You may be thinking, well why wouldn’t I visit Bow Lake? But if you are planning a short trip to Banff National Park you may find yourself overwhelmed by all the gorgeous places to visit. And that is why I am here to encourage you to not skip Bow Lake.
My pictures problem don’t even begin to do Bow Lake justice. Everyone knows that Lakes Louise, Peyto and Morraine are gorgeous. But Bow Lake deserves some recognition as well.
There is ample parking and then a very short and flat trail to the lake itself. When I say brief I mean two minutes. Compared to most of the other scenic views in Banff National Park this is the easiest walk you will have!
It’s close to Banff and Lake Louise.
Bow Lake is one and a half hours north of Banff and an hour north of Lake Louise. If you aren’t planning on hiking at Lake Louise you could easily make a day of driving the Icefields Parkway and include a stop at Lake Louise to break your drive up.
It’s child friendly.
Flat, rocks, bathrooms – check, check, check! Bow Lake definitely could win an award for being child friendly. New walkers will appreciate the opportunity to get out and stretch their legs. No need for a hiking pack here! Larger children will enjoy having a bit more freedom to roam. You don’t have to worry about them getting too close to a dangerous cliff! Everyone will love skipping rocks on the lake!
What our visit looked like
Our original plan had been to drive up from Banff town to Peyto Lake. And if you have ever googled Banff National Park you have likely seen Peyto Lake and you know why we were taking a road trip up there.
After hitting some horrible weather at Peyto Lake the weather broke on our way back to Banff. We had an extra hour or so before our Banff gondola reservation and so as we drove past Bow Lake we figured why not jump out of the car and stretch our legs. My only regrets with this decision was that I didn’t cancel our Banff gondola reservation and just stay at Bow Lake for the rest of the day. Don’t get me wrong, the gondola was fun and the view was spectacular but there was something about Bow Lake that really spoke to my family. It likely had to do with the small rocks which entertained big and small children alike. They are perfectly flat which led to multiple rock skipping competitions (spoiler alert my toddler didn’t win but gosh did she have fun trying!). No hiking here for us just some time spent relaxing and sitting by a gorgeous lake with some lovely views.
Toddler friendly rating: 10/10. This is the perfect place to let your little one get out of the hiking pack back and run around. The rocks we encountered at numerous lakes were a huge hit with my toddler.
Logistics: Bow Lake is approximately an hour and a half north of Banff on the Icefields Parkway give or a take a few hours for some roadside stops and pictures 🙂 There are restrooms at Bow Lake.