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Lake Minnewanka
Vacation Travel Guide

Lake Minnewanka featuring landscape views and mountains

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.

Top Hotels Close to Lake Minnewanka

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort
Banff Rocky Mountain Resort
3 out of 5
1029 Banff Ave, Banff, AB
The price is CA $109 per night from May 11 to May 11
This family-friendly Banff condo resort is located in a national park, within 3 mi (5 km) of Canadian Ski Museum West, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and ...
4/5Very Good! (2,472 reviews)
"solid property, fit our needs perfectly. Although the pool timeslots are short at 25 minutes it was nice to have the whole pool to ourselves! Will be back again"

Reviewed on May 10, 2021

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort
Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa
Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa
3.5 out of 5
521 Banff Ave, Box 1070, Banff, AB
The price is CA $102 per night from May 18 to May 18
Located in the heart of Banff, this spa hotel is 0.6 mi (0.9 km) from Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau and within 3 mi (5 km) of Cave and Basin National Historic ...
4/5Very Good! (2,148 reviews)
"Room was o"

Reviewed on May 3, 2021

Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa
Hidden Ridge Resort
Hidden Ridge Resort
3.5 out of 5
901 Hidden Ridge Way, Banff, AB
The price is CA $151 per night from May 19 to May 19
Situated in a national park, this condo resort is within 2 mi (3 km) of Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Banff National Park Information Centre, and Banff ...
4.2/5Very Good! (2,426 reviews)
"Hidden ridge resort was great and the view was awesome and the hottub was great as well and the property was good but my wife and i were having a shower and she slipped in the shower and fell. It needs a shower mat when you can stand in there and not fall."

Reviewed on May 10, 2021

Hidden Ridge Resort
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Top Lake Minnewanka Flight + Hotel Deals

Delta Hotels by Marriott Calgary South
Banff Rocky Mountain Resort
Tunnel Mountain Resort
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Reviews of Lake Minnewanka

4.6

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
363
5 - Excellent 61.00840336134454%
4 - Good
213
4 - Good 35.79831932773109%
3 - Okay
16
3 - Okay 2.689075630252101%
2 - Disappointing
1
2 - Disappointing 0.16806722689075632%
1 - Terrible
2
1 - Terrible 0.33613445378151263%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Jan 3, 2020

Great day for skating on the lake. It's huge and really pretty area. Would be cold if it was windy that day.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Sep 25, 2019

Highly recommend the boat ride for a dazzling, silent float on a glacial lake. The scenic grounds were far less busy, too, than most of the other tourist hotspots but just as breathtaking.

3/5 - Okay

M

Aug 30, 2019

Were hoping to see wildlife on the shores but the boat didn’t get near close enough to tell whether there was anything there or not - there were binoculars but they’re hard to use when the boat is moving.

5/5 - Excellent

Jenn

Aug 26, 2019

There's a very scenic walk able trail along the shore of Lake Minnewanka that is great for adults and children both. The Minnewanka Loop includes Cascade Ponds, a great place to stop for a picnic, Johnson Lake, Two Jack Lake and Upper & Lower Bankhead all with hiking opportunities and of course a different vista of mountains and forests round every turn.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Jul 29, 2019

Get there early to be first in line to sit on outdoor bench at back of boat if warm weather and you don’t mind missing the guy talking !!

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

Jun 8, 2019

Watch everywhere for wildlife.

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Popular places to visit in Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka

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Best Lodging Options Near Lake Minnewanka

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort
Banff Rocky Mountain Resort
3 out of 5
1029 Banff Ave, Banff, AB
The price is CA $109 per night from May 11 to May 11
Banff Rocky Mountain Resort
Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa
Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa
3.5 out of 5
521 Banff Ave, Box 1070, Banff, AB
The price is CA $102 per night from May 18 to May 18
Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa
Hidden Ridge Resort
Hidden Ridge Resort
3.5 out of 5
901 Hidden Ridge Way, Banff, AB
The price is CA $151 per night from May 19 to May 19
Hidden Ridge Resort
Moose Hotel And Suites
Moose Hotel And Suites
3.5 out of 5
345 Banff Ave, Banff, AB
The price is CA $179 per night from May 12 to May 12
Moose Hotel And Suites
NEW + Unique Wolf Condo Hot Tub Access
NEW + Unique Wolf Condo Hot Tub Access
Banff, AB
The price is CA $159 per night from May 12 to May 12
NEW + Unique Wolf Condo Hot Tub Access
Rustic Budget Banff Condo with Fireplace | Access to 2 Hot Tubs!
Rustic Budget Banff Condo with Fireplace | Access to 2 Hot Tubs!
Banff, AB
The price is CA $129 per night from May 12 to May 12
Rustic Budget Banff Condo with Fireplace | Access to 2 Hot Tubs!
The Fox Hotel and Suites
The Fox Hotel and Suites
3.5 out of 5
461 Banff Ave, Banff, AB
The price is CA $129 per night from May 13 to May 13
The Fox Hotel and Suites
Spacious + Deluxe Rockies Condo Great Location!
Spacious + Deluxe Rockies Condo Great Location!
Banff, AB
The price is CA $159 per night from May 12 to May 12
Spacious + Deluxe Rockies Condo Great Location!
Deluxe, Bright, Spacious Base of Tunnel Mountain
Deluxe, Bright, Spacious Base of Tunnel Mountain
Banff, AB
The price is CA $189 per night from May 12 to May 12
Deluxe, Bright, Spacious Base of Tunnel Mountain
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.