Peyto Lake, Alberta, Canada
Banff National Park in Alberta province is the birthplace of the Canadian national park system (1885), and Peyto Lake is one of the small, spectacularly beautiful, glacial lakes snuggled within the Park. The Canadian Rockies frame 346-acre Peyto Lake, renowned for its brilliant emerald-turquoise colored water. The lake was named after William “Wild Bill” Peyto, a pioneer guide and one of the Park’s first game wardens.
The intense colors of Peyto Lake’s waters change with the seasons. Before heavy glacial melting in June and July, the lake appears dark blue. Over the summer, the meltwater flowing from Peyto Glacier into the lake via Peyto Creek contains fine particles of ground rock debris known as “rock flour” which remain suspended into the water. The “rock flour” contains minerals such as dolomite, calcite, and quartz. These mineral particles reflect the blue-green sector of the light spectrum, giving Peyto Lake changeable hues of emerald and turquoise during warmer weather. Water flows out of the lake via the Mistaya River.
The Icefields Parkway is a breathtaking 143-mile drive (230 kilometers) that parallels the Continental Divide through the Canadian Rockies. The Parkway passes through remote, high-altitude terrain and links Lake Louise in Banff National Park with the town of Jasper in Jasper National Park to the north. The Parkway originates at scenic Lake Louise, extending north past Hector Lake and Bow Lake before reaching Peyto Lake, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Lake Louise. Peyto Lake is best seen from Bow Pass, the highest point on the Icefields Parkway at about 6,850 feet (2088 meters) above sea level. A paved, 1/4-mile trail leads up to the Peyto Lake Viewpoint from the Bow Pass parking area.
Lake Louise is both a town and a lake. The village, referred to as Canada’s “Diamond in the Wilderness” and the “Hiking Capital of Canada,” provides a range of travel amenities, dining opportunities, and accommodations. Lake Louise is the lake most often pictured on postcards promoting Banff National Park. Located at the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and the Icefields Parkway, it’s a convenient location to begin your exploration of the Canadian Rockies’ spectacular scenery of snow-tipped mountains, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, and dense forests.
Summers in the Lake Louise area invite exploration with boating, hiking, and wildlife viewing. And when winter’s snows begin to blanket the area, snow lovers make their annual pilgrimage to the Lake Louise ski resort, offering great powder for downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. Dogsledding is a uniquely fun activity here in the winter, and many of the dogs can trace their sledding lineage back over hundreds of years. Tour companies offer to introduce visitors to dog sledding, teaching the basics and taking them on a heart-racing journey over snowy trails and frozen Lake Louise.
Whatever the season, always have your camera on hand to ‘paint your palette’ of memories of your journey to the lakes of Banff National Park.
Things to do at Peyto Lake
- Downhill Skiing
- Cross-Country Skiing
- Dog Sledding
- Wildlife Viewing
- National Park
Peyto Lake Photo Gallery
Peyto Lake Statistics & Helpful Links
Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed
Surface Area: 346 acres
Shoreline Length: 5 miles
Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 6,100 feet
Maximum Depth: 144 feet
Drainage Area: 17 sq. miles
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