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.