Famous for its unforgettable water landscapes, Banff National Park is home to many jaw-dropping Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) locations. Imagine gliding through those turquoise blue waters, with the sun on your face, surrounded by nothing but mountains. As SkiBig3’s inflatable stand-up paddleboards are easy to pack and transport, you can explore the park’s hidden corners at the stroke of a paddle. Plus, several picturesque lakes are right on the doorstep of the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub.
Here are our top picks for where to take your stand-up paddleboard in Banff National Park this summer.
HOW TO STAY SAFE ON YOUR SUP
But first, some safety tips. It’s the law in Canada to have a personal flotation device (PFD) on board for every person on a watercraft, including human-powered watercraft like inflatable SUPs. Please wear PFDs supplied with your rentals from the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub.
These inflatable SUPs are intended for use on our mountain lakes. Water levels on the Bow River can become quite high and the river is often fast moving. As such, we ask that renters not take paddle boards on rivers. The Banff Canoe dock leads onto the Bow River, however, it is far upstream from dangerous river zones and provides safe access to both Vermilion Lakes and Echo Creek.
All inflatable SUPs come with leashes to attach to your ankle. Although our lakes are quite calm, it’s recommended to always use the leash. If you fall off your SUP, the leash comes in handy to keep the board close by.
When doing any water activity in the Rockies, it’s important to be a strong swimmer and be mindful of the water temperature of the lakes. Even in the middle of summer, our lakes can be extremely cold, and shock and hypothermia are real risks if you’re not adequately prepared.
Where to SUP in Banff
1. Vermillion Lakes
Located within walking distance from the Adventure Hub, this is a great go-to for those wanting a quick and easy paddle. Simply head over to Vermillion Lakes Road and drop your paddle board off one of the docks. The water in Vermillion Lakes can be shallow at times, so be careful when falling in as you will feel the bottom. Enjoy one of three beautiful lakes with perfect views and reflections of the Rundle range.
Insider note: If you start your SUP where the Bow River meets Echo Creek, you may not be able to make it all the way through to the larger Vermillion Lakes. A beaver dam has been built across the river however, this is still a lovely paddle through the trees. Be sure to keep an eye out for the CP Rail trains making their way along the south lakeshore.
2. Two Jack Lake
Two Jack Lake is one of the most popular SUP and Kayak destinations in Banff National Park. This favoured spot has gorgeous emerald green waters with majestic views of Mt Rundle. For an unforgettable experience, head out for a sunrise or sunset paddle and create memories that will last a lifetime.
3. Johnson Lake
For the best place to experience slightly warmer waters, Johnson Lake is the lake to target. With slightly warmer temperatures than neighbouring Minnewanka and Two Jack lakes, dipping your toe in the water (or taking a spontaneous plunge) will be more appealing here. With plenty of parking, picnic tables, and an easy walk to the shoreline Johnson Lake is the perfect place for family-fun adventures.
Where to SUP in Lake Louise
4. Lake Louise
Can you name one of the most iconic lakes in the world? You’re right, Lake Louise! With its beautiful fluorescent glacial blue waters, you won’t want to miss this location. Paddle your way through the tranquil waters surrounded by mountainous views. Bypass the long wait times and high rental prices for a canoe by popping your SUP straight onto Lake Louise. Lake Louise is a popular destination so the parking lot can fill up quickly. Make sure to arrive early and secure your spot. Or, opt for the bus shuttle from just outside the village of Lake Louise or Banff.
5. Moraine Lake
On every bucket list for Banff National Park is a sunrise visit to Moraine Lake. Located in the Valley of Ten Peaks, this is an experience not to be missed. However, if you’re looking to take it one step further take your SUP with you. As you paddle out to the middle of the lake and watch the sunrise over the mountains, it’s an adventure you’ll never forget.
Don’t forget Moraine Lake is only accessible by shuttle service. Make sure to double-check when booking that the shuttle service will accommodate the transportation of inflatable paddleboards to avoid disappointment!
6. Herbert Lake
If you are trying to find a place to escape the crowds, Herbert Lake is the place to go. Just 3km up from the Icefields Parkway, this pristine and serene lake is an ideal location for paddling. Less popular than the infamous Lake Louise, it is still best to arrive early to enjoy this little pocket of tranquility.
7. Bow Lake
To fully experience the Rocky Mountains, embark on a SUP adventure to Bow Lake. You can glide across the crystal-clear waters surrounded by nothing but mountains. Although the lake is unbelievably beautiful, Bow Lake is large and can be susceptible to winds. If you’re thinking about experiencing this beauty, make sure to take a look at the weather forecast and try to opt for a low-wind day.
Ready to get your stand-up paddleboard out on the water? Reserve online or stop by the SkiBig3 Adventure Hub at 114 Banff Avenue. They are sure to be the perfect vessel for a memorable summer adventure.
If want to take your adventure up a notch, why not peddle and paddle? Save 15% when you book your e-bike at the same time as your stand-up paddleboard and kayak. You can then e-bike to your favourite locations! Use the promo codes below to start saving:
- E-Bike & Paddleboard: Pedal2023
- E-Bike & Kayak: Paddle2023
Before launching your paddleboard into the water, make sure to complete an AIS Prevention Permit. The self-certification permit is required by Parks Canada to prevent invasive species from entering the parks and to understand invasive aquatic species. You can either collect a permit at the lake or river or get one ahead of time online. All SkiBig3 paddleboard rentals are cleaned after each use and tracked for usage, so you can have confidence that your SUP is approved for use within Banff National Park!
You can learn more about this to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species on the Parks Canada website