Canada is home to more than two million lakes and contains more lake area than any other country. Which means finding a gorgeous setting to kayak, swim or fish in isn’t difficult. We’ve rounded up 10 of our favorites.
Western Brook Pond | Newfoundland and Labrador
Ancient cliffs shoot up from Western Brook Pond — Photo courtesy of Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism
The largest lake in Gros Morne National Park, Western Brook Pond is considered both a lake and a fjord. Avoid its chilly waters by taking in views of the area’s ancient cliffs and roaring waterfalls by boat. (Note that there’s a 45-minute walk to reach the dock from the parking lot.) For a bird’s-eye view, hike to the top of the gorge.
Lake Louise | Alberta
Lake Louise is shockingly blue — Photo courtesy of Canadian Tourism Commission
The quintessential Canadian lake is a photographer’s dream with its staggering turquoise hue set against a backdrop of pointy peaks and Victoria Glacier. Sitting at 5,740 feet, the water doesn’t thaw until June, and its coloring is most vibrant in July and August when the flow of the glacier’s runoff is highest (the deep blue/green color is the result of light refracting off the resulting glacier silt).
Canoe, stand-up paddleboard or hike the Lake Louise Shoreline Trail for some of the best views, and plan to adventure in the early morning or late afternoon for the thinnest crowds.
Lake O'Hara | British Columbia
A protected area within Yoho National Park, Lake O’Hara is surrounded by at least a dozen other lakes, all linked by a well-maintained network of trails. Parks Canada has a quota system in place and runs a bus (reservations required) for all inbound travelers, whether for day trips or overnight excursions.
You’ll appreciate the solitude on any of the myriad hikes – the longest is just five miles long – that snake out from all sides of the lake.
Garibaldi Lake | British Columbia
The trail to Garibaldi Lake is not for the leisurely hiker. The route goes up, up, up, gaining more than 2,500 feet in elevation over 5.6 miles. But the payoff is worth the effort: the bluest of blue water lapping up against Douglas firs and a snow-covered glacier. Set up camp at the top; the ice-cold lake can serve as home base for exploring more of Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Killarney Provincial Park | Ontario
Paddleboarding in Killarney Provincial Park — Photo courtesy of Ben Jaworskyj
Take your pick from more than 50 lakes contained within Killarney Provincial Park’s 645 square kilometers. A mecca for canoers and kayakers, the area, dwarfed by the La Cloche mountain range, also inspired many works by the Group of Seven, a renowned band of seven Canadian landscape painters working in the 1920s.
Escape into the wilderness by setting up camp at any of the 183 backcountry canoe-in sites or 33 hike-in options.
Kluane Lake | Yukon
Set up camp after a day of fishing on Kluane Lake — Photo courtesy of Government of Yukon/Derek Crowe
It’s not surprising how Kluane (which translates to “big fish”) Lake got its name. The 50-mile-long “trophy lake” contains massive lake trout, Arctic grayling, and northern pike. Grizzly bears, Dall sheep and caribou also call the surrounding Kluane National Park home. Fun fact: The national park, one of the country’s largest, also encompasses Canada’s highest peak, Mount Logan.
Great Slave Lake | Northwest Territories
East Arm of Great Slave Lake — Photo courtesy of Jeff Hipfner/NWT Tourism
There are a lot of lakes in the world and Great Slave Lake is the 10th largest. It’s also North America’s deepest at 614 meters (2,014 feet). The name is derived from “Slavey,” a reference to a group of Dene people indigenous to the Northwest Territories.
Jack pine and spruce dominate the shoreline, and fish and birds are abundant. The water is lit up by approximately 20 hours of sunlight per day in the summer, giving visitors plenty of opportunities to explore.
Lake Memphremagog | Quebec
Lake Memphremagog — Photo courtesy of ©TQ/Gilles Rivest
Plan your trip to this hard-to-pronounce spot, situated on the border of Quebec and Vermont, in the fall when the shoreline erupts in a cacophony of color. Journey by sailboat to any of its 20 islands, or hop in a canoe or on a paddleboard to explore the glassy water. Take note: There are tales of a 30-foot-long sea monster patrolling its depths.
Little Manitou Lake | Saskatchewan
Little Manitou Lake — Photo courtesy of Gary Bergen/Watrous Manitou Marketing Group
Welcome to Canada’s Dead Sea. Little Manitou Lake is three times saltier than the ocean, so swimmers don’t really swim – they float. Bonus: The water is thought to have therapeutic and healing qualities. You can take a dip or check out the treatments at nearby Manitou Springs Resort & Mineral Spa.
Lake Winnipeg | Manitoba
Find Canada's best beaches at Lake Winnipeg — Photo courtesy of Max Muench
Escaping the heat is easy at Lake Winnipeg, which is located just an hour outside of Manitoba’s capital. The water body is massive at 258 miles long and it has more than 1,000 miles of shoreline. Our favorite detail, though, is that is has some of the best white sand beaches in the country. They’re soft and fine like you would find in the Caribbean.
Whatever your plans – kiteboarding, swimming, sand castle-making – save time to visit Gimli (known as New Iceland until 1887), home to the largest Icelandic population in the world outside of Iceland.