Peyto Lake is a stunning lake that can be found in Banff National Park, which itself resides in the picturesque Canadian Rockies. The lake is notable for its dazzling blue colour, and has been the subject of many pictures because of just how mesmerising it looks. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the lake is surrounded by beautiful Canadian mountains, and often visited as part of a larger trip along the Icefields Parkway.
Spring/Summer 2021 – The lake Peyto viewing platform and hiking trails are closed so the lake is closed to visitors. The park authorities are performing extensive improvement works. There is no official opening date yet.
The Icefields Parkway is a 140 mile stretch of highway that takes drivers through the Canadian Rockies. In addition to Peyto Lake, there are several points of interest along the Icefields Parkway, such as Columbia Icefields, and Lake Louise.
The highway is particularly busy during the summer months of July and August, where it can see as much as a hundred thousand vehicles a month. During the winter, the weather is such that tyre chains or winter-rated tyres would be necessary. You will also require a Canadian national parks permit to travel on the road.
Banff National Park
Being Canada’s oldest national park, Banff National Park has a long history of tourism, stretching back to the late 1800s. It covers over two and a half thousand miles of terrain, and settles under a subarctic climate that sees a lot of snow and ice for most of the year. Banff National Park has a great deal of access thanks to roads and rail, and sees millions of tourists a year pass through the beautiful landscapes it has to offer.
Peyto Lake’s Distinctive Colour
During the summer, the lake receives considerable amounts of glacial rock flour from a nearby glacier. Rock flour is essentially bedrock that has been ground down into extremely fine grains by glacial erosion.
During high volumes of rock flour—typically over the summer months—a distinctive grey hue can often be seen where the glacial melt enters the lake. The overall effect, however, is a turquoise hue throughout the lake itself.
Peyto Lake is not the only lake to take on this remarkable colour as a result of glacial melt, of course. The nearby Lake Louise is another example. There are also similarly remarkable looking lakes in other parts of Canada, New Zealand, Norway, and Chile.
Swimming and Safety
You are allowed to swim in Peyto Lake however you need to be very careful of the temperature. It’s cold. Remember, this is a glacier-fed lake in a subarctic region of the world. Most people will need to wear a wetsuit and don’t jump in as the drastic fall in temperature may cause shock and can be dangerous for those with heart conditions. Being immersed in cold water causes a massive shock to the human body, and you should have someone around in case that shock proves to be too much for you. Don’t go swimming alone.
Peyto Lake Viewpoint
Given the natural beauty of the area—and, of course, the lake itself—it makes sense that there would be a dedicated lookout to take some of those amazing pictures from. Peyto Lake viewpoint is a walk of a little over a mile from the car park, which should take the average hiker around ten minutes. It is a paved trail and wheelchair friendly, so there shouldn’t be any problem getting there. The viewpoint is a very popular spot, and you may want to consider coming early to beat the crowds.
Peyto Lake Hike
If you want to get a closer look at the lake, you can always head down to the shoreline. The Peyto Lake hike is a bit more involved than the trek up to the viewpoint, so don’t expect to be making this trip if you are in moderately good shape.
Starting at the viewpoint, there is a well-worn Peyto Lake trail down to the lake itself. Getting down there isn’t too bad, and the average hiker should be able to manage it in around 40 minutes. Getting back is a little tougher, as you’re heading back up the hill. Allow for at least an hour getting back up the Peyto Lake trail to the viewpoint.
If you are up for the challenge of taking on the Peyto Lake hike with the necessary gear, you can go kayaking in the lake, or even enjoy a spot of fishing if you have the necessary fishing license to do so.
Peyto Lake Camping
While you can settle down at the lakeside for a relaxing picnic, a spot of fishing, or even a brisk dip in the glacial melt water, you are not allowed to camp there. Fortunately, there are several campsites nearby that should do the job just fine.
These campsites are a mixture of first-come, first-serve, and reservation-based, and will typically set you back between $15 and $30 Canadian dollars a night. The nearest campsite to Peyto Lake itself is the Mosquito Creek Campground, which isn’t the most luxurious campsite around, but it does have plenty of facilities and is great for people looking to pitch a tent. If you’re looking for something a little more comfortable from your Peyto Lake camping experience, Waterfowl Lakes Campground has plenty of space and all the luxuries you could hope for from a campsite, including flushing toilets and a firewood supply!
Peyto Lake Weather
We’ve already mentioned that Peyto Lake resides in a subarctic region in Canada, so, as you might expect, Peyto Lake Weather is a little on the brisk side.
During the summer months, the warmest you can expect Peyto Lake to get is in the low twenties (Celsius), with nights staying above zero, but only just. Conversely, the winter months can see highs of -9 degrees Celsius, while nighttime can get all the way down to -16. Most tourists will be visiting during the summer, however, and for those people, planning for mild winter weather should do just fine.
During those summer months, you can expect precipitation in the region of 80mm, but given the nature of the region, it’s worth packing some waterproofs.
Peyto Lake Directions
One of the significant factors that makes the Icefields Parkway so appealing is the fact that it cuts right across the Canadian Rockies, passing several natural wonders on its route. It is also very easy to find.
If you’re looking for Peyto Lake directions, our best advice is to get onto the Icefields Parkway, head for Banff National Park, and look out for the signs. You’ll almost certainly see other points of interest on your way to Peyto Lake.