke with were friendly and very well informed.
Hiking trails may also be open at the top of the mountain. The day we were there only one trail was open since there was a bear in the area. I was really impressed by all the bear conservation initiatives in place.
While speaking with Jacqueline Birk, Director of Sales for Lake Louise, I learned that the lodge and lower base of the mountain is enclosed in an electric fence to keep both bears and people safe.
Hiking trails are closed if there is a bear in the area and at other times it is strongly recommended that hikers be in groups of four or more people since you just never know when a bear will appear.
The gondola is also closed in the evening (except on Fridays) so that the grizzly bears do not become habituated to people. The interpreters I spoke with at the Interpretive Center also emphasized the importance of bear conservation.
The Lake Louise Gondola’s website states “The Best Grizzly Bear Viewing and Scenery in the Canadian Rockies” and while this might appear to be an exaggeration, it isn’t. On their website visitors can find the Grizzly Bear and Wildlife Sightings Calendar, showing that a grizzly bear was seen every day in July, except for one.
I really appreciate the transparency of the calendar, so that visitors can see how likely it is that a grizzly or other wildlife is in the area at the time of their visit. As for the scenery, the chairlift ride on the way down was spectacular.
The Lake Louise Gondola is $26.75 for adults and $13.40 for children, but visitors can get the best deal by combining it with a buffet breakfast or lunch for only a few dollars more. We choose the breakfast option and left with very full bellies after a hearty breakfast.
We didn’t see a grizzly the day we were there, but one was spotted sometime after we left. Even without seeing a grizzly, or a black bear, I loved the experience! T
he Lake Louise Gondola is one of only a few places in the Canadian Rockies where visitors can be transported up a mountain, without having to hike it and this made for a wonderful family outing, especially since we were with our parents who wouldn’t have been up to hiking up a mountain. We all left with smiles on our faces and almost forgot that we hadn’t seen a grizzly bear…well almost.
More information can be found at The Lake Louise Gondola
Disclaimer: I received two complimentary tickets for the Lake Louise Gondola and breakfast but all opinions expressed are my own. We also purchased four tickets for the rest of our group, who thoroughly enjoyed the experience as well.