The Ultimate Guide to Lake Minnewanka: All You Need to Know

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka is the biggest, deepest and the second longest lake in Banff National Park. It got its name from the Stoney People. Loosely translated it means “water of the spirits”. Nowadays, it might as well have been called “Atlantis of the Canadian Rocky Mountains”, because the lake has an actual sunken city.

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Height: 1,500 m (4,900 ft)
Lowest point: 142 m (466 ft)
Length: 21 km (12.96 ft)
Widest point: 2 km (1.2 m)
Coordinates: 51°15′29″N 115°22′23″W

Lake Minnewanka is fed by the Cascade River, which originates from Cascade Mountain. This iconic mountain rises at the end of Banff Avenue in Banff. Water from the Cascade River flows through Stewart Canyon into the lake. Many other streams feeding the lake come from Mount Inglismaldie, Mount Girouard and Mount Peechee on the south side of the lake.

There are quite a few boats on Lake Minnewanka. Cruises are available, but people with their own motorboats are also welcome. This is especially popular with anglers. The lake is also popular with divers. They mainly dive at the former settlement of Minnewanka Landing. It was submerged in 1941 after a third dam was built in the lake to generate electricity.


Lake Minnewanka is located 14 kilometers (8.64 mi) northeast of the town of Banff and about 30 kilometers (18.52 mi) north of Canmore. It is bounded by Mount Girouard to the south, Mount Aylmer to the north and Cascade Mountain to the west. Adjacent Two Jack Lake is on the south side of the lake. At the northeastern end are the neighboring Ghost Lakes.

Check out the ultimate guide to Two Jack Lake if you want to know more about the adjacent lake by that name.


You can visit Lake Minnewanka all year round, but the best time is from June to early October. This is when all kinds of activities on and around the lake are possible. And perhaps most importantly, this is when the boats are out on the lake for a variety of boating and fishing trips.

In October the snow starts to fall in the Rockies. During this time, the area lends itself to other activities such as snowshoeing and ice skating.


The best time of day to visit Lake Minnewanka is around sunrise and sunset. During these times, there aren’t too many people around and you’ll be treated to some wonderful colors in the sky that make for stunning snapshots.

If you decide to come to Lake Minnewanka for sunrise, be sure to dress accordingly. Even in the summer, it’s cool or even cold early in the morning.


It depends on your schedule and what you want to do. You could easily spend an entire day at the lake, but if you just want to stop and admire the view, fifteen minutes might be enough.

A stunning golden sky over Lake Minnewanka in the Canadian Rocky Mountains during sunset


Lake Minnewanka is a very busy place in the park during the summer. Its size and facilities such as picnic tables, the possibilities of motorized boating, hiking, fishing and diving AND its proximity to Banff make it a popular destination for many park visitors. It can get very busy on national holidays, such as Canada Day on July 1.

In the winter, it’s usually much less crowded, although when the lake has good ice conditions, a lot of people go skating.


At the end of November, early December, the lake freezes over. It usually takes until the end of May for the lake to thaw.


The lake is not far from the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) and is easy to reach. At the turnoff to the lake, drive north on the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive for 5.7 kilometers (3.52 miles) to the Lake Minnewanka Parking Lot near the shore of the lake. It offers plenty of parking, though the car park can fill up quickly in summer. Not far from it, you’ll find the Lake Minnewanka Cruise harbor. There you can hop on a boat for a trip on the lake.

Public Transportation to Lake Minnewanka

Don’t have a rental car? You can take the bus from Banff to the lake. The bus stops at Cascade Ponds, Johnson Lake, Two Jack Lakeside Campground, Two Jack Lake, Two Jack Day Use and Lake Minnewanka Lookout before it arrives at the destination, Lake Minnewanka.

Banff Bus Stop to Lake Minnewanka

The bus to Lake Minnewanka leaves from the Transit Hub at Banff High School on Banff Avenue. You will find it right across from the Elk and Avenue Hotel. 

