A road trip through the Canadian Rockies is one of those epic bucket list journeys. And oh man, it is every bit as beautiful as they said it would be!

Fly into Calgary or Vancouver, get the credit card out and rent a car to take you to the pristine wilderness of Canada. On the route from the bustling mountain town of Banff to the quiet and authentic town of Jasper, there is an abundance of sites and hikes to pull in at and explore. What struck us in particular on a recent road trip there was the sheer number of jaw-dropping lakes just off the highway to gape at (or if you are feeling brave, to have a dip in). The beauty is surreal, the landscape vast, the colours look like they have been photoshopped they are that saturated. So, without further ado, here are six of the most breathtaking lakes to visit in the Rocky Mountains.

1. Bow Lake

The Rocky Mountains Lakes

This particular one is literally just off the highway, you can see it from your car window. But make sure to slam on the breaks, pull into the car park and stretch your legs. The lake is just south of Bow Summit and is one of the lakes that line the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. It’s stunning, dip your feet in the frigid waters or go for a kayak on it’s glassy surface.

2. Maligne Lake

The Rocky Mountains Lakes

This is the best one to go for a quick swim to wake you up or SUPing or paddling. Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park may not be as blue as some of its rivals but it’ll still wow you. There is plenty of waymarked hikes to choose from, plus a shop/restaurant to stockpile some snacks and coffee from. The 44km Skyline Trail (Jasper’s most popular multi-day hike) begins here and finishes near the town of Jasper.

3. Moraine Lake

The Rocky Mountains Lakes

Just around the corner from Lake Louise is the much more rugged and quieter Moraine Lake! Another glacially fed lake in Banff National Park situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. The glassy waters reflect its towering peaks majestically. Here you’ll find a rock to perch yourself on, take a deep breath and take it all in.

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4. Lake Louise

The Rocky Mountains Lakes

By far the most famous of the lakes on this list and it really is a beaut. Yet with popularity, comes tourists so be warned if you are looking for a lake to meditate by, this is definitely not it. But still it’s worth seeing, the water is greeny turquoise is mesmerising, the boathouse is idyllic for pictures or for hiring a canoe for a paddle and the surrounding hikes are on point. Our favourite hiking trail here winds up to the Lake Agnes Tea House for bird’s-eye views. If you come in winter, the frozen lake transforms into a skating rink.

5. Peyto Lake

The Rocky Mountains Lakes

Our favourite on the list! It looks more like a desktop background than reality, it is that perfect. The glacier-fed lake in Banff National Park is milky blue and the view from a height (Bow Summit) after a short hike from the car park is unbelievable. The glacial rock flour that flows into the lake give the lake its vivid turquoise colour.

6. The Ink Pots, Johnston Canyon

The Rocky Mountains Lakes

Ok, so not a lake, but still a body of water! The hike through Johnston Canyon and onwards to the Ink Pots is a great one to kick off your Rocky Mountain journey. The trail winds through the canyon to the Upper Falls. There are always crowds but naturally the further you hike, the quieter the trails get and eventually you emerge out to the Ink Pots and we promise your eyes will light up and your jaw will drop. The pots are an assortment of mineral springs that are pockets of different colours in a meadow surrounded by a panorama of peaks. It’s about a 10km round trip from the car park.

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By Orla O'Muiri

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