Peyto Lake is that lake you see and don’t believe it’s real.
In photos, Peyto Lake just looks ridiculously pretty. It doesn’t look real. It looks like the kind of lake you need to hike multiple days to find.
In reality, Peyto Lake is a 5-minute walk from a major highway. It’s stupidly easy to visit.
Today, I’m explaining everything you need to know about how to visit Peyto Lake.
What is Peyto Lake?
Peyto Lake is a glacier-fed lake in Banff National Park. It’s just off the Icefields Parkway.
You can park, then walk to a viewpoint above the lake. There’s a simple 5-minute walking trail.
The lake is an unusual shade of blue. It’s caused by the sediment – the suspended rock particles – created by the glaciers that pour into the lake. This “glacial rock flour” gives the lake a unique, bright, turquoise colour.
In summer, the lake is the most beautiful shade of blue you’ll ever see.
In winter, the lake is covered by snow and ice and surrounded by snow capped peaks. It’s still beautiful, but in a different way.
How to Visit Peyto Lake
Peyto Lake is easy to visit. Put “Peyto Lake” into Google Maps and it will come up.
Alternatively, “Bow Summit and Peyto Lake” is also listed on Google Maps. This is the parking lot/viewpoint that takes you right to Peyto Lake.
Park at the parking lot, then follow the trail to the viewpoint. It’s a short trail with some small steep sections, but it’s not too difficult at all.
Oh, and be aware: the road that goes past the parking lot can get a little snowy in the winter (look at the 30km/hr speed limit sign on the right!):
At the end of the trail you’ll see a couple decks with a great view of Peyto Lake. You can climb over the deck railing to walk down below and get your own magical Peyto View shot free of any tourists.
Peyto Lake Travel Tips
Peyto Lake is straightforward to visit. However, here are all of the Peyto Lake travel tips I can think of:
Visit Anytime of Year: I have visited Peyto Lake on July long weekend (Canada Day weekend) with dozens of people there. I have also rolled up to the parking lot midweek in the winter and had the place (literally) to myself. Yes, Peyto Lake is an Instagram darling, but it’s still easy to visit any time of the year.
Add Peyto Lake as a Stop: Whether you’re driving to Jasper, driving from Jasper, or just cruising along the Icefields Parkway, you can easily add Peyto Lake as a stop when cruising through the area.
Visit on a Sunny Day: Peyto Lake has that stupidly-beautiful blue colour because of the “glacier dust” particles inside it. When sunlight hits the glacier dust, it creates that blue colour. Visit Peyto Lake on a sunny day for maximum blue-ness.
Stop at Bow Lake: There are so many beautiful spots to stop along the Icefields Parkway. If you’re driving up to Peyto Lake and right back, however, then you’ll go right past Bow Lake, which is worth a quick stop on its own. In winter, Bow Lake is completely frozen over. It’s a winter wonderland.
Make an Easy Day Trip from Banff: Whether you’re staying in Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise, or even Calgary, Peyto Lake is a do-able day trip from anywhere within a 2-hour radius.
Stop Talking About Peyto Lake: Peyto Lake is as pretty as Moraine Lake and the Eiffel Tower, yet it doesn’t have the same crowds as either attraction (yet). Let’s keep Peyto Lake a secret.
Update: Peyto Lake is Closed for Summer 2020
Peyto Lake has been closed since February 25, 2020. It’s expected to remain closed until “late 2020” according to a Parks Canada release.
No, the closure isn’t related to the COVID-19 coronavirus. Instead, the Government of Canada is putting $3 million into the lake’s day-use area.
You can still get a glimpse of the lake: drive past the main entry point and down the hill. There’s a small parking lot from where you can hike to the lake.
There are also other spots along the highway where you can park and hike above the lake. However, you should know what you’re doing before parking beside the highway and running into the Canadian wilderness.
However, the most accessible way to visit Peyto Lake is closed for the foreseeable future.
Final Word: Is Peyto Lake Worth a Visit?
Peyto Lake is absolutely worth a visit. Peyto Lake is one of the prettiest places not only in the Canadian Rockies – but in all of Canada.