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13 Best Lakes in Calgary For Swimming

13 Best Lakes in Calgary For Swimming

A visit to Calgary would be incomplete without experiencing the crystal-clear waters and breathtaking landscapes that its lakes have to offer. Calgary’s lakes are also known for their cleanliness and safety, making them ideal for swimming.

Read on to discover Calgary’s best lakes for swimming, where you can enjoy a refreshing dip, water sports, or simply relax in the serenity of these natural wonders.

Lake Bonavista

Directions

Lake Bonavista is like a little oasis in the city. Believe us when we say you’ll want to spend hours here just soaking up the sun and enjoying the cool water. The lake boasts a large designated swimming area, perfect for swimmers of all ages and skill levels.

Plus, the lake is regularly monitored for water quality, so you can feel confident knowing that you’re swimming in clean, safe waters. But wait, there’s more! 

Lake Bonavista isn’t just about swimming. This versatile spot offers a range of other activities to keep you entertained all day long. Fancy a game of beach volleyball? They’ve got you covered.

Want to try your hand at paddle boarding or kayaking? No problem! There’s even a playground for the kiddos, making it an ideal destination for families looking for a fun day out.

Local tip: If you’re planning a visit to Lake Bonavista, try to get there early in the day, especially on weekends. This popular spot can get quite busy, and arriving early ensures you’ll find a prime spot on the beach to lay out your towel and enjoy the day.

​Sundance Lake

Directions

Sundance Lake is a private, 33-acre lake located in the heart of the Sundance community. It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy some quality time with friends and family.

Swimming here is just the tip of the iceberg! You can also try your hand at some fishing or hop on a paddle boat or kayak. And if you’re more of a land lover, there’s a beautiful park with picnic areas, a playground, and even beach volleyball courts.

Sundance Lake isn’t just for summer fun, it’s a year-round destination. In the winter, you can hit the ice for some skating or ice hockey, or even try your hand at ice fishing.

And if you’re not into the cold, no worries—the Sundance Lake Residents Association hosts events and activities throughout the year, so there’s always something going on.

Local tip: Don’t forget to bring some snacks to enjoy by the lake; the sunsets are absolutely stunning, and you won’t want to miss them!

Johnson Lake

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Nestled in the beautiful Banff National Park, Johnson Lake offers crystal-clear waters and breathtaking mountain views. Seriously, it’s the kind of place you see on postcards and think, “Wow, I need to go there!”

So, what’s there to do at Johnson Lake? Well, besides taking a refreshing dip in the water, you can also go for a leisurely stroll along the lakeshore trail, which is about 3 km long.

But hey, it’s not just about the water activities. Johnson Lake is surrounded by lush forests and meadows, making it an ideal spot for a picnic or just laying out a blanket and soaking up the sun.

Plus, there are plenty of nearby hiking trails to explore if you’re up for a little adventure. 

Local tip: Make sure to arrive early, especially during the summer months; parking can fill up quickly, and you’ll want to snag a good spot by the water!

​Chestermere Lake

Directions

Just a short drive from the city, Chestermere Lake is a beautiful and serene destination that’s perfect for a day trip or a weekend getaway. The lake is super clean, and the water is perfect for taking a refreshing dip on a hot summer day. 

Plus, there’s a beautiful beach where you can lay down your towel and work on your tan. If you’re into water sports, you can rent paddle boards, kayaks, or even try your hand at wakeboarding. 

And if you’re more of a landlubber, you can still enjoy a leisurely stroll or bike ride along the scenic shoreline. There’s even a playground for the kiddos, so it’s a perfect spot for the whole family to unwind. 

Now, if you’re a bit of a foodie like me, you’ll be stoked to know that there are some wicked food trucks and ice cream stands set up around the lake during the summer months. 

Local tip: If you’re looking for a more secluded spot to swim, head to the west side of the lake near Anniversary Park, where it’s usually less crowded.

Lake Minnewanka

Directions

Lake Minnewanka is an absolutely stunning glacial lake located just a short drive from the city, and it’s the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day. Now, before you jump right in, there’s something you should know about Lake Minnewanka. 

The water can be pretty chilly, even in the summer months. But hey, don’t let that stop you!

It’s all part of the experience, and once you get used to it, you’ll find it super refreshing. Plus, it’s a great way to escape the heat and enjoy some quality time with friends and family.

If you’re planning to visit Lake Minnewanka during the summer months, make sure to arrive early in the day. It can get pretty busy, especially on weekends, so you’ll want to snag a good spot before the crowds roll in.

Local tip: Don’t forget to bring a waterproof bag for your belongings, as there are no lockers available at the lake.

Barrier Lake

Directions

Barrier Lake is a gorgeous man-made reservoir located in Kananaskis Country, and it’s just the place to cool off on a hot summer day. Surrounded by lush forests and towering mountains, you’ll feel like you’ve discovered a little slice of paradise.

Now, I know what you might be thinking—a reservoir for swimming? Rest assured, it’s way better than it sounds.

The water at Barrier Lake is clean and refreshing, and since it’s not as well-known as some other spots, you can enjoy a more peaceful and relaxing experience. Plus, the views are simply incredible—you won’t be able to resist snapping pics for the ‘gram!

Local tip: Be sure to bring some bug spray with you, as the mosquitoes can be quite persistent around the lake, especially in the evening.

Lake Louise

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Lake Louise is known for its turquoise waters, which are just perfect for a refreshing swim. Plus, there are plenty of other activities you can do around the lake, like hiking, canoeing, or just laying on the shore, soaking up the sun. 

