Rent a canoe in Banff National Park and explore some of the park’s gorgeous lakes and waterways. In our guide to canoe rentals in Banff, we share all you need to know about paddling here. Canoeing across the stunning bodies of water in the park is a great family-friendly activity. It’s a great way to take in the natural scenery and compared to the busy trails around Lake Louise and Moraine Lake you can find some tranquility.
Canoeing or kayaking is one of our favorite things to do in Banff and it’s an activity that can be enjoyed by all. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon or spend a few enjoyable hours.
- 20 Best Places to Kayak and Canoe in Banff and Beyond
- Everything You Need to Know About Canoeing on Moraine Lake
- Canoeing on Lake Louise • Locals Rental, Tips, and Rates Guide
Renting a Canoe and Canoeing in Banff
There is likely no lake in the world more beautiful to canoe than Moraine Lake. The turquoise waters of Moraine Lake are framed by the magnificent Ten Peaks for a splendid scene. It’s an iconic view of Canada and at one point was on the back of the Canadian $20 bill. To hop in a canoe here and paddle across the glacial waters is a memory you likely won’t forget.
There is one downside to canoe rentals at Moraine Lake and that is the price along with the competitions to get a canoe. Parking at Moraine Lake is limited and the shuttle bus system although improving still makes it difficult to reach the lake. However, it is worth the effort. There is only one location to rent canoes on the lake and it is at canoe dock run by the Moraine Lake Lodge. The canoe rentals at Moraine Lake operate on a first-come-first-serve basis so if you arrive late in the day you may be out of luck as it’s a popular activity. Canoes can accommodate two to three people and they do not allow pets.
- Location: Moraine Lake Lodge
- Cost: $120 per hour
- Season: Mid-June to Mid-September
The Bow River
You don’t have to go far if you’re staying in downtown Banff if you want to rent a canoe. It’s a short walk from the center of town to the Banff Canoe Club where you can rent a canoe, kayak, or SUP. Rental options range from hourly to daily. From the Banff Canoe Club head up the Bow River in search of some beautiful natural scenery. The section of the Bow River is calm and has plenty of space for first-time canoers to explore.
Not only are their rates far cheaper than the more popular locations on the lakes The Banff Canoe Club offers guided tours. The tours are great if you’re not confident tackling the waters on your own or you’d like to learn more about the landscape and spot wildlife. Perfect for families to get out on the water!
- Location: Banff Canoe Club
- Cost: $45 per hour
- Season: June to October
Vermilion Lakes is largely a marsh so it doesn’t hold the brilliant blue waters like many of the other lakes around Banff, but it still makes for an incredible place to canoe. The lakes are well protected by the winds and the shallow water means that the waters remain calm on most days so it’s an easier place to canoe kayak or SUP. The marsh and trees make for prime habitat for wildlife and it’s a well-known spot for birders. We’ve personally seen beavers, bald eagles, owls, elk, muskrats, and herons. The docks also make it easy for those with their own canoe to enter the water.
Vermilion Lake is easily reached via the Forty Mile Creek from the Banff Canoe Club. It’s a great option if you’re hoping to spot some wildlife, but manage expectations as the only thing you’re guaranteed to see are various birds. If you have plans to rent more or mixing it up with canoes and SUPs or renting more than once consider signing up for a membership for $50 which provides the first hour for free and then all hours from then on are $25.
- Location: Banff Canoe Club
- Canoe Cost: $45 first hour / $25 additional hour
- Kayak Cost: $45 first hour / $25 additional hour
- SUP: $120 daily rate / $30 hourly rate / $10 wetsuit rental
- Season: June to October
If you’re seeking more of a challenge or to experience canoeing on open water head to Lake Minnewanka. The large lake is well known for its “swells” that occur when the wind gust picks up. However, if you stick close to the boat launch and the shoreline you should be fine. It has a rich historic past with centuries of Stoney Nation American’s inhabiting the area and then the remains of a former resort submerged under the water. The submerged resort is the result of a dam created for hydroelectric power which submerged the original town where you can now go for a dive.
Its name comes to the Stoney who lived here for centuries calling it Minn-waki meaning “Lake of Spirits” and when you paddle along its shores you may experience some of those spirits. The massive lake and towering mountains will leave paddlers humbled by the scale of the landscape. It also makes for a tremendous place to ice skate in the winter.
More advanced paddlers with their own canoes can plan multi-day camping trips along the lake. The boat launch managed by Pursuit also rents small motorboats as Minnewanka is the only lake in the park that allows motor-powered boats in addition to kayaks and double kayaks. All rentals come with necessary equipment which includes gas with the motorboat rental. As an added plus you’re allowed to fish the lake, but be sure to check with Parks Canada for current fishing regulations and permits.
- Location: Pursuit Collection Lake Minnewanka Boat Dock
- Canoe Cost: $75 first hour / $25 additional hours
- Kayak Cost: $40 first hours / $20 additional hours
- Double Kayak Cost: $60 first hour / $20 additional hours
- Motor Boat Cost: $95 first hour / $50 additional hours
- Season: June to October
There is likely no place more quintessential to rent a canoe in Banff than Lake Louise. It’s one of the most spectacular scenes in the world. It’s tough to find a more spectacular scene to paddle through as you look out to Mount Victoria and the hanging Victoria glacier. No need for fancy edits on your photographs the water in Lake Louise like Moraine Lake is truly that radiant turquoise blue.
You can pick up canoe rentals at the Lake Louise boathouse because even if you have your own you’d have to arrive very early in the morning to secure a close parking spot to carry the canoe.
- Location: Fairmont Lake Louise Boathouse
- Canoe Cost: $125 first hour / $100 additional hours
- Season: Mid June to October
Why are Canoe Rentals so Expensive in Banff?
I’m sure by now you realize canoe rentals in Banff are pretty expensive especially on the popular lakes of Lake Louise and Moraine. There are a number of reasons for the prices of canoe rentals. The first is the short season the operators have to recoup their investment it’s only a couple of months that the lakes are unfrozen. You also have zero competition in most locations so operators can set prices. On top of all the liability insurance for operating in the park and renting canoes is very expensive.
Top Lakes To Go For A Canoe in the Rockies
- Bow Lake
- Lake Louise
- Vermillion Lakes
- Johnson Lake
- Moraine Lake
- Emerald Lake
- Goat Pond
- Lake Minnewanka
- Maligne Lake
- Waterfowl Lakes
- Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes
- Barrier Lake
Tips For Renting a Canoe in Banff
- If you know an avid canoeist, make sure to check out the best gifts for paddlers.
- Temperatures are very cool in the shoulder months of June and September. When you go out on the water, be sure to pack in layers so you can remain warm.
- Weather on the lakes particularly the large bodies of water can change rapidly. Keep an eye on the horizon if it’s looking like a storm or the wind starts to pick up it may be time to get off the water.
- Take sun protection seriously on warm days as the water reflection is very strong. We suggest making sure you have a hat, long sleeve shirt, and sunglasses.
- Bring a water bottle in case you start heating up in the peak summer.
- Remain calm and don’t rock the boat when out on the water. The glacial-fed lakes are frigid all year round and you’re not going to be a happy camper if you end up in the water and require rescue.
- All canoe rental operators provide life jackets so make sure to take advantage.
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