Banff National Park in Canada is one of those places you never imagined could possibly exist until you go and see it for yourself. The best way to describe Banff is by comparing it to a little slice of paradise on Earth. Millions of people flock to Banff for its beauty every year and with good reason – you get to experience bountiful wildlife roaming around, dozens of glaciers, and what it’s best known for, gorgeous lakes. You may not know this, but many of the most popular photos on social media are often of the lakes in Banff and the surrounding Jasper National Park, Yoho National Park, and Kootenay National Park. With perfect blues and jagged mountain peaks as the backdrop, these lakes will make any photo stand out. If you love outdoors and photography, Banff is truly a photographer’s paradise because no matter your expertise level or the camera gear you use, you are guaranteed an amazing shot. Here is a list of the top 10 most Instagrammable and recognizable lakes that make Banff a must-see destination.
It’s hard to think of another lake more photographed and shared on social media than the beautiful Moraine Lake. The incredibly blue water truly looks as amazing in person as it does in photographs. One of the best spots to photograph Moraine Lake is on top of a small hill overlooking the lake, located just off the parking lot. Another recognizable photo spot for Moraine Lake by the canoe dock just a short walk away. The jagged snowcapped mountain peaks, colorful canoes, and the blue water are signature looks that make any Moraine Lake photo break records on social media.
Lake Louise is another staple photograph location in Banff. Located in front of a grand hotel with easy access, this lake is highly visited. The signature look of Lake Louise is the two mountains that meet in the middle in the distance along with the bright red canoes floating around the lake with tourists enjoying a leisurely day on the water. The milky, turquoise water makes this lake look magical and inspiring. No joke, it might be used in more travel quote photos than any other lake!
Peyto Lake is one of the most unique and recognizable lakes in Banff. The lake is very long and shaped like a wild animal such as a fox or a wolf. The best place to view this spectacular lake is at the top of a designated viewing platform within a few minute walk from the parking lot. Other hikes to less crowded trails and overlooks are also available but will make you work for it.
If you are looking for a peaceful and serene lake to photograph, the best place for that in Banff is Two Jack Lake. Located out of the way from any main attractions, it is less crowded than any other lake in Banff. The only other people you might run into at this lake are other photographers or the occasional camper. It is the perfect spot to watch the morning fog roll in during a sunrise, especially from the secluded mini-island located in the center of the lake.
Lake Agnes is a small alpine lake located on top of a mountain next to Lake Louise. Many people miss this small lake on their trip because it’s hidden in a forest and can only be reached by hiking 2 steep miles up into the mountain. However, don’t let the hike discourage you from seeing it! The hike ends with a cute teahouse overlooking the lake that serves over 100 different types of tea, snacks, and other treats. It sure is a little gem hidden in the mountains!
Located alongside a major highway, Bow Lake can be a quick stop on the way to your campsite or a great spot to enjoy lunch at one of the picnic tables along the edge of the water. It is one of the largest lakes in Banff and like many of the lakes in the area, it has a backdrop of majestic mountains. The best time to photograph Bow Lake is during the sunrise when the mountains turn a pink color and show a mirror-like reflection on the water.
Vermillion Lakes are the closest lakes to downtown Banff – they are so close that you could even walk to them! These lakes are most popular for photographing sunrises and sunsets when the sky changes colors from shades of pink to purple. It’s also a great place for winter photography when unique bubbles form and freeze in the lake as the lake gets covered in ice.
Emerald Lake is located just outside Banff in Yoho National Park, but it’s a must see place on your trip to Banff. It’s located just 30 minutes away from Lake Louise, but it’s like nothing else on this planet. It earns its name from the amazing emerald blue look of its water. For a better view grab a canoe rental from the docks and go exploring this beautiful lake on a boat. Once you reach the far end of the lake, you might forget about paddling because the beauty of this lake and surrounding mountains will make your jaw drop.
Similar to Emerald Lake, Lake O’Hara is located just outside the western border of Banff in Yoho National Park. This lake is highly protected and requires a day pass purchased well in advance. The lake can only be accessible by a bus or a 7-mile hike…each way. But I think we can all agree that the beauty of the lake views from the surrounding trails are well worth the extra effort.
Located in Jasper National Park, Maligne Lake is another must see gem on your trip to Banff. This lake is one of the largest lakes in the Canadian Rockies, but what it’s really known for is its milky blue water and the Spirit Island. Most outdoors Instagram photographers have a photo of a canoe next to the Spirit Island on their social media feeds at one point or another. As a matter of fact, the little island located in this lake is one of the most photographed locations at this park.
It’s easy to see why Banff may be the most photographed and shared location on Instagram – you can find endless natural beauty around every turn. It is filled with breathtaking views of turquoise lakes, snowy mountain peaks, ancient glaciers, and abundant wildlife roaming free, so be prepared to be blown away. Most attractions and sightseeing places are family friendly and easily accessible by a short hike, which is another reason why it is so highly visited. Whether you are a travel photographer or simply somebody who just enjoys being outdoors, Banff is a must see place for everyone.