With countless lakes, many lagoons, and man-made reservoirs, Canada embraces the highest concentrations of lakes in the world. Most of these water bodies are of glacier origin, drained through streams and waterfalls into the highland basins, creating turquoise glacier lakes- a vista most characteristic of Canada.
Disappearing and reappearing lakes, longest Sweetwater beaches, and largest river deltas- occasionally accommodating curious whales- together with countless other astonishing geologic phenomena, Canada’s lakes have been a source of wonder for centuries.
Here, we have handpicked 15 of the spectacular lake destinations across the country and must-have items on every bucket list.
1. Little Manitou Lake, Saskatchewan
Our list starts with the Canadian “Dead Sea“, as described by most, sitting across the prairie of Saskatchewan. Little Manitou Lake contains over half of the salt and mineral content of the dead sea, allowing the swimmer to float effortlessly. For the abiding characteristic, Little Manitou holds the title of Canada’s safest lake for swimming.
The indigenous Hohe residents associated the lake with the healing and forgiving spirit of Manitou for thousands of years. In reality, the high mineral content in effect offers bone strengthening, antiseptic, and relaxant properties. Quality spa resorts, posh accommodations, and authentic restaurants are the facilities just paces from the lake’s shores.
2. Medicine Lake, Alberta
An hour’s hike from the charming town of Jasper, Medicine Lake lounges on the basins of the world-famous Maligne River. In summers, the lake is prosperous, encircled by lush forests of Maligne Canyon, unique wildlife, and 9 kilometers of sparkling lake shores. Each fall, the water drains into the sinkholes at the lake’s bottom and transforms itself into a small stream.
The sunken water joins a system of underground caverns and reappears at Maligne Canyon. Bewildered by the unexplained drainage, the disappearing lake was a legendary mystery among the natives, who referred to it as the Magic Lake; yet the unusual lake and its surrounding fully justify this appellation.
Located within the Jasper National Park, nature is rich in all directions, from the Canadian moose, grizzly bears, and packs of regional wolves to chains of river, waterfalls, and spectacular gorges at proximity.
3. Lake Superior, Ontario
The first discovery of le Lac Supérieur, or Lake Superior, was in the 17th century by Canada’s initial French residents. With over 200 hundred tributary rivers, lake superior is the largest of North America’s Great Lakes. The aboriginal tribes named the lake the “Great Sea”, with ice-cold waters, high rising tides, and relatively dangerous to swim; much resembling a sea.
While bathing is not recommended and considered rather dangerous, the lake is mostly visited for its natural and archeological attractions; embracing spectacular vista of the inland sea, petroglyphs of nearby caves, and a handful of industrial heritage mining towns. As the world’s largest lake, Lake Superior contains the tenth part of the entire Sweetwater resource globally.
Despite the harsh weather, it is recommended to visit this destination during winters; when the endless surface of the lake freezes into an ice field, flanked by frozen stalactite caves.
4. Lake Huron, Ontario
The second largest lake of the Great Lakes group is Lake Huron, marking the third-largest Sweetwater source in the world. In technical terms, the lake has been separated from the main body of the primary lake by the Straits of Mackinac between Canada and America, dividing the original ancient waterbody into Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.
The connective route between the two lakes is marked by the 8 kilometers long Mackinac Bridge. The state-of-the-art Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, Haynes’ picturesque Sturgeon Point Lighthouse, and Albert E. Sleeper State Park- enumerate some of the most notable attractions around Huron.
5. Kootenay Lake, British Columbia
With stretched out sandy beaches, Kootenay lake is a popular destination among Canadians and admirers of Canadian nature. Tucked away between the narrow basins of Kootenay ranges, it is surrounded by captivating nature reserves, such as the salmon-ladened streams of Kokanee Creek Provincial Park.
Visitors can cross the lake by a spectacular ferry ride to other regional attractions; connecting the beautiful town of Nelson, scenic hamlet of Balfour and the western arm of the lake, to Ainsworth Hot Springs, and British Columbia’s prettiest small town, Kaslo.
Additionally, the eastern shores embrace most of the sand-line beach resorts and serene shorelines for sunbathing and swimming and a considerable concentration of protected nature reserves and provincial parks.
