Top 10 most beautiful lakes in Western Canada

Exploring the majestic Rockies means a complete immersion in the heart of the Canadian wilderness.

Amidst the snowy peaks, glaciers and countless rivers of Western Canada, there are also a multitude of spectacular lakes. 

Discover the 10 lakes that you won't want to miss during your next road trip in Canada.


1. Moraine Lake

Vue sur le lac Moraine
View of Moraine Lake
  • Region: Banff National Park

The term "Wonder of Nature" could have been coined for Moraine Lake, whose magnificent blue waters produce a perfect reflection of the ten snowy peaks that surround it.

You can take in the views of the lake and its spectacular surroundings while exploring the shoreline of the lake along an easy trail. This 3.2-km walk offers stunning scenery. 

Vue sur le lac Moraine
View of Moraine Lake

Many other less frequented hiking trails also lead to beautiful views.


2. Maligne Lake

Vue sur e lac Maligne
View of Maligne Lake
  • Region: Jasper National Park

The gorgeous Maligne Lake is the largest lake in the Rockies and the crown jewel of Jasper National Park with its stunning turquoise glacial waters.

The Spirit Island cruise is a must for visitors to the area. This tiny island sits in the middle of the lake and can be reached only by boat.

Spirit Island est l'une des îles les plus photographiées au monde
Spirit Island is one of the most photographed islands in the world

This iconic island, symbol of the Canadian Rockies, is said to be one of the most photographed landscapes in the world.

The boat will dock for a few minutes on the island to allow passengers to take a few photos and immortalize the moment.


3. Lake Louise

Vue sur le lac Louise
View of Lake Louise
  • Region: Banff National Park

The legendary Lake Louise is known around the world for its majestic beauty. It is high on the list of must-see destinations in the Canadian wilderness.

The lake's turquoise waters, with Victoria Glacier as a backdrop, create a picture-postcard setting.

The iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, on the eastern shore of the lake, is one of the most prestigious buildings in the region and offers canoe rentals. 

Fairmont Château Lake Louise
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise | Photo: ee_va_ef

If you would like to explore the area on foot, there is an easy 2-km trail along the shoreline. 

Hikers will want to tackle the spectacular 5.3-km Plain of Six Glaciers trail (intermediate).  


4. Emerald Lake

Vue sur le lac Emerald
View of Emerald Lake
  • Region: Yoho National Park

Located in Yoho National Park, less than 20 minutes from Lake Louise, Emerald Lake owes its name to the magnificent, and quite unusual, blue-green colour of its water. 

This colour is created by light reflecting off white deposits of marl (a mixture of clay and calcium carbonate) from limestone eroded from the surrounding mountains and deposited during the last ice age.

Canot sur le lac Emerald
Canoe on Emerald Lake

Surrounded by mountains of the President Range, Mount Burgess and Wapta Mountain, Emerald Lake is quite calm and isolated in comparison to its famous neighbour.

Visitors can enjoy the scenery while hiking the easy trail circling the lake, or by renting a canoe at the small (and very photogenic) Emerald Sports & Gifts on the edge of the lake. 


5. Peyto Lake

Vue sur le lac Peyto
Peyto Lake
  • Region: Banff National Park

Peyto Lake, which is fed by the glacier of the same name, is easily accessible from the Icefields Parkway. 

A fifteen-minute walk along an easy trail leads to a viewing platform: a perfect activity to do with young children.

Le lac Peyto est facilement accessible, même avec de jeunes enfants
Peyto Lake is easily accessible, even with young children.

There you will enjoy a stunning view of the lake, the snow-capped mountains and the surrounding pine forest.

The beauty and sharply contrasting colours will give you the impression that you're looking at a painting!


6. Lake Minnewanka

Vue sur le lac Minnewanka
View of Lake Minnewanka
  • Region:  Banff National Park

This partially man-made lake (whose name means "Lake of the Spirits") is the largest lake in Banff National Park.

The lake is a popular site for both fishermen and scuba divers. A dam built in 1941 raised the level of the lake by more than 30 metres, completely submerging the summer village known as Minnewanka Landing.

