Banff National Park - Top 4 Lakes
Banff National Park is is a dream. I can’t exactly describe a place where it seems believable that there is a view with turquoise water coupled with the tallest snow capped mountains you will ever see, so, I took the photos to to prove it (see top 4 lakes below) and also provided some pre-planning tips!
Plan to visit right after the high seasonality peak (June-August). Yes, it gets cold, but having less of a crowd when you have one chance to get that shot or take in that view helps!
Getting from one lake to another from downtown Banff town ranges from 30 minutes to an hour plus so reserve a rental car and plan for a lot of drive time.
Pack a lunch, bring snacks and stock up on water. Once out in the park, there aren’t a lot of restaurants (Lake Moraine and Lake Minnewanka do have coffee and snack stations).
Get ample sleep. In some cases, you will be leaving your hotel (from downtown Banff) at 5 AM or earlier. You want to arrive at the lakes at least one hour prior to the sunrise (or sunset). Some of the lakes require a short hike to the viewing point. See below for the sunrise/sunset recommendation for each lake.
I recommend bringing both your smart phone and your camera. Each device is going to help you capture it all in different ways. Also, bring a tripod! The images below are a mix of moments taken from both my camera and my iPhone.
Bring layers of clothes. The temperature changes on the hour in some cases so you will want to bring a winter jacket, gloves, and a hat especially if you are arriving early and staying late.
You can book a kayak or a small motorized boat @ Lake Minnewanka Boat Rentals for about $60 an hour. The more popular option is at The Fairmont Hotel where you can rent a canoe on Lake Louise with prices ranging from $75 an hour (guest rate) to $115 an hour (non-guest rate).
Book your hotel months in advance. I stayed at Banff Park Lodge, which included a really nice indoor whirlpool and an eucalyptus steam room (perfect after an all day adventure). But, if you can splurge and are able to score a room at The Fairmont, please do!! It’s beautiful.
BOW LAKE: Recommend for Sunrise. As you can see, the views changed on the hour.
PEYTO LAKE: Recommended for Sunset.
MORAINE LAKE: Recommended for Sunrise. This lake is the bluest of the blue water!
LAKE MINNEWANKA: Recommend during the afternoon when the sun is out. The winds can be quite a challenge to push through and the water can get very choppy so you might get wet (and cold).