Lake Minnewanka Timetable

From 18 May to 16 September, the bus runs seven days a week, from 8 am to 8:26 pm. From Lake Minnewanka back to Banff, the bus runs from 8:30 am to 8:57 pm. It’s possible to take a bicycle with you. The bus has room for a maximum of three bikes.

The timetable can be found on the website of Roam Transit under the heading ‘Schedules & Routes’ (route 6). Reservations are not necessary but recommended.

When you camp at the Two Jack Main Campground or the Two Jack Lakeside Campground, you can go to Lake Minnewanka or Banff for free (for the return trip to the campground, a surcharge applies). This way, you can leave your car or camper and not have the hassle of finding a parking space.

More Information:

Bow Valley Regional Transit Services Commission
Address: 221 Beaver Street, Banff
Telephone: +1 403 – 762 0606

Tours to Lake Minnewanka

Another way to get to Lake Minnewanka is on a sightseeing tour. Just sit back and relax while a guide tells you a thing or two about your surroundings. There are several tours that will take you to the lake. Here’s a list:

You can also book a tour while at the lake. The Lake Minnewanka Cruise, for instance is a stunning way to explore the lake from the water.

If you want to read more about the tours listed above, check the following posts:


The weather is often moderate and pleasant during the summer. But since you’re in the Rocky Mountains, that could change at any moment, so it’s important to pack accordingly. Here’s a short list of things you should pack for your visit to Lake Minnewanka.

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Warm jacket for the cooler evenings
  • Long pants (in case there are too many mosquitoes, it varies from year to year)
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun glasses
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Bug repellent
  • Camera (or smartphone)


Staying in a hotel at Lake Minnewanka is not possible (anymore). However, the town of Banff is only a 15 minute drive away, so there are plenty of options to stay in a nearby hotel. It is also possible to camp at Lake Minnewanka.

Here are three hotels in the town of Banff worth checking out. The first is the Moose Hotel & Suites, conveniently located on Banff Avenue.

Exterior Moose Hotel & Suites on Banff Avenue

#1 Moose Hotel & Suites

✓ Indoor Pool
✓ Spa

Book it


Moose Hotel & Suites
345 Banff Avenue

Exterior of the High Country Inn Hotel on Banff Avenue

#2 High Country Inn

✓ Wheelchair accessible
✓ Pet friendly

Book it


The High Country Inn is a motel-style accommodation with reasonable rates by Banff standards. Located on Banff Avenue, you’ll have easy access to the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Road, which takes you directly to the lake.

High Country Inn
419 Banff Avenue

The enchanting exterior of the Charltons Banff hotel at night

#3 Charltons Banff

✓ Hot tub
✓ Bike rental

Book it


The Charltons Banff Hotel is a beautiful hotel on Banff Avenue with top-notch amenities. The hotel rents out bicycles, so you can easily cycle to Lake Minnewanka. At about 10.5 kilometers (6.52 mi) on a more or less flat road leading up to the lake, this is a nice trip.

Charltons Banff
513 Banff Avenue

Camping at Lake Minnewanka

The best place to camp near Lake Minnewanka is at the Two Jack Lake Main Campground and the Two Jack Lakeside Campground. A little further away, you will find the Tunnel Mountain Village Campground. It is located close to Banff town and consists of three separate campgrounds.

Two Jack Lake Main Campground

Address: Lake Minnewanka Scenic Dr, Alberta T0L 2C0
Phone: +1 877 – 737 3783
Overnight stay: based on availability, reservations possible
Number of sites: 380 
Facilities: drinking water, flush toilets, cooking area, picnic tables, fire pits and sani dump 
Kind of accommodations: motor homes and tents
Price: CAD 21.97
Period: 24 June – 7 September
Bus stop: Roam Transit
Distance to Lake Minnewanka: 3.3 km (2.03 mi)

Two Jack Lakeside Campground

Address: Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive, Improvement District No. 9, AB
Phone: 1 877 – 737 3783
Overnight stay: subject to availability, reservations possible
Number of sites: 74
Facilities: camp kitchens, picnic tables, fire pits, flush toilets, hot showers, disabled access
Campfire permit: available at the campsite
Kind of accommodations: motor homes and tents
Price: CAD 28.00
Period: 21 May – 4 October
Distance to Lake Minnewanka: 2 km (1.23 mi)

