Just outside of Banff, Lake Minnewanka is everything a mountain lake should be: crystal clear, glacier fed, and surrounded by alpine forests and imposing peaks. A visit to Lake Minnewanka is a perfect introduction to the beautiful Canadian Rockies. It’s also the only lake in Banff National Park that allows privately operated motorboats.The Basics
In the summer, you can rent a canoe to spend some quiet time on Lake Minnewanka’s emerald-green water, captain your own vessel, or join a group for a 60-minute cruise. If you prefer dry land, opt for a hike or bike around the lake.
Many boat tours offer commentary about the Canadian Rocky Mountains, and their people, flora, and fauna, as do Banff and other park sightseeing tours that visit Lake Minnewanka. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Lake Minnewanka is ideal for outdoors lovers.
- Winter in Alberta can last a long time, especially in the Rockies. The ice on the lake can form by October and may not melt until well into May.
- Banff National Park hiking trails are subject to closure if bears are in the area. Make sure you heed any relevant signs.
- Lake Minnewanka is a great spot for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The 9-mile (14-kilometer) Cascade Trail is groomed regularly.
Lake Minnewanka is a 15-minute drive from the town of Banff; there’s a free parking lot available near Minnewanka Landing. A public bus in Banff National Park goes to the lake, and when it is very busy, a Parks Canada shuttle also runs along the same route.When to Get There
The summer months (end of June through August) are peak season in Banff. Saturdays and Sundays are particularly busy, with weekend warriors visiting from Calgary. To avoid the crowds, visit during shoulder season (mid-May to mid-June and September) on a weekday.Scuba Diving and the Submerged Village
From above, Lake Minnewanka is a typical, albeit a uniquely beautiful, lake. But beneath the surface lies a secret—the submerged village of Minnewanka Landing. From 1888 to 1912, the village served as a summer hub, with restaurants, a hotel, and wharves that launched cruise boats. Consecutive dams spelled the end of the village, first flooding and then finally submerging it completely. Today, only scuba divers visit Minnewanka Village.