20 Canadian Lakes That Look Straight Out of a Fairytale

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 of the lakes of Canada 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.

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Emerald Lake British Columbia

20 Stunning Lakes Canada has to offer

Here are some of the most beautiful lakes in Canada you won’t want to miss!

1. Lake Louise, Alberta

Lake Louise is a highlight of many tourists’ Canadian holidays and one of the Canadian landmarks. This famous lake in Canada is an unforgettable sight: tall alpine trees line the slopes of snow-capped Mount Victoria, framing the sparkling topaz water.

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lake Louise

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.

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lake Louise

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. This beautiful lake in Canada is a fantastic destination for photographers and winter sports enthusiasts.

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garibaldi lake

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.

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garibaldi lake canada

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.

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emerald lake british columbia at sunset

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.

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kayaks on Emerald Lake british Columbia

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.

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moraine lake alberta

Moraine Lake covers about 120 acres and reaches a depth of 15 meters. Hiking in the encircling forest is a great way to return to nature. One trail, the Perren Route’s starting point, involves an eight- to ten-hour mountain climb.

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moraine lake alberta

⇒ 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.

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Peyto lake Alberta

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.

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Peyto lake alberta Canada

6. Spotted Lake, British Columbia

Spotted Lake is relatively tiny: just under one kilometer long and 400 meters wide. So, why should you go to Spotted Lake? It’s all in the name: when the water evaporates, crystalized ponds appear, making the water surface resemble a gigantic polka-dot pattern.

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spotted lake Alberta

This is also a sacred place for local indigenous groups who have used the waters as a healing center for centuries. The lake certainly looks other-worldly, thanks to the spots and the colors that change through the seasons.

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spotted lake alberta Canada

Make sure to visit in the summer months to see the spotted pattern on the lake’s 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.

7. Lake Superior, Ontario

At 128 000 square kilometers, 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.

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lake superior Ontario

You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to activities at this famous lake in Canada. 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.

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lake superior, Ontario 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.

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Waterton lake Alberta

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, and one of the most beautiful lakes in Canada.

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Waterton lake Alberta Canada

Look out for deer, elk, moose, and black bears when 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.

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Lake Ontario Skyline Ontario

Since it’s not as remote as other lakes, Lake Ontario feels safe enough to visit as a solo traveler. It’s picturesque and offers plenty of activities like paddle boarding and canoeing. Of course, no holiday in Toronto would be complete without a boat trip on Lake Ontario.

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lake ontario frozen

10. Maligne Lake, Alberta

Maligne Lake is the starting point for the popular Skyline hiking trail in the stunning Jasper National Park. Maligne Lake is also home to little Spirit Island, which is easily visited and ridiculously photogenic. Plus it has three glaciers – what a lake!

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Maligne Lake Alberta

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 this beautiful lake in Canada.

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.

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great slave lake northwest territories

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.

You might enjoy reading my article about places to visit in Surrey BC.

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 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!).

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berg lake, British Colombia

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 caused by rock flour that the mountains create.

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Abraham Lake Alberta

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 the water is cold. Lake Minnewanka is 5 kilometers 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.

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red-lake ontario Canada

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 of wildlife. Unsurprisingly, European settlers called it cold lake because, well, it was cold. It isn’t actually the coldest lake in Canada – that honor belongs to Watson Lake in the Yukon.

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Cold Lake Alberta

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.

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lake muskoka

18. Medicine Lake, Alberta

Twelve 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 Lake, 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.

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Medicine lake Alberta

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.

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Horseshoe Lake

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.

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Lake Memphremagog

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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garibaldi lake canada

This lakes Canada post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.

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Amanda O’Brien is the creator and editor of The Boutique Adventurer. She has visited 80 countries and is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers as well as the IFTWTA. She is passionate about wine had has just completed Level 3 of the WSET. Born in Australia, she lives in London.