And if you’re lucky enough, you might even spot some wildlife, like deer or elk, roaming around the area. But wait, that’s not all! 

After a day of swimming and exploring, you can head over to the nearby village of Lake Louise to grab a bite to eat or do some shopping. There are some great restaurants and shops around there, so it’s the perfect way to end your day. 

And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can always stay overnight in one of the lodges or hotels in the area to make the most of your trip.

Local tip: Arrive early in the morning to beat the crowds and snag the best parking spots.

Quarry Lake

Directions

Located just outside of Calgary in Canmore, Quarry Lake is a great place to escape the city and take a refreshing dip in the water. In fact, it’s a reclaimed mining area that’s been turned into a beautiful park.

The water is crystal clear and perfect for swimming. There’s a sandy beach area where you can lay out your towel, soak up some rays, and build sandcastles with the kids.

Plus, there’s plenty of grassy space for picnics and games—it’s like the ultimate summer hangout spot. If you’re into hiking or biking, there are trails around the lake that offer stunning views and a bit of a workout.

And if you’re a dog owner, you’ll be happy to know that there’s an off-leash dog park nearby. So, you can bring your furry friend along for the adventure too.

Local tip: If you’re looking for a tasty treat after your swim, swing by Canmore’s main street for some delicious ice cream or a bite to eat at one of the local cafes.

Ghost Lake

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Ghost Lake is super picturesque, with the Rocky Mountains in the background and the calm, blue water in the foreground. It’s a great spot to take some Instagram-worthy photos, too!

And you know what? The water’s pretty warm during the summer, so you can actually enjoy your swim without freezing your buttocks off.

Plus, there’s plenty of space along the shore for you to lay out your towel, set up a picnic, and just soak up the sun. But hey, let’s not forget about the social aspect!

Ghost Lake is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, so you’re bound to make some new friends while you’re there. Just remember to pack out whatever you pack in, and let’s keep this beautiful spot clean and enjoyable for everyone.

Local tip: If you want to avoid the weekend crowds, try visiting Ghost Lake on a weekday; you’ll practically have the place to yourself!

Glenmore Reservoir

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Glenmore Reservoir is actually a huge source of drinking water for the city, so it’s super important. Now, you might be thinking, “Sweet, a reservoir! Time to bust out the swimsuit and go for a dip!”

But hold up just a sec. Swimming in the Glenmore Reservoir is actually a no-go. Yup, that’s right—it’s off-limits for swimming because, well, it’s where the city gets its drinking water.

And nobody wants a side of sunscreen or body lotion in their tap water, eh? But, hey, don’t let that get you down!

There’s still plenty of fun to be had at Glenmore Reservoir. You can rent kayaks, canoes, or sailboats and spend the day out on the water.

Or, if you’re more of a landlubber, there are tons of walking and biking trails around the reservoir that offer some seriously stunning views. Plus, there’s even a sailing club if you’re into that sort of thing!

Local tip: If you’re looking for a great spot to watch the sunset, try the Glenmore Sailing Club; the views are absolutely breathtaking!

Bowness Lagoon

Directions

Bowness Lagoon is located within the beautiful Bowness Park, which is a super chill place to hang out. You can lounge on the grass, have a picnic, or even rent a paddleboat to explore the lagoon. 

The vibe is very laid-back, and it’s just the perfect spot to unwind and soak up some rays. One of the best things about this swimming spot is that it’s totally family-friendly. 

There’s also a playground nearby, so the kids can burn off some energy before or after swimming. And hey, if you’re not into swimming, you can always just kick back and enjoy the view.

Oh, and if you get hungry, there’s a cute little café nearby that serves up some delicious snacks and refreshments. Trust me, their ice cream is to die for! 

Local tip: If you’re visiting on a weekend, try to arrive early in the morning to snag a prime spot on the grass, as it can get pretty busy later in the day!

Sikome Lake

Directions

Nestled within Fish Creek Provincial Park, Sikome Lake is a man-made lake that is a popular destination for Calgarians and visitors alike. Now, let me tell you about its facilities.

They’ve got everything you need for a perfect beach day. There are sandy beaches for sunbathing, picnic tables for your lunchtime feast, and even a playground for the kids.

Plus, there’s a concession stand if you crave some ice cream or a cold drink. And don’t worry about safety; there are lifeguards on duty during the summer season to make sure everyone has a great time while staying safe.

You can easily get to Sikome Lake by car, with ample parking available. And if you’re more of a public transit person, there are bus routes that’ll take you right to the park entrance.

Local tip: Arrive early in the day, especially on weekends, to snag a prime spot on the beach and avoid the afternoon crowds.

Harvie Passage (south channel)

Directions

Harvie Passage south channel is perfect for families and casual swimmers, as it features calmer waters and smaller waves. It’s a great spot to just float around, splash about, or even try out some beginner-level river surfing.

And if you’re into kayaking or paddleboarding, you can totally do that too! Just remember to always follow safety rules and wear a lifejacket, alright?

When you’re done swimming, you can chill on the nearby riverbanks, have a picnic, or even explore the surrounding parks and pathways. If you’re an outdoorsy person, this place is definitely a must-visit when you’re in the city.

Oh, and if you’re into birdwatching, you’re in for a treat! The area around Harvie Passage is home to a variety of bird species, so don’t forget to bring your binoculars and see how many you can spot. 

Local tip: Bring water shoes or sandals with you, as the riverbed can be a bit rocky and slippery in some areas.

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