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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.

Popular Activities at Lake Minnewanka

Get the most out of your time spent at Lake Minnewanka. Here's a list of some of the top things to do:

Why don't you consider purchasing a Banff Lake Cruise? It's one of the best activities available here.

If you're seeking even more activities, peruse our Banff things to do page.


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Lodging Near Lake Minnewanka

See all 111 Properties near Lake Minnewanka
Banff Rocky Mountain Resort $75
Banff Rocky Mountain Resort

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort

1029 Banff Ave, Banff
     
    3.9
    of 5, from 1,931 reviews
    3.0 out of 5.0

    This family-friendly Banff condo resort is within 3 mi (5 km) of Banff National Park Information Centre, Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau, and Canadian Ski Museum West. Canada House Gallery and Banff Park Museum are also within 3 mi (5 km).

    Hidden Ridge Resort $113
    Hidden Ridge Resort

    Hidden Ridge Resort

    901 Hidden Ridge Way, Banff
       
      4.2
      of 5, from 1,854 reviews
      3.5 out of 5.0

      This resort, situated high on Tunnel Mountain, features views of downtown Banff and the surrounding Rocky Mountains.

      Inns of Banff $60
      Inns of Banff

      Inns of Banff

      600 Banff Avenue, Banff
         
        3.3
        of 5, from 2,123 reviews
        2.5 out of 5.0

        Located on the main street of Banff, this inn is within 5 km (3 mi) of the Sulphur Mountain Gondola and Upper Hot Springs.

        Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa $75
        Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa

        Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa

        521 Banff Ave, Banff
           
          4.1
          of 5, from 2,097 reviews
          3.5 out of 5.0

          Located in Banff National Park just a short walk from downtown Banff, Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa has friendly staff and convenient location with easy access to local sights and activities.

          The Fox Hotel and Suites $98
          The Fox Hotel and Suites

          The Fox Hotel and Suites

          461 Banff Ave, Banff
             
            4.2
            of 5, from 2,099 reviews
            3.5 out of 5.0

            The Fox Hotel and Suites is 4 blocks from downtown Banff, 1 km (0.6 mi) from the Bow River, and 5 km (3 mi) from the Sulphur Mountain Gondola.

            Spacious + Deluxe Rockies Condo Great Location!
            Spacious + Deluxe Rockies Condo Great Location!

            Spacious + Deluxe Rockies Condo Great Location!

            , Banff
               
              0.0 out of 5.0

              Situated in Banff, this property is close to Tunnel Mountain, Mount Norquay Ski Resort, and Banff Springs Golf Club. Local attractions also include Banff National Park Information Centre and Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau.

              Deluxe, Bright, Spacious Base of Tunnel Mountain
              Deluxe, Bright, Spacious Base of Tunnel Mountain

              Deluxe, Bright, Spacious Base of Tunnel Mountain

              , Banff
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0

                Situated in Banff, this property is close to Tunnel Mountain, Mount Norquay Ski Resort, and Banff Springs Golf Club. Local attractions also include Banff National Park Information Centre and Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau.

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

                NEW + Unique Wolf Condo Hot Tub Access

                , Banff
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0

                  Situated in Banff, this property is close to Tunnel Mountain, Mount Norquay Ski Resort, and Banff Springs Golf Club. Local attractions also include Banff National Park Information Centre and Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau.