Written By: Tyler Jarry
Banff National Park and Yoho National Park are filled with unparalleled beauty. A place that needs to be seen to be believed. Although the entire park has views that leave you speechless from mountain ranges, to abundant wildlife, to rushing rivers, nothing stood out to me more than the pristine glacial lakes. Sure, you could say that every lake you see in this magical place is unforgettable, but there were a few in my opinion, that stood head and shoulders above the rest.
1) Peyto Lake
Peyto Lake is a glacial fed lake, nestled in the Canadian Rockies that can be accessed by taking the Icelands Parkway. As summer approaches, the lake is filled with glacial rock flour, which helps give it its unique blue color. The best views of this lake are from Bow Summit, the highest point on the Icefields Parkway. This is an absolute must see!
2) Moraine Lake
Tucked in between steep mountain faces, Moraine Lake is a true gem. The sheer size of the surrounding mountains, and the vivid blue water will leave you speechless. This was a close second to Peyto Lake, and one that is a must see if you are in Banff National Park. Be sure to climb the adjacent pile of rock to get a better view of the lake. The crest of the lake reaches its peak in mid to late June, so try to plan your trip accordingly.
3) Emerald Lake
Probably the most underrated lake in my opinion. With less foot traffic than the other lakes, you are able to enjoy more of it without feeling rushed. There is a cabin restaurant right when you enter as well, so you can sit, have a drink, and enjoy the views. This lake is a true testament to the flora that is abundant in British Columbia. The moisture and summer rains allow beautiful vegetation to grow all along the outside of the lake, which gives way for much wildlife.
Fortunately for visitors, there is a 3.2 mile hiking trail that circuits the lake which allows you to get the full experience. Expect to spend a couple of hours here to really appreciate its natural beauty.
4) Lake Louise
Of the four lakes mentioned, this one is the most recognized and most famous. This is certainly more of a tourist attraction than the other lakes, but nonetheless, offers views just as superb. Make sure you check out the Fairmont Chateau, a famous hotel that overlooks the entire lake. There is an incredible view of the lake on the outside patio as you enjoy a drink. Take advantage of the wildlife interpretation center, as well as the gondola to experience more bird's eye views.
As someone going into Banff and Yoho, essentially blind, I hope this can serve as a good guideline for a day drive through the parks. All of these lakes are easily accessible and can be seen in one full day. Each and every one of these glacial lakes offers fantastic photo opportunities, excellent amenities, and a change in perspective.