Top 10 Interesting Facts about Lake Minnewanka

An amazing lake in Canada wiggles it way in a snake-like manner through the valleys of one of the country’s most popular national parks.

This means that it’s surrounded by great mountains that form a fantastic backdrop to this large body of water.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most interesting facts about Lake Minnewanka, a remarkable feat of nature on the planet.

1. It’s located in the oldest national park in Canada

Lake Minnewanka is one of the many attractions inside the Banff National Park, the oldest national park in Canada.

This park covers an area of 6,641 square kilometers (2,564 square miles) just west of Calgary, a city in Alberta that is part of the fifth-largest metropolitan area in the country.

The park is located in the Alberta Rockies which are an integral part of the Canadian Rockies, one of the most famous mountain ranges in the country.

Banff National Park is home to some amazing natural wonders, including Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks. This is one of the most picturesque locations on the planet.

Lake Minnewanka is located in the eastern part of the national park, just 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) north of the town of Banff.

Lake Minnewanka location
The lake in Canada / Jack Borno / Wiki Commons

2. The lake is a combination of a natural lake and a reservoir

One of the most interesting facts about Lake Minnewanka is that it’s a glacial lake that has an elongated shape.

This is not a natural feature but the result of a dam that is located on the western end of the lake. A dam in this location was first constructed in the year 1912.

A much larger embankment dam was constructed in 1941. This was possible because the Canada National Parks Act was temporarily canceled during World War II.

Because of this dam, the water level rose about 30 meters (98 feet) and the small town called Minnewanka Landing was completely submerged.

Lake Minnewanka facts
Boats on the lake / Jack Borno / Wiki Commons

3. It’s the longest lake in the Canadian Rockies

Because of the dam, the lake also serves as a reservoir that is much larger than it would be without it. It has an elongated shape that curves around the nearby mountains.

The lake is 21 kilometers (13 miles) long but sometimes has a maximum length of 28 kilometers (17 miles). It reaches a maximum depth of 142 meters (466 feet).

Because of the dam, the length of the lake can be controlled. Regardless, it’s the longest lake in the National parks of the Canadian Rockies.

Lake Minnewanka length
Aerial view of the elongated lake / Khoshhat / Wiki Commons

4. The main inflow of the lake is a river that flows down a nearby mountain

The lake is fed by several rivers that fows down mountains located at the southern end of the lake. Some of these mountains are Mount Inglismaldie, Mount Girouard, and Mount Peechee.

The most important inflow of Lake Minnewanka enters the lake in the northwestern point. The Cascade River is a medium-sized river in Alberta that flows down the nearby Cascade Mountain.

It carves the magnificent Stewart Canyon into the mountainous landscape before entering the lake, and eventually flows into the Bow River further downstream of the town of Banff.

Mount Cascade and the town of Banff
The Cascade Mountain, Banff, and the Cascade River / ParsonsPhotographyNL / Wiki Commons

5. Many wild animals live in the vicinity of the lake

The area of the lake has been inhabited by aboriginal people since at least 10,000 years ago.

The discovery of primitive stone tools and a spearpoint associated with the Clovis culture are proof of this.

The priitive tools turned into weaponry for hunting that was used by the native people in the area. They encountered an abundance of wildlife as many mountain animals live here.

Some of the wild animals that roam around in the mountains near the lake are elk, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and bears.

Lake Minnewanka fun facts

More interesting facts about lake Minnewanka

6. The dam on the western end of the lake didn’t just raise the lake’s surface elevation by 30 meters (98 feet) but had another effect as well.

It resulted in the Cascade River being diverted from its natural course. The natural riverbed downstream from the lake is dry for the most part of the year and the river’s water is diverted into the nearby Two Jack Lake and subsequently a canal.

7. After the Cascade River is diverted into the small lake and canal it enters two generators in the Cascade Powerhouse. These generators have a combined capacity of 34 MW and provide power to the nearby towns, including Banff.

Banff town Alberta
The idyllic town of Banff in Alberta / John Vetterli / Wiki Commons

8. The highest mountain in the Banff National Park is located just a few kilometers north of lake. It’s located in the Palliser Range and it’s the highest peak in the entire region.

The mountain reaches a height of 3,162 meters (10,374 feet) and majestically overlooks the lake. If you’re in good shape you can even scrambe to the top to get stunning views.

Mount Aylmer and the Lake Minnewanka
Mount Aylmer and the lake / Jack Borno / Wiki Commons

9. You can easily reach the western end of the lake via the scenic Lake Minnewanka road. This relatively short road can be reached from the Trans-Canada Highway, a transcontinental highway system that passes through all ten Canadian provinces.

10. If you want to visit Lake Minnewnka then there are several things you can do. There are boat tours available if you want to explore the region by boat.

There’s also a hiking and biking trail that runs all along the northern shore of the lake. You’ll encounter campsites along the trail with amazing views of the area.

Yes, Lake Minnewanka is really a hidden treasure that is often overshadowed by the equally amazing Moraine Lake, but it’s definitely worth a visit!

Lake Minnewanka tourism
The starting place of the boatride / Jack Borno / Wiki Commons