Lake Minnewanka Road begins where Banff Avenue ends at the northeast end of town. After passing under the TransCanada Highway, Cascade Falls is obvious off to the left beyond the airstrip. In winter, these falls freeze and you’ll often see ice climbers slowly making their way up the narrow thread of frozen water.
Continuing straight ahead at the first intersection, the next turnout along this road is at Lower Bankhead, where a short interpretive trail leads through the remains of a century-old coal-mining town.
Lake Minnewanka (meaning “Lake of the Water Spirit”), the largest body of water in Banff National Park, is surrounded on three sides by an imposing mountain backdrop. Even if you don’t feel up to an energetic hike, it’s worth going for a short walk along the lakeshore.
Minnewanka Lake Cruise (403/762-3473) has a 90-minute cruise to the far reaches of the lake, passing the Devil’s Gap formation. It departs from the dock 3–5 times daily (first sailing is 10:30 a.m.) mid-May–end of September and costs adult $44, child $19.
The lake is great for fishing (lake trout to 15 kg/33 lb) and is the only one in the park where motorboats are allowed; Lake Minnewanka Boat Tours rents aluminum boats with small outboard engines and represents local fishing guides.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition