5 of the best Lakes to see in Banff


The Canadian mountain town Banff means “awe” in the Cree language. No other word more aptly captures the allure and beauty of this region. The abundance of wildlife, peaks, glaciers, and lakes really make this place “awe-inspiring”.

Banff is famous for its turquoise glacier water that runs in every lake and stream. The water is one of the most memorable features of this National Park. Some lakes and water hikes get more crowds and congestion and people often ask are they really worth seeing? After experiencing the most popular Lakes of the region I would say some aren’t all they’re cracked up to be . . . but there are some that are “awe-inspiring” and get this . . . dogs are allowed everywhere!



 3 Most Common Lakes in Banff




Lake Moraine



Lake Louise


This is by the far the most mentioned lake in the area and for me the most dissapointing. If you love crowds, a natural lake that has been landscaped, and did I mention crowds? Than this is for you. I understand that it is one of the easiest lakes to get to because you can drive right up to it. Which is ideal for non hikers, people with a lot of young kids, or people with mobility issues.  It is also the closest lake from Banff which is convenient for those who are short on time or don’t want to drive for an hour into the park.


Lake Moraine


Lake Moraine is about 40K up the road from Lake Louise and it is one of our favorite Lakes. It is stunning in every way. It’s enclosed by mountains on all sides and the lake edge closest to the parking lot has a rock pile that is perfect for climbing up to get a birds eye view of this pristine area. A sunrise in this spot is on my ‘must do’ list for next time.


Emerald Lake


This lake is 25 miles West of Lake Louise located in Yoho National Park and receives moderate traffic. It’s another teal/green glacier lake surrounded by mountains on all sides. Most visitors don’t venture to far form the car park so take off on the trail around the lake to experience the lush green forest.



Off the Beaten Path Lakes


Chephren Lake




Bow Lake


This is lake is 25 minutes pass Lake Louise and by driving just that much further gives you a huge break from the crowds! There is a very large glacier right above the lake. It is right off the road and is a great spot to touch the glacier water and enjoy a lakeside  picnic.


Peyto Lake


This lake is in the shape of a wolf! Need I say more? There is a short but steep trail that takes you up to a viewing platform which is well worth it. Just make sure to bring mosquito repellent.


Chephren Lake


This is a classic and seldom visited lake that you get to on an out and back trail that is around 6 miles (7.7 K).  Most of the hike is through a dense mossy forest on a muddy trail. We passed a few other hikers on this trail but where by ourselves for 90% of the hike. This alpine lake is beautiful and well worth the effort and mud you will encounter on the trail.



Five Take Flight Faves

  • Laurie Szentirmai
    Posted at 15:50h, 06 August Reply

    Beautiful. I can just smell the air and feel the breeze by looking at your photos.

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