Tunnel Mountain Village I Campground

Address: Tunnel Mountain Road, Banff
Phone: +1 877 – 737 3783
Overnight stay: subject to availability, reservations possible
Number of sites: 618
Facilities: camp kitchens, picnic tables, fire pits, firewood, hot showers, flush toilets, handicap access, sani dump
Campfire permit: available at the campground
Kind of accommodations: motor homes and tents
Price: CAD 28.00
Period: 13 May – 4 October
Distance to Lake Minnewanka: 10.6 km (6.54 mi)

Tunnel Mountain Village II Campground

Address: Tunnel Mountain Road, Banff
Phone: +1 877 – 737 3783
Overnight stay: subject to availability, reservations possible
Number of sites: 188
Facilities: camp kitchens, picnic tables, fire pits, firewood, hot showers, flush toilets, handicap access, sani dump
Campfire permit: available at the campground
Kind of accommodations: motor homes and tents
Price: CAD 33.01
Period: all year
Distance to Lake Minnewanka: 11.6 km (7.21 mi)

Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court

Address: Tunnel Mountain Road, Banff
Phone: +1 877 – 737 3783
Overnight stay: subject to availability, reservations possible
Number of sites: 321
Facilities: camp kitchens, picnic tables, fire pits, firewood, hot showers, flush toilets, disabled access, sani dump
Campfire permit: available at the campground
Kind of accommodation: motorhomes
Price: CAD 39.04
Period: 13 May – 4 October
Distance to Lake Minnewanka: 11.6 km (7.21 mi)

A pack of wolves was sighted on the lake in winter in 2021. Want to know more about wolves in the park? Please click the link.


Thanks to Lake Minnewanka’s size, there is plenty to do on and around the lake. Of course there are some challenging hikes (some of them are multi-day), but you can also take boat trips, rent a motorboat, fish from the lake, rent a kayak or canoe, and in winter you can snowshoe and skate. Enough reasons to visit Lake Minnewanka during your stay in Banff National Park.

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka Boat Trips

A boat trip on Lake Minnewanka is an absolute must. From the boat, you can explore a large part of the lake, such as the so-called Devils’ Gap, a glacier path that was carved by Lake Minnewanka into the foothills of the Rockies. 

Several tour operators offer boat tours. You can go to Banff Adventures, Banff Jasper Collection, Discover Banff Tours and Viator.

The lake is so big that walking around it is not an option for most people. You can explore the north side via the Lake Minnewanka trail, but that trip is 57.1 kilometers (35.24 mi) long, which means you’ll have to spend the night at the lake.

Rent a Canoe, Kayak, or Motorboat 

Lake Minnewanka is the pre-eminent water sports lake in Banff National Park. It’s the only lake on which you can use a motorized vessel. This can be your own motorboat, but renting one is also possible. The same goes for a canoe or kayak. In all cases, the small harbor near the Lake Minnewanka parking lot is the place to go. 

Motorboats cannot be booked online. All rentals are done on-site based on availability. If you want to rent a kayak, you can do so in a single or double kayak. You can go to Banff Jasper Collection and Murphy’s Boat Rentals.

Fishing on Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka is also the pre-eminent fishing lake in Banff National Park. To fish at the lake, you need a national park permit. It’s available at the two visitor centers in the park, most sports shops in the park, and online. A national park pass is also required. By the way, a fishing license from the province of Alberta is not sufficient.

Any angler under the age of sixteen may fish in the lake without a license if accompanied by someone under sixteen who holds a national park license. The maximum number of fish to be caught is then equal to the limit of the license of the person holding a license. 

There are two types of fishing permits: 
Day Permit: CAD 9.80 
Annual permit: CAD 34.30

– The use of natural bait is not permitted in Banff National Park.
– In addition to a fishing license, you must also have a national park pass.

