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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

Would you like to make your stop at Lake Minnewanka even more memorable? Don't miss the chance to try a few of these things to do:

Why not think about buying a Banff Lake Cruise? It's one of the most popular activities on offer here.

For even more things to do, examine our Banff things to do page.


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Lodging Near Lake Minnewanka

See all 124 Properties near Lake Minnewanka
Banff Rocky Mountain Resort $74
Reviewed on Apr 23, 2019
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Banff Rocky Mountain Resort

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort

1029 Banff Ave, Banff, AB
     
    3.9 of 5
    3.0 out of 5.0

    Amazing experience. Every time we stay here. We like open areas and this property is open and spacious compared to most hotels in banff

    Inns of Banff $59
    Reviewed on Apr 21, 2019
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    Inns of Banff

    Inns of Banff

    600 Banff Avenue, Banff, AB
       
      3.3 of 5
      2.5 out of 5.0

      Always good space and great view. Disappointing the hot tub is not functional. We weren’t aware of that before we booked. This should be communicated.

      Hidden Ridge Resort $97
      Reviewed on Apr 9, 2019
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      Hidden Ridge Resort

      Hidden Ridge Resort

      901 Hidden Ridge Way, Banff, AB
         
        4.2 of 5
        3.5 out of 5.0

        Hot tub with a view of the mountains and a fireplace in the room makes for a cozy stay.

        Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa $74
        Reviewed on Apr 23, 2019
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        Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa

        Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa

        521 Banff Ave, Box 1070, Banff, AB
           
          4.1 of 5
          3.5 out of 5.0

          Pillows were not very comfortable and the bottom sheet on the bed was not a fitted sheet. It kept coming untucked. Hot pool was great! Parking for a large SUV- did not fit in underground parking, limited available street parking adjacent to hotel

          Rustic Budget Banff Condo With Fireplace Access to 2 Hot Tubs!
          Reviewed on Feb 24, 2019
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          Rustic Budget Banff Condo With Fireplace Access to 2 Hot Tubs!

          Rustic Budget Banff Condo With Fireplace Access to 2 Hot Tubs!

          Banff, AB
             
            4.0 of 5
            0.0 out of 5.0

            2 of us stayed for a few days of running around the mountains in Banff. The temps were sub 25, so we were happy to return to our lodge and get the fire going. It was great to have access to a well equipped kitchen. Check in was quick and easy. Would definitely stay again.

            NEW + Unique Wolf Condo Hot Tub Access
            Reviewed on Jan 5, 2019
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            NEW + Unique Wolf Condo Hot Tub Access

            NEW + Unique Wolf Condo Hot Tub Access

            Banff, AB
               
              4.0 of 5
              0.0 out of 5.0

              Clean and the staff was helpful and nice. It was very convenient to Banff. Try to stay in upstairs room if you're a light sleeper because we heard our upstairs neighbors walking around until early in the morning. Also, bed was small for taller people. TV in front room was dim and hard to see and ...

              Spacious + Deluxe Rockies Condo Great Location!
              Reviewed on Jan 1, 2019
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              Spacious + Deluxe Rockies Condo Great Location!

              Spacious + Deluxe Rockies Condo Great Location!

              Banff, AB
                 
                4.0 of 5
                0.0 out of 5.0

                Very cozy!

                Banff Resort 2 Bedroom 2 Bathroom up to 6 People Feb 10-14, 2019
                Banff Resort 2 Bedroom 2 Bathroom up to 6 People Feb 10-14, 2019

                Banff Resort 2 Bedroom 2 Bathroom up to 6 People Feb 10-14, 2019

                Banff, AB
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0

                  Located in East Kootenay G, this resort is within 3 mi (5 km) of Banff National Park Information Centre, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and Banff Lake Louise Tourism Bureau. Canadian Ski Museum West and Canada House Gallery are also within 3 mi (5 km).