10 Best Lakes Near Calgary for Swimming, Fishing & More

Posted by Justin Havre on Tuesday, May 21st, 2024 at 4:15pm.

Best Lakes Near Calgary: Lake Minnewanka and Quarry Lake

With its stunning natural beauty and proximity to the Canadian Rockies, Calgary offers many opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Among its many treasures are the numerous lakes that dot the landscape, each offering a unique experience for visitors and residents alike. From kayaking and paddleboarding to swimming and fishing, there's something for everyone. After providing the setting for many of the fun things to do in Calgary, the lakes transform into a magical tapestry of colors at sunset, creating an unforgettable experience.

Best Lakes Near Calgary for Swimming & Water Activities

Sikome Lake

In the southernmost section of the scenic Fish Creek Provincial Park, due east of the Sundance community, Sikome Lake offers a perfect destination for anyone seeking a relaxing and safe beach getaway. This artificial lake features a pristine sandy beach (one of the best beaches in Calgary), vigilant lifeguards, convenient changing rooms, and well-stocked concession stands for tasty treats and refreshments. For young adventurers, the vibrant playgrounds provide endless entertainment, making Sikome Lake a cherished choice for memorable outings in South Calgary.

Chestermere Lake

Homes With Docks on Chestermere Lake, Alberta

Chestermere, located just a short drive from downtown, is centered around Chestermere Lake, which presents an exhilarating lakeside experience that abounds with recreational opportunities. The lake's extensive shoreline boasts pristine beaches, verdant parks, and convenient boat launches, making it a paradise for swimming, boating, wakeboarding, and many other water sports. 

Parts of the lake are surrounded by Chestermere’s waterfront homes, which are highly sought-after residences that feel like they’re a world away from the big city. Additionally, Chestermere Lake serves as a sanctuary for bird enthusiasts, with a diverse array of avian species inhabiting its shores.

Quarry Lake

Just outside the town of Canmore is Quarry Lake, a beautiful mountain lake perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors. This picturesque body of water offers a haven for activities like swimming, fishing, and leisurely boating and a captivating hiking trail that winds through the awe-inspiring vistas of the Rocky Mountains. 

Despite being just over an hour from Downtown Calgary, Quarry Lake is a popular destination that’s worth the drive. The lake's charm peaks in the fall as the surrounding foliage bursts into a vibrant tapestry of autumnal hues.

Johnson Lake

Johnson Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta

In Banff National Park, Johnson Lake is a picturesque paradise for families. Its crystal-clear waters, gentle slopes, and sandy shores make it a perfect spot for swimming, boating, and picnics. The lake also offers opportunities for fishing and exploring hidden coves by paddleboat, canoe, or kayak. Families can enjoy picnics in designated areas with tables and seating surrounded by lush greenery and fresh mountain air. Nearby campgrounds and accommodations make Johnson Lake ideal for a memorable family vacation in the Canadian Rockies.

Harvie Passage (South Channel)

Harvie Passage is a unique urban park built on the Bow River in Calgary’s Inglewood neighbourhood. It offers a variety of water activities, such as fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and windsurfing. 

Easy access to Harvie Passage is just one of the many perks of living near Pearce Estate Park, but be sure to stick to the South Channel; the North Channel is volatile and fast-moving, which creates dangerous conditions for swimming and water recreation. Pearce Estate Park also features surrounding trails that are perfect for leisurely walks or picnics and provide scenic views of the city and river.

Best Lakes Near Calgary for Fishing

Ghost Lake

Ghost Lake, nestled in the Rocky Mountains, offers a peaceful escape with crystal-clear water and stunning mountain views. It's a popular spot for fishing, especially for plentiful rainbow trout. Ghost Lake is a reservoir created out of a portion of the Bow River, conveniently located just over 20 minutes west of Cochrane and 40 minutes from West Calgary’s Aspen Woods neighbourhood.  Whether you're a seasoned angler or just starting, you will have a great time casting your line here. And if you want to make a weekend of it, the nearby campground offers convenient overnight stays so that you can fish to your heart's content.

Barrier Lake

Barrier Lake, Alberta

Barrier Lake, situated in Kananaskis Country just a 50-minute drive from West Calgary, is a picturesque destination for fishing and kayaking. While its glacier-fed waters might be too chilly for some visitors to swim in, the lake's stunning scenery and abundant fish population make it a worthwhile visit. The calm waters are ideal for kayaking, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

McDonald Lake

McDonald Lake, located just outside of Northeast Calgary, is another popular fishing destination known for its abundant trout population. While some roads leading to the lake may be closed during the winter months due to extreme weather conditions, the summer months offer opportunities for hiking near Calgary and exploring the surrounding trails, in addition to fishing.

Glenmore Reservoir

Sailboats at Glenmore Reservoir, Calgary, Alberta

Glenmore Reservoir is a vast body of water surrounded by some of Calgary’s most expensive neighbourhoods, including the Eagle Ridge community. It offers diverse fishing opportunities, with anglers able to catch various fish, including rainbow trout, brown trout, and mountain whitefish. The Glenmore Sailing Club, located on the reservoir's shores, provides sailing lessons and boat rentals, adding another dimension to your lake experience.

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka is the largest lake in Banff National Park and a true gem for anglers. Its crystal-clear waters teem with lake trout, whitefish, and Rocky Mountain whitefish. While swimming isn't a popular activity due to the cold water temperatures, boat cruises offer a unique way to experience the lake's beauty and spot wildlife such as bighorn sheep and bald eagles.

Living Near Calgary's Lakes

Living by a beautiful Calgary lake offers a particular way of life, but it comes at a price. The median price for a lakefront home in Calgary is around $810,000, considerably higher than homes located further from the water. Homes in McKenzie Lake, a popular lake community in Southeast Calgary, typically list from the $700s to $1.7 million. 

Prices vary depending on location, size, and access to shops and restaurants. It's essential to do your research and talk to real estate experts to find a place that fits your budget and lifestyle. Remember that owning a lakefront property may include additional costs like dock fees or maintenance for private beaches.

Discover Your Ideal Lake Retreat in Calgary, Alberta

Calgary's lakes offer many recreational opportunities, stunning natural beauty, and potential for a fulfilling lifestyle. Whether you're seeking a family-friendly beach, a serene fishing spot, or a picturesque mountain retreat, the lakes around Calgary have something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your fishing gear or swimsuit, and embark on an unforgettable adventure to discover the hidden gems in Calgary's lake country.

If you're interested in Calgary real estate, contact Justin Havre Real Estate Team with eXp Realty with Calgary Homes at (403) 217-0003 to get in touch with a local real estate agent who can help you find your Calgary dream home today.

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