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Kayaking Vermilion Lakes Banff National Park Noel Hendrickson
The Real Banff / Published: Mon, 05/31/2021 - 17:33

Summer Itineraries: 4 days to canoe, kayak, or SUP in Banff National Park

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Vibrant blue and turquoise lakes are a hallmark image of Banff National Park, so what better way to explore the park this summer than from the water?

Day 1: Paddle creeks, rivers, and lakes

You don’t have to go far to find a canoe adventure in the town of Banff. Nestled at the junction of the Bow River and Echo Creek, you’ll find the Banff Canoe Club. Rent a canoe or kayak and paddle upstream on the Bow River. Relax, bring some snacks and be rewarded with a gentle float downstream on your return. Or, leaving from the docks, turn right up the meandering Echo Creek to paddle on the stunning Vermilion Lakes. Don’t forget your camera – you’ll want to snap photos of Mt. Rundle from your vantage point on the lake. 

SkiBig3 Adventure Hub - SUP - Vermilion Lakes - Paddling - Summer
Will Lambert

Day 2:  Explore the lakes of the Minnewanka Loop

Stop by the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub or Radventures in downtown Banff to rent a stand up paddleboard (SUP). It’s the perfect way to explore Two Jack Lake, just a short drive from town. Take a tip from the locals - leave your car and hop on Roam Transit’s Route 6 bus. The neighbouring Johnson Lake doubles as a popular swimming spot, so pop in for a dip to cool off on a hot day, and stay a little longer for another outing on the SUP. 

Lake Minnewanka can be a long adventure in itself. Explore by kayak, canoe, or motorboat – all available to rent on-site. Visiting Minnewanka by boat offers great fishing – whether you’re experienced or new, pick up a license and give it a try. 

Day 3:  Canoe the pinnacle of lakes, Lake Louise

The beauty of Lake Louise is irresistible by boat, and starting June 1, you can grab a spot on the Roam Transit Route 8X bus to get a ride straight there. Catch the first bus and enjoy the stillness of the lake in the early morning. Rentals are available on-site at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

The sun peaks out from behind Mt. Victoria as paddlers navigate their canoe over the emerald waters of Lake Louise
Copithorne & Blakely

Day 4:  Canoe, Kayak, or SUP where the Bow River begins

If you’ve fallen head over heels for water sports, stop by Atmosphere in Banff to outfit yourself for future lake adventures. Already own a canoe, kayak, or SUP, or want to rent one from Bow Valley SUP? Discover more of Banff National Park off the beaten path. Driving west from Banff on Highway 1, take the exit to the Icefields Parkway/93 North. About 20 minutes down the road, turn off at Bow Lake to enjoy a paddle with a view of the Bow Glacier. This is the water that feeds into the Bow River. 

Extend your stay on the Icefields Parkway and explore more of the park, take your time and see another hidden gem just a short drive north: Waterfowl Lakes. With views this stunning, you may want to broaden your stay and make it an overnight trip. Parks Canada camping is available on a first come first served basis, so why not soak in the sunset from your boat on the lake. 

Canoeing Bow Lake Banff National Park Noel Hendrickson

Plan ahead and book accommodation to make it a long stay in the park. With so many lakes to explore by canoe, kayak, and SUP, there are extensive ways to build your itinerary. 

Safety is key when enjoying the lakes and rivers Banff National Park has to offer. Take a few minutes to review the equipment you need to stay safe by boat. 

If you're bringing your own floating device, make sure you check Parks Canada Rules and Regulations and download a self-certification permit.


Visiting Banff National Park with your family this summer? Plan ahead with our Summer Itineraries: 3 Day Family Adventure in Banff National Park coming June 8, 2021.

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Plan Your Stay

Browse and book accommodation and lodging packages with our trip planning tool. To learn about the different types of accommodation available in Banff and Lake Louise, visit our Places to Stay page or Contact Us to speak to a local expert.