The Canadian Rockies are known for their distinct and stunning seasons. While the extra-long winter can linger on here well past their neighbouring ranges, when summer arrives, it’s spectacular. The first sign that the warm months are here is a day well-spent on the water, soaking in the sun and scenery.
Lake Minnewanka is one of Banff National Park’s best known lakes, and is the largest body of water within a short distance from the town of Banff itself. From the history, to the geology, to the sheer grandeur, there’s so much to discover about this beautiful lake and so many ways to do so.
1. Hop Aboard the Lake Minnewanka Cruise
The Lake Minnewanka Cruise is a one-stop-shop to make the most of your visit to Banff. Hopping onboard the cruise boats, you’ll spend an hour on the water learning interesting facts, folklore and history of the area. The lake in its entirety is 28 kilometres (over 17 miles) one way—making this the best way to take in even more of the stunning Rockies vistas. You might even spot wildlife on the mountainsides and lakeshores!
2. Try Your Hand at Fishing
Want a more personal experience on the lake? Fishing is a great way to unwind and connect with your surroundings at a slower pace. Lake Minnewanka is a fishing paradise, ranking in the top ten lake trout fisheries in Canada. Be sure to arrange your permit and boat reservation, and they’ll sort out the rest—from the fishing gear to the boat, and even a guide to show you the best secret spots!
3. Set up a Lakeside Camp
Lake Minnewanka is a great area to ‘test the waters’ of backcountry camping. The ‘LM8’ campground is just steps from the lake itself, and is located 8.1 kilometres north of the main parking lot. With an elevation gain of only 160 metres, the Lake Minnewanka Trail will take you along the west lakeshore, bordered by pebble stone beaches and lush vegetation. Wake up for sunrise for a unique lakeside experience, and spend the afternoon exploring the beaches and hiking trails.
4. Self-Power Your Water Sports
Canoeing an alpine lake is the quintessential Canadian Rockies experience. While you’ll need to bring your own canoe to Lake Minnewanka, kayaks are available for rent from the docks. Keep in mind that you will be sharing the lake with other recreational users, and it can get windy. The best time to head out for non-motorized activities is during the early morning calm. Also, motor boats are available for rental, and can be a fun way to explore the lake at your own pace.
While you’re welcome to take a dip in Lake Minnewanka, it can be frigid even in the peak of summer. Most glacial-fed lakes in the Rockies run cool, but some are better-suited for these ‘water contact’ activities. Check out Johnson Lake or Two Jack Lake for more comfortable temperatures.