15 Places To Go Paddleboarding In Banff & Canmore

Once the lakes around Banff National Park unthaw, they are a prime place for a SUP (short for stand-up paddleboard) in the summer. Paddleboarding in Banff is one of our favorite ways to relax in the park, and we often find ourselves alone on the water, enjoying all the nature around us.

What’s great is that you don’t have to own one yourself; you can rent one from several locations in town. Whenever we don’t feel like venturing out on a hike in the summer, we’ll turn to the lakes for some relaxation. Here are our favorite paddleboarding locations in Banff, Canmore, and beyond!


Banff Paddleboarding

It’s important to note that you must have your own paddleboard to enjoy paddleboarding on these lakes; there is nowhere to rent paddleboards on-site. See our rental recommendations at the end of this article.


The Bow River

The Bow River

If you’re staying at a hotel in downtown Banff, you don’t have to go far to rent a SUP. 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 and are reasonably priced.

From the Banff Canoe Club, head up the Bow River in search of beautiful natural scenery. While much of the Bow River is fast-moving and quite intense, a section is calm and has plenty of space for beginners to explore. The gentle leg flows into Vermillion Lakes and is slow-moving compared to many other parts of the river. Ask the Banff Canoe Club for the specific entry location.


Vermilion Lakes

Vermillion Lakes Banff National Park

Vermilion Lakes is largely a marsh, so it doesn’t hold the brilliant blue waters like many other lakes around Banff, but it still makes for an incredible place to SUP. The lakes are well protected by the winds, and the shallow water means that the waters remain calm on most days, making it easier to canoe, kayak, or SUP there.

Vermilion Lakes are a 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 to enter the water, and you don’t even have to get your feet wet.


Johnson Lake

stand up paddleboarding on johnson lake

Johnson Lake is a quiet lake just off Lake Minnewanka Loop Rd that is often overlooked by visitors. Its manageable size, lack of crowds, and protection from the wind make it a great spot to SUP in Banff. We love it for an evening or morning paddle as it’s not too far from Banff town and very close to Two Jack Lake campground.

The lake offers astounding views back to Cascade Mountain, looming high above. The lake is tranquil and a great place to go stand-up paddleboarding or even take a swim if you’re brave enough. Keep an eye out for a rope swing!


Cascade Ponds

stand up paddleboard on cascade ponds

Near Johnson Lake, right off the Trans Canada Highway, you’ll see Cascade Ponds. Cascade Ponds are among the best places to paddle for beginners. Yes, the water is still freezing, but you’re never too far from the lakeshore here. There are plenty of people around, and many areas of Cascade Ponds are quite shallow! You’ll need your own paddleboard to enjoy this peaceful spot.


Two Jack Lake

stand up paddleboarding on two jack lake

Just a ten-minute drive away from Banff is the scenic Two Jack Lake. Two Jack is one of the most photographed lakes in the Canadian Rockies due to its awesome views of Mount Rundle. Its water is not quite as blue as other lakes in the park, but a teal tint in the right light is striking.

The steep forested banks on its sides protect the lake from wind, and the surrounding mountain views are fantastic. It’s one of the most popular places to paddle in the park, so don’t expect to be alone on a nice day. You may even find parking to be a bit of a struggle on a sunny day. However, it’s also a bit of fun as everyone is in good spirits swimming, kayaking, or even floating around. We love to bring a packed lunch and enjoy our time on the lake.

Top tip: Head here sunrise so you can watch from the water light up as the sky changes over Mount Rundle.

Waterfowl Lakes

Waterfowl Lakes

The Waterfowl Lakes are two relaxed lakes in the park that see a fraction of the visitors you’ll see the other lakes on this list. They’re also very conveniently located on either side of the Waterfowl Lakes Campground, which we consider one of the best campsites in Banff National Park. The two lakes are glacial and have the classic blue color that radiates under Mount Chephren on a sunny day.

Even if you’re not staying at the campground, a public parking lot provides access to hiking trails around the lake, where you can enjoy a classic hike up to Chephren Lake. The hike is pretty mild up to the lake, so we’ve even debated carrying our inflatable paddle boards up in backpacks to Chephren Lake; I’ll update you if we make the trek.


