You’ve all seen the Instagram posts that show the shining blue water and towering peaks of lakes in the Canadian Rockies! I’m sure you’ve also thought to yourself, “That can’t be real! The water isn’t really that blue!”. But, the lakes here in Canada are just that, stunningly blue and surrounded by the rugged wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. These lakes are mainly glacier fed, icy cold and absolutely picture perfect. I love spending time going from one amazing lake to the next, checking out the blue water and taking a Instagram worthy picture!
So, if you are planning a trip to Canada and the Rockies, you definitely have to check out these Instagram hotspots. Here are all the details on how to get there, where to go, and what to hike (if you want to take your exploration further) at the best lakes in the Canadian Rockies. Now, I warn you, the lakes in Canada will take your breath away and make you break out the camera! But remember to get out from behind the lens and enjoy the scenery in front of you.
Lake Louise: Instagram’s Favourite Lake
If you have Instagram, you have most likely stumbled upon a picture of Lake Louise at some point! This lake is one of the most famous lakes in the Canadian Rockies. The blue waters are surrounded by towering peaks, including Mount Victoria, and the large Victoria Glacier, which make it a great spot for photos, walks and hiking.
There are so many things to do around this lake, which gives you the ability to explore this area anywhere from a few hours or multiple days. First, take a look through or grab a bite at the towering Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. There is a restaurant that looks out over the lake, and you will often see weddings on the outdoor terrace in the summer.
If hiking is more your style, make sure you head up to one of the two teahouses! You have a choice between the tourist heavy, and shorter hike to the Lake Agnes teahouse, or through the Plains of the Six Glaciers up to the teahouse there. Both of these trails offer great views of Lake Louise. You can also take the easy hike from behind the Lake Louise boathouse up to the Fairview Lookout, just follow the signs!
Lastly, if you want the true Lake Louise experience, make sure you rent out a canoe and head out onto the lake!
Getting There and Visiting Lake Louise
Lake Louise is right up the road from the town of Lake Louise and just off Highway 1. It is about 45 minutes west from Banff! During the summer the parking lot can get very busy and you might have to park down the hill and take the shuttle up. If you want to ensure a parking spot, head to Lake Louise early!
Moraine Lake: Ten Peaks of Beautiful!
Moraine Lake is another lake in the Canadian Rockies that you will want to visit. This secluded lake sits nestled beneath the Valley of the Ten Peaks, which you can clearly see in the background. The water is a clear turquoise, and the sun hits this magical lake just right. You will be blow away as you walk onto the shores.
If you are looking for a secluded place to stay, you can book a night at Moraine Lake Lodge, which is a Luxury accommodation right on the lake. There is a cafe, restaurant and afternoon tea available here as well. Dinner reservations are strongly recommended for the Walter Wilcox Dining Room, and for dinner they are required.
For those who want to get off the beaten track there are a few hikes available from Moraine Lake. Consolation Lakes is an easy hike that gives you great views of the surrounding areas. Alternatively, taking the longer and albeit more difficult trek to Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass will get you right up to two amazing alpine valleys!
Getting To Moraine Lake, How To Visit!
The entry to Moraine Lake lies on the road up to Lake Louise. Since the parking lot is 11 windy kilometers up the road, during the months Moraine is open Parks Canada employees police the amount of people who are allowed up the road. If you don’t get there early, either expect to wait, or be flat out turned away. Since the road to Moraine Lake is steep, narrow and prone to avalanches, the road opens in June and closes immediately after Canadian Thanksgiving in October!
Peyto Lake: The Lake With A View!
I saw a picture of Peyto Lake on Instagram the other day that looked as though the viewpoint was in a cave. Well it’s not! Fake pictures like this make me angry, I’m all for art and everything but…
Peyto Lake is a gem in the Rockies, and you can’t get to its shores. Instead you can go to one of many viewpoints to take in the blue water that is like nowhere else! There is only one hike, and it is short around Peyto Lake and it is clearly marked through the forest. Head on to great views at Bow Summit Lookout.
