Tips For Visiting Rundle Forebay Reservoir in Canmore

The Canmore Reservoir is one of the most popular places to visit in Canmore, especially in the summer. It provides locals and visitors alike with a fantastic place to get out on the water or just enjoy the views of Ha Ling and the Little Sister from the shore.

However, you may wonder if you need a parks pass to visit the Rundle Forebay Reservoir or if there are any facilities. It’s one of our favorite places to spend time in Canmore, so we’ll break down all we know so you can plan your visit.

Where is the Canmore Reservoir?

Rundle Forebay Reservoir (Canmore)

The Canmore Reservoir is just 5km away from Canmore along the Smith Dorrien Road (GPS), right on the left side of the road (if coming from Canmore). If you have passed the Canmore Nordic Center, you have gone too far. Be careful not to confuse it with the Spray Lakes Reservoir, which is further up the road past the Ha Ling Peak Trailhead and Goat Pond in Kananaskis Country.

How to Get to the Rundle Forebay Reservoir


The Rundle Forebay Reservoir is very easy to get to from the Town of Canmore. Living nearby, I typically ride my bike to the Reservoir along the Powerline Trail multiple times a week in the summer to take in the views.

  • Getting to the Rundle Forebay Reservoir By Car: From Downtown Canmore, take Three Sisters Drive, then turn right onto Three Sisters Parkway/Smith Dorrien Spray Trail, where you will then come across Quarry Lake on your left-hand side about 1 minute later, keep driving for another km until you come across the Reservoir on your left-hand side.

Is the Canmore Reservoir Man-Made?

calgary to canmore
Enjoying the Canmore Reservoir in the summer

A forebay is a man-made pool of water in front of a larger body of water. This reservoir is primarily supplied by the Spray Lakes Reservoir via a network of canals and hydroelectric facilities, the Spray Lakes Reservoir is just a bit further up the Smith Dorrien in Kananaskis Country.

Parking at the Canmore Reservoir

There is not much for parking at the Canmore Reservoir, and on a busy summer day, the small dirt lot fills up quickly. There’s only room for about 30 or so cars, and if there is no parking available, please do not park along the road, or you may get a ticket. It’s best to have a backup plan or to be patient and wait for a spot to open up. Unlike Quarry Lake, parking at the Rundle Forebay Reservoir is free.

Do You Need a Pass for the Reservoir?

canoeing on the canmore reservoir
Canoeing on the Reservoir

Technically no, you don’t need a Kananaskis Conservation Pass for recreating on the reservoir as the actual body of water is within the town. That being said, if you drive to the reservoir and park in the parking area, which is right on the border of the provincial park, vehicles are supposed to have a Kananaskis Conservation Pass to park in the provincial park.

Once you are in the Canmore Nordic Center, you are in Kananaskis Country and need a Kananaskis Conservation Pass to park there.

Can You Swim in Rundle Forebay Reservoir?

Can You Swim in Rundle Forebay Reservoir?
About to take a dip – brrr

Yes, you can swim in the reservoir, however like all lakes in the Rockies, the reservoir is absolutely freezing, so it’s unlikely you’ll swim in the waters for long. I like to call it a quick plunge.

Rundle Forebay Reservoir Walk

Ha Ling
Fall underneath Ha Ling

If you’re up for a little walk in Canmore, run, or bike, there’s a nice gravel path along the left side of the lake, which gets you near the end of the reservoir and right under Ha Ling Peak. Once you reach the end you can turn around and head back the way you came, or connect to the Powerline Trail. No path brings you around the entire lake.

Bathrooms at Rundle Forebay Reservoir

Sunset on the Reservoir

There are no bathrooms at the reservoir and essentially no facilities at all. Please pick up after yourself and make sure to take all your trash with you when leaving. Just last summer, I was pretty annoyed when I rode my bike to the Reservoir and found someone had a gender reveal party and left all their pink sequins littered all over the ground. Please make sure to respect nature and pick up all trash when recreating.

Stand-Up Paddleboarding at Canmore Reservoir

Stand Up Paddleboarding on the Reservoir
Stand Up Paddleboarding on the Reservoir

The Canmore Reservoir is one of my favorite places to bring the paddleboard. Not just because it’s a five-minute drive from Canmore, but we often find it’s less wind affected, has easy launch points, and being outside of Banff, there is no need to fill out a self-certification permit or wait 48 hours between dry times.

Cameron kayaking on the reservoir
Cameron kayaking on the reservoir

If you’d like to paddle from the beginning of the Canmore Reservoir (near the parking area) to the end and back it’s roughly a 5km paddle and takes around one hour.

Can You Visit Canmore Reservoir in the Winter?

Banff in November
Canmore in November

Yes, you can visit the Canmore Reservoir anytime you want! During a Canmore winter, the water will freeze, though being a reservoir, it is not a safe space for ice skating. The best thing you can do here in the winter is walk around the path!

Does the Canmore Reservoir Supply the Town’s Drinking Water?

My dad hanging out at the Reservoir
My dad hanging out at the Reservoir

Yes, Canmore drinking water comes from The Rundle Forebay and an underground aquifer. The town of Canmore produces high-quality tap water that meets or exceeds regulations. We drink all our water from the tap and encourage visitors not to buy bottled water.

Not only does bottled water produce more unnecessary plastic in an area where the water is perfectly fine to drink, but numerous well-known bottled water brands are essentially sourced from municipal tap water. Save your money and save on garbage, and avoid the bottled water section at the grocery store.

Things to do Nearby

East End of Rundle Summit
East End of Rundle Summit
  • Grassi Lakes: Grassi Lakes is an easy Canmore hike nearby and brings visitors to the most incredible bright blue lakes via a short and easy hike.
  • Canmore Nordic Center: Our favorite place to mountain bike is the Canmore Nordic Center. They have green, blue, and black trails perfect for every ability. My favorite trail is the Oydessy Trail!
  • Quarry Lake: Quarry Lake is nearby and is an excellent place to relax with a picnic at one of the many picnic tables.
  • Hike Ha Ling Peak: If you’re interested in summiting a big mountain, Ha Ling is a really popular hike that gets you the most incredible views over Canmore.
  • Hike EEOR: Another popular scramble nearby is the East End of Rundle, to summit this mountain is harder and involves more exposure than Ha Ling, but it’s another mountain summit option that is not too far from Downtown Canmore.

Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Tours (New in 2024): The Banff Blog is partnering with one of the leading tour companies in Western Canada so readers can experience the magic of the Rockies with other travelers – without having to think about a thing. See all our 2024 tour offerings here!
  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Or embark on an epic campervan trip. We like to compare prices on Motorhome Republic and Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals!
  • Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!
About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

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