Family Travel: Banff Lake Cruise on Lake Minnewanka


A large body of water with a mountain in the background, lake wimmewanka

Just a short drive across the highway from the town of Banff is Lake Minnewanka. I had been there many times before, since it’s such a scenic drive with gorgeous views. Yet, never have we stopped at the lake and took a good look around. On our last family trip to the Canadian Rockies, we changed that.

banff lake cruise family travel

Walk to the dock and you can get tickets to take the 1 hour Banff Lake Cruise, a sightseeing tour experience on one of two 43 passenger Lake Cruisers or the 65 passenger Alberta Explorer {operating several times daily from mid-May to mid-October}. 

banff lake cruise explore rockies

The ride is smooth, and the views are breathtaking. All the while your tour guide tells the history of the area, our actually was born and raised in the town of Banff so he was very knowledgeable with a great sense of humour. 

A small boat in a body of water with a mountain in the background, lake minnewanka

 The mountain beasts paired with the serene trip along the water is a perfect match. This alone is a true Canadian experience. Yet, it’s also getting the knowledge of the area that raises this tour up a notch.

banff lake cruise minnewanka travel alberta

While we had driven this path many times before, I had no clue on the geology and history of this lake and the surrounding areas. For instance, there’s a town under Lake Minnewanka, one which stood long ago when the lake was smaller. Experience cold-water divers can go down and explore this forgotten town.

Native folklore is strong in this area, which is known for it’s intense energy and spirit. Do you see the face with eyes? We were told that when it rains, water falling off the mountain from the crevasses that form the eyes, make it look like this person is crying.

geology lake minnewanka face in mountain rocks

The Banff Lake Cruise on Lake Minnewanka is a peaceful, educational and a very serene tour, one which our whole family enjoyed. We sat at the rear of the boat where you can still hear the operator clearly, yet it’s a little more secluded and relaxing {tip from us to you!}. The girls laid back and soaked in fresh mountain air and a nice warm sun as we sped along the water.

family travel banff lake cruise explore rockies alberta

Hubby and I were focused on learning about the area, and cherishing this time with the family. The tour operator provided breaks in his speech so that you could sit back and take it all in, which we did. From gazing from mountain to mountain to watching the girls stare over the side of the boat with huge smiles, it was a fantastic tour. 

canadian rocky mountains family travel myorganizedchaos

While I’m sure a drive to Lake Minnewanka will be done again as it has many times before, now I’ll do it with more insight. With each future visit I’ll remember the boat cruise and reflect on the history of this beautiful area. While I’d urge any traveler to visit the beautiful Lake Minnewanka area, I also would suggest taking this boat tour, to learn about the beauty you are looking at. It’s the difference between travel and truly taking in the experience.

More things to do at Lake Minnewanka:

  • Banff Fishing Tours: Let an experienced fishing guide take you on a guided fishing trip in the Canadian Rockies. Our fishing guides know all the hot-spots on Lake Minnewanka.
  • Banff Boat Rentals: You can also rent a boat in Banff if you’re looking to explore Lake Minnewanka on your own. 16 foot aluminum motorboats, complete with all the necessary safety equipment, are available by the hour, half or full day.
  • Snack Bar: Serving up delicious light meals and snacks for visitors to Lake Minnewanka.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Lake Minnewanka is home to a large population of rocky mountain wildlife, including bald eagles, ospreys, elk, mountain sheep and deer. This is nature’s wild playground, so a camera is a must. Click here to see photos of wildlife in the Canadian Rockies from other visitors. 
  • Hiking, Biking & Picnic Area: Lake Minnewanka is one of the most popular recreational areas in Banff National Park. Adventure onto the trails leading around the lake or sit back and relax in one of the several sheltered picnic spots.

 A group of people on a rock next to a body of water, lake minnewanka

** For pricing and more information on the Banff Lake Cruise, please visit the Explore Rockies website. It’s THE site for all the great attractions and activities for this tour and for other family-friendly things to do in Banff National Park. 


My family received complimentary tour passes to facilitate this travel article. All opinions are 100% our own.




    1. Thanks I just moved back to banff…Im sous chef at new gondola and am working at this nice lake till the new restaurant is open…Thanks for all the insight I will go to minnewanka tomorrow for the tour…Peace to your family! Thanks
      James Martel

  1. Wow this looks amazing! You don’t really think of the Rockies as being a scuba area, so that is neat that there is town for divers to explore.

  2. Love boat cruises, I will have to remember this if we make it out there for a visit. Great pictures!

  3. Absolutely lovely! I haven’t made a trip to the lake yet but am hoping to! I love spending time away from the city.

  4. Banff is so beautiful, we loved it when we visited a few years ago. If possible everyone should take this cruise once, Canada is a stunning country.

  5. I said it before and I will say it again – you live in one of the most gorgeous provinces in Canada. So beautiful! Your daughter’s look is priceless and those mountains are crazy majestic. Your photos are magnificent.

  6. Wow these are amazing pictures. I can’t wait to go back to that area and try the boat cruise.

  7. I love the boat ride and your daughter looks like she is taking in all the sun and scenery. So beautiful isn’t it!

  8. That looks amazing. Such a beautiful place to vacation. We didn’t get away at all this summer. Kinda sad and kinda awesome all at once.

  9. It’s so pretty! It looks like you had a great time.

    I’d love to go to Heli Skiing Canada. They have a ski resort named Mica. The same as my son’s name. I fell asleep on the couch one night and woke up to their logo on the TV set. The whole show was about Mica. It looks crazy amazing. But there’s one slight problem, I don’t know how to ski.

  10. I have visited Banff when I was a kid and it still looks beautiful from your photos!

  11. Your pictures show calmness and beauty…2 great words I love to think of when planning vacations. It looks like the whole family enjoyed it!

  12. Love your photos! Reminds me of our trips out west! Now our children are taking their children to see this beautiful country!

  13. Wow–what a gorgeous area! We might actually be heading there this summer. This makes me really excited–I probably wouldn’t have thought to take the boat tour, but it looks really interesting. Thanks for the suggestion!

  14. I am most intrigued by native folklore! It must be a sight to see when it does rain – mystically beautiful! Thanks for such a great post and pictures!

  15. We traveled thru Banff on one of our trips, but your pictures so want me to go back and investigate all its beauty

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