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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.


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Best Lodging Options Near Lake Minnewanka

See all 144 properties near Lake Minnewanka
Banff Rocky Mountain Resort CA $198
Banff Rocky Mountain Resort

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort

1029 Banff Ave, Banff, AB
     
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    This family-friendly Banff condominium resort is located in a national park, within 3 mi (5 km) of Canadian Ski Museum West, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Banff National Park Information Centre. Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau is 2.4 mi (3.8 km) away.

    Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa CA $198
    Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa

    Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa

    521 Banff Ave, Box 1070, Banff, AB
       
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      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 Site and Tunnel Mountain. Banff Springs Golf Club and Banff Gondola are also within 3 mi (5 km). Banff Station is 17 minutes by foot.

      Canalta Lodge CA $214
      Canalta Lodge

      Canalta Lodge

      545 Banff Ave, Banff, AB
         
        3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated in a national park, 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 Banff Gondola are also within 3 miles (5 km). Banff Station is 20 minutes by foot.

        Tunnel Mountain Resort CA $228
        Tunnel Mountain Resort

        Tunnel Mountain Resort

        502 Tunnel Mountain Road, Box 1137, Banff, AB
           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          This family-friendly Banff lodge is located in a national park, within 1 mi (2 km) of Canadian Ski Museum West, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Banff National Park Information Centre. Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau and Tunnel Mountain are also within 3 miles (5 km). Banff Station is 27 minutes by foot.

          Hidden Ridge Resort CA $268
          Hidden Ridge Resort

          Hidden Ridge Resort

          901 Hidden Ridge Way, Banff, AB
             
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated in a national park, this condominium resort is within 2 miles (3 km) of Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Banff National Park Information Centre and Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau. Tunnel Mountain is 2.4 mi (3.8 km) away.

            Moose Hotel And Suites CA $268
            Moose Hotel And Suites

            Moose Hotel And Suites

            345 Banff Ave, Banff, AB
               
              3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Located in the heart of Banff, this spa hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Banff National Park Information Centre and Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau. Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Banff Gondola are also within 3 miles (5 km). Banff Station is 8 minutes by foot.

              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!

              1029 Banff Avenue, Banff, AB
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in the mountains, this condo is within 3 miles (5 km) of Canadian Ski Museum West, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Banff National Park Information Centre. Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau is 2.4 mi (3.8 km) away.

                NEW + Unique Wolf Condo Hot Tub Access
                NEW + Unique Wolf Condo Hot Tub Access

                NEW + Unique Wolf Condo Hot Tub Access

                1029 Banff Avenue, Banff, AB
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in Banff, this condo is within 3 miles (5 km) of Canadian Ski Museum West, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Banff National Park Information Centre. Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau is 2.4 mi (3.8 km) away.