Today, many divers come to explore the underwater ghost town hidden beneath the lake's surface.

Vue sur le lac Minnewanka
View of Lake Minnewanka

Interpretive cruises on the lake transport visitors to the heart of this heavenly landscape.  

Another original way to explore the lake and its surroundings is to rent a bike. Or if you're not a cyclist at heart, there are many hiking trails in the area.  


7. Garibaldi Lake

Vue sur le lac Garibaldi
View of Garibaldi Lake
  • Region: Garibaldi National Park (near Whistler and Squamish)

Garibaldi Lake is less accessible than the other lakes on this list, requiring a long hike (18 km round trip).

But the reward is well worth the effort, and you will quickly forget the long kilometres once you see the enchanting view at the end of the trail! 

You may even want to spend an extra night in Squamish or Whistler, just so you can do this hike. 

And you won't want to leave the region without treating yourself to a seaplane tour

This scenic flight offers a spectacular bird's eye view of the lake as well as the majestic glaciers, volcanic formations and dizzying mountain peaks of Garibaldi National Park.

It will be a high point of your adventure! 


8. Lake O’Hara

Vue sur le lac O'Hara en automne
View of Lake O'Hara in the fall
  • Region: Yoho National Park

Lake O’Hara is a collection of exquisite lakes and hanging valleys linked by a well-marked and well-maintained trail network, in the heart of Yoho National Park. 

This exquisite destination is a sensitive alpine area, and a quota system is in place to limit the number of visitors per day. 

Lake O’Hara is only accessible by shuttle bus, for which reservations are required. This shuttle service is offered by Parks Canada from mid-June until the end of September. 

Balade en canot sur le lac O'Hara
Canoeing on Lake O'Hara

You can also stay overnight at the lake. Again, reservations are required. 

It is not easy to gain access to this corner of paradise, but it is definitely worth the effort to try to be among the lucky few. 


9. Bow Lake

Coucher de soleil sur le lac Bow à partir de la Promenade des Glaciers
Sunset over Bow Lake from the Icefields Parkway
  • Region: Banff National Park

Easily accessible from the Icefields Parkway, Bow Lake is very popular with families and local fishermen.

On sunny days, the reflection of the mountains and Bow Glacier on the calm surface of the lake is simply magnificent. 

Vue sur le lac Bow
View of Bow Lake

It's the perfect spot for a picnic with the kids, or to stretch your legs during your exploration of the Icefields Parkway.

And in case you are wondering about the magnificent log and stone building on the shores of the lake, it is the historic Num-Ti-Jah Lodge.

This iconic - and very photogenic - lodge has been welcoming travellers since 1950.


10. Lake Agnes 

Vue sur le lac Agnes, niché au creux des montagnes
View of Lake Agnes, nestled in the mountains.
  • Region: Banff National Park

Lake Agnes is a small mountain lake nestled in the Rocky Mountains, accessible via a 3.4-km (round-trip) trail from Lake Louise.

Along the way, you will come across tiny Mirror Lake, a lovely spot to stop and take a break.

Once at Lake Agnes, hikers receive a warm welcome in a small European-style tea house.

Salon de thé du lac Agnès
Lake Agnes Tea House

It will probably be your first cup of tea in such spectacular surroundings.

If you want to extend your hike, Little Beehive is a twenty minutes' walk and offers a magnificent view of Bow Valley. 


Locate the 10 most beautiful lakes

Carte des 10 plus beaux lacs de l'Ouest canadien


And there you have it!

If you have any questions and/or suggestions, don't hesitate to write them in the comments section below.

Karine Beaudin

An enthusiast of our great outdoors and a travel advisor within the Authentik team, it’s with great pride that I share our country’s best-kept secrets and hidden treasures with the rest of the world. Welcome to our neck of the woods !


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1 comment

Don May 4, 2021, 18h18
Great list. If you wanted to expand it to 12 lakes a couple of other stunning lakes are Berg Lake in Mt Robson Provincial Park (overnight hike required), and the Lake of the Hanging Glacier near Invermere (day hike required). There are likely lots of others but these are two also very beautiful.