Banff National Park
Boats with motors, both gas and electric, are allowed on Lake Minnewanka only. Learn more about boating on Lake Minnewanka.
Get info on where to paddle and explore with your canoe, kayak or other watercraft in Banff National Park.
Learn about scuba diving at Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake.
The park's glacier-fed lakes provide spectacular photo opportunities, but most are much too cold for swimming.
Learn what is needed before entering the lakes and rivers in Banff. Follow these rules to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species!
Rules and regulations
- Use of personal watercraft, (such as Sea Doos, Jet Skis etc.) or water skiing equipment is not permitted on any water bodies.
- A Parks Canada AIS Prevention Inspection Permit is required for all motorized watercraft prior to launching in Lake Minnewanka.
- An AIS Prevention Self-Certification Permit or Parks Canada AIS Prevention Inspection Permit is required for all non-motorized watercraft and water-related gear (e.g., canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards, fishing gear).
- All watercraft and water-related gear coming from outside of AB, BC, Yukon and Northwest Territories must dry for 30 days and those coming from inside AB, BC, Yukon and Northwest Territories to dry for 48 hours.
- Clean Drain Dry all watercraft and water-related gear prior to entering waterbodies in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay national parks to prevent invasive species.
- Banff's lakes are seldom above 10°C (50° F). A capsize into these waters could result in hypothermia. Read up on hypothermia before you set out.
- For your safety, leave word of your plans and when you plan to return.
What to bring
It may be a warm day when you start out, but mountain weather can change quickly. Take along wet weather gear to keep you dry, warm and protect you from the wind. Also carry a complete change of clothing in case you fall in.
All watersport activities
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) are non-native plants, animals, and diseases. Many AIS are harmful to freshwater ecosystems. AIS reproduce fast, they rarely have natural predators and often out-compete native freshwater species. Preventing aquatic invasive species from entering waterways is a Parks Canada priority. If they arrive, removal is next to impossible.
Whirling disease is caused by a parasite that causes skeletal deformities of an infected fish’s body or head, usually in young fish, and the tail may appear dark or black. The disease can be spread to other waterbodies through spores in mud. This disease is not harmful to humans or other mammals but can have significant effects on some fish populations.
Quagga and Zebra mussels are small, fan-shaped, and range from dark brown to white in colour. Just a few mussels can produce millions of eggs. They are very efficient at filtering nutrients from the water, leaving no food for native species. Dense colonies of mussels can clog water pipes and make the shoreline unusable because of their sharp shells and odour.
Didymo is a freshwater algae that has the appearance of wet toilet paper and the feel of wet cotton wool. It attaches to rocks in streams and can form into large beige to brown mats that completely cover the stream bottom, blanketing important fish and plant habitat.
Felt-soled wading boots (banned in mountain national parks) and other water gear are a common way for didymo to spread. Clean and drain your equipment well, and let dry for at least 48 hours before using it again.
Eurasian water milfoil
Eurasian water milfoil is a perennial, submersed aquatic plant native to Eurasia and North Africa. Although not currently present in Alberta, new colonies can form from a single stem, seed or leaf. Eurasian milfoil forms thick layers that shade native plants and decrease oxygen levels as they decay.
Aquatic invasive species sightings in Banff National Park can be reported to: email@example.com.
Sightings outside of the national parks can be reported to: 1-855-336-2628 (BOAT) in Alberta and 1-888-933-3722 in British Columbia.
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