The Canadian Rockies hold some of the most beautiful views in the world. Spanning across British Colombia and Alberta, these mountain ranges are characterized by countless ice-capped peaks, turquoise glacier lakes, and occasional sightings of wildlife.
Banff National Park is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in the region. With a mountainous surrounding, numerous hot springs, and a vast selection of outdoor activities, it quickly became one of my favorite destinations in North America.
Without a question, it isn’t difficult to find Instagram-worthy spots in the Rockies. Even the public bathrooms are surrounded by the backdrop of breathtaking landscapes. Nonetheless, with any natural wonder, there will be a few must-visits that top the chart.
1. Cascade Gardens
Cascade Gardens is a free destination located just a few minutes away from downtown Banff. The garden is completed with streams, picnic areas, and scenic views. There are lots of Instagram-worthy spots at Cascade Gardens. In fact, many wedding photographers head to the Cascade Gardens to get breathtaking shots.
-Find out what else to do in Banff from To Someplace New.
2. Johnston Creek
A beautiful natural setting within Banff National Park, Johnston Creek derives from Castle Mountain and empties into the Bow River. The creek flows through Johnston Canyon, a large gorge formed by thousands of years of erosion.
A beautiful walkway is constructed mid the Canyon. While the first half of the path is built with safety rails and wooden boards, the second half of the trail is more natural-stic. During the winter months, the partially frozen grounds make the trek towards the creek an adventurous undertaking.
3. Lake Agnes
Lake Agnes Trail is one of the best trails located in Banff National Park, Canada. The trail begins next to Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and is 3.4 km one way, 385 m elevation gain, 2.5 to 3 hours round trip. The hike is considered moderate with an upward climb up to Lake Agnes. Along the way, you run into a lake called Mirror Lake which gives you great direct and reflective views of the Big Beehive Mountain.
The trail ends with Lake Agnes, which is a stunning lake surrounded by tremendous mountains in a domelike fashion. I recommend getting up early in the morning to complete this hike so you can have lunch at the Tea House nearby. Just be aware that the Lake Agnes Tea House can get busy.
– Visit the Wandering Queen for more hiking-inspirations in Banff.
4. Lake Louise
Lake Lousie is a small hamlet in Alberta, Canada. With a population of less than a few hundred, its serenity quickly began attracting many tourists. As with most Banff locations during the summer, Lake Louise can be quite crowded with sight-seers. Instead of rushing with the crowds under the summer heat, winter is also a great time to visit this beautiful spot. When the Canadian winter strikes, it will freeze the lake and create a vast skating area that many can take advantage of. Cross-country skiing and sliding around the icy range are also fun activities to take on around this time.
Best of all, there won’t be too many tourists in sight!
5. Lake Minnewanka
Unlike the simple lake and mountain view that many locations offer, Lake Minnewanka is also home to a small wooden lodge that sits quietly on the waters. The chocolate-brown of the structure coordinates with the colors of the high-rising mountain in the background.
It is breathtaking.
For Mayuri, who got married in Banff, Lake Minnewanka was the perfect wedding photo spot. During summers, the location is perfect for picnics, camping, short hikes or just capturing the blue waters of the Minnewanka Lake.
In the winter, the lake is frozen, perfect for winter activities like snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. You can also spot Northern Lights here, making it an ideal Instagram spot to capture those stunning Banff natural wonders.
6. Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake is the perfect representation of Canada’s Rocky Mountains. The glacial blue lake lies in the valley of the Ten Peaks. The combination of the rugged mountain peaks towering above the crazy blue waters is a sight like no other.
Moraine Lake is located just 14 kilometers south of Lake Louise. The road is closed in winter due to heavy snowfall. July, August, and September are extremely busy so prepare to arrive before sunrise to find parking, otherwise, it’s a long and busy shuttle bus. The early morning start is absolutely worth it, as the rising sun lights up the mountain peaks and you will miss most of the crowds. This dramatic setting makes for the most Instagram-worthy photo!
For Maggie, Moraine Lake in the Rockies is undoubtedly one of the most photographed spots in all of Canada.
The turquoise lake tucked into the Valley of Ten Peaks is awe-inspiringly gorgeous. Climb the top of the Rockpile for the classic Moraine Lake picture, or wander around the lakeshore, and away from the crowds, for a different angle. There are also several other trails in the area, such as the popular Larch Valley trail and Consolation Lakes. You can also take a canoe out into the lake itself!
7. Peyto Lake
There are very few places as beautiful as Banff. During one of my four visits, I got the chance to drive the Icefields Parkway and make a stop at Peyto Lake. I wasn’t prepared for the beauty that awaited me!
This is a raw, unedited photo of Peyto Lake. It is glacier-fed which is what gives it the stunning bright turquoise color. Although I have seen many glacier-fed lakes in my life, I’ve never seen one with the opacity of Peyto Lake.
Peyto Lake is located on the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93) about 25 miles north of Lake Louise off the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1). There is a parking lot at the trailhead. Follow the trail which is just under 2 miles (easy to moderate hike) to the viewpoint for these amazing views. TIP: Make sure you have a full tank of gas, water, and snacks as there is nothing on the Icefields Parkway. In addition, there is usually no cell service in the area.
8. Two Jack Lake
Two Jack Lake is part of the Minnewanka Scenic Loop Drive. Like many scenic spots in Banff, this lovely location is great for picnics, kayaking, scuba divers, or a simple stroll around the waters. The name Two Jack comes from the two lakes that converge at this area. The reflection of the mountains on the emerald waters and the occasional moose contribute to a peaceful surrounding less the tourists of Lake Minnewanka.
9. Upper Kananaskis Lake
Upper Kananaskis Lake is an hour and a half away from Banff. A 15.3-kilometer trail loops around the lake and is surrounded by miles of mountain ranges. Although winter may be a colder season for a visit to this natural wonderland, the view is just as enticing as it would be during the summer months.
When Canada hits the negatives in its temperature department, the Upper Kananaskis Lake will be partially frozen. During the day, the winter sun will reflect off of the ice and waters, creating a beautiful view against the backdrop of the ice-tipped mountains.
10. Vermillion Lakes
Vermillion Lakes is a trio of lakes located on Vermillion Lakes Road right off the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1) just outside of Banff. This photo was taken from the middle lake near the water in the brush. The road is flat and you can pull off to the side fairly easily. For reference, this photo was taken in the month of September at around 8:30 am. Late sunrises are awesome!