Lake Louise forced to turn away tourists as near-record crowds converge on iconic site

A couple visiting from Vancouver says they travelled to Calgary to enjoy the beauty of Lake Louise over the Canada Day long weekend, but were turned away from the Parks Canada jewel because it was overwhelmed with throngs of tourists.

'He said, 'Oh, you can't go up there, it's fully booked,' disappointed visitor from Vancouver says

Michelle Stern and Kevin O'Halloran were disappointed they could not get near Lake Louise on Canada Day because it was so busy. They say the situation could have been handled better. (Nataska Frakes/CBC)

A couple visiting from Vancouver says they travelled to Calgary to enjoy the beauty of Lake Louise over the Canada Day long weekend, but were turned away from the Parks Canada jewel because it was overwhelmed with throngs of tourists. 

Michelle Stern and Kevin O'Halloran say traffic flaggers wouldn't let them turn up the road to Lake Louise, but instead directed them and many others, to a parking lot near the railroad.

"He said, 'Oh, you can't go up there it's fully booked,'" Stern explained

"Access was totally denied," O'Halloran added.

They were told to come back in five to six hours to get in, maybe.

The couple was mad.

"I was very very upset," Stern said.

"What do we do, where do we go?" O'Halloran asked.

They recall signs saying 'holiday traffic' along the drive from Banff but they had no idea they would be turned away.

They were told to come back in 5 to 6 hours to get in, maybe. (Wikipedia)

"The feeling is that it was not well organized," Stern said.

"There were no signs, there was no help, there was no one to talk to and as a tourist, it's not a good experience."

To ease congestion, a shuttle service to Lake Louise was introduced this year, but Michael St. Denis with Parks Canada says this may have been the busiest Canada Day weekend they've ever seen.

"Of course we do have some frustrated people who have come in so what we're going to do is work better to communicate expectations," St. Denis said.

"So improving our signage, improving the messages that we have."

Stern and O'Halloran went to Banff instead and say they won't be back to Lake Louise any time soon.