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5 Best Lakes Near Calgary: Where to Swim, Fish & Camp Near Cowtown

Posted by Justin Havre on Thursday, June 13th, 2024 at 10:49am.

Best Lakes in Calgary

Whether you are planning a trip to Calgary, relocating to the area, or you are a new resident, there are many lakes in and around the city that are worth a visit. These pristine bodies of water offer some of the best outdoor activities in Calgary, with plenty to do no matter the season and views that can't be beaten. With an abundance of pristine lakes to choose from, each offers a refreshing respite in natural and man-made settings year-round. If you're looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city or an aquatic weekend getaway, consider one of the best lakes near Calgary for your next outing.

Chestermere Lake

Chestermere Lake Amenities

  • Chestermere Landing Marina
  • Lakeside Golf Club
  • Kayak, canoe, and power boat rentals
  • Year-round fishing
  • Camping

Chestermere Lake, located in the heart of Chestermere less than 25 kilometres east of Calgary, is a fantastic destination. This man-made lake spans 4.8 kilometres and offers a plethora of recreational activities, making it a favourite spot for Calgarians, visitors, and residents living in Chestermere.

In the summer, the lake is perfect for boating, fishing, paddle boarding, and swimming. The surrounding area features several parks and picnic spots, ideal for family outings and relaxation. For those who enjoy water sports, Chestermere Lake is a popular spot for jet skiing and wakeboarding. Winter transforms the lake into a hub for ice skating, ice fishing, and even kite skiing.

One of Chestermere's best golf courses, Lakeside Golf Club, is located along the lake's western shore. The nearby Chestermere Bike Park and numerous walking trails provide additional outdoor fun year-round. With its close proximity to Calgary, Chestermere Lake offers a convenient and scenic retreat, showcasing the natural beauty and recreational opportunities available in the Calgary area.

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka Amenities

  • Scuba diving
  • Lake Minnewanka Landing
  • Kayak and canoe rentals
  • Fishing
  • Banff National Park
  • Camping

Address: Banff National Park Visitor Center 224 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B3, Canada

One of the most-visited destinations in the province of Alberta is Banff National Park. Located within the park is Lake Minnewanka, which is known as Water of the Spirits. The 13-mile-long glacial lake is the go-to place for summer and winter fun. During the summer, there is something for everyone to enjoy on land and on the water. Boat rentals are available for kayaking or canoeing, and visitors can take a tour on a boat cruise, drop a line and go fishing for trout or whitefish, or go scuba diving and see the underwater sites.

Lake Minnewanka is located approximately 130 kilometres west of Downtown Calgary, and it's well worth making the drive. On land, the Lake Minnewanka Trail offers a scenic hike to Devil's Gap. You can also go mountain biking or relax with a picnic by the lake. During the winter, the lake provides a beautiful backdrop for cross-country skiing along the Cascade Trail. If the stars align just right, it's also possible to experience the spectacular Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis.

Quarry Lake

Quarry Lake Amenities

  • Swimming
  • Sandy beach
  • Picnic tables
  • Off-leash dog area
  • Hiking trails

Address: Quarry Lake Park Spray Lakes Rd, Canmore, AB T1W 3C2, Canada

When a dip in cool, calm waters and views of majestic mountains are on the agenda, Quarry Lake Park provides both. The still blue water of the lake and its small beach area is an ideal setting for a refreshing swim or splash time. You can also bring a canoe or kayak and experience leisurely paddling time.

Quarry Lake is located in the beautiful Canmore community, which is located 100 kilometres west of Calgary's City Centre. The scenic drive is short enough to make the lake a great day trip destination for Calgary residents.

The tree-lined beach and lake area provide a quiet place for a slow stroll. Bring an umbrella, chairs, a packed basket of food, and a cooler of drinks for a tasty picnic in this natural area. Quarry Lake is a partial wildlife habitat for cougars, bears, and other species that make the park their home, which means be aware and use caution when visiting—especially when bringing food. The park is accessible via Spray Lakes Road in Canmore.

Grassi Lakes

Grassi Lakes Amenities

  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • Rock climbing
  • Picnic area

Address: Grassi Lakes Canmore, AB, Canada

Nestled in the Canadian Rockies, just a short drive from Quarry Lake, are the Grassi Lakes. Surrounded by majestic mountain views and the emerald-green colour of the lakes, the area is the perfect place for a relaxing picnic lunch or to just sit on one of the benches and drink in the view.

The scenic oasis can be accessed by biking or hiking. The Upper Grassi Lakes Trail is considered easy as it offers a flat trail, while the Lower Grassi Lakes Trail with its refreshing waterfall and ample views of the city below and Rundle Forebay is considered moderate because of its narrow path and rocky patches. For non-hikers, Grassi Lakes is also accessible by driving to Whitemans Pond, parking, and using the steps leading down to Grassi Lakes. As with any trail, when you're in a natural habitat, be aware of bears and any other wildlife native to the area.

Barrier Lake

Barrier Lake Amenities

  • Boat launch
  • Water pumps
  • Canoeing and kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Rock climbing

Address: Prairie View Trail Parking Kananaskis, AB, Canada

When it comes to a beautifully constructed, man-made lake, Barrier Lake is a perfect example of blending nature with modern technology. Located within Bow Valley Provincial Park and created in 1947 when the first hydro plant was constructed, the lake is fed by crisp glacial water. The refreshingly cool and shimmering blue lake is a prime destination for canoeing, kayaking, and power boating.

While Barrier Lake is located almost 90 km west of downtown, those living in homes in Northwest Calgary can make it to the lake in just 50 minutes, making it a highly convenient getaway.

The area surrounding the lake offers an abundance of panoramic mountain views, forests, and rocky crags to enjoy while hiking the backcountry, mountain biking, cycling, or trail running. The diverse landscape surrounding the lake is also ideal for a leisurely jaunt on horseback, and the beach area is a great place for dogs to play. Enjoy an extended stay at the campground, go bird watching, rock climbing, or geocaching. Barrier Lake and the visitor centre are just over an hour from Calgary via the Trans-Canada Highway and Kananaskis Trail.

Spend Time at One of Calgary's Best Lakes

Whenever the desire for water recreation near Calgary arises, there are plenty of wonderful lakes in and around the city to choose from—and activities on the water are just the start. Visitors can hike, fish, camp, picnic, or simply take in the stunning views. The Canadian Rocky Mountains and its lakes complement Calgary's foothills and the bodies of water there, all of which are must-see destinations.

If you're looking for the perfect Calgary home, contact Justin Havre with eXp Realty and Calgary Homes at (403) 217-0003 to get in touch with a local Calgary real estate agent and discover your new dream home today.

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