Getting To Peyto Lake From the Highest Point on the Parkway!
At the highest point on the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) you will see a sign to turn to Bow Summit. This will take you to a parking lot, and subsequently the short hike to the Peyto Lake lookout. This is great if you want to snap a picture and go. But if you head left up the trail, you’ll be rewarded with uninterrupted views of the whole lake (as noted above) at Bow Summit Lookout.
This is located about 40 minutes North up the Icefields Parkway from Banff!
Emerald Lake: A Gem in British Columbia!
Emerald Lake is known for its bright hue of blue-green that looks like an emerald amongst it’s background. This lake sits beside a famous lodge and is a place for all kinds of activities from canoeing to hiking to enjoying a picnic on the lake. As the largest lake in Yoho National park, this lake brings in flocks of tourists every year, and it great no matter which season you visit. Even not being the largest, it is stunningly beautiful and different than many of the other lakes on this list.
There is a hiking trail right on the edge of the water, that passes through the avalanche zone on the side of the lake. You get great views of the lodge and the canoers as you walk along the trail. You can also do the 9.2 kilometer Emerald Basin hike starting from the Emerald Lake parking lot.
Getting To Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park!
Emerald Lake is 1-hour West of Lake Louise down Canada’s Highway 1. This lake takes a winding road to get to, and the parking lot is tiny, meaning you often have to park and make the trek up to the lake.
If you want to stay close by, check out Emerald Lake Lodge, a pristine hotel that sits right on the shore. This is the destination for a many weddings and amazing affairs. It has a rustic vibe to it, that makes it fit wonderfully into the scenery around it.
Maligne Lake: Jasper’s Beautiful Lake in the Rockies!
Jasper National Park is scattered with lakes that turn the scenery to an epic blue. The ragging north Saskatchewan river runs through the entire park, and many lakes drain into it making it a great picture spot. Sitting at the base of numerous peaks, in a valley, 45 kilometers from Jasper, sits the picturesque Maligne Lake. This lake, originally discovered by Mary Shaffer, is now home to the start of one of Jasper’s premier hikes and a café with the most amazing view.
Maligne Lake feeds into the subsequent Maligne Canyon and Medicine Lake, that you drive by on the way there. These are both great places to stop and explore on your way to Maligne Lake.
Once there, there is no shortage of things to do! You can rent a canoe and paddle across the lake, or take a trip on one of their powered boat tours! There is also ample hiking. You can do the nice and easy, Mary Shaffer loop, or head around the other side of the lake to get a different view. If you are looking to hike longer and further, one of the most amazing hikes, Skyline trail, starts at the Maligne Lake parking lot. This 44 kilometer hike takes you over a mountain and you end almost where you started driving Maligne Lake road.
Getting To Maligne Lake and Driving the Road!
Getting to Maligne Lake is easy. From Jasper you head east until you find Maligne Lake Road at the lights, it is only a couple minutes away. From there, you follow the road all the way to the end! This will take you past Jasper Park Lodge, Maligne Canyon and Medicine Lake.
Pro Tip: Don’t go to the first parking lot, follow the road over the bridge, and there you will find a less utilized one!
Berg Lake: The Lake You Have to Hike 21 Kilometers For!
One of my favourites, and by far the best lakes in the Canadian Rockies is Berg Lake! This lake sites in Mount Robson provincial park, and takes a 21 kilometer hike to get to. Most people take the trip at least overnight, if not over 3-5 days. Depending on your fitness level, visiting this lake might take you longer or shorter.
This lake sits at the base of the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, this is definitely one of the best Canadian lakes to visit. A glacier sits nestled across the lake from the trail, and you can watch as the ice calves into the lake.
The Berg Lake trail is amazing, and you can read my whole post about it here!
Getting to Berg Lake
This lake takes more effort to get to than the rest of the lakes on my best lakes in the Canadian Rockies post. Driving from Jasper it takes an hour along the Yellowhead Highway into British Columbia.