Must See Lakes In Banff National Park

Kayaking, Hiking, Picnicking and More!

Peak season: July-August
Country: Canada
Budget: $10
Best time to go: all year!
Banff National Park offers a ton of lakes that you can visit and explore. Whether you are looking for an adrenaline packed adventure or a relaxing picnic in the sun, all of the lakes in Banff National Park have something for you!

Weather is always something you need to consider when travelling to the mountains. Dress in layers and be prepared for anything because the weather can change very quickly! In the summer months you can expect rain and even snow, so be sure to plan accordingly. Summer activities are endless! There’s kayaking, canoeing, swimming (if you dare in the glacial waters!), picnicking, hiking, and so much more to do around the lakes! Make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife too, especially if you are at a less populated lake.

During the winter months the lakes are frozen and offer skating, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and plenty of hot chocolate! The crowds are not nearly as bad in winter which gives you an opportunity to see the lakes in a unique way that most won’t. If it isn’t completely covered in snow, you can sometimes see methane bubbles frozen in the ice!

Visiting lakes in Banff National Park is a great budget friendly activity. There is no fee at the lakes, but it does cost to get into the park. If you are travelling alone, it is $9.80/day or $67.70 for a discovery pass (which gives you unlimited access for an entire year). If you are travelling in a group of 2 or more it will cost you $19.60 per car per day or $136.40 for the discovery pass (also per car). These prices are subject to change and updated prices can be found on the Government of Canada website.

People often ask “when is the best time to go to Banff? Well there really isn’t one answer to that. It all depends on what you are looking to do while you are there. Peak tourist times are in July and August which coincide with the warmer weather. I prefer to go during shoulder season (spring and fall) and winter. Shoulder season gives you a chance to see the lakes with less people around and winter offers so many unique activities that you can’t do in summer!

Weather can change very quickly in the mountains, especially in winter. Always check weather reports before leaving for the outdoors and dress appropriately.

Best Activities

1. Kayaking

You can bring your own kayak or canoe to any of the lakes within the park or you can rent one for a couple hours! There are rental locations around town or near Lake Louise.

2. Sunrise Photography

Many of the lakes offer great sunset and sunrise photography options. Peyto Lake in paricular is a fantastic location to catch the sun on its way up! 

3. Picnicking

A great activity for all ages! Pack some snacks, a lunch, your family and friends and head out to one (or more!) of the lakes that Banff has to offer! Take in the scenery along the shoreline and if you are lucky you might even see some wildlife! 

Lake Louise

This is by far the most popular lake within the park. It is car accessible and offers great activities in all seasons. Get there early if you want to avoid the crowds.  

Moraine Lake

Probably the second most popular lake in Banff, Moraine lake is a hyper-photogenic gem! Hike up the rockpile trail to get a view from above or take a canoe out on the water for a unique perspective of your surroundings! 

Peyto Lake

Located about an hour north of town, Peyto lake is a perfect getaway from the crowds of some of the more popular lakes. There is a lookout trail that is only 2.7km to get a picturesque view you won’t want to miss!

Two Jack Lake

Just outside of town, Two Jack lake is a great place to have lunch, kayak, and take sunrise photography. There is something for everyone here! Car accessible.   

Johnson Lake

Use Johnson Lake Trail to access (3.1km). After this short hike feast your eyes on the beauty that is Johnson lake.  

Vermillion Lakes

Located just outside of town, you can drive, walk, or bike to this location! Keep your eyes peeled for deer, moose, and bears in the area! 

Bow Lake

If you are looking to escape the tourists then Bow Lake is the perfect location for you! Make sure to also check out Bow Falls while in the area!  

Lake Agnes

Make sure to check out the Lake Agnes Tea House while you are up there! Trails begin at Lake Louise. Accessible all year round!

Bourgeau Lake

Use the Bourgeau Trail (21.7km) for access.  This lake gets you face to face with nature without any crowds. Great for a full day of fun! 

Vista Lake

Use Arnica Lake trail for access (9.2km). Another great lake to visit if you want to avoid the crowds of the more popular lakes in the park. Keep your eyes open for bears! 

Herbert  Lake

Accessible by car, Herbert lake is a great place to stop for lunch and stretch your legs! 

Hector Lake

Use Hector Lake trail for access. Only a 4.5km walk to this beautiful lake! Make sure to bring your camera so you don’t miss a thing!  

Banff Map

Not sure where all the lakes are? No problem! Use the Banff Map to easily locate all the destinations you want to explore! Also includes hiking trails, accommodations and dining recommendations! Add a driving layer and easily follow the directions right to your destinatino!

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