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

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake is one of the most famous lakes of Banff National Park, and with good reason. It’s an absolute must-see and is considered one of the highlights of Banff National Park. Peyto Lake is the third-most visited lake in the park, behind Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

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Altitude: 1,860 meters (6,102 ft)
Deepest point: 44 meters (144 ft)
Length: 2.8 kilometers (1.74 mi)
Widest point: 800 metres (0.49 mi)
Coordinates: 51°43′37″N 116°31′19″W

Of course, the breathtaking color of the water plays a role here too. But so do the beautiful views and the easy accessibility via the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93 N) between Lake Louise Village and Jasper.


Peyto Lake is situated in the valley of the Waputik Mountains. It lies between Caldron Peak, Peyto Peak and Mount Jimmy Simpson. It’s a glacial lake fed by Peyto Creek. This creek drains Caldron Lake and the Peyto Glacier (part of the Wapta Icefield). From Peyto Lake springs the Mistaya River, which eventually flows into the North Saskatchewan River at the Saskatchewan River Crossing.


Like many lakes in Banff National Park, the water in Peyto Lake owes its unique color to the so-called rock flour deposited in the lake by the glacier in summer. The sunlight that reflects on it gives the lake its beautiful green-blue color.

Peyto Lake is one of the busiest places in Banff National Park. So take into account that there will be many tourists on the viewing platform. If you want to enjoy the view in peace, make sure you arrive before 8 am or later in the evening. Once at the viewing platform, you can also follow the path to the much less frequented second viewing point. A higher clearing (no platform) offers at least as good a view.


The best time to visit Peyto Lake is from June to September. In those months, the lake is not frozen and is at its most beautiful. This does not mean you should avoid the lake for the rest of the year. Peyto Lake is simply gorgeous year round.

The lookout at Peyto Lake can be visited year round. Yes, even in winter. And the snowy surroundings make for equally memorable pictures. So if you are in the park in winter, Peyto Lake is definitely worth a visit.


It doesn’t really matter when you get to the lake. It’s always beautiful. It can be chilly in the mornings, sometimes even in the middle of summer. However, catching the sunrise at the lake makes for beautiful pictures and the same goes for the sunset.

If you want to escape the crowds, you’ll need to get there around sunrise or sunset. These times also make for stunning pictures AND you might see some wildlife. So getting up early to visit Lake Peyto is well worth it.


If you’re there to look at the scenery, take photos, have a drink and a quick bite to eat, an hour or even less can be enough. If you want to hike in the area, you could spend a whole morning or afternoon in the area. It all depends on your wishes and interests.

Peyto Lake under a cloudy sky seen from above at the soutern tip of the lake


Peyto Lake is located on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93 N), 100 kilometers (62 mi) north of Banff and 44 kilometers (27 mi) north of Lake Louise Village. It’s easily accessible by car and there are two car parks at the site. The second one is higher up and is only accessible for buses, elderly people and people with disabilities.

The Canadian government has recently invested CAD 2,900,000 in improving the accessibility of the lake. This includes an increase in the number of parking spaces.

Public Transport to Peyto Lake

Unfortunately, there is no direct bus connection from Banff or Lake Louise to Peyto Lake. If you really depend on public transport, taking the bus from Banff to Lake Louise Lakeshore or Lake Louise Village North is an alternative. From there you can take a taxi to the lake.

Tours to Peyto Lake

Another way to get to Lake Peyto is to hop on a sightseeing tour. Just sit back and relax while a guide tells you about the lake and other attractions in the park.

Here’s a list of tours that include a visit to Peyto Lake:


Lake Louise is arguably the most iconic and famous view in Banff National Park. That’s why the lake is so busy in the summer. At other times of the year it’s not as bad, but it’s still busy.

To be honest, the crowds around the lake in the summer have become so big that it has become a drawback if you ask me. Add to that the huge parking problems and you could find better places in the park to spend your time and enjoy the scenery.


Peyto Lake typically starts to melt in the spring, usually between late April and early June. It typically starts to freeze over in late October.


Peyto Lake is one of the most iconic and famous views in Banff National Park. That’s why the lake is so busy in the summer. At other times of the year it’s much better, which – I find – makes for a nicer experience.


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 Peyto Lake.

