Right now, Canada feels a bit further away from the UK than usual. But hopefully the natural beauty of the world’s second-largest country won’t be out of reach for long. Until then, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about the 10 most beautiful lakes in Canada, whether you’re into fishing or photography or sports.
10 beautiful lakes in Canada and what you need to know about them
- Lake Ontario, Ontario
- Lake Superior, Ontario
- Spotted Lake, British Columbia
- Abraham Lake, Alberta
- Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta
- Emerald Lake, British Columbia
- Peyto Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta
- Moraine Lake, Alberta
- Kluane Lake, Yukon
- Maligne Lake, Alberta
- Lakes in Canada FAQ
Best lakes in Canada for spotting wildlife
1. Lake Ontario, Ontario
A freshwater lake rich in biodiversity, Lake Ontario is home to all manner of bird life, from water fowl like swans and geese, to impressive birds of prey like hawks and eagles. Dotted with lighthouses, beaches, cliffs and islands, the lake may be a breath away from the bustling city of Toronto (offering great views of its skyline), but you’ll still be enveloped in nature. After all, Lake Ontario is located just below Niagara Falls. On that note, do stop by Niagara-on-the-Lake, a picturesque 19th-century nearby village often touted as ‘the prettiest in Ontario’.
2. Lake Superior, Ontario
There are a gob-smacking 250,000 lakes in Canada’s Ontario area alone, making up 20% of the world’s supply of freshwater. And yet despite all the competition, Lake Superior easily stands out. With its 2,783-kilometre shoreline making it the world’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Superior is a great destination for anything from hiking to diving for underwater shipwrecks. Wildlife enthusiasts will get a thrill looking out for lynxes, moose, owls and all the other magnificent creatures that can be observed in the area. Lake Superior is so big, it’s shared with the USA.
Best lakes in Canada for nature photography
3. Spotted Lake, British Columbia
Canada’s warmest freshwater lake is officially called Lake Osoyoos, but there’s a reason people know it more as Spotted Lake. In the Similkameen Valley, in the south of British Columbia, Osoyoos is an alkaline lake with a high concentration of minerals. In the summer, when the water evaporates due to the warmer temperatures, saline and mineral deposits harden creating the lake’s namesake ‘spots’. The spots even change color along with the temperature fluctuations, so it’s very likely that you won’t be taking the same photo twice. Just bear in mind that this is an ecologically sensitive area: the lake is protected by a fence.
4. Abraham Lake, Alberta
Another lake in Canada with a unique look awaits nature photographers on the North Saskatchewan River, in Alberta. Abraham Lake was actually formed in 1972, when the Bighorn Dam was installed on the river. Despite being human-made, the lake has been blessed by nature with a very interesting phenomenon: frozen bubbles. The bubbles are created by methane emitted from decaying plants at the bottom of the lake: as the water freezes in the winter, the bubbles freeze along with it. Add that to the breathtaking blue colour of the lake, courtesy of the fine particles of rock deposited in the bottom by the surrounding Canadian Rockies, and you’ll agree that Abraham lake is one of the most surreal destinations on Earth.
Best lakes in Canada for outdoor sports
5. Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta
It’s hard to limit Lake Louise to one category. With its emerald green waters stemming from the Victoria glacier, the gorgeous lake at the foot of Mount Victoria is a must-visit destination regardless of whether you’re into outdoor sports or not. But if it’s an adrenaline rush you crave, in Lake Louise you can trek along the water’s edge, hike in the surrounding mountains, go canoeing or kayaking and even swim (although the water’s freezing). In the winter, the lake’s ski resort offers 4,200 acres of skiable terrain while the luxury resort Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (popular year-round) makes for a great après-ski meeting point.
6. Emerald Lake, British Columbia
Yoho National Park has 61 lakes, but Emerald Lake is the biggest. Completely enclosed by the President Range mountains, the lake makes for a secluded, yet popular, spot. Note that it’s frozen from November to June, but its spectacular colours come into their own in July. The melting ice gives the waters their signature emerald hues, thanks to the powdered limestone in it. Trekking, hiking and canoeing opportunities abound in the summer months. In the winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are the activities du jour.
Best lakes in Canada for those Instagram views
7. Peyto Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta
Lake Louise is not the only must-visit lake within Banff National Park in Alberta. The glacier-fed Peyto Lake, with its deep turquoise waters and scenic surroundings is also not to be missed. The lake is high up, at an elevation of 1,860 metres above sea level, but can be easily accessed by car. If you’re seeking photogenic views, take the trail that goes further up from the lake until you reach the Bow Summit viewpoint. Make sure your phone is charged – you won’t want to miss this photo opp.
8. Moraine Lake, Alberta
Yet another Banff park favourite, Moraine Lake could have easily featured in the outdoor sports category. Moraine has several famous hiking routes (like the Perren Route) as well as skiing options but above all, it’s one of the most photogenic lakes in Canada. Getting déjà vu? It might be because Microsoft uses a picture of Moraine Lake as one of its lock-screen wallpapers for Windows 10.
Best lakes for fishing in Canada
9. Kluane Lake, Yukon
Fishing trips in Canada are not in short supply, and the glacier-fed Kluane Lake, in the southwest area of the Yukon, makes for a great fishing spot. Here you can find anything from lake trout and whitefish, to Arctic grayling and rainbow trout. The only catch (pun intended) is that you need to purchase a one-day National Parks Fishing License if you’re not an annual member. But it will be worth it, considering the locals’ nickname for this place is Big Fish Lake.
10. Maligne Lake, Alberta
Set within Jasper National Park, Maligne is one of the most photographed lakes in Canada. It’s also ground zero for the Skyline hiking trail and great for canoeing and kayaking. Here, you’ll also find Spirit Island (a tiny-but-picturesque islet filled with trees, famous for its photogenic Rocky Mountain backdrop) and two registered historic buildings. So even if the fish don’t bite, you definitely won’t be bored. But they probably will – Maligne Lake has an abundance of highly colourful eastern brook trout as well as mint-silver rainbow trout.
Lakes in Canada FAQ
There are more than 2 million lakes in Canada, more than any other country in the world. Of those, 31,752 lakes are larger than three square kilometres and 561 lakes are larger than 100 square kilometres.
Technically, Lake Superior is the largest lake in Canada, and the largest freshwater lake in the world. But because Lake Superior is shared with the USA (bordering the areas of Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire), that makes the Great Bear Lake the largest lake entirely in Canada.
Although Alberta is a landlocked area, there is no shortage of lakes. There are 102 listed lakes in Alberta, although it is believed that the total number of them (including smaller ones) reaches around 600.
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