With volcanoes, mountains, and forests, Canada’s not short on natural landmarks, but there’s something particularly special about its serene lakes. They stretch on for miles and miles and offer a fantastic spot for adventure.
Canada boasts an incredible two million lakes and the highest number of freshwater lakes in the world. So, I understand if you’re having a hard time deciding which ones to visit.
That’s why my super informative guide is here. With my insights, you’ll soon be on your way to one of these stunning lakes Canada has on offer in no time.
29 Stunning Lakes Canada
Table of Contents
- 1 29 Stunning Lakes Canada
- 1.1 1. Lake Louise, Alberta
- 1.2 2. Garibaldi Lake, British Columbia
- 1.3 3. Emerald Lake, British Columbia
- 1.4 4. Moraine Lake, Alberta
- 1.5 5. Peyto Lake, Alberta
- 1.6 6. Spotted Lake, British Columbia
- 1.7 7. Lake Superior, Ontario
- 1.8 8. Waterton Lake, Alberta
- 1.9 9. Lake Ontario, Ontario
- 1.10 10. Maligne Lake, Alberta
- 1.11 11. Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories
- 1.12 12. Berg Lake, British Columbia
- 1.13 13. Abraham Lake, Alberta
- 1.14 14. Lake Minnewanka, Alberta
- 1.15 15. Red Lake, Ontario
- 1.16 16. Cold Lake, Alberta
- 1.17 17. Lake Muskoka, Ontario
- 1.18 18. Medicine Lake, Alberta
- 1.19 19. Horseshoe Lake, Alberta
- 1.20 20. Lake Memphremagog, Quebec
- 1.21 21. Lake Annette, Alberta
- 1.22 22. Kootenay Lake, British Columbia
- 1.23 23. Upper Arrow Lake, British Columbia
- 1.24 24. Kluane Lake, Yukon
- 1.25 25. Okanagan Lake, British Columbia
- 1.26 26. Lake Huron, Ontario
- 1.27 27. Bow Lake, Alberta
- 1.28 28. Wedgemount Lake, British Columbia
- 1.29 29. Bennett Lake, Yukon
- 2 Final Thoughts on the Most Stunning Lakes in Canada
1. Lake Louise, Alberta
Lake Louise is a highlight of many tourists’ Canadian holidays and one of the Canadian landmarks. It’s an unforgettable sight: tall alpine trees line the slopes of snow-capped Mount Victoria, framing the sparkling topaz water.
The glacial lake is part of Banff National Park, one of Canada’s top landmarks. The park offers a host of activities, including skiing, hiking, ice climbing, and boating.
Banff National Park is so vast that you can even take a hop-on-hop-off bus tour from the town of Banff in the reserve. This is a convenient way to take in all the natural attractions in the reserve.
2. Garibaldi Lake, British Columbia
Lake Garibaldi oozes mystery and adventure, with many fallen tree trunks just beneath the surface of the teal water. The lake extends for 990 hectares, so there’s plenty to admire. It’s a fantastic destination for photographers and winter sports enthusiasts.
You’ll find Lake Garibaldi within the Garibaldi Provincial Park in British Columbia. The lake is only accessible by taking the five and a half-mile long Garibaldi Lake Trail, so make sure to pack your hiking boots.
3. Emerald Lake, British Columbia
The picturesque Emerald Lake is the standout attraction in Yoho National Park. Appropriately, ‘Yoho’ means ‘awe’ in Cree, a local language. The President mountain range surrounds the lake, which has an elevation of 3937 feet.
You can experience this superb landscape by following the almost three kilometre-long hiking trail on the lake’s edge. Alternatively, go canoeing on the lake’s surface. Just be aware that the lake is frozen from November until June.
⇒ Don’t miss Canada’s capital Ottawa. Read my posts on the 17 most fun things to do in Ottawa, the Ottawa restaurants Byward Market, best Ottawa Tours, 16 Most Beautiful Cities in Canada and 11 Beautiful Canada Landmarks.
