There are so many great activities to do in Banff, including hiking, skiing and simply exploring the town. During the summer months, Banff is also a capital spot to go kayaking.

Banff Kayaking 101: Everything you need to know!

If you’ve never explored Banff via its waterways, you’ll want to! (Photo credit: Noel Hendrickson)

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Kayaking in Banff National Park puts you right in the middle of nature and surrounds you with beautiful mountain scenery and calm waters. Beyond Banff, there are beautiful kayaking spots on Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Wherever you choose, the views will be endless.

Banff Kayaking

So let’s dive into some swimming options for Banff kayaking! Close into town, Johnson Lake, Two Jake Lake and Vermilion Lake are good options for easy paddling.

A bit further up the Icefields Parkway, check out Herbert Lake, Hector Lake, Bow Lake and Waterfowl Lake. Motorized boats are only allowed on Lake Minnewanka, so you won’t have to deal with the power boat waves at any of the other lakes in Banff National Park.

For those who prefer river kayaking, the Bow River provides a few great kayaking sections. The most popular ones are Lake Louise to Castle Junction, Castle Junction to Banff and Bow Falls to Canmore. These may prove to be more difficult than lake kayaking, so be prepared.

Headed to Banff for kayaking? You'll want to read this first!

Vermilion Lakes is on the edge of Banff townsite and is a good spot for beginners. (Photo credit: Noel Hendrickson)

Banff Kayak Rental

Banff kayak rental locations are limited to the Banff Canoe Club. You can purchase your kayaks from Atmosphere in the townsite.

Banff Adventures offers some amazing packages for kayaking tours that can be great for beginners or just those looking for a guided adventure.


Lake Louise Kayaking

A quick drive outside the town of Lake Louise affords kayaking at both Moraine Lake and the actual Lake Louise (which is a 5 minute drive from town). These gorgeous lakes provide incredible views along turquoise waters.

Peyto Lake, about 43km North of Lake Louise, is also a stunning paddle. For river kayaking, the most popular route is the Bow River section from Lake Louise to Castle Junction. The river sections are most usually tackled by experienced canoeists.

Lake Louise Kayak Rental

Around Lake Louise, there’s a few different options to get your kayak rental. For those looking to paddle Moraine Lake, check out Moraine Lake Lodge for rentals. These rentals are available from mid-June to mid-September.

Each canoe seats 2-3 people and can be rented by the hour. There’s no reservations and it can get quite busy. You’ll want to head up there early to get your rental, especially on warm summer days. Costs start at $120/hr.

If you’re planning to paddle on the actual Lake Louise, the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise has rentals. You can rent canoes per hour from the west shore of the lake. Each canoe can hold three adults or two adults and two small children.

For an unforgettable paddle, check out the sunrise canoe rentals. Hotel guests get priority for these rentals. Non-hotel guests must contact the concierge the night before for availability.

If you prefer to explore the lake with some history, check out the Voyageur tours, led by a local guide. These tours go as a group and cost $55 per adult and $30 per child (8-12).

valley of 10 peaks moraine lake canoeing

Contact Moraine Lake Lodge for rentals on the icy blue waters of Moraine Lake (Photo credit: Jake Dyson)

Canoeing in Banff

There are tons of opportunities for canoeing right near the town of Banff. The Bow River is a great choice and you can launch right from the townsite. Along this paddle, you’re likely to spot some uniquely Rocky Mountain wildlife.

Of course, all of the lakes mentioned earlier are great for canoeing, too. Johnson Lake is a peaceful paddle to get away from the crowds, but isn’t too large to spook the inexperienced paddler.

If you’re a more experienced paddler, you’ll likely enjoy Lake Minnewanka. However, the wind gusts can pick up quickly and there’s often tourist boats and divers on the lake. It’s a pretty canoeing experience none the less.

For a quiet, tourist-free lake, try Herbert Lake on the Icefields Parkway. It’s less travelled than the other lakes in the area, making for a beautiful, quiet paddle.

canoeing banff national park

If the shores of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park teem with tourists, head to the water for a peaceful escape.

Banff Canoe Rental

If you’re in Banff looking for a canoe rental, your best bet is to check out the Banff Canoe Club. Right from that rental space, paddlers can explore the Bow River or Vermillion Lakes.

Rentals include all of the necessary equipment and tips. Rentals are $45 per boat for the first hour and $25 per boat for any additional hours. Both kayaks and canoes can be rented here.

canoeing in banff

Banff Canoe Club is your best option for renting kayaks and canoes for excursions near Banff. (Photo credit: Paul Zizka)

Cheap hotels in Banff

If you’re heading to Banff for some kayaking, you’ll probably want somewhere to stay. Banff is pricy and in summer, rates go up. There aren’t a lot of cheap hotels in Banff, but there are some that are reasonably priced.

Bow View Lodge is but two-blocks from downtown. There’s in-hotel shopping, free parking, plus an indoor pool. 

Banff Park Lodge is also situated near downtown, with a pool, in-store shopping and dining options. 

Banff Inn is an approximately 7-minute walk from downtown with underground parking, Wi-Fi, a large indoor hot tub and steam room. 

Banff inn hot tub

Soothe sore muscles in the Banff Inn hot tub at the end of your day.

And there’s always the YWCA, which offers both private rooms and a shared dormitory.  

Camping in the summer is definitely an option and there are some great campgrounds in the area.

Where’s your favourite place to paddle?



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