Fingers crossed that public health restrictions will let us visit some of the most stunning lakes across Canada this summer, instead of just daydreaming about them. But hey, with such a wealth of beauty just waiting for us to visit, we’re not too upset about daydreaming for now. Care to join in? We’ve got exactly what you need, friend.
Here are 17 of the most beautiful lakes to visit across Canada.
We’re kicking things off with one of the shining jewels of the BC Coast Mountains range. Located outside of Whistler, this alpine lake is only accessible via hike, but the views make it more than worthwhile. A deep turquoise colour, Garibaldi Lake is flanked by stunning scenery on all sides, including views of the nearby Sphinx Glacier. Yeah, it’s no wonder that the area has been featured prominently by travel magazines, lifestyle blogs, and even video games (shoutout to SSX Tricky)
Where: Whistler, British Columbia
Another B.C. location! What can we say? The province has some gorgeous lakes. Slicing between two ranges on the west side of the Rockies, Arrow Lakes offers some spectacular views of the valleys and mountains. But, that’s not why it gets the nod here. Nope, in fact, the Upper Arrow Lake features a weird part of Canadian history- it’s home to Arrowhead, a former town that ended up getting almost completely submerged when a new dam was built. In a spooky twist, only the old cemetery remains.
Where: Kootenays, British Columbia
We’re going from a lake the epitomizes BC to one that you’ll be surprised to find there. Or anywhere else on earth, really. Located in BC’s desert biome, Spotted Lake undergoes a transformation each year as water evaporates. The result? Individual pools of yellow, green and blue hues, thanks to the high mineral concentration underneath. Originally on private land, Spotted Lake has since been acquired and put in the care of the Okanagan First Nation due to its sacred status.
Where: Similkameen Valley, British Columbia
Ok, back to the mountains for this next pick, but this time in the Rockies. A short drive from Lake Louise, Alberta (which is on this list too, don’t worry) Emerald Lake has been a major destination for tourists and locals alike for decades. Featuring a variety of hikes, watersports, and even a lodge, the lake is pretty much the gold standard for an alpine retreat. Make no mistake about the name either- the deep green hues are sure to stay with you long after your visit.
Where: Yoho National Park, British Columbia
Banff National Park is home to some of the most stunning lakes in Canada, there’s no denying that. Our first pick from the area is this glacier-fed lake located in the heart of the park. Featuring vibrant blue waters and stunning forests on all sides, this is one spot that needs no help in making visitors’ jaws drop. More importantly, the trails and viewing platform around the lake have been closed until late summer for rehabilitation, meaning an even better visit once you can finally go.
Where: Banff National Park, Alberta
Guess what? Yup, there is yet another ridiculously beautiful lake situated in Banff National Park. No wonder it’s one of the country’s finest tourist destinations. Moraine Lake is famous for its views, and its stunning turquoise colour changes throughout the summer as the glaciers continue to melt. Ah, this one is something special.
Where: Banff National Park, Alberta
Of course, we can’t mention Banff National Park, or the Rockies, without including Lake Louise. We think that’s a good thing, though. You see, Lake Louise is just one of those spots where you feel like Canada (and especially western Canada) just gets summed up in the visit. A gorgeous waterfront hotel, tons of nearby amenities, and easy access to the lake itself make it a shining star on this list.
Where: Banff National Park, Alberta
Ok, now on to some amazing Alberta lakes in other parts of the province. And, there’s no doubt that Maligne Lake is Jasper National Park’s answer to Lake Louise. A tourist destination for over a century, Maligne Lake is home to, in our opinion, the most beautiful island in Canada. Now, how do you get to Spirit Island? You can only go by cruise or non-motorized watercraft, making it an even more special sight.
Where: Jasper National Park, Alberta
This incredible lake is home to a super crazy phenomenon. There’s trapped methane under the frozen surface, which causes super cool-looking bubbles to form. These create the wild pattern you can see of suspended bubbles on the frozen lake. And although it’s not nearly as special during the summer months (this is an elite list, folks), the winter version earns it a spot.
Where: North Saskatchewan River, Alberta
Now we’re taking a breather we’ve some quirkier picks. This lake is extra cool because it’s in two provinces at once. Straddling the Saskatchewan- Alberta border, Lake Athabasca provides super picturesque views. It’s 26% in Alberta and 74% in Saskatchewan. If you’re looking for some amazing fishing in a woodland setting, then Lake Athabasca is right up your alley.
Where: Division No. 18, Saskatchewan / Wood Buffalo, Alberta
No, Lake Winnipeg is not included just because it’s close to Winnipeg. In fact, it has maybe the most unique thing to offer on this list, since its eastern shores are part of Pimachiowin Aki. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this unbelievable stretch of land is part of the largest stretch of boreal forest on earth. And, there’s no doubt that one of the best ways to see it is from the lake itself.
Where: Manitoba, Canada
This lake in the Northwest Territories should be on the bucket list of any Canadian who puts ‘explorer’ or ‘free spirit’ in their social media bio. Not only is it relatively easy to access, since Yellowknife sits on its shores, but it’s also the deepest lake in Canada. How deep is it? So deep that you could place the One World Trade Centre at the bottom and still have over 200 feet of breathing room. Is anyone else’s heart racing or is it just us?
Where: Northwest Territories
Speaking of lakes with a chip on their shoulders, how can we miss the biggest lake in North America, and the largest freshwater lake in the world? Some might say you get superior views at this amazing place. Sorry, we had to. Since we’re talking about a lake that covers multiple provinces and is split between countries, we’ll just say that a great starting point is the Battle Island Lighthouse.
Where: Thunder Bay, Ontario
If Lake Louise represents Alberta, then Lake Muskoka represents Ontario. An iconic destination for locals and tourists alike, this woodland wonder is dotted with beautiful cottages, resorts, beaches, and towns all along the shore. And, we’d be lying if said that it isn’t one of the best places in Canada for a nice little golf getaway, which a handful of names already on the list.
Where: Muskoka, Ontario
Without a doubt the most difficult lake to get to on this list, Kluane Lake (and the surrounding area) is described as a place of extremes. Located some 200km northwest of Whitehorse, this is the kind of place where you’ll see an Arctic Research Station on one side of the road, and a family of grizzly bears on the other. We’re saying this is for the true explorers of Canada, and your effort getting here will absolutely pay off.
Where: Destruction Bay, Yukon
Contrary to its name, Pink Lake is actually known for its emerald green water in the summer months. It’s also meromictic, meaning there are two layers of water within Pink Lake that will never mix due to a lack of oxygen in the ‘bowl’. Like the Spotted Lakes pick in BC, this is a spot that is just as interesting to visit as it is beautiful to see.
Where: Gatineau, Quebec
Hidden along the coast of Cape Breton Island, this serene little lake is best viewed from one of the several hiking trails that surround it. However, the spot is more than just a good workout and a photo-op. To the locals, it’s a warm, private swimming hole practically made for the ultimate relaxing day trip.
Where: Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
So there you have it! There are so many beautiful lakes in the country, you’ll never get bored of them.