  • 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)


Overnight accommodation at Peyto Lake is not available. The closest accommodation is the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge on Bow Lake, 6.5 kilometres south of Peyto Lake. There are several good other hotels in Lake Louise Village and of course the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. Here are three good options:

The Chateau Lake Louise at the lakeshore of Lake Louise in Banff National Park

#1 Fairmont Château Lake Louise

✓ Indoor Swimming Pool
✓ One of the best views in the park

Book it


The Fairmont Château Lake Louise needs no introduction. In case you didn’t know, this hotel has it all, from just about every luxury amenity you can imagine to arguably the best view in the park.

Fairmont Château Lake Louise
111 Lake Louise Drive, Lake Louise

#2 Deer Lodge

✓ 24-hour front desk
✓ Airport shuttle

Book it


The Deer Lodge is a beautiful hotel, at a stone’s throw from Lake Louise. If you want a relaxed and rustic hotel close that’s close to the hotel, this hotel is worth considering.

Deer Lodge
109 Lake Louise Drive, Lake Louise

#3 Lake Louise Inn

✓ Hot tub
✓ Sauna

Book it


The Lake Louise Inn is a beautiful hotel in Lake Louise Village with excellent amenities and close to the TransCanada Highway (Highway 1). It’s the perfect base for exploring Banff National Park.

Lake Louise Inn
210 Villag Road, Lake Louise

Camping at Peyto Lake

It’s not possible to camp at Peyto Lake. However, there are several campgrounds nearby. Silverhorn Creek Campground, Waterfowl Lakes Campground, and Mosquito Creek Campground are nearest. The use of a campground costs between CAD 15 and CAD 30 per night. If you want to light a campfire, you must have a permit. These are available at the campground.

Silverhorn Creek Campground

Address: Icefields Parkway, Improvement District No. 9
Phone: 780 – 932 6868 
Overnight stay: upon availability
Number of sites: 67
Facilities: picnic tables, hand water pump, dry toilets (no flushing) and bins
Campfire permit: available at the campground
Kind of accommodations: motor homes and trailers, not tents
Price: CAD 16.05
Period: 3 June – 12 September
Distance to Peyto Lake: 10.3 km (6.36 mi)

Waterfowl Lakes Campground

Address: Icefields Parkway, Improvement District No. 9, AB, Canada
Phone: +1 403 – 522 3833
Overnight stay: subject to availability, reservations may be made
Number of sites: 116
Facilities: water points, flush toilets, camp kitchens with wood-burning stoves, food storage lockers, waste bins and sani dump.
Campfire permit: available at the campground
Kind of accommodations: motor homes and tents
Price: CAD 21.97
Period: 24 June – 12 September
Distance to Peyto Lake: 15.8 km (9.75 mi)

Mosquito Creek Campground

Address: Icefields Parkway, Improvement District No. 9
Phone: +1 403 – 522 3833
Overnight stay: upon availability
Number of sites: 32
Facilities: drinking water, picnic tables, dry toilets (no flushing), communal kitchen, fire pits.
Campfire permit: available at the campground 
Kind of accommodations: motor homes and tents
Price: CAD 17.99
Period: 3 June – 11 October
Distance to Peyto Lake: 17.1 km (10.55 mi)


Of course, the lake itself is the main attraction. Still, the surroundings of the lake lend themselves to several different activities. Below an overview of the possibilities.  

Hikes around Peyto Lake 

From the car park at Peyto Lake you can do a few hikes. The view over the lake is a fantastic reward. And the hikes are not really difficult. The hike to the viewing platform is the most popular and most accessible. It takes about ten minutes and is not too strenuous. Just before you reach the lookout, several paths are leading down. Be careful where you walk, as the paths are strewn with loose rocks.

Bow Summit Lookout6.6 km (4.07 mi)1 – 2 hrs313 m (1027 ft)Car park at Peyto Lake
Peyto Lake Hike2.6 km (1.60 mi)0.5 – 1 hour80 m (262 ft)Car park at Peyto Lake
Hikes around Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake Hike

The Peyto Lake Hike is a must-do for any hiker visiting the area. The trailhead is located just off the Icefields Parkway, and it’s an easy 10-minute walk to the viewpoint where you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Peyto Lake and surrounding mountains.

The hike itself is a moderate 2.6 km (1.6 mi) round trip, with an elevation gain of 80 meters (262 ft). The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow, with a few steeper sections that require some effort.

Once you reach the viewpoint, take some time to soak in the stunning scenery and snap some photos. You won’t be disappointed!

