Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Canon EOS Rebel T4i; 18-200mm lens
Lake Minnewanka (“Water of the Spirits” in Nakota – the Stoney Indian language) is a glacial lake located in the eastern area of Banff National Park in Canada, about five kms (3.1 miles) northeast of the Banff townsite. The lake is 28 km (17 mi) long and 142 m (466 ft) deep, making it the longest lake in the mountain parks of the Canadian Rockies (the result of a power dam at the west end).
The lake is fed by the Cascade River, flowing east of Cascade Mountain, and runs south through Stewart Canyon as it empties into the western end of the lake. Numerous streams flowing down from Mount Inglismaldie, Mount Girouard and Mount Peechee on the south side of the lake also feed the lake.
Aboriginal people long inhabited areas around Lake Minnewanka, as early as 10,000 years ago, according to stone tools and a Clovis point spearhead discovered by archaeologists. The area is rich in animal life (e.g. elk, mule deer, mountain sheep, bears) and the easy availability of rock in the mountainous terrain was key to fashioning weapons for hunting.
The western end of the lake can be reached by following Lake Minnewanka road from the Trans-Canada Highway. Boat tours are available near the parking lot. A hiking and mountain biking trail runs along the northern shore of the lake, passing Stewart Canyon and six backcountry campsites.2 Mount Aylmer which at 3,162 m (10,374 ft) is the highest mountain in this area of the park, is located a few kms north of the lake.
Dams were built in 1912 and 1941 to supply the town with hydro-electric power. The most recent dam (1941) raised the lake 30 m (98 ft) and submerged the resort village of Minnewanka Landing that had been present there since 1888. Because of the presence of the submerged village, submerged bridge pilings, and submerged dam (the one from 1912) the lake is popular among recreational scuba divers.