Fish Species in Lake Minnewanka

In Lake Minnewanka, you can catch American lake trout and Rocky Mountain whitefish, among other species. The lake distinguishes itself from all other lakes in Banff National Park because you do not have to put back all fish you caught. 

Lake Minnewanka Fishing Season

Lake Minnewanka’s fishing season typically lasts from 19 May to the Tuesday after Labour Day weekend (early September).

Lake Minnewanka Fishing Trips

You can also book fishing trips for Lake Minnewanka. You can fish for beautiful trout and whitefish in the middle of the lake. Because the lake is vast, you can try your luck at different locations.

Where to book?  
1. Banff Adventures
2. Banff Jasper Collection
3. Banff Fishing Unlimited

Hikes in the Surroundings of Lake Minnewanka

Because of the size of Lake Minnewanka, there are many hikes around the water. From one hour to three days, there’s something for everyone. Below you’ll find an overview of six different hikes. I also added a description of the three most popular ones.

Lake Minnewanka Trail57 km (35.18 mi)2 days 1,346 m (4,416 ft)At the harbor
Lake Minnewanka Lakeside Hike17.1 km (10.56 mi)4 – 6 hrs360 m (1181 ft)Lake Minnewanka car park
Aylmer Lookout Via Lake Minnewanka24.5 km (15.12 mi)7 – 10.5 hrs1,085 (3,556 ft)Lake Minnewanka car park
Lake Minnewanka Backpacking Trail24.6 km (15.18 mi)2 – 3 days700 m (2,296 ft)Lake Minnewanka car park
Johnson Lake5.6 km (3.46 mi)1 hourMinimalJohnson Lake Day-use Area
Stewart Canyon6.6 km (4.1 mi)2-3 hrs257 m (843 ft)Lake Minnewanka Day-Use Area
Hiking Trails around Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka Lakeside Hike

Be ready for an entire afternoon of hiking when embarking on the Lake Minnewanka Lakeside Hike! This hike is 17.1 kilometers (10.56 mi) out-and-back. The hike is rated as easy and takes approximately 4-6 hours to complete.

The hike offers stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains, including Mount Inglismaldie and Mount Girouard, and has minimal elevation gain.

The hike starts at the Lake Minnewanka parking lot and follows the lake shore for the majority of the trail. Along the way, you will pass by several picnic areas and benches, making it a great spot for a lunch break or enjoy the scenery.

Wildlife sightings are also common on this trail, so keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, elk, and even grizzly bears. And don’t forget to bring your bear spray! Just in case…

Beautiful cedar trees donned in fall colors and reflecting in Lake Minnewanka during larch season in the Canadian Rocky Mountains

Aylmer Lookout Via Lake Minnewanka

If you’re an experienced hiker who’s in for a new challenge, the Aylmer Lookout Via Lake Minnewanka hike is for you. This challenging hike is 24.5 kilometers (15.12 mi) out-and-back. The trailhead is located at the Lake Minnewanka parking lot and follows the lake shore for the first 7.8 kilometers (4.85 mi) before turning off onto the Aylmer Pass Trail. From there, the trail becomes steep and challenging, with an elevation gain of 1,085 meters (3556 ft).

The trail offers stunning views of Lake Minnewanka and the surrounding mountains, including Mount Aylmer and Mount Inglismaldie. Along the way, you’ll pass by several alpine meadows and streams, making it a great spot for a picnic.

Wildlife sightings are also common on this trail, so keep an eye out for bighorn sheep, elk, and even grizzly bears. So bring bear spray on your trip.

Due to its length and difficulty, the Aylmer Lookout Via Lake Minnewanka hike requires a good physical condition. It can take anywhere from 7.5-10.5 hours to complete, so make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks.

Stewart Canyon Trail

The Stewart Canyon Trail is a moderate hike. It’s about 6.6 kilometers (4.1 mi) out and back, and you should be able to complete it in 2-3 hours.

The trail begins at the parking lot near the Lake Minnewanka Day Use Area, just past the main dock area, and follows the Lake Minnewanka shoreline offering beautiful views of the water and surrounding forests and mountains. The trail is well maintained but can be rocky and steep in places, so wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots.