6. Horseshoe Lake, Alberta
The glaciers of Jasper National Park‘s ice fields melt into the cerulean streams, overflowing from Canadian Rocky Ranges and forming a series of glacier-fed lakes, including the Horseshoe Lake. It is one of the deepest and most pleasant lakes of Jasper National Park, noted for its secluded ambient.
With soaring vertical cliffs and deep enough waters to accommodate adventurous jumpers, the highest drivable cliff is as high as a 6 story building- presenting one of the world’s most thrilling diving points with over 24 meters of height.
Flanked by alpine forest, bold summits and eroded granite slopes, the lake is linked to many idyllic hikes to visit the national park’s wonders. While summers are suitable for swimming, the best vista of the lake is seen through the springs, ladened with wildflower beds and the thriving wildlife after a long and frozen winter.
7. Moraine Lake, Alberta
Wrapped in the Valley of Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake is perhaps Canada’s most beautiful lake. It sits on the foothills of snow-capped summits, Banff national park forests, Fay Glacier, and Larch and Morain Creeks. The lake is characterized by its change of color throughout the year; presenting sparkling turquoise tones in summers, and in winters, deep glacier blue.
The vista of Moraine’s vivid shades of blue, contrasting delightfully with the verdant surrounding, is an all-time favorite photographing spot, acclaimed as “naturally photoshopped” sceneries among photographers. Bound by kilometers of hiking routes, this popular destination hosts hundreds of visitors each year for swimming, canoeing, and camping around the lake.
8. Garibaldi Lake, British Columbia
The volcanic eruption of British Columbia Rockies, in particular Mount Price, created a subalpine basin for the draining glacier waters, resulting in the formation of Garibaldi Lake. Only 37 kilometers from the historic town of Squamish, the lake lounges on the alpine highlands of Garibaldi Provincial Park.
From the trailhead at Rubble Creek in the north, the primary access to the highland lake is via Garibaldi Lake Trail; a 9-kilometer trail crosses through the protected regions of Squamish-Lillooet, reaching to the turquoise lake and ultimately ending at Taylor Meadows.
9. Kluane Lake, Yukon
Kluane Lake sprawls at the westernmost point of Canadian territory in Yukon. Boarding with Alaska, the landscape hints to the charm of its comparatively world-famous neighboring terrain. From the heights of St. Elias Mountains, Kaskawulsh Glaciers melts into the creek of Slims River, which ultimately rests at the alpine basin.
Squatting in the shadow of Canada’s highest mountains, the silver waters of glacier lake are rimmed with trembling aspen and poplar trees- a landscape particular to the Alaskan region.
10. Peyto Lake, Alberta
Spectacular vistas of Banff’s icefield parkway reveal themselves as the visitors drive up north through the scenic roads of Trans Canada Highways; ranked as top-rated roads and most scenic travels by National Geographic Magazine. Among these attractions are the renowned Bow Valley with its fiery waterfalls and soon after, the valley of Waputik Range and Peyto Lake. From the parking, a few minutes’ hikes descend to the high altitude glacier lake.
During the summers, large amounts of glacier particles grant unrealistic shades of blue to its water- presenting the park’s most highlighted feature. Other activities include hiking, camping, swimming in the earth’s purest waters; similar to most glacier-fed lakes, the water temperature is quite low and may not be appealing to some.
A scenic trail guides the way to Lake Louise, located 40 kilometers from Peyto. Besides Lake Louise’s boundless beauty, this lake’s glacial waters are so cold that swimming in these waters is named “the Polar Bear Dip”; yet proved to be beneficial to health and vitality.
11. Lake Annette, Alberta
Rugged beauty and solitude are the words associated with Lake Annette, perched at the green heart of Banff National park. The fabled hiking trails such as Lake Louise or Moraine Creek Trails are considered high traffic routes in summers, unlike the neighboring Lake Annette. It offers a serene refuge for the fans of secluded nature getaways.
