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Peyto Lake is one of the most popular attractions in Banff National Park. It turns aqua blue in summer, creating a beautiful sight as the water is surrounded by snow-capped peaks.
The lookout high above the lake is the best place to see the water. Not many visitors hike down to the lake itself. There’s a car park just off the highway, and it’s a 10 to 15 minute walk to the lookout. The trail is paved and suitable for just about any fitness level. A second car park closer to the lookout is for tourist buses and disabled parking.
The lake is 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Lake Louise, and about 63 miles (100 kilometers) north of Banff. Rent a car from either town and drive the scenic Icefields Parkway. Several tour companies run day trips through the National Park, and most include a stop at Peyto Lake Lookout.
Enjoy the uninterrupted views across snow-capped peaks, valleys, forests and the lake from the wooden viewing platform suspended over the edge of the mountain.
The lake is fed by glaciers. Rock particles enter the water when the glaciers melt in summer, which gives the water its turquoise color. The view is still worth the trip in winter, when the lake freezes over and the landscape is covered with snow.
Tourist buses bring big crowds to the lookout in summer. Sometimes it can be hard to even get a foot on the viewing platform. Come before 9 a.m. or after 4 p.m. to avoid the rush. Otherwise, continue on past the lookout. A 2-mile (3-kilometer) trail leads to Bow Summit Lookout. Fewer people take this route, so it’s less crowded, and there are some great photo opportunities.
A second trail leads from the Peyto Lake Lookout down to the lake. You’ll need several hours to attempt the return hike.
It's worth giving yourself plenty of time at Peyto Lake. Here are the top activities:
Have a look at our Banff things to do page to learn about more activities while you're in the area.
Situated in Bow Lake, this lodge is Icefields Parkway and 2 mi (3.3 km) from Crowfoot Glacier. Peyto Lake is 3.8 mi (6.1 km) away.
Situated in Bow Lake, this hostel is Icefields Parkway and within 12 miles (20 km) of Peyto Lake and Crowfoot Glacier. Lake Louise Mountain Resort and Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse are also within 20 miles (32 km).
Situated on a lake, this romantic hotel is 10.7 mi (17.3 km) from Upper Spiral Tunnel Scenic Viewpoint, and within 25 mi (40 km) of Takakkaw Falls and Wapta Falls Trailhead.
Situated in a national park, this eco-friendly hotel is within 3 miles (5 km) of Icefields Parkway, Lake Louise Mountain Resort and Lake Louise Gondola. Moraine Lake and Lower Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint are also within 12 miles (20 km). Lake Louise Station is 14 minutes by foot.
Situated on a lake, this spa resort is Icefields Parkway and within 6 miles (10 km) of Lake Louise Mountain Resort and Lake Louise Gondola. Moraine Lake and Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse are also within 9 miles (15 km).
Situated in a national park, this lodge is 3 mi (4.9 km) from Upper Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint, and within 32 mi (52 km) of Lower Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint and Takakkaw Falls.
Located in the heart of Field, this hotel is 1 mi (1.6 km) from Upper Spiral Tunnel Scenic Viewpoint and 2.5 mi (4 km) from Yoho National Park. Upper Spiral Tunnel Viewpoint is 1 mi (1.7 km) away.
Located in a national park, this family-friendly hotel is 4.1 mi (6.6 km) from Lake Louise Mountain Resort and 4.2 mi (6.8 km) from Lake Louise Gondola.