Lake Louise

paddleboarding at Lake Louise

Lake Louise is one of the most spectacular scenes in the world. It’s tough to find a more beautiful scene to paddle through as you look out to Mount Victoria and the hanging Victoria glacier. There is no need for fancy edits on your photographs – the water at Lake Louise is truly that radiant turquoise blue.

You can pick up canoe rentals at the Lake Louise Boathouse, but they do not rent paddleboards. However, if you have plans to SUP, you’ll need to arrive early in the morning to secure a lakeside parking spot. Or, if you have inflatable stand-up paddleboards, you can carry them in a bag on the Lake Louise shuttle bus to the lake. Truth be told, it’s really tough to beat a SUP on Lake Louise, so it is worth all the effort it takes to get there.


Moraine Lake

Moraine-Lake-Canoe-Rental-Banff-National-Park

There is likely no lake in the world more beautiful to SUP 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 on a SUP here and paddle across the glacial waters is a memory you likely won’t forget. Like Lake Louise, it will take some work to be SUP at Moraine Lake; you’ll need to bring your own paddleboard as there are no rentals other than canoes. There is no way to drive yourself and park at Moraine Lake either, so you’ll have to pack up your inflatable and bring it on the Moraine Lake shuttle run by Parks Canada.


Herbert Lake

Herbert Lake Banff National Park

Herbert Lake is a small lake just off the Icefields Parkway, not long after you pass the park gates and leave the TransCanada highway from Lake Louise, you’ll come across Herbert Lake on your left hand side. Its location and the fact that it’s not considered a real highlight in Banff mean the lake remains quiet throughout the summer.

However, the lake is gorgeous and has some phenomenal mountain views from its waters. A picnic area right along the lake shores makes putting a SUP in the water easy. While you’re paddling around, keep an eye out as there is a diving board. If you’re brave enough to take a dip in the frigid waters — make sure you pick a warm day.


Bow Lake

Bow Lake

Bow Lake is arguably one of the most beautiful vistas in Banff, so it is a prime spot for SUP. However, the lake is the largest one on this list, and its position in the valley makes it very susceptible to winds. It took us three separate attempts while on the Parkway to put our paddleboards here. So to be able to paddle on Bow Lake, we recommend watching the weather to catch it on a beautiful summer day with low wind.


Paddleboarding in Canmore


Quarry Lake

quarry lake

Quarry Lake is a beautiful man-made lake that is where locals love to come and hang out. There is an off-leash dog park here, plenty of picnic benches, and a nice walking trail. Quarry Lake is the smallest lake on this list and is often very calm, making it the ideal place for beginners to stand-up paddleboard in Canmore!


Canmore Reservoir

SUP Reservoir Canmore

Out of all the lakes on this list, we have paddle-boarded on the Canmore Reservoir the most. Besides the fact that it’s beautiful, it’s only a five-minute drive from Downtown Canmore. If you’re staying in Canmore, there are many places to go to SUP in nearby Kananaskis Country. The Canmore Reservoir is only a few minutes outside of town and probably the most popular spot for SUP in all of Canmore.

We love coming here in the evenings as the water is generally warmer than in other places in the Rockies, and we find the reservoir is less wind-affected than other bodies of water. We often pop up here for a quick paddle when working from home. Here you have great views of Mount Rundle, the Three Sisters, and Ha Ling Peak.


Barrier Lake

natasha and cameron barrier lake

Barrier Lake in Kananaskis Country is one of the most popular spots to head for stand up paddleboarding. It’s a beautiful lake and you can reach it in less than an hour from Calgary, as it’s located right after the entrance to Kananaskis. Seriously, when you are heading to Kananaskis, you cannot miss Barrier Lake on your right-hand side.

We like coming here for a paddle when we don’t want to drive too far from Canmore and want to put our kayaks or paddleboards in the water easily. Parking is also pretty simple on weekdays, and you don’t have to lug your paddleboard far. However, weekends here can be somewhat of a madhouse, so you should arrive in the early morning or late evening for easy parking and solitude.


Kananaskis Lakes

Kananaskis Lakes

Kananaskis Lakes are among some of the best Alberta lakes to visit and are a vast area to bring a canoe, kayak, or sup in the Canadian Rockies. They are a popular place to head in the warm summer months, but their location nestled in the beautiful mountains makes them an amazing site to paddle on. There is a large area to park and a boat launch here. Keep an eye out for the motorboats; it’s one of the few lakes in the Rockies where you can bring an engine boat.


