Banff has some of the most spectacular lakes that are accessible via a variety of hiking and biking trails. Soak in the fantastic views as you cruise through rocky passes and manoeuvre through lush meadows. During wintertime, the lakes here freeze, which makes them ideal for winter activities like skiing, ice skating, dog sledding, and more. In summer, the lakes are perfect for canoeing and kayaking. Whether you’re in search of adventure activities or you simply want to relax in the nature’s midst, you’ll find something to suit in our pick of the 10 most beautiful lakes near Banff, Canada.
1. Moraine Lake
At the Moraine Lake, explore the numerous trails nearby. Here, you will find a wide variety of trails to explore for just about anyone, from beginners to experienced hikers. There are trails that span 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles), to trails that go on for 9.7 kilometres (6 miles). Check out the canoe launch and submerge yourself in the rugged splendour of gorgeous mountains like Mount Fay and the Fay Glacier. Perfect for any season, get out in the sun and hop on a canoe in the summer and cross-country ski during the winter. When it is time to take a break, visit the gift shops and snack bars at the Moraine Lake Lodge.
Address: Banff National Park, Alberta
Website: Moraine Lake
From the Moraine Lake, you can easily access Lake Louise through connector shuttles. For a small fee, you can get tickets for the shuttle connector that travels between the two lakes, making your transit seamless, while allowing you to enjoy the ride. The iconic Lake Louise is home to distinct emerald green water and scenic mountains that make the ultimate backdrop for your photographs. The quiet and still nature of the lake makes this destination a must-go if you are looking for a place to zone out and be far from the noise of the city. Here, there’s a plethora of adventure activities to take part in, like hiking, paddling and even dog sledding. Lake Louise offers the longest hiking trail in the valley. After the hike, savour delicious burgers at Bill Peyto’s Café located in the hostel here.
Discover Lake Louise & Snowshoeing
Duration: 4 hours
3. Johnson Lake
With its low elevation, fairly flat ground and relatively short trails, Johnson Lake makes the ideal place for beginners looking to achieve a simple walk during their vacation. For the best mountain views, many people hike the lake in a counter-clockwise direction as they will take in gorgeous views of Cascade Mountain. Be on the lookout for waterfowl and muskrat.
Website: Johnson Lake
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4. Peyto Lake
Stand before Peyto Lake and take in the resplendent views of the vivid colours of the radiant body of water that photographs would not bring justice to. Seeing this lake first-hand should definitely be one of the things you should do on your trip. The radiant blue is a product of sunlight hitting the lake, and while the lake is too cold to swim in, you can soak in the great outdoors and explore the forested shores with your loved ones. As you approach the mountains, walk on the path littered with trees. As you breathe in the fresh and crisp air, enjoy a relatively flat path. Many visitors end their visit at the Peyto Lake Lookout, so be sure to plan ahead if you would prefer more elevation or a quieter route!
Address: Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Website: Peyto Lake
5. Lake Minnewanka
If you are planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies, Lake Minnewanka should make it on the itinerary. This large glacial lake is 21 kilometres (13 miles) long and is perfect for picnicking with your travel companions. A family favourite during summer, set up camp near the lake and relax by the water at the picnic tables. Other activities that you indulge in here include fishing, diving and hiking. Furthermore, hop on a guided boat cruise, and the tour guide will tell you about the wonders that the lake and the surrounding mountains hold. For water lovers itching for some underwater exploration, be sure to check out the scuba diving options here!
Website: Lake Minnewanka
6. Hector Lake
One of the larger lakes in Banff National Park, this is the place to be if you are looking for serenity and peace. Hector Lake is located on the Bow River and spans 5 kilometres (3.1 miles). It is perfect for beginner hikers due to the minimal elevation, and a lovely spot to spend a quiet afternoon. Be sure to pack your water shoes or sandals for when you cross the river and watch out for strong currents.
Address: Banff National Park, Alberta’s Rockies
7. Two Jack Lake
This family-friendly place makes an excellent starting point for your camping trip. The lake is suitable for kayaking, and there’s ample space around the lake for a picnic. Plus, there are nature trails nearby, which makes it a perfect spot for hiking, too. There are also many benches around the lake, should you wish to simply relax and soak in the natural beauty.
Two Jake Lake
Address: Improvement District No. 9, AB, Canada
Website: Two Jack Lake
8. Bow Lake
The picturesque Bow Lake offers stunning and memorable views for your next trip to the Canadian Rockies. Bow Lake is home to one of Canada’s great national treasures. Bow lake is 34 kilometres (21 miles) north of Lake Louise. The gorgeous, clear and still waters make for an excellent backdrop for your images, with the waters mirroring the peaks of the mountains. However, be sure to pack some refreshments and water as they’re hard to come by here.
Address: Banff National Park, Alberta
9. Vermilion Lakes
Vermilion Lakes are a group of lakes, which are perfect for adventurers. Here, you can engage in hiking, canoeing and kayaking. Plus, the area around the lake shelters a wide range of wildlife. You’ll find moose, elk and sometimes bear have been spotted here. Also, be on the lookout for local waterfowl, including ducks, otters and beavers.
Address: Vermilion Lakes Rd, Banff National Park, Improvement District No. 9, AB
Website: Vermilion Lakes
10. Grassi Lakes
Grassi Lakes comprises of two lakes - the Upper Grassi Lake and the Lower Grassi Lake. These lakes can be accessed via an easy trail or a relatively difficult trail, making them perfect for beginners and experienced hikers alike. Whichever trail you choose, you’re guaranteed gorgeous views along the way. As you hike and take in nature at its best, be sure to stay on the trails designated for the journey, as there are parts of the lake that are in the hazard zone. Be sure to plan ahead of your hike and follow the directions on the signages around the lake.
Address: Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park, Alberta
Bask in the beauty of Banff's lakes
Whether you are travelling in a group or going solo, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to the different lakes and mountains to see. The views of emerald green water and rugged peaks are bound to evoke emotions and create everlasting memories. As you watch the sun set behind the mountains and the glow of the sun fading, you’ll feel time has stop. Bask in the beauty of Banff’s lakes!
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