5 Spots in Alberta That Will Blow Your Mind

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If there's one thing I've learned from Instagram and social media lately, it's that the people of the interwebz freaking LOVE photos of mountains. And lakes. And, more specifically, lakes in close proximity to mountains.

And I definitely get it – there's something about a snow-dusted line of mountaintops that sets my imagination into overdrive and gets my adventurous juices flowing, too.

So, when it came time to try and summarize my recent trip to the Canadian Rockies, the only thing I could think to do was put together a series of my best photos – most of which feature (can you guess?) lakes and mountains.

More specifically, lakes and mountains in Alberta.

Peyto Lake in Alberta, Canada
Peyto Lake

5 Spots in Alberta That Will Blow Your Mind

You may have never really considered visiting the Canadian province of Alberta before. But I guarantee that you'll add at least one more place to your bucket list by the time you get to the end of this post.

Here we go!

1. Moraine Lake

I first saw a photo of Moraine Lake about 10 years ago. And I remember thinking that someday, somehow, I HAD to see this amazing place for myself. I tried last year when my friend Stephanie and I did a mini road trip through the Canadian Rockies. But, unfortunately we went too early in the season and the road to Moraine Lake was still closed due to avalanche risk.

So, when I figured out I would have a second chance this year – and in September, when no roads should be closed – I put it at the top of my list.

And WOW. It did not disappoint in the slightest.

Moraine Lake in Alberta, Canada
The classic view of Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake in Banff National Park
Canoe on Moraine Lake
The red canoe looks like it's glowing!

I didn't quite make it to Moraine Lake for sunrise (when the rising sun will occasionally paint the tops of the mountains pink), but I did go early enough to beat the crowds and catch some great reflections of the mountains on the lake.

Moraine Lake in Alberta, Canada
Moraine Lake reflections

Moraine Lake sits in the Valley of the Ten Peaks within Banff National Park in Alberta. It's a glacially-fed lake, meaning that it's always an unusual shade of blue-green. This is common of glacial lakes because of the rock flour (rock pulverized by ancient glaciers) that floats in the water.

From the Rock Pile viewpoint (where you'll get the “Twenty Dollar View” – the view of lake and peaks that was featured on the Canadian $20 bill), Moraine Lake was a shade of deep turquoise in the morning.

Moraine Lake in Alberta, Canada

But, as the sun rose and began to hit the water, it exploded into the most brilliant shade of neon turquoise.

A walk around part of the lakeshore was definitely in order – I never wanted to leave. Next time, I'd love to rent a canoe and head out on the water that way!

Lakeside path at Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake under the sunshine
Walking around Moraine Lake

2. Lake Louise

Not far from Moraine Lake is Lake Louise – both the village and the lake of the same name. The lake itself is usually a shade of blue-green, and there's a glacier clinging to a mountain ridge on the far side of the lake.

Lake Louise in Banff National Park
Me loving life at Lake Louise

I attempted to catch sunrise here from the incredible Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (one of the fanciest hotels I've ever stayed in!), but unfortunately there were no brilliant colors on that morning to paint the sky (or glacier) pink.

But watching the dimness recede and the clear green water come into focus as the morning light grew was still pretty cool.

Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada
Lake Louise reflections

You can walk all the way around Lake Louise (unlike Moraine Lake), rent canoes, or even hike or horseback ride to tea houses set up in the nearby mountains.

It's a beautiful lake and definitely well worth a visit.

3. Icefields Parkway

Let's take a break from lakes (just for a second, don't worry) and talk about another awesome feature of Alberta – the Icefields Parkway. Officially known as Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway is a scenic offshoot from the Trans-Canada Highway that connects Lake Louise and Jasper.

The road isn't free – a Canadian national parks permit is required to drive the 144 miles – but I think the price is MORE than worth it.

Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada
Icefields Parkway
Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada

If you love mountains, then this road is for YOU. I was so impressed by the mountains towering above the Icefields Parkway.

And if you go in autumn like I did, you'll see mountainsides blanketed in neon yellow larch and aspen trees.

Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada
Icefields Parkway in autumn
Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada

The highway is named because you can see a lot of glaciers (icefields) from the road – keep an eye out for viewpoints and places to stop.

Many people name this road as one of the most scenic drives in the world, and I'm inclined to agree!

Icefields Parkway in Alberta, Canada

4. Peyto Lake

Okay, back to the lakes! Along the Icefields Parkway, you'll see a number of lakes, and signs for even more lakes.

All of them are beautiful, but I think my favorite was Peyto Lake, a lake in a valley of the Waputik Range that is always a ridiculous shade of blue-green in the summer months.

Peyto Lake in Alberta, Canada
Yes, this is the actual color of Peyto Lake!

Just like Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, Peyto Lake is fed by glacial runoff, and the suspended rock flour in the water (combined with the sunlight and cloud cover) gives the lake an unreal hue.

In fact, when I posted photos of this lake online, people insisted it was Photoshopped! (I promise, it's not.)

Peyto Lake in Alberta, Canada

Peyto Lake was named after Bill Peyto, an early trail guide and trapper in the Banff area. The area around the lake is thick with forest, which you'll have to walk through to get to the best viewpoint at Bow Summit.

The trail to the overlook isn't super difficult, but it IS about 2.7 kilometers round-trip, so be sure to factor in some time for the hike.

Peyto Lake in Alberta, Canada

This year, Banff had an early snow in mid-September, meaning there were patches of snow already on the ground. Be sure to bundle up for this one, as the Bow Summit lookout is up above 6,000 feet.

5. Bow Lake

The last lake I stopped at can be seen from the roadway – another turquoise beauty with mountains and glaciers rising up behind it in the distance.

Bow Lake makes another worthy stop, both for the views and the photogenic Num Ti Jah Lodge that sits on the shore.

Bow Lake in Alberta, Canada
Beautiful Bow Lake
Num Ti Jah Lodge at Bow Lake
Num Ti Jah Lodge at Bow Lake

I didn't stay at this rustic lodge, but I did pop into the gift shop and cafe for a hot drink. On a nice day, this makes a perfect lunch stop – grab some hot soup and a sandwich, and park yourself on a picnic table overlooking Bow Lake.

Bow Lake in Alberta, Canada

Bonus: Columbia Icefield

Another stop worth mentioning is the Columbia Icefield, which is located about halfway between Lake Louise and Jasper on the Icefields Parkway.

Athabasca Glacier in Alberta, Canada

If you have limited time like I did, be sure to at least walk to the “toe” of the Athabasca Glacier, which sits right across the street from the Icefields welcome center.

According to Parks Canada, the Athabasca Glacier is “the most-visited glacier on the North American continent.”

Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefield
A glimpse of the Athabasca Glacier

You can't walk up ONto the glacier here (seriously, don't do it – it's really dangerous!), but you can get pretty close to the face and see some nearby ice caves.

Athabasca Glacier ice caves
Glacier cave forming

If you have more time here and DO want to get out on the glacier, you can book an excursion in a custom-built vehicle that will drive you out onto the glacier.

I know this definitely is not an exhaustive list. For example, I haven't listed places like Maligne Lake or Jasper National Park or Waterton Lakes National Park – mostly because I haven't been to those places yet! (One day…)

But I think this list is definitely a good start, and hopefully has sparked your wanderlust for Alberta.



You can visit many of these Alberta spots year-round, though I think the best times to visit are in the summer and early autumn, when the lakes are unfrozen and you can see all those beautiful blues. 

(Also, you cannot visit a few of these spots in the winter, most notably Moraine Lake since the road to it is closed from late October through late May.)


I stayed at the amazing Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, which is the only hotel that sits directly on Lake Louise. From here, it's easy to reach all of the spots in this post by car. (Read TripAdvisor reviews | Book here)

However, the Fairmont is a luxury property. If you're traveling on a budget, I would recommend the Paradise Lodge and Bungalows. It's located in Lake Louise town, and offers adorable little cabins for a much more affordable price. (Read TripAdvisor reviews | Book here)


Start out with a guidebook to Canada's national parks.