4. Moraine Lake, Alberta
There are plenty of lakes in Banff National Park, but Moraine is likely the most enchanting. It’s one of the most photographed lakes around, appearing in video games, adverts, and log-in screens. Visit the real thing for an unbelievable experience.
Moraine Lake covers about 120 acres and reaches a depth of 15 metres. Hiking in the encircling forest is a great way of getting back to nature. One trail, the Perren Route’s starting point, involves an eight to ten-hour climb up the mountainside.
⇒ Explore Lake Moraine on an informative day trip.
5. Peyto Lake, Alberta
Peyto Lake makes this list because it’s incredibly photogenic from a high angle, which is easy to get to (read: no hiking needed). The lake is small, only five kilometres square, but beautiful.
You can drive up to Icefields Parkway (Highway 93), Bow Summit, where there is a viewing platform over the body of water. It can get busy in the summer months, but the vista offered is worth braving the crowds for.
⇒ Nova Scotia is another stunning region in Canada. Check out my Nova Scotia Itinerary for 6 days to give you a sense of the region. Don’t miss the Wolfville Wineries and nearby Wolfville Farmers Market, 16 Most Beautiful Cities in Canada,11 Beautiful Canada Landmarks and there are loads of things to do in Lunenburg with its UNESCO listed old town.
6. Spotted Lake, British Columbia
Spotted Lake is relatively tiny: just under one kilometre long and 400 metres wide. So, why should you go to Spotted Lake? It’s all in the name: when the water evaporates, crystalised ponds appear, making the water surface resemble a gigantic polka-dot pattern.
This is also a sacred place for local indigenous groups who have used the waters as a healing centre for centuries. The lake certainly looks other-worldly, thanks to the spots and the colours that change through the seasons.
Make sure to visit in the summer months to see the spotted pattern on the lake surface. The rest of the year, it’s a regular lake. You’ll get good views of this natural attraction by driving along Highway 3.
⇒ Another fantastic city in Canada that isn’t too far away is Halifax, Nova Scotia. There are loads of fun things to do in Halifax like visiting the fantastic Halifax Farmers Market and taking Atlantic Canada’s number one tourist attraction the Harbour Hopper Halifax and don’t miss 11 Beautiful Canada Landmarks.
7. Lake Superior, Ontario
At 128 000 square kilometres, this is the largest of the Great Lakes and the largest freshwater lake globally. Lake Superior also boasts sublime beauty: the azure waters spill onto sandy shores, surrounded by lush forestry and low-lying mountains.
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to activities at the lake. It’s one of the few lakes where you can swim, as well as chill out on the shore, fish, kayak, and hike. If you’re interested in history, learn about the 550 shipwrecks concealed beneath the water — there’s even a museum on the American side.
⇒ Another amazing part of Canada (and home to some beautiful Canada Landmarks) is New Brunswick. Check out my posts on the top New Brunswick Tours, the best things to do in New Brunswick, 16 Most Beautiful Cities in Canada, Whale Watching St Andrews and some charming boutique hotels in New Brunswick Canada.
8. Waterton Lake, Alberta
Waterton Lake borders Canada and the US. The deep lake, which twists itself around the green mountains, is a spectacular sight.
The rich flora and fauna of the landscape make Waterton Lake a top destination in Canada. In fact, it’s a part of the Waterton Lakes National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Look out for deer, elk, moose, and black bears when you’re traversing the park. Apart from spotting wildlife, watersports like kitesurfing, windsurfing, and sailboating are all available in the park.
9. Lake Ontario, Ontario
Lake Ontario stands out as it is right in the capital of Toronto. It’s one of the Great Lakes, stretching out for miles in both Canada and the US. This is a fantastic landscape to explore if you don’t want to leave the city.
Since it’s not as remote as other lakes, Lake Ontario feels safe enough to visit as a solo traveller. It’s picturesque and offers plenty of activities, such as paddle boarding and canoeing. Of course, no holiday in Toronto would be complete without a boat trip on Lake Ontario.
