The second largest country in the world, Canada is known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. It’s home to eight distinct forest regions, two mountain regions, volcanoes and the arctic zone. It also happens to be have the world’s largest amount of fresh water lakes, which are spread across all ten provinces and three territories.
It’s believed that there are over 2 million lakes in Canada, 31,752 of which are larger than three square kilometres, with 561 of these lakes having a surface area larger than 100 square kilometres. In fact, over nine per cent of the country is covered by freshwater. That’s over 890,000 square kilometres! With so many lakes, it’s nearly impossible to decide which lakes are the best. But some of these lakes are much more spectacular than the others.
Lake Louise; Banff National Park, Alberta
You have not seen a lake in Canada until you have seen Lake Louise. The glacial lake is small, but extremely spectacular with its emerald green water and stunning surrounding mountains.
Lake Louise is nestled at the foot of Mount Victoria at an elevation of 1,750 metres. It’s one of Banff National Park’s main draws, not only for the scenery, but also for its outdoor activities, which include hiking, mountain biking, boating, ice climbing and ice fishing.
On the eastern end of the lake is the luxurious Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, which is one of Canada’s grand railway hotels. The lake is also close to the Lake Louise Ski Area, one of three major ski areas within the national park and the first stop on the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup.
Garibaldi Lake; Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia
This turquoise coloured alpine lake lies in the Garibaldi Provincial Park at an elevation of 1,484 metres above sea level. It’s a stunning lake that is surrounded almost entirely by mountains that reflect into the mirror-like water.
Garibaldi Lake stretches for over 990 hectare between Whistler and Squamish. It’s only accessible by hiking along the nearly nine kilometre Garibaldi Lake Trail.
Visit in the winter and enjoy backcountry skiing or snowshoeing while being mesmerised by the lake’s beauty. Throughout the rest of the year, go hiking and enjoy the meadows, flowers and waterfalls.
Emerald Lake; Yoho National Park, British Columbia
Emerald Lake is the largest of 61 lakes found within the park, and also happens to be the best of the bunch. The beautiful emerald green lake is completely enclosed by mountains of the President Range and sits at an elevation of over 1,200 metres.
The lake is one of the Yoho National Park’s premier attractions, offering canoeing, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. It’s also easy to get to by vehicle, even though it’s in a secluded area.
The lake is frozen from November to June, and is most outstanding in July when the snow melts into it from the surrounding mountains. Still, no matter when you visit Emerald Lake you’ll be impressed.
Lake Superior; Ontario
The largest of North America’s Great Lakes, Lake Superior is also the one to visit, as it’s the world’s largest freshwater lake. In fact, it’s so big that there are actually countries that are smaller than it.
Lake Superior is shared with neighbouring USA, though one of its main attractions is on the Canadian side; the Lake Superior Provincial Park. The park is sits along the north-eastern shores of the lake is home to the famous Agawa pictograph, 11 hiking trails and three campgrounds.
It’s not possible to walk around the 2,783 kilometres shoreline, but driving along its Great Lakes Circle Tour scenic route is very popular, and highly recommended. It’s the best way to enjoy the cliffs, canyons, waterfalls and wildlife surrounding the lake.
Maligne Lake; Jasper National Park, Alberta
This stunning lake has incredible azure-blue water, which is what it’s most known for. Well that and its amazing surrounding peaks, three glaciers and charming Spirit Island.
A great thing about Maligne Lake is that it’s accessible by road, and many shuttle buses head here from the nearby town of Jasper. It’s also possible to hike along the 44 kilometre Skyline Trail from the town to the lake.
Maligne Lake is home to two Alberta registered historic buildings as well as three camping sites that are only accessible by canoe. From spring to autumn, boats run to the iconic Spirit Island.
Peyto Lake; Banff National Park, Alberta
This gorgeous glacier-fed lake is located in the Banff National Park at an elevation of 1,860 metres above sea level. Peyto Lake is only 530 hectare, but it’s truly beautiful.
Although the lake is quite high, it’s easy to get to by driving along the Icefields Parkway. The drive is extremely scenic, although so are the views of the lake that can be seen from the viewpoint (Bow Summit).
From the viewpoint there is a trail heading down to the lake as well as one going further above it, where the view is even better.