Then make sure to pack some layers. Even in the summer months, it can be really chilly up at higher elevations in the mountains.

Which of these spots would YOU most like to see? And what else would you add to the list?


5 Spots in Alberta That Will Blow Your Mind

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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78 Comments on “5 Spots in Alberta That Will Blow Your Mind

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  1. Hi Amanda,

    This is a great post! We are planning on visiting Alberta next year (end of August/early Sept). How long did it take you to complete your trip and did you drive it all?

    Thanks 🙂

      That will be a great time to go and see all of the lakes! You can technically see everything mentioned in this post in one day since it’s all relatively close, but I would allow at least 2 or 3 days if you want to do any hikes/walks, or maybe rent a canoe or something. And yes, I drove to all the spots – you really do need to have a car to get to all the lakes!

    Mercy me- love this – thanks for sharing.
    We are currently planning a trip for March. I’m concerned because of winter ❄️ some places may not accessible. Your thoughts?

      You’re right – some of these spots sadly won’t be accessible. 🙁 The road to Moraine Lake, for example, closes in mid-October and doesn’t re-open until at least mid-June. You can still drive the Icefields Parkway and get to Lake Louise, though it will be frozen!

    What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing! I am heading to Banff in a few weeks. Any tips on what part of the day is best to visit these sites? Do they get pretty busy and do many people interfere with the ability to take good photos? Thanks!

      Banff will be beautiful! But late summer is definitely the most popular time to go to a lot of these spots. For most of them, early morning is best! Moraine Lake, for example, can get super busy. I would go as early as you can to that particular spot!

    Awesome!!! I have only been to Lake Louise and obviously have missed out! I want to do another (and much slower) road trip and these spots will definitely be on my list.

      Lake Louise is great, but there’s so much more to see in that part of Alberta. I managed to do this all in one day, but having a few days to truly explore would be ideal!

    Those photos are STUNNING! And now my travel wishlist just got a little longer…

      That’s the point of travel wish lists in my experience. 😉

    These pictures seem unreal! I’m helping my parents planning their trip to Canada, Alberta is definitely on the list!

      Alberta (and especially the Rockies) definitely deserves to be on the list!

    This brought back wonderful memories of a trip my husband and I did back in the summer of 1989. We took the Rocky Mountaineer from Vancouver back when it was part of VIA Rail and eventually ended up in Calgary for the Stampede. Peyto Lake hasn’t changed at all! Glad to see it’s all still stunning!

    So gorgeous Amanda 🙂
    I think we’re all booking trips to Alberta after this post!

      Thanks, Linda! I certainly am ready to book a trip back!

    The Athabasca Glacier is definitely at its gnarliest in September … if you go there in May or June, there’s more snow on it!

      Definitely still looked pretty cool in September, though!

    Ooooo! I love mountains, valleys and snow and I’m guessing outside of Europe, Canada is the best place to get that delighful snowy air and fresh mountain goodness. Yes, please!

      It’s certainly a great place for snow and fresh mountain air!

    Spark?! My wanderlust for Alberta is burning!!!

    SO much to see in the Canadian Rockies! I would definitely add Yoho National park to the list – especially the tiny mountain town of Field, the mighty Takkakaw Falls and beautiful Emerald Lake. It borders Banff National Park but people don’t seem to know about it. I lived there for 6 weeks this summer and it is possibly the most beautiful small village in the world – seriously, google image it

      I’ve been to Yoho and Emerald Lake and agree that they’re both incredible! (And Field is also really cute.) But they’re technically in BC, which didn’t fit into this Alberta post! 😉

    Best blog post I’ve seen in a long time!! Stunning images, and definitely using this to plan my trip. You rock.

      Aww thanks so much, Suzette! Which place is going to the top of your list?

    The Canadian Rockies are spectacular! I could kick myself for not visiting Moraine Lake when we were at Lake Louise. My aunt and I did a 4 day horseback/camping trip out of Banff some years ago…such amazing scenery and cool little glacial lakes not accessible by car, which is always my favorite 🙂

      Oooo a horseback riding trip there sounds incredible!

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