If you're looking for powerful mountains, sweeping landscapes and a good dose of adventure, you've come to the right place. Banff's glacier-fed Lake Minnewanka is surrounded by deep green forests and nestled between the Fairholm and Palliser ranges.
When you come to Minnewanka, come prepared to make the most of each moment. This is a place that's alive with adventure. From biking and kayaking to picnicking and boat touring, you can easily spend the afternoon on Banff's largest lake.
Photo: Lake Minnewanka from high above.
Here's how to do it:
Hike: Start your visit with a good Rocky Mountain leg stretcher. The Lake Minnewanka Trail follows the western shore past the impressive Stewart Canyon and the Cascade River. It's an easy 40-minute walk to the bridge. Bikers are also drawn to this trail, which is intermediate to the Stewart Canyon bridge and then considered expert past there. Note the trail is closed to bikers from mid-July through mid-September.
Photo: Biking along the shores of Lake Minnewanka is popular with locals in the shoulder seasons.
Picnic: Fields, forests and beaches dominate the Minnewanka Day-Use area. Shelters and tables make for enticing picnic spots. See our tips on prepping for the ultimate Banff picnic here.
Photo: Lake Minnewanka is made for picnics.
Boat trip: After a hike and some lunch, it's time to hit the water! Scenic tours depart throughout the day from the docks and head to Devil's Gap. The friendly captains share stories en route about the wildlife and humans who have made this place home. Kids go free on the Family Cruise (June 29 – Sept 3 at 3 PM). The later-afternoon cruises offer local lore, awe-inspiring views and a chance to slip away from the world for a while.
Ice cream! Back on shore, grab some scoops at Minnewanka's Black Anchor Snack Shop. It's included for kids in the Family Cruise, by the way.
Photo: Grab a snack—or an ice cream—from the Black Anchor.
Visit Bankhead: As you head back towards the bustling heart of Banff, stop by the Bankhead historic site to explore a long-abandoned mining village run by the Canadian Pacific Railroad. There's a short interpretive trail that's heavy on Ghost Town vibes.
Sunset Explorer: Once you've finished your unforgettable boat trip on the Lake Minnewanka Cruise, you can experience the Banff Gondola after 5 PM and save up to 15% off the admission with our Sunset Explorer that combines the Lake Minnewanka Cruise with the Gondola at the best time of day. You can have dinner at Northern Lights Café or the chic Sky Bistro and catch the sunset from the top of a mountain. Talk about closing the day out in style!
Photo: Catch the end of the day, and a view back to Minnewanka, from the top of Sulphur Mountain.