10 Unreal Lakes In Banff, Canada

Best Lakes In Canada Emerald Lake Yoho Park

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 every year for its beauty and with good reason – you get to experience bountiful wildlife, dozens of glaciers, and what it’s best known for – its gorgeous lakes.

Many of the most popular photos shared 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, the lakes of Canada will make any photo stand out. If you love the 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 10 best lakes to visit around Banff, Canada:

Moraine Lake
Lake Louise
Peyto Lake
Two Jack Lake
Lake Agnes
Bow Lake
Vermillion Lake
Emerald Lake
Lake O’Hara
Maligne Lake

Moraine Lake

Best Lakes In Canada Moraine Lake Banff National Park

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 5 minutes away from the parking lot.

Another recognizable photo spot for Moraine Lake is 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

Best Lakes in Canada Lake Louise Banff National Park

Lake Louise is another staple photography location in Banff, Canada. Located in front of the grand Fairmont Chateau Hotel with easy access, Lake Louise is one of the most visited lakes in Banff.

The signature look of Lake Louise is the two mountains that meet in the middle 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

Best Lakes in Canada Peyto Lake Banff National Park

Peyto Lake is one of the most unique and recognizable lakes in Banff, Canada. 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 minutes walk from the parking lot. Other hikes to less crowded trails and overlooks are also available.

Two Jack Lake

Best Lakes in Canada Two Jack Lake Banff National Park

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

Best Lakes in Canada Lake Agnes Banff National Park photo by bkylie
Photo by @bkylie

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!

Bow Lake

Photo by @mddyelrck

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 Lake

Best Lakes in Canada Vermillion Lakes Caters New Agency II
Photo by Caters News Agency

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

Best Lakes in Canada Emerald Lake Yoho National Park

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.

Emerald Lake 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 the surrounding mountains will make your jaw drop.

Lake O’Hara

lake o'hara ohara opabin prospect view point

Similar to Emerald Lake, Lake O’Hara is located just outside the western border of Banff in Yoho National Park. Lake O’Hara can only be accessible by 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 is well worth the extra effort.

For a complete guide on how to visit Lake O’Hara, check out our article here!

Maligne Lake

Best Lakes in Canada Maligne Lake Jasper National Park christianannschaffer
Photo by @christianschaffer

Located in Jasper National Park, Maligne Lake is another must-see gem on a trip to Banff. This lake is one of the largest lakes in the Canadian Rockies, but what it’s really known for is its pristine blue water and Spirit Island.

Many outdoors photographers try to capture a photo canoeing next to Spirit Island. The little Spirit Island is one of the most photographed locations at this park but requires a multi-day canoe trip to reach it.

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, so be prepared to be blown away.

Most attractions and sightseeing places are family-friendly and easily accessible, 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.

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4 thoughts on “10 Unreal Lakes In Banff, Canada”

  1. Very impressive and great informations about the Lakes!!! The photos are stunning…. May I ask at which daytime you made the shot at maligne lake?

    1. Hey Dieter,

      Glad you found the information helpful! : ) The photo of Maligne Lake was taken by @Christianschaffer. I believe it was taken during a sunrise. For, nature I always recommend shooting photos at sunrise or sunset when colors look the best.


  2. A number of these lakes are not in Banff National Park. Lake O’Hara and Emerald Lake for instance are in BC in Yoho National Park. Others are in Jasper.

    1. Yes, you’re absolutely right. Every time we visit Banff, Canada we always make a stop at a few of the other nearby lakes in Yoho and Jasper as well. Since they’re pretty close to Banff I included a few in this post.


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