Banff National Park's other main centre, LAKE LOUISE, is very different from Banff – less a town than two distinct artificial resorts. The first is a small mall of shops and hotels just off the Trans-Canada known as Lake Louise Village. The second is the lake itself, 4.5km from the village (and 200m higher) on the winding Lake Louise Drive, the self-proclaimed "gem of the Rockies" and – despite its crowds and monster hotel – a sight you have to see. You can walk between the two, the uphill hike from the townsite to the lake totalling 2.7km on the Louise Creek Trail or 4.5km along the Tramline Trail. But, really, you're better off saving the walking for around the lake and taking a taxi (Tel:403/522-2020; around $10) from the village (if anything, save the two linking trails for coming down from the lake).
A third area, Moraine Lake, 13km south of the village, has almost equally staggering scenery and several magnificent and easily accessed trails. All three areas are desperately busy in summer while in winter things slow down a little, though crowds still turn up for some of Canada's best powder skiing at the nearby resort.