40km north of Lake Louise, this bright blue glacier-fed lake Highway 93 in Banff National Park. The turning sign has changed to Bow Summit.
A popular stop for visitors travelling along the famed icefields parkway and is just past Bow Lake. In 2020 and 2021 Peyto Lake was closed for improvements. These were completed in September 2021 and the area reopened in October 2021.
There were improvements to
- The parking lot,
- and viewing platform.
The turquoise blue of the Lake comes from being fed by the Peyto Glacier high above the lake and part of the Wapta icefield. The viewpoint to Peyto lake is a steep climb west from the parking lot. During the winter, cleats should be worn.
The path to the viewpoint is about 20 minutes from the parking lot. Once arriving at the perspective, they hold the most spectacular views in Banff National Park and compete with Moraine Lake for beauty without the crowds or the trouble parking. Peyto Lake’s viewpoint is a must-see for Banff National Park.
Most Banff National Park lakes are brilliant blue, fed from glaciers. The water is barely above freezing. There are several blue lakes in Banff National Park which are worth seeing, including the famous Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Emerald Lake, Bow Lake and Hector Lake.
Unlike Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake is accessible all year round, whereas Moraine closes in early October and reopens in April or May.
Peyto Lake was named for a park guide during the early 1900s Bill Peyto also known as Ebenezer William Peyto. Bill was born in England in 1869 and immigrated to Canada in 1887. Peyto led Edward Whymper to Vermillion pass. Peyto Lake feeds the Mistaya River before merging into the North Saskatchewan River further along the 93 highway at the Saskatchewan river crossing.
Peyto Lake is just as busy as Moraine Lake and Lake Louise in the summer. Prepare to share the viewpoint and trails with many tourists.
Most photographers cut through the trail on the right before reaching the fencing of the viewpoint. You will get a cliff with unobscured views if you follow the hill slope down. Most photographs of the lake are from this area.
There is an alternative. There will be a second viewpoint following the first without the platform, with higher elevation and more incredible views of the lake.
There are trails down from the viewpoints to the Lake. Ideally, these should be undertaken in daylight and reach the lake at the shore in 30 to 60 minutes. The best time to go to Peyto Lake for photographers is Sunrise or Sunset.
It can be quite early or late in the summer months; however, too many visitors will be. Furthermore, there are no larch trees near Peyto Lake, therefore no fall colours in September or October. However, the winter scenes with fresh snow are beautiful and worth the trip.
Another good option is catching Aurora Borealis at Peyto Lake. Aurora is visible at the lake with a strong storm and makes for a beautiful picture. A word of caution with this is that there is no cell phone coverage at Peyto Lake.
Therefore, you need to ensure that the lady will show up for a late-night trip to the viewpoint. The best idea is to wait at Lake Louise for confirmation that the Aurora will show and then make your way to the Peyto Lake viewpoint.