The Canadian Rockies are home to remarkable scenery including some of the most spectacular lakes in the country! Sure the town of Banff is fun for a day or two, but you can’t visit without exploring at least some of the gorgeous terrain in the national park and surrounding areas. Keep reading for our list of 7 can`t miss lakes near Banff, Canada.
Lake O’Hara is without a doubt one of the most incredible lakes near Banff. The crystal clear water is surrounded by massive mountains, dozens of hiking trails and several other alpine lakes. My favourite part about Lake O’Hara is that you CAN NOT drive right up to it. You either have to book the bus (and be sure to book eeearly) or hike in and out the 11 kilometre service road.
So why is that such a good thing? When you get to the top; you won’t find this place buzzing with tourists looking to get a quick “insta-perfect picture” and then drive away. The amount of people is always limited allowing you to truly enjoy the serene beauty. The Lodge and campground book up really quick every year; so make sure to plan ahead!
Related: Lake O`Hara Camping & Hiking Guide
Moraine Lake is one of the most photographed lakes in Canada, and for good reason! The turquoise water and stunning mountain backdrop make this a perfect place to hang out for the day. Relax with a book, take a swim or set out on one of the several hikes in the area.
TIP: Go really early (before 8 am) during the summer to beat the crowds and make sure you get a parking spot. If the lot is full when you arrive; you will have to take the shuttle from the town of Lake Louise.
This unique mountain lake is known for its colour and the fact that it is shaped like the head of a wolf. The trail to the viewpoint is an easy 15-minute walk from the parking lot. Although very convenient, this also means that a ton of tour buses and tourists visit each day.
Want to ditch the crowds? Once you’ve seen it from the viewpoint jump back in your car and drive north on the 93 for a few minutes. You will find a small unmarked parking lot on your left. Follow the only trail for a few kilometres and it will take you right to the shore of the lake! We hiked in with a paddleboard and had the entire place to ourselves.
This stunning lake is surrounded by towering peaks, several hiking trails and a massive waterfall! Not to mention a few other lakes that are just as breathtaking. The easiest way to get there is to take the gondola up to Sunshine Village. From there it’s a 13 kilometre hike, most of which is downhill, to the campground and the lake.
Make sure to book your campsite or the Egypt Lake Shelter well in advance; you can do that HERE. I strongly recommend hiking up to Scarab Lake since along the way you can hang out at the top of the waterfall! From there you have access to The Sphinx Route which will bring you to a jaw-dropping viewpoint over Scarab and Mummy Lake.
Lake Louise is easily one of the most visited lakes in The Canadian Rockies. The typical tourist activities include renting a canoe, admiring the Famous Fairmont Chateau Hotel, and snapping selfies. There are several excellent hikes from around the lake leading up to spectacular viewpoints and even a tea house.
TIP: To beat the crowds; avoid July and August and go early on a weekday!
Named after its memorizing colour; Emerald Lake is one of the most gorgeous mountain lakes near Banff. Located in Yoho National Park, Emerald Lake Lodge offers a rustic meets luxurious experience for those wanting to stay right on the lake. You can rent canoes, hike around the lake or enjoy a meal at one of the two fantastic restaurants.
Do you love experiencing these clear mountain lakes but hate having to share them with swarms of people? Then Taylor Lake is for you, my friend! This is one of my very favourites because it’s a very doable day hike (around 7 km each way) and you get that tranquil blue water without all the crowds! There is also a back-country campground right on the lake for those of you who want a little extra time to soak it up.