Amid the enthralling Paradise Valley, this lake is an ultimate family destination, a romantic getaway, and a true hidden treasure of Alberta. far from the crowded woodlands, the surrounding grass fields and forest is a tranquil home to the region’s wild animals such as the white-tailed deer, grizzly bears, and numerous other Nordic species – often spotted while camping about the charming glacier lake.
12. Arrow Lake, British Columbia
Upper Arrow Lake and Lower Arrow Lakes are the two divisions of the mounded Arrow Lake, formed on the basins of Columbia River and the Kootenay Ranges. The pine forest-covered slopes of Selkirk and Monashee mountains slant down to the steep cliffs and eroded rocks of the lakes’ shorelines, resulting in scant sandy stretches.
A ferry connects both lakes, presenting spectacular vistas of the lakes and encircling ranges. The lakes and surrounding biotopes are protected within Shelter Bay Provincial Park, offering the regional center of outdoor recreation including fishing, kayaking, boat rentals, and guided hiking routes.
Situated in the Valley of Arrow Lakes, the historic Village of Nakusp and its healing hot springs, connected via extraordinary footboard.
13. Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories
Great Slave Lake is one of the world’s largest lakes and the deepest of its kind in North America. Great Slave Lake marks the beating heart of Yellowknife civilization since 8000 years; the initial tribe dwelled in the vicinity of the lake’s fertile banks, benefiting from fishing and hunting.
Accessing these shorelines is only conceivable through summer, highlighted for activities such as fishing, floating plane tour across the colossal lake, and hiking the loop trail; interconnected to remote communities and archeological wonders of Northwest territory.
The lake is part of the natural treasures of Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve, spotting one of the world’s best destinations to witness the spectacles of northern lights.
14. Lac Memphrémagog, Quebec
Lake Memphremagog is conceivably the most cultured lake in Canada, making its way to literature and cinema, mythical creatures, sided by hearty townships and fertile agriculture lands. Divided by international borders, the lake stretches between Vermont to Quebec. It is dotted with a collection of 21 mesmerizing islands, comprising the prominent Prince Island. Far beneath these islands, a native legend tells stories of Memphré, a folkloric lake monster that thrives under the silver-blue surface.
Apart from the fables, the bordering slopes of Owl’s Head Mountain house groundbreaking hotel accommodations, famed in entire northern America for their unrivaled luxury. Cruise ships, aquatic recreation, beach activities at Baie de Magog and Plage de Magog, and hiking in Mont-Orford National Park mark the major activities around this ancient glacier lake.
15. Berg Lake, British Columbia
Mount Robson pinpoints the highest peak in the Canadian rocky ranges, housing the picturesque Berg Lake. Fed by the namesake glacier, the lake displays a deep Cobalt blue color, adorned with floating icebergs throughout the year. A scenic trail leads the way along Robson River, sweeping down to Kinney Lake, the Valley of a Thousand Falls, the terrace of glacier berg, and onto the lush basin of berg lake.
The lake harbors its own non-facilitated campground, in addition to nearby campsites for easier access to adjacent attractions such as Toboggan Falls and Mount Robson Pass.
Fifty percent of the world’s lakes lie across Canadian Atlas, leaving the country with thousands of lakes of all sizes. Needless to mention, the extensive network of feeding water streams, draining rivers, springs, lagoons, and waterfalls in between. Among all these remarkable destinations, few may stand out otherwise. While the above list gathers the most spectacular lakes of Canada, here we introduce two of the strangest Canadian lakes;
Although an artificial hydroelectric reservoir, Abraham Lake illustrated a strange phenomenon soon after the dam’s construction. Sitting on North Saskatchewan River in Kootenay ranges, the basin’s floor releases relatively large methane bubbles, which immediately freezes into vertical chains of floating white bubbles beneath the surface. On your visit, avoid smoking or lighting campfires around this magnificent glacier lake. Methane is a volatile gas and may be explosive.
Last but not the least, the Spotted Lake lies in Similkameen Valley. This lake holds extraordinary amounts of minerals, which are responsible for the green blots on its surface during summer.
It is believed the high alkaline content and evaporation of waters during hotter months-combined with the spellbound wonders of Canadian terrain- results in the lake’s appearance- noted among the most wonderful locations worldwide.