The color of the lakes in the Canadian Rockies is unlike anywhere else. Jaw-droppingly turquoise? Yes. Stunning? Any time of the year. And with so many lakes to pick from, there's no way you can go wrong! That said, the Canadian Rockies are massive, as they span from Banff to Jasper to Kananaskis County, and your time may be short, so read on to hear about the crème de la crème!
Moraine Lake (Area: Lake Louise)
Located within a rock's throw of the elegant Lake Louise, but with an off-the-beaten-track feel, Moraine Lake is situated high up in the beautiful Valley of the Ten Peaks. Sporting the distinctive shade of azure blue that lakes in the Canadian Rockies are known for, Moraine Lake is most scenic at sunrise, so be sure to bring your alarm clock when you visit! The area around the lake is also replete with hiking trails, including the short Rockpile Trail, which is located along the moraine - a glacially formed accumulation of unconsolidated debris. The view from the top of the rockpile is one of the most photographed locations in all of Canada, so grab your camera and your sense of adventure when you take a stroll!
Lake Louise (Area: Lake Louise)
Considered by many to be the crown jewel of the Canadian Rockies due to its large size and proximity to the ritzy Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise situated on the northern shore, Lake Louise is a must-visit if you're headed to the region. With a large supply of canoes available for rent as well as some fantastic hiking trails - including the famed Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse route - that skirt the magnificent water's edge, Lake Louise has something for everyone! As with the other lakes in the area, Lake Louise has an unmistakably iridescent blue color, which is due to the rock (or glacial) flour that permeates the water. These fine-grained, baking-soda-sized particles of rock generated by glacial erosion become suspended in the meltwater just beneath its surface, diffracting incoming sunlight and giving the lake its cloudy turquoise color. Not only does this effect tell an interesting geologic story, but it also makes for wonderful photos. So grab a paddle or your hiking shoes and head up to a good vantage point to soak up all of the stunning angles Lake Louise has to offer!
Peyto Lake (Area: Yoho National Park)
Named for Bill Peyto, an early trail guide and trapper in the Banff area, Peyto Lake is one of the most stunning lakes in the Canadian Rockies. Tucked away in a valley formed by the Waputik Range between Caldron Peak, Peyto Peak and Mount Jimmy Simpson, Peyto Lake is an easily accessible stop for any active traveler making their way from Banff to Yoho National Park. Situated at just over 6,000 feet above sea level, the lake is fed by Peyto Creek, which drains water from Caldron Lake and Peyto Glacier via the Wapta Icefield. Fortunately, a four-mile round trip hike will get anyone visiting this magical area to an awe-inspiring overlook of this breathtaking lake. Just be sure to continue past the wooden balcony crowded with onlookers and opt instead for the more private viewing areas that can be reached via the smaller dirt path that continues on past the paved trail into the nearby forest.
Two Jack Lake (Area: Banff)
Banff's best kept secret, Two Jack Lake, is one of my favorite places in the Canadian Rockies. The lake's gorgeous emerald green waters give it a wonderfully serene atmosphere, which is only accentuated by the fact that the lake is often overlooked by tourists in favor of the more famous Lake Louise, located only a few miles up the road. For those with some energy to burn, the calm waters of Two Jack Lake are perfect for kayaking, swimming, stand up paddle boarding (SUP-ing) or even learning to scuba dive if you're feeling adventurous! Meanwhile, those looking for a more relaxing experience can use the lake's grassy shores to picnic, fish, watch for wildlife (keep an eye out for mountain goats!) or simply soak up the stunning views of Cascade Mountain to the east, Mt. Aylmer and Spectral Peak to the north and Mt. Girouard to the west. Not only this, but in the winter, Two Jack Lake freezes over and can be used to ice skate, play hockey or go snowshoeing on. So next time you pass through the region, be sure to stop off at Two Jack Lake - just make sure you don't tell anyone else about this hidden gem!
Spray Lakes Reservoir (Area: Kananaskis County)
While not technically a lake, Spray Lakes Reservoir is one of the most scenic bodies of water in the entire Canadian Rockies. Located within the little-explored Kananaskis County Provincial Park just west of Banff, getting a view of Spray Lakes Reservoir requires a solid uphill hike, as the reservoir is surrounded by verdant green forest on all sides and can only be seen in its entirety from a high vantage point. Just remember when you're huffing and puffing that getting your blood pumping en route to the stunning view of Spray Lakes Reservoir is half the fun. And as you climb higher and higher, the view only gets better and better! Not only this, but you and your hiking partners will likely have this incredible vista to yourselves given this area's relative isolation. So bring some water, a few extra snacks and your panoramic lens for this amazing experience!
Cobalt Lake (Area: Bugaboos)
Only accessible by helicopter, the Bugaboos is one of the finest landscapes in all of Canada. Nestled within this combination of unique mountain spires and majestic glaciers is Cobalt Lake, a wonderfully remote destination that can only be reached by the adventurous few. After a short ride thanks to your trusty helicopter pilot, you'll need to conquer a series of steep switchbacks winding through the forest to reach your destination - the beautiful, azure-colored Cobalt Lake. Once you've attained the lake's rocky shores, there's nothing left but to take a deep breath and soak it all in before making your way back to your mountain lodge for the evening for a celebratory drink and a delicious dinner!
The lakes of the Canadian Rockies - blue like you've never seen before. Need we say more?
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