Along the way you’ll pass the historic Stewart Canyon Bridge, which offers great views of the Cascade River with white water rapids, and high canyon walls. It’s a popular snapshot spot. And if you’re lucky you’ll also see wildlife such as elk and deer.

Mountain Biking Around Lake Minnewanka

The area around Lake Minnewanka is perfect for a mountain bike ride. The reward is always a great view. Below you’ll find an overview of the mountain bike trails near the lake. By the way, the Minnewanka Loop Ride is not specifically a mountain bike trail as the route takes you over the public (paved) road.

Cascade29.2 km (18.02 mi)230 m up (754 ft) / 60 m down (196 ft)Upper Bankhead car park
Cascade Ponds – Bankhead5.4 km (3.33 mi)52 m up (170 ft) / 12 m (39 ft) downCascade Ponds day-use area of Lake Minnewanka Road
Minnewanka Loop Ride17 km (10.49 mi)178 m (584 ft)Cascade Ponds car park
Mountain Bike Trails around Lake Minnewanka

Scuba Diving in Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka is THE place to dive in the park and it’s easy to understand why. The underwater city of Minnewanka Landing has enormous appeal (see history of Lake Minnewanka above). Visibility in the water varies with the time of year, from 5 to 10 meters (16 to 32 feet). 

The lake has three dive sites. They are on the south side of the dam. From this location you can dive to the underwater bridge. You can park at the stairs on the south side of the dam. If you want to dive to the old dam from 1912, you can park halfway up the dam. The third spot is “The Cliffs”. For this location you can park at the Lake Minnewanka car park. You can enter the water at the nearby picnic area.

If you want to see Minnewanka Landing, you have to dive from a boat. If you don’t have a boat, don’t worry. There are aluminum motorboats for hire at the lake on a day license. You pay CAD 115 for the first hour, CAD 65 for the next. Half a day costs CAD 295. You are expected to fly a diving flag when anchored on the lake.

In Banff National Park, you can only dive in Lake Minnewanka and the adjacent Two Jack Lake. 

Cross-Country Skiing around Lake Minnewanka

In winter, the immediate vicinity of Lake Minnewanka is also ideal for cross-country skiing. You can enjoy the Rockies in peace and quiet without the summer crowds. Below are some popular trails.

Cascade Valley (to Cascade River bridge)12.6 km (7.83 mi)135 m (443 ft) up / 50 m (164 ft) downLake Minnewanka Day-Use Area car park
Cascade Valley (to Stoney Creek)30.2 km (18.76 mi)250 m (250 ft) up / 85 m (278 ft) down Lake Minnewanka Day-Use Area car park
Cross Country Skiing Trails around Lake Minnewanka

Skating on Lake Minnewanka

At the beginning of winter, Lake Minnewanka – if the ice is not already covered by a thick layer of snow – invites you to enjoy some skating fun. Be wary, however, as Parks Canada does not monitor the thickness of the ice or post warnings about potentially unsafe areas. You can get more information about skating in the park at a Visitor Centre. 

A disadvantage is that the west side of the lake, near Lake Minnewanka Road, is the last part to freeze over every winter. It is also the only part of the lake that’s easily accessible by car. If you want to get on the ice slightly more to the east, you will have to hike a bit first.  

Furthermore, it’s wise to take the cold seriously. Because the lake is so big, you almost always have to deal with a strong wind. That wind makes the wind chill much lower than the actual temperature.

Snowshoeing around Lake Minnewanka

You can also take beautiful walks around Lake Minnewanka in winter. With a pair of handy snowshoes attached to your feet, you can walk with relative ease over the thick layer of snow in the coldest months.

There are no specific snowshoe trails, but you can easily follow the path along the lake and, of course, cross the lake if you want. There are plenty of opportunities for a beautiful day at the lake.

Lake Minnewanka during sunrise on a cold morning in Banff National Park


The history of Lake Minnewanka is, without a doubt, one of the most extraordinary stories in Banff National Park. For thousands of years, the lake and its surroundings were the terrain of indigenous peoples such as the Stoney people. They used the area around the lake for hunting and camping.