Goat Pond

stand up paddleboarding on Goat Pond

Goat Pond is a smallish pond up the Smith Dorrian Road past EEOR and Ha Ling Peak. I like to come here and paddle as it’s not wind affected, is hardly ever busy, and is extremely beautiful. When we are looking to escape the crowds on the weekends, we head to Goat Pond.


Where to Rent a Paddleboard in Banff

stand up paddleboarding in alberta

I am not aware of any lakes in Banff that have dedicated rental centers actually on the lake. You have two options for stand-up paddleboard rentals in Banff – at the Banff Canoe Club or the Adventure Hub. They both offer full-day rentals, so you can take the rental out to any of the lakes on this list. Stand-up paddleboard Rentals in Banff cost $30 per hour or $90 for the day with Banff Canoe Club. Rentals with the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub start at $83 per day or $62 for four hours.


Where To Rent Paddleboards in Canmore

stand up paddleboarding on goat pond canmore

There is nowhere in Canmore that has rental locations actually at the lakeshore (besides the Canmore Reservoir on weekends in the summer only.) The best place to rent a stand-up paddleboard in Canmore is Bow Valley SUP rentals.

They carry the best paddleboards on the market and cost $65 for a full-day rental and $45 for a half-day. They also offer tandem paddleboards and larger paddleboards for groups. Pickup is in Canmore, and rentals include the paddle, leash, fins, life jackets (with kids options), pumps for inflation, foam pads for vehicle transport, help loading gear, and local knowledge.


Can You Bring Your Own Paddleboard on the Lakes in the Rockies?

Rundle Forebay Reservoir (Canmore)

Yes, you can bring your own personal SUP to any of these lakes in the Rockies. If you plan to get out on many lakes in Western Canada, buying one is probably worth it rather than renting one everywhere. This is given you have the proper transportation to get it around. Even though they are smaller than a canoe or kayak, paddleboards—inflatable or not—are quite large.

**Due to Whirling Disease, bringing your own watercraft to lakes in BC and Waterton National Park is restricted until further notice.**

Keep in mindto prevent the spread of Aquatic invasive species visitors must now fill out a Self Certification Permit with Parks Canada for any nonmotorized watercraft entering the water. This includes kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. The Self Certification Permits can be found online.


What to Bring Paddleboarding

Some important things to bring while stand up paddleboarding are:


The Best Time to SUP in Banff

Paddleboarding season in the Rockies unofficially launches in May and runs until October. Of course, if you’re extra prepared and an expert paddleboarder, you can always get out when some of the lakes thaw in April or before they freeze in late October.

Book a Tour!

If you are a bit hesitant to test the Canadian Rockies waters on stand-up paddleboard, it’s best to book a tour!


Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • 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 Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip, we like to compare camper prices on Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals and like to use travel credit cards to hack our way into free flights and hotels! Our favorite cards are the Capital One Venture X and Chase Sapphire, which both work well in Canada and have no foreign transaction fees.
  • 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!

↓ Join the community ↓

The Banff Blog Facebook Group is your headquarters for Canadian Rockies travel advice and information, including hike and off-season travel information. You can also meet new adventure buddies.

the banff blog facebook group

About Cameron

Cameron is a resident of Canmore, Alberta. After traveling the world for six years, he settled down in the beautiful Bow Valley with Natasha. He has been featured as a travel expert with numerous publications worldwide and has spoken on several occasions about the power of travel. He has a passion for all things in the Canadian Rockies and loves to spend his time snowboarding, scrambling, camping, biking, and trail running. Conservation is a deep fundamental in his life, and he aims to inspire others to care about our natural world. You can learn more on the about us page.

If you have found the content on this site helpful to your trip planning please consider supporting The Banff Blog. You can say thanks directly by buying us a coffee. All support is much appreciated!

5 thoughts on “15 Places To Go Paddleboarding In Banff & Canmore”

  1. Bow Valley SUP & Surf is another awesome option for SUP rentals with locations in both Banff & Canmore!

    They offer tours & lessons including river lessons which should be highly encouraged if paddling a glacier fed river for the first time.

    They are also a great ressource for current conditions – I would suggest adding them to your rental options in this article in order to provide max options for your viewers 🙂

    Reply
  2. Thank you so much for the wonderful suggestions! Is a life jacket required, or is the sup leash enough?
    Thank you, julia

    Reply

Leave a Comment