17 best lakes in Alberta you have to check out (PHOTOS)

Apr 12 2023, 3:35 pm

Ready for a staycation and looking for some gorgeous spots to kick back and relax in the province? We’ve got you covered, rounding up some of the best lakes in Alberta you have to check out.

So call your boss and book those vacation days. You’ll want to hit up at least a few of these spots this summer.


Moraine Lake

lakes Alberta

Laine Mitchell/Daily Hive

A visit to Moraine Lake in Banff National Park is a peak Rockies experience, with its blue-green colour a highlight of a visit to the water near the hamlet of Lake Louise. Hike around the area during your visit, or rent a canoe and glide across the turquoise water. We highly suggest that you do that! It’s certainly one of the most recognizable lakes in not only Alberta, but all of Canada too.

Lake Louise

lakes Alberta

Laine Mitchell/Daily Hive

A gem of the Rockies, Lake Louise is another spot in Banff that offers turquoise waters and stunning mountain views. Hike up to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse, and take in Victoria Glacier while you are at it, too.

The parking lot for Lake Louise fills up very quickly during peak hours, so wake up early to ensure a spot there!

Bow Lake


One of many lakes that line the Icefields Parkway, this lake turns a dazzling blue in the summer months due to melt from a nearby glacier. The lake acts as the source of the Bow River, which flows through Banff itself as well as Canmore and Calgary. It’s a perfect spot to stop for a hike, picnic, or Instagram photo. It’s everything!

Lake Agnes

lakes Alberta

Laine Mitchell/Daily Hive

Looking for a reward after a hike? Not only will you see Lake Agnes, but there is also a seasonal tea house where you can stop for a bite to eat or a drink to enjoy as you admire the stunning landscape. The nearly seven-kilometre round-trip trail can be busy at times, thanks to its proximity to Lake Louise. If you take the trail around the lake and follow a switchback trail, you’ll end up with a stunning aerial view of Lake Louise. We highly recommend it!

Peyto Lake


Peyto Lake, Banff National Park/Shutterstock

A lake that is instantly recognizable (we’ve likely all seen it on the Insta feed of a hiker friend or two), Peyto Lake is known for its vibrant blue water. Banff National Park sure seems to have a few of those, which means we must see them all! The lake is about 40 kilometres north of Lake Louise, and a hike to an outlook spot provides a view that will amaze you.

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka/Shutterstock

Drive just 10 kilometres north of the town of Banff and you’ll hit Lake Minnewanka. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and do some canoeing, kayaking, or boating. This lake is so close to Banff that it’s hard to miss it!


Pyramid Lake

lakes Alberta

Laine Mitchell/Daily Hive

One of the most heavily visited natural spots in Jasper National Park, Pyramid Lake sits right at the foot of Pyramid Mountain. It’s a great spot to hang out for the day, go canoeing, kayaking, or just wander the shores for a bit. It’s only a few kilometres outside of the Jasper townsite; it’s a nice, easy escape from your hotel to enjoy some nature.

Maligne Lake

lakes Alberta

Laine Mitchell/Daily Hive

Clocking in as the largest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies, Maligne Lake stretches past serene Spirit Island right to the melt-water channels of Coronet Glacier. The massive 22-kilometre-long lake holds Spirit Island in the middle of the lake, which is one of the most iconic spots in the Rockies. It can be accessed by a tour boat or by a private, non-motorized craft. Maligne Lake is surely one of the most striking lakes in Alberta, hands down!

Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake/Shutterstock

When you go to visit Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park, it’s pretty much a two-for-one deal, because you will pass by Medicine Lake on your way to Maligne. The vastness of this lake is almost jaw-dropping, but if you visit and there is simply no water, that’s okay. It was meant to happen! The lake is known for its disappearing water during the fall and winter months when it becomes little more than a mudflat. Visit in the peak of summer though, and the seven-kilometre-long lake is all yours to enjoy.

Central Alberta

Sylvan Lake

lakes Alberta

Arlene Grace Evangelista/Shutterstock

Just outside of Red Deer, Sylvan Lake is a prime summer town to enjoy. There’s even a lighthouse there! Go boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing — anything water related, you are able to do it there. During the summer months, Sylvan can certainly be one of the busiest lakes in Alberta. Grab a spot on the beach early and embrace the crowds.

Gull Lake

Kyle Fujita/Shutterstock

With its large sandy beaches, Gull Lake in central Alberta is perfect for a weekend getaway filled with sun and beach time. Aspen Beach Provincial Park is located on the southwest shore of Gull Lake. It’s just west of Lacombe, which is known for its adorable main strip.

Throughout the Rockies

Kananaskis Lakes


Upper Kananaskis Lake (Shutterstock)

Visiting the Kananaskis Lakes is like literally stepping into the photo of a postcard. A beautiful lake, soaring mountains, and thick wilderness. Once you visit, you’ll want to hit up Peter Lougheed Provincial Park every single summer. It’s also a spot where some of Brokeback Mountain was filmed. The iconic “I wish I knew how to quit you” line? Yeah, that’s Upper Kananaskis Lake in the background throughout the entire scene.

Grassi Lakes

grassi lakes

Grassi Lakes/Shutterstock

It’s an easy hike with a big payoff. Grassi Lakes is a Canmore classic. There are two emerald-hued lakes to enjoy on a hike that only takes a few hours, and if you are lucky, you can check out some rock climbers scaling a cliff face too. There are two trails to choose from, one marked “easy” and the other “difficult.” If you opt for the harder route, an excellent view of the Canmore townsite awaits you.

Rawson Lake

lakes Alberta

Laine Mitchell/Daily Hive

Getting to Rawson Lake is a bit of a hike, but boy oh boy is it worth it in the end. The lake is surrounded by picturesque mountain views, and if the lake is low enough, you can walk along the edge to the other side too.

To get to the lake, start at the trailhead just west of the Upper Kananaskis Lake parking lot. From there, you’ll hike along the lakeshore briefly, passing a waterfall and a creek. It’s one of the most gorgeous spots in all of K-Country, and we’ve got to say it’s one of the nicest lakes in Alberta that’s not in a national park.

Abraham Lake

ice bubbles Alberta

CoolPhoto2/Shutterstock,Shawna and Damien Richard/Shutterstock

This lake near Nordegg is widely known for its icy bubbles during the winter months, but it’s equally gorgeous year-round too. Abraham Lake is around 3.5 hours from both Edmonton and Calgary and makes for the perfect weekend getaway. Check out the numerous hiking trails around the lake while you are there.

Northern Alberta

Lesser Slave Lake


Touted as the largest lake in Alberta you can get to by car travel alone, Lesser Slave Lake is just 2.5 hours north of Edmonton and offers white sandy beaches to lay your towel down on and soak up some sun.

Southern Alberta

Waterton Lake

Upper Waterton Lake, Alberta (Nina B/Shutterstock)

With its beautiful blue waters and deep roots in Canadian history, Waterton Lake in Waterton Lakes National Park makes for the perfect place to brush up on your high-school history while relaxing and taking in the scenic views. The park is located three hours south of Calgary and spills into the US state of Montana, where it becomes Glacier National Park.

Elkwater Lake


Lounge on the beach, go boating, swimming, or go for a hike on a nice summer day. There are numerous things to do at Elkwater Lake in Cypress Hills Provincial Park in southeastern Alberta. Make a stop in the tourist community of Elkwater for some treats and check out the cabins there.

Laine MitchellLaine Mitchell

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