The Stoney call it “Minn-waki” or “Lake of the Spirits” in reference to a legend of an aboriginal man who first saw the water from the top of one of the surrounding mountains. He is said to have seen a fish as long as the lake. He called the lake the Lake of the Angry Water Spirit.

Sir George Simpson Arrives in the Rockies 

Documented history begins with Sir George Simpson’s visit to the lake in July 1841. This explorer from Scotland and colonial governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company was on his way to the Pacific Ocean when he arrived in a valley in the Rockies. He was on a world tour and had a caravan of 45 horses and 25 men at his disposal for this part of the journey.

The valley consisted of four lakes. The fourth, the westernmost lake, was the largest of the bunch. Simpson called it Peechee Lake. It was the way he pronounced the name of Alexis Piche, chief of the Mountain Cree and leader of Simpson’s caravan. 

After Simpson, more travelers arrived in the area. They gave the lake names like Cannibal’s Lake, Devil’s Lake and Devil’s Head Lake. In 1888, on the Department of the Interior initiative, it was given its current name. It changed the name to Lake Minnewanka, Stoney for “Water of the Spirits”.

A New Village in the Rockies: Minnewanka Landing

A few years earlier, Rocky Mountain Park opened to tourists, as Banff National Park was still called in those days. In addition to the town of Banff, the neighboring Minnewanka Landing was created.

In 1886 and 1887, Willoughby John Astley and W. H. Desbrowne built the Beach House Hotel, which was particularly popular with city dwellers from Calgary. Most of them were people of stature, such as doctors and politicians. Later, tourists from abroad also stayed there.

The small community on the lake of the same name had four avenues and three streets with hotels, wharves and restaurants. There were even sailing trips. In those days, Minnewanka Landing was a proper resort town.

A Wooden Dam in Lake Minnewanka

In 1895, a small wooden dam was built at the lake’s outlet across Devil’s Creek to regulate the water level at the wharf. The dam proved not effective (enough). In 1912, the federal government granted Calgary Power permission to build another, bigger dam on the lake.

It regulated the flow to the Bow River and the Seebe power stations. Astley’s successor, the Reverend Basil Guy Way, who had run the hotel since 1903, was forced to burn the Beach House Hotel to the ground because of what was coming.

The dam caused the water level to rise by 3.7 meters (12 ft), and an area of more than 4,000 m2 (.098 acre) was flooded, including the spot where the Beach House Hotel stood. Part of Minnewanka Landing had now disappeared underwater, but dozens of new houses were built in the two following decades.

In 1941, the lake received the third dam to raise the water level further. This was possible thanks to the War Measures Act. It overruled the National Park Act, which excluded industrial development within the boundaries of national parks.

Ghost Town Minnewanka Landing

During the third dam’s construction, all Minnewanka Landing residents were forced to leave their homes. When the construction was completed, the water rose as much as 30 meters (98 ft). This time the water swallowed the entire village, including the second dam.

Lake Minnewanka has had an underwater ghost town ever since. Not surprisingly, the lake is popular with divers. Every year some 8,000 adventurers dive into the hidden remains of Minnewanka Landing.


Banff Visitor Centre
Opening hours (daily): 09.00 – 17.00 hrs
Phone: +1 403 – 762 1550
E-mail address:
Address: 224 Banff Avenue, Banff

Lake Louise Visitor Centre
Opening hours (daily): 09.00 – 17.00
Phone: +1 403 – 522 3833
E-mail address:
Address: Samson Mall, 201 Village Rd, Lake Louise


Can I swim in Lake Minnewanka?

Yes, you can swim in Lake Minnewanka, but the water is extremely cold, with temperatures rarely getting above 4°C. This means that you can only swim for short periods, typically around 15 minutes, before becoming hypothermic.

Do I need a park pass for Lake Minnewanka? 

Yes, you need a valid park pass to enter Banff National Park, which includes Lake Minnewanka. You can purchase a pass online or at various locations throughout the park, including the Lake Minnewanka Visitor Centre.

