The Banff Chronicles: Lake Louise

October 25, 2008


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We decided to make Lake Louise our first destination while in Banff. Although not in the town of Banff, it is in Banff national park. From our hotel, Lake Louise is between 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. The drive is absolutely amazing, but sometimes the road narrows to just two lanes and if you’re behind a slowpoke, then it will take a bit longer.

Lake Louise is probably the star attraction in Banff National park. Although I am sure that many would say that there are plenty of other places just as beautiful or even more so, Lake Louise is the most popular. Probably because it is easy to get to. They even built an amazing Chateau right on the shore (which we considered staying at, but because Lake Louise is kind of in the boonies, we would have long drives to other restaurants and things to see. Don’t get me wrong though, you could spend every bit of a week in Lake Louise and hike miles and miles of amazing trails).

Lake Louise is a picture perfect location. It’s a beautiful lake framed perfectly on three sides by mountains. At the far end of the lake is a majestic mountain where observers can see where a glacier ends. Upon my first arrival I though, "wow, they’ve already gotten a lot of snow in the mountains." It wasn’t until a little later that I realized that it wasn’t just snowfall, it was a glacier.

What makes this lake (and many other lakes and streams in this area) so unusual is the color. People told us that locals are asked what chemicals are put in the lake to make it that color. Lake Louise in particular is the most peculiar color of blue-green you’ll ever see in a body of water. It’s almost alien.

From a little reading we discovered the cause of the color. The glaciers in this region grind up the earth in their path toward rivers and lakes. This glacial silt makes it’s way into the water. Interestingly the silt saturated water absorbs all light except this blue-green color, which makes the water appear this color. They way when the lake first thaws out in the spring, all the silt settles on the lake bottom and the color of the lake is a significantly different color of blue.

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