10. Maligne Lake, Alberta
Located in the stunning Jasper National Park, Maligne Lake is the starting point for the popular Skyline hiking trail. Maligne Lake is also home to little Spirit island which is easily visited and ridiculously photogenic. Plus it has three glaciers – what a lake!
Unlike some of the other lakes in this post it is very easy to access Maligne lake by car or on a shuttle bus from the town of Jasper. If you’re super keen hike the 44 kilometre Skyline Trail from Jasper to Maligne Lake.
11. Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories
The Great Slave Lake dates back over 8,000 years and is the deepest lake in North America. Despite these impressive statistics it isn’t a tourist mecca as it is pretty much unaccessible eight months of the year – although you can rent a snowmobile and drive over it.
The capital city of the Northwest Territories, Yellowknife, sits on Great Slave Lake and it is home to some fantastic views – and brilliant reflections – of the Northern Lights.
12. Berg Lake, British Columbia
Berg Lake is located in Mount Robson Provincial Park in British Columbia. The highest peak in Canada, Mount Robson, sits behind the lake providing for some rather stunning photographs. Like quite a few of the lakes in Canada, you will need to earn those photos by hiking 19 kilometers along the Berg Lake Trail. But along the way, you will pass the Valley of 1000 waterfalls and you’ll see icebergs around Berg lake even in summer (thus the name!).
13. Abraham Lake, Alberta
This artificial lake was created in 1972 and sits in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains on the North Saskatchewan River. This lake is well known for its intense blue color which is caused by rock flour that the mountains create.
Abraham Lake is also known for the frozen bubbles that sit beneath its iced-over surface in the winter. The bubbles are actually methane gas that has been set off from rotting plants in the lake – I can’t imagine it is terribly pleasant to be there when these melt!
14. Lake Minnewanka, Alberta
This beautiful mountain-lined lake is only 3 miles from Banff. Minnewanka means Water of the Spirits. But note this is a glacial lake so that water is cold? Lake Minnewanka is 5 kilometres wide, 13 miles long and best known for its outdoor activities like canoeing, paddleboarding, kayaking and hiking off the water. This lake in Canada is also home to quite a bit of wildlife including bighorn sheep and deer.
15. Red Lake, Ontario
Red Lake is both a municipality and a lake. The lake is known for being rich in game. Visitors may see grouse, deer, moose, duck and even bears. Its name comes from a local legend involving the Chippewa tribe. The red is from the blood spilled by a moose that two members of the tribe killed.
This lake in Ontario is popular with fishermen in the summer as it is home to lake trout, northern pike and many other types of fish. The area is also popular with birds, deer, beavers, red foxes and other Canadian wildlife.
16. Cold Lake, Alberta
Like Red Lake, Cold Lake is both a city and a lake. The lake is known for its clean water, world-class fishing, being home to hundreds of bird species and general abundance when it comes to wildlife. Unsurprisingly European settlers called it cold lake because, well, it was cold. It isn’t actually the coldest lake in Canada – that honour belongs to Watson Lake in the Yukon.
17. Lake Muskoka, Ontario
This popular lake is located between Port Carling and Gravenhurst in Ontario. Lake Muskoka is known for the many cottages that line its shore. The area of Muskoka is the most popular cottage country area in Ontario. Muskoka is one of three large lakes in the area – the other two are Joseph and Russeau lakes. Some parts of Muskoka are known as the Malibu of the north but many others are still accessible as summer homes for the middle-class Canadians.
18. Medicine Lake, Alberta
12 miles south of Jasper are the glacier waters of Medicine Lake. Medicine Lake is located at quite a high altitude but still has quite a bit of wildlife. When you visit Medicine Lae you may well see moose, bears and deer. This rather shallow lake has 4.3 miles of lakeside to explore. Inside the lake there are loads of brook and rainbow trout and up in the air are osprey, eagles and more birdlife.
