Summer is a special time of year in the Canadian Rockies. When the temperature rises, sheets of ice thaw to reveal shades of milky blue and green from glacial-fed lakes throughout the region.
The runoff from melting glaciers carries rock flour into the lakes that are suspended during warmer months. The reflection of sunlight against this rock flour creates a breathtaking display of some of the most gorgeous lakes in the world.
Reaching the Rockies
Four national parks along the Alberta-British Columbia border contain some of North America’s most rugged landscapes. Banff, Jasper, Yoho, and Kootenay are all decorated by sharp peaks, temperate green forests, massive glaciers, active wildlife, and dazzling turquoise blue lakes.
When you pick up your car, you will be on the doorstep at some of the most mesmerizing drives in the world. The prime launching pad to the Canadian Rockies is Alberta’s most populated metropolis, Calgary. Just over one hour driving time from Banff National Park, Calgary is the perfect location to stock up on supplies before heading deep into the mountains.
The Most Beautiful Lakes of the Canadian Rockies
With dozens of enthralling lakes to choose from, it is hard to narrow the list to only a few. Here are five of the most photogenic lakes of the Canadian Rockies that will each take your breath away.
The most iconic of Canada’s lakes, Lake Louise sits proudly in Banff National Park just off the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1). The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise overlooks the gorgeous mountain backdrop surrounded by a steep-sided valley.
For more spectacular views of the lake and for potential wildlife sightings, tackle one of the hiking paths that winds through the forest. Hop on a canoe and paddle to the other side where Victoria glacier feeds the lake.
Offering some of the most spectacular views in all of the Canadian Rockies, Moraine Lake is located in a magical setting within the towering Valley of the Ten Peaks. The sheer beauty of Moraine Lake was enough to feature the dream-like image from the top of Rockpile Trail on the Canadian twenty dollar bill for a decade.
The diverse surroundings of Moraine Lake feature craggy, overlapping snow-capped peaks on one side and a dense forest valley on the other.
The drive down Moraine Lake Road is minutes away from Lake Louise but can become packed during the summer and a shuttle is available to accommodate visitors.
The scenic lookout point above this wolf-shaped lake is one of the most popular stopping points along the Icefields Parkway. You have to make a short hike to reach the heart-racing views of the lake from above but the path is easy to navigate.
From the cliffside, you can survey the mountaintops for miles as you are perched high above the trees that reach the shoreline of the lake. When the sun shines bright above Peyto Lake, it offers some of the most radiant shades of blue of any lake in the Rockies.
Skip over to Yoho National Park for enchanting scenery of the park’s largest lake. Emerald Lake gets its name from the vibrant greenish color it reflects and the greenery of the surrounding flora is equally as majestic.
The rugged terrain of Mount Burgess, Wapta Mountain, and the President Range overlook the tranquil settings and the Emerald Lake Lodge offers accommodations for visitors.
You can take in the splendor of the area by steering a canoe along the lake or hiking the looped path.
The hidden masterpiece of the Canadian Rockies, Lake O’Hara can be difficult to reach without careful planning. There is a bus service offering transport to the piercing blue lake and its jaw-dropping surroundings of towering mountain peaks, sweeping valleys, and never-ending hiking trails but winning a ticket onto the bus is extremely difficult.
The only road leading to this hiker’s heaven is not accessible via car or bike. The sole alternative to taking the bus is to make the 11 kilometer trek up the dirt road.
Explore Three of Canada’s Most Picturesque Mountain Towns
- Banff is a vibrant mountain resort town with tons of lodging options, shops, restaurants, and an astonishing mountain skyline.
- Jasper is an alpine paradise for outdoors enthusiasts with lots of nearby hiking trails, wildlife sightings, and peaceful rivers.
- Revelstoke can be enjoyed anytime of year with access to backcountry trails, snowboarding, paragliding, and mountain biking.