Tourists on the Peyto Lake viewing deck admiring the spectacular surroundings in Banff National Park

Bow Summit Lookout

If you’re up for a longer hike, you can continue the Peyto Lake Hike on to Bow Summit, which is another 1.6 km (1 mi) from the Peyto Lake viewpoint. The trail is a bit more challenging, but the views along the way are worth it.

At Bow Summit, you’ll get an even better vantage point of Peyto Lake and the surrounding glaciers. Just remember to bring plenty of water and snacks, as there are no facilities along the way.

Fishing on Peyto Lake

Fishing is allowed on Peyto Lake. However, you will need a national park permit. It’s available at the two visitor centers in the park, most sporting goods shops in the park, and online. A national park pass is also required. A provincial fishing license (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 equals the limit of the person holding a license.

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

– It is mandatory to put back caught fish to the place where it was caught.
– The use of natural bait is not allowed in Banff National Park.
– In addition to a fishing license, you must also have a National Park Pass.

Fish Species in Peyto Lake

Fish species present in Peyto Lake include trout, mountain whitefish, and broadhead bass.

Peyto Lake Fishing Season 

Peyto Lake’s fishing season lasts from 1 July to 31 October.

Snowshoeing in the Vicinity of Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake also offers opportunities in the winter to enjoy the beautiful nature around the lake. One of those ways is snowshoeing. This is a relatively easy and sweet way to walk across the thick snow in the coldest months.

Peyto Lake Viewpoint1.5 km (0.93 mi)0.5 hours25 m (82 ft)Car park at the lake
Snowshoeing near Peyto Lake
Panorama of Peyto Lake in late fall with snow covering the surounding forest


The lake is named after Ebenezer William (Bill) Peyto (1869-1943), a hiking guide and poacher who lived in Banff. Walter Dwight Wilcox (1869-1949), who lived mainly in the Lake Louise area, was the first to photograph the lake in 1896. Peyto Lake was opened to tourists in 1941.

Oldest Tree in Banff National Park

An Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) that originated around 1234 was found near the lake in 1991. The tree was found between the rock ledge at the head of the delta and the moraines of the Peyto Glacier. It is both the oldest known Canadian spruce and the oldest tree in Banff National Park.


Banff Visitor Centre
Opening hours (daily): 9 am – 5 pm
Address: 224 Banff Avenue, Banff
Phone: +1 403 – 762 1550

Lake Louise Visitor Centre
Opening hours (daily): 9 am – 5 pm
Address: Samson Mall, 201 Village Rd, Lake Louise
Phone: +1 403 – 522 3833


Do I need a park pass for Peyto Lake? 

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

Can I buy a park pass at Peyto Lake? 

No, you can’t purchase a park pass at Peyto Lake. Your closest option is the Lake Louise Visitor Centre.

Can I swim in Peyto Lake?

Yes, technically you can swim in Peyto Lake, 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.

Are dogs allowed at Peyto Lake? 

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

Can I fly a drone at Peyto Lake?

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

Can I picnic at Peyto Lake?

No, there are no designated picnic areas on the lake itself. Also, the lake is generally too crowded to enjoy a private picnic. You could try to find a quiet spot somewhere in the surrounding woods, away from the main path to the lake..

Can I hike around Peyto Lake?

No, there’s no official trail around Peyto Lake. However, you can hike down to the lakeshore. It requires some effort, but you’ll feel like you have the lake to yourself, as most tourists just visit the viewpoint.

Can I bike around Peyto Lake? 

No, there’s no trail around Peyto Lake, so you can’t cycle around it, unfortunately.

Can I bike to Peyto Lake? 

Yes, you can bike to Peyto Lake. To get there you have to take the scenic Icefields Parkway. Be careful as it’s a busy road, especially in high season.

The Peyto Lake view point how you won't easily find it: devoid of tourists

Can you kayak, canoe or SUP on Peyto Lake?

Yes, in theory you can, but you’ll need to bring your own equipment as there are no rental facilities at the lake. You’ll have to hike down to the lake, which is quite a hassle.

Can I drink from Peyto Lake?

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

Can I get altitude sickness at Peyto Lake?

Peyto Lake is located at an elevation of 1,860 meters (6,102 ft), which is considered 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.

Can I see the northern lights at Peyto Lake?

While it is possible to see the northern lights (aurora borealis) at Peyto Lake, it is not a common occurrence. The best time to see the northern lights is typically in the winter months, when the nights are longer and darker.

Do I need bear spray at Peyto Lake?

Yes, bear spray is recommended at Peyto Lake 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 Peyto Lake 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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