19. Horseshoe Lake, Alberta
Horseshoe Lake is one of the lesser-visited lakes of this region and tends to be popular with locals. Possibly because they are the only people who can handle the freezing cold temperatures! For more sensible visitors there are some great trails along the lakeside that offer some great views.
20. Lake Memphremagog, Quebec
Lake Memphremagog sits between Quebec and the US state of Vermont, although nearly 3/4 of its water is in Quebec. That long name means where there is a big expanse of water. This lake in Canada has 21 islands (15 of which are in Canada) and is surrounded by beautiful hills and mountains.
21. Lake Annette, Alberta
This beautiful lake is very close to the town of Jasper and even has a beach. However, the water is still very cold I am afraid. However, there are some fantastic places for picnics and walks. This is another Canadian lake hidden gem.
22. Kootenay Lake, British Columbia
One of the largest lakes in British Columbia, Kootenay Lake sits inbetween the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges. The lake is unsurprisingly part of the Kootenay River and much of its shoreline is undeveloped and raw. This is one of the largest lakes in British Columbia and the free Kootenay Lake Ferry travels between Balfour and Kootenay Bay.
23. Upper Arrow Lake, British Columbia
Upper Arrow Lake is part of the Columbia River and known for its beautiful pine forests. This is a big lake and there are several ferries which can take you from shore to shore. Boating is also an option if that’s your thing.
24. Kluane Lake, Yukon
This beautiful lake is of course located in the mountains near Kluane National Park. It is another Canadian lake that shimmers with an extraordinary shade of blue thanks to being fed by nearby glaciers. Kluane Lake is well known for its fishing as well as local wildlife like caribou. The Alaska Highway runs along the southern side of the lake.
25. Okanagan Lake, British Columbia
This 84-mile long lake is located in the heart of British Columbia’s wine country. Unlike many of the other lakes in this post, Okanagan Lake is located in quite a Mediterranean climate and even surrounded by vineyards. This Canadian lake is well known for watersports and features kayaking, paddleboarding, canoeing, and snorkeling.
26. Lake Huron, Ontario
This is Canada’s second largest Great Lake at 23,000 square miles. It is a freshwater lake and was originally known as La Mer Douche by French explorers in the region. This huge lake is also home to nearly 1,000 shipwrecks. Lake Huron has coves, beaches, port towns, all types of watersports and lots of lovely walks.
27. Bow Lake, Alberta
This ridiculously pretty lake is 30 minutes north of Lake Louise in Banff National Park. Bow Lake is very popular with hikers and the snow on the mountains behind it tends to make the blue of the water even more intense. Autumn can be the best time to visit to get the most beautiful vistas of bright blue water, leaves changing colour and snow-topped mountains.
28. Wedgemount Lake, British Columbia
Wedgemount Lake sits between two glaciers in British Columbia, the Wedgemount and the Armchair. This is another stunning Canadian lake where you need to earn your view – this lake can only be reached after a fairly intense 7 kilometre climb. At its deepest point, it is said to drop as low as sixty metres.
This is an insanely beautiful lake – some have even comapred it to a glacial moonscape. It’s isolate position also means that it can be a great place for overnight star spotting – make sure to pack warmly!
29. Bennett Lake, Yukon
Bennett Lake is located just north of the border between Canada and Alaska. The southern part of the lake is part of British Columbia but the northern part is in the Yukon. In the past, the lake was visted by gold seekers on their way to the Yukon River. Today, Bennett Lake hosts sailing and swimming in the summer and ice fishing and snowmobiling in the winter.
Final Thoughts on the Most Stunning Lakes in Canada
Whether you enjoy photographing rugged landscapes or taking a dip in the water, the magnificent lakes in Canada have lots to offer. These natural features are scattered around the country and, with one right in Toronto, there’s no excuse not to visit at least one gorgeous Canada lake. And once you’ve admired one lake, it’ll be hard not to explore the others!
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