In a quest to see more of our beautiful province of Alberta, on an early Saturday morning in July we decided to head to Peyto Lake. Peyto Lake is a vibrant blue lake, along the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper. It’s about 225 km (140 miles) from Calgary, so perfect for a day trip.
On the way there we stopped at our favorite bakery in Canmore, Le Fournil, for a quick treat. If you are in the Canmore area, it’s a must. Check out our Le Fournil review.
On your way to Peyto Lake, you need to purchase a Parks Canada Park Pass. You can do so either at the Banff Park entrance or once you are on the Icefields Parkway, shortly after taking the Highway 93 exit. If you intend to stop in either the town of Banff, at Lake Louise or Moraine Lake on the way there, do so at the Banff Park Entrance. If not, keep going, since the other location tends to be less busy. For 2019, the costs are $9.80 per adult per 24 hour period and $19.60 for a family or a group. Click here for the latest information.
Planning a day trip to Banff? Check our day trip itinerary.
As you will see, there are so many potential stops along the way. After exiting Highway 1 for the Icefields Parkway, we came across Herbert Lake. We had never heard of it before, but glad we stopped since it was so beautiful and peaceful.
From the parking lot, you can walk down to it, it’s only a couple minutes. Unlike most of the lakes in the area, this lake is a little warmer and if you are brave enough, safe for swimming.
Finally, we made it to our destination, Peyto Lake. It is just a few minutes past Herbert Lake. The actual distance is 38 km or about 24 miles. The exist is well indicated. After exiting the highway, you will find a parking lot there. From there, the trail head is easy to find.
The walk up to the lookout, Bow Summit, is fairly steep. It’s paved all the way. And, doable for anyone that doesn’t have any significant limitations. It’s only a 10-15 minutes walk, depending on pace.
Luckily, it wasn’t too busy when we go to the top. It only took a few minutes of waiting to be able to get an unobstructed pic.
For an even better view, there are little trails to the right of the platform that will allow you to get closer. But, please be safe.
We have traveled to several places around the world and have seen some breathtaking sights, but this is definitely at the top of the list in terms of beauty. Pictures just don’t do it justice. So, don’t pass up a chance to see it for yourself!
If you are heading there during the summer months, you will be able to see the lake’s breathtakingly blue color. From fall to early summer, you might be disappointed as the lake could be snow covered. But, no matter what season, keep in mind that it will be cooler up there. At 6400 feet, it could be several degrees colder so dress accordingly.
On the way back, we stopped at Bow Lake.
Bow Lake is actually only about a 5 minute drive south of Peyto Lake, on the Icefields Parkway. Fed by meltwater from the Bow Glacier, the lake is at the base of Bow Summit, which is perfectly reflected in its aquamarine waters on a calm day. Great place for a picnic or a short stroll.
Finally, if you are going for a quick day trip, leave early to avoid traffic on the roads and crowds at the various stops along the way. We recommend you grab food in Banff too, and try Eddie Burger for some local fare!
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