A unique attraction in the region is the Icefields Parkway which begins just north of Lake Louise and continues for hundreds of kilometres through complete wilderness to the town of Jasper (home to another famous ski resort, Marmot Basin). One of the world’s most spectacular drives, the Icefields Parkway passes close by a series of ice-age old glaciers including six massive ice flows at Columbia Icefield.
The glaciers are slowly retreating and the river from their melt waters flows in to the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Be aware that there are no shops and no petrol stations on the 240km (143 mile) long Parkway, but there may be elk and various other wildlife that’s not hibernating.
Lake Louise has very limited shopping, with a small roadside mall between the ski area and the hotels containing half a dozen stores the only real shopping area, with the exception of stores within the big hotels (ski rentals, souvenirs, clothing, a wonderful geology shop and a great deli in the Chateau Lake Louise, all open to non-residents). However downtown Banff has around 100 shops to choose from, many located along the broad main street, ideal for meandering down.
In Lake Louise though there are several shops worthy of a visit at the afore-mentioned Samson mini-mall. The Bow River Trading Co. (+1 403 522 3826) has a good selection of gifts and souvenirs including local products. Nearby Canadian Naturally (+1 403 522 2077) has a range of products made in Alberta. Woodruff & Blum (+1 403 522 3842) sell books and maps and there’s also a grocers, sweet shop and ski shop on the mall.