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Two young males paddle in kayaks on a large blue lake with mountains and trees surrounding
The Real Banff / Published: Fri, 06/10/2022 - 13:39

Discover More at Lake Minnewanka This Summer

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Whether hiking, paddling, picnicking, or sightseeing—summertime brings a whole new world to explore in the spectacular Lake Minnewanka (Minn-waki, or “Lake of the Spirits”) area. This breathtaking pocket of Banff National Park offers plenty of space to explore, so plan ahead to make the most of your mountain summer by the lake and beyond.

One of the best ways to have must-do experiences at Lake Minnewanka, like canoeing or boating its glistening waters, is to park your vehicle at the Banff Train Station and take the Roam Transit bus. Catch Route 6 from Banff High School, and you’ll be on your way in no time at all.

A public bus travels along a road with mountains and blue lakes in the background on a sunny summer day
Nick Fitzhardinge

Once you’ve arrived, make the most of your sweet summer day with picnics by the shore, guided fishing tours, a stroll to see Stewart Canyon’s rugged rock formations and flowing streams, canoe and kayak rentals, or the Minnewanka Boat Cruise. Rentals and boat tours can book up quickly, so reserve ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

For more experienced hikers, the Aylmer Lookout trail begins at the lakefront and is a rewarding full-day hike to panoramic views. Before you set off in the morning, we’d recommend checking with Parks Canada for seasonal trail closures.

It’s time to get back on the bus and continue your journey. En route to Banff, stop at Two Jack Lake or Johnson Lake for more adventures on a hot summer’s day. These lakes are popular for swimmers and paddlers, so if you plan to visit using your vehicle, it’s essential to arrive early to secure a parking spot.

Two female paddleboarders balance on their boards on a clear blue lake with people enjoying the lake front behind them
Shannon Martin

Although its lakes are dazzling, the Lake Minnewanka area boasts so much more than waterfront activities. Lace up your hiking boots and the hit trails to discover some of Banff’s most jaw-dropping viewpoints like C-Level Cirque and Lower Bankhead. These trails are easiest accessed using your own vehicle, and like other day-use areas, an early start will give you the best chance at parking.

If you’ve got a taste for adventure and the crisp, piney air, the Minnewanka Loop is a spectacular bike ride. Electronic bikes (or e-bikes) are a great option if you’re looking for a journey that requires minimal effort and presents maximum reward. Pedal your way from Banff to some of Canada’s most iconic scenery with rentals available at Banff Cycle, Ultimate Sports, or SkiBig3’s Adventure Hub

A female rides her bike along an empty stretch of winding road surrounded by mountains on a warm summer day

Since this road is shared with motorized vehicles, it’s important to ride with caution to your surroundings. Early weekday mornings are the ideal time to cycle while encountering less vehicular traffic.

If sitting back, relaxing, and being chauffeured around the sights by a friendly local is more your forte, consider booking a guided trip with Discover Banff Tours. With daily departures on the Discover Banff & Its Wildlife Tour, you’ll make stops at all of the best viewpoints, learn local insight, and even have a chance to spot some wildlife. 

From waterfronts to trails and everything in between, there’s so much to see and do around Lake Minnewanka. Plan your adventures ahead of time so that all there’s left to do is enjoy your mountain summer in Banff National Park.

Ready to make the most of your visit to the Minnewanka Loop? Use our Trip Planner to help you create the perfect itinerary for your getaway!

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