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Lake Minnewanka

The “Lake of the Spirits” offers fishing, boating and hiking facilities not far from Banff village.

Lake Minnewanka is the largest lake in Banff National Park. It is a popular recreational spot for fishing, boating, hiking, scuba diving and picnicking. A car park and picnic area on the lake is just over three miles (five kilometers) northeast of the town of Banff.

Lake Minnewanka means “Lake of the Spirits” in the Stoney Indian language. Indigenous people who lived around the lake believed it was inhabited by spirits. Early Europeans called it “Devil’s Lake.”

In the late 19th century, a small summer town was built on the edge of the water, with hotels, wharves and restaurants frequented by vacationers. In 1941, a dam was built that raised the lake’s water level by 98 feet (30 meters) and submerged the town. Today, the underwater town is an attraction for scuba divers.

The lake is 466 feet (142 meters) deep in the middle and 17 miles (28 kilometers) long. Several companies run boat tours on the lake. Cruise the water for photo opportunities of the surrounding mountains. Book the cruise on the day from the main car park. Fishing tours can also be booked here. Spend a day on the lake fishing for lake trout.

Many hiking trails run around the lake, ranging from short strolls to day-long walks. Rent a bike in Banff and ride the entire circumference of about 15.5 miles (25 kilometers). Watch for wildlife and have a camera ready to take photographs. Deer, bears, mountain sheep and eagles roam the area. Stay well clear of the bears, and never hike alone.

Summer is the most popular time to visit. Facilities such as car parks and sheltered picnic spots fill up quickly, so come early in the day.

The lake freezes in winter. Many of the facilities close, but wildlife is easier to spot, because there are fewer people around.

Popular Activities at Lake Minnewanka

Would you like to make your stop at Lake Minnewanka even more memorable? Don't miss the chance to try a few of these things to do:

Why not think about buying a Banff Lake Cruise? It's one of the most popular activities on offer here.

For even more things to do, examine our Banff things to do page.


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Top Hotel Deals

See all 125 properties near Lake Minnewanka
Inns of Banff C$79
Inns of Banff

Inns of Banff

600 Banff Avenue, Banff, AB
     
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    Hidden Ridge Resort

    Hidden Ridge Resort

    901 Hidden Ridge Way, Banff, AB
       
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      Conveniently located near the ski slopes, this Banff condo building is within 2 mi (3 km) of Canadian Ski Museum West, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau. Tunnel Mountain is 2.2 mi (3.6 km) away.

      Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa C$99
      Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa

      Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa

      521 Banff Ave, Box 1070, Banff, AB
         
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        Located in Banff National Park just a short walk from downtown Banff, Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa has friendly staff and convenient location with easy access to local sights and activities.

        Rustic Budget Banff Condo With Fireplace Access to 2 Hot Tubs!
        Rustic Budget Banff Condo With Fireplace Access to 2 Hot Tubs!

        Rustic Budget Banff Condo With Fireplace Access to 2 Hot Tubs!

        Banff, AB
           
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          NEW + Unique Wolf Condo Hot Tub Access
          NEW + Unique Wolf Condo Hot Tub Access

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          Banff, AB
             
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            Situated in Banff, this property is within 3 mi (5 km) of Banff National Park Information Centre, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau. Canadian Ski Museum West and Canada House Gallery are also within 3 mi (5 km).

            Spacious + Deluxe Rockies Condo Great Location!
            Spacious + Deluxe Rockies Condo Great Location!

            Spacious + Deluxe Rockies Condo Great Location!

            Banff, AB
               
              5.0
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              Situated in Banff, this property is within 3 mi (5 km) of Banff National Park Information Centre, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau. Canadian Ski Museum West and Canada House Gallery are also within 3 mi (5 km).

              Deluxe, Bright, Spacious Base of Tunnel Mountain
              Deluxe, Bright, Spacious Base of Tunnel Mountain

              Deluxe, Bright, Spacious Base of Tunnel Mountain

              Banff, AB
                 
                4.0
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                0.0 out of 5.0

                Situated in Banff, this property is within 3 mi (5 km) of Banff National Park Information Centre, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau. Canadian Ski Museum West and Canada House Gallery are also within 3 mi (5 km).

                Canalta Lodge C$118
                Canalta Lodge

                Canalta Lodge

                545 Banff Ave, Banff, AB
                   
                  4.3
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                  Situated in Banff, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Banff National Park Information Centre and Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau. Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Tunnel Mountain are also within 3 mi (5 km). Banff Station is 19 minutes by foot.