Can I buy a park pass at Lake Minnewanka? 

Yes, you can purchase a park pass at the Banff or Lake Louise Visitor Centre.

Can I get altitude sickness at Lake Minnewanka?

At 1,500 meters (4,900 feet), Lake Minnewanka is situated at the lower threshold of heights that are regarded as high altitude. Some visitors may experience symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache, nausea, and fatigue. To avoid these symptoms, stay hydrated, avoid alcohol and strenuous activity, and acclimate slowly to the altitude.

Are dogs allowed at Lake Minnewanka? 

Yes, dogs are allowed at Lake Minnewanka but they must be on a leash at all times and you must clean up after them.

Can I boat on Lake Minnewanka?

Yes, you can boat on Lake Minnewanka! The lake is a popular spot for boating, with motorized boats and non-motorized boats such as kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) allowed on the water. There is a designated boat launch area at the Lake Minnewanka Day Use Area

Can I bring my own boat to Lake Minnewanka?

Yes, you may bring your own (motor) boat to Lake Minnewanka. There is a boat and trailer parking space as well as an unloading ramp. The park doesn’t have any public boat docks.

Can I walk around Lake Minnewanka?

No, Lake Minnewanka has a number of wonderful trails that you may enjoy, though you can’t walk all the way around it.

The Lake Minnewanka Trail, which connects the parking area with the LM31 Ghost Lakes Campground, is the longest. This hike is a whopping 62 kilometres roundtrip. The trip to LM11 Mount Inglismaldie Campground is a favorite if you’re looking for a shorter trail.

Can I bike around Lake Minnewanka?

Yes and no. There are sections around the Lake Minnewanka Day Use Area that allow biking along the lakeshore. However, there is no designated bike trail around the lake.

Can I bike to Lake Minnewanka from Banff? 

Yes, you can bike to Lake Minnewanka from Banff. It’s about 6.84 mi (11 km). Just head north on Banff Avenue. Once you’ve passed the TransCanada Highway underpass, you’ll enter the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive. This will take you directly to the lake.

Can I rent skates at Lake Minnewanka in winter?

No, skate rentals are not available at Lake Minnewanka, unfortunately, so bring your own.

Panorama of the Rocky Mountains looming high above a frozen Lake Minnewanka in winter

Can I fly a drone at Lake Louise?

No, flying drones is not allowed in Banff National Park, including at Lake Minnewanka.

Can I picnic at Lake Minnewanka?

Yes, the Lake Minnewanka Day Use Area has picnic tables right on the shore.

Can I drink from Lake Minnewanka?

It is not recommended to drink water directly from Lake Minnewanka, as it is not treated for consumption.

Do I need bear spray at Lake Minnewanka?

Yes, bear spray is recommended at Lake Minnewanka and all areas of Banff National Park. Bears are common in the park, and can be unpredictable. 

You can rent or buy bear spray in Banff as well as in Lake Louise.

In Banff, it is available at the Visitor Centre (224 Banff Avenue) and at most sporting goods stores, such as Atmosphere (124 Banff Avenue), UNLTD Skate & Snow (319 Banff Avenue), and Monod Sports (129 Banff Avenue). 

You can also visit the Visitor Centre in Lake Louise (201 Village Road) and Wilson Mountain Sports (101 Lake Louise Drive). 

To keep bears at bay, make noise by talking, singing, or clapping your hands. Bears are more likely to avoid you if they hear you coming. 

And always hike in a group. As Lake Minnewanka is busy there will always be other people on your trail which makes a bear encounter less likely.

Other articles you might be interested in:
How to Make Sure Mosquitoes Don’t Ruin Your Stay in Banff
Plan Your Banff Itinerary – Know the Distances
How Much Does a Banff Vacation Cost in 2023? (Crazy Numbers)


As a former Banffite, I love writing about my favorite part of the world. I keep coming back to enjoy the park's mesmerising beauty. It never fails to impress me. With my extensive knowledge of the area, I aim to provide you with the best information on Banff that you can find on the internet.

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