Though it is not as stunning as Lake Moraine, visiting Bow Lake with kids (8, 3 y.o., and 6 weeks) brought us lots of joy, peace, and serenity during our visit to Banff NP. We stopped there right after beautiful but jammed Peyto Lake and it was a perfect place to unwind and take a rest.
Bow Lake location: Banff National Park, Alberta. 5 min drive from Peyto Lake.
Time to explore: 1-3 hours.
Parking: could be limited. Try to drive past Num-Ti-Jah lodge; there are some spots along the lake.
Exploring Bow Lake: nothing could be easier
Stroll along the lake, bring a kayak/canoe (there is no rental, but you can bring your own at no fee).
There is no boat launch, but the water is shallow and easy to enter. From the parking lot behind the Num Ti Jah Lodge, you’ll spend just a couple of minutes getting to the lake.
Swimming is allowed too at Bow Lake (if you dare): the water is icy-cold.
There are many picnic tables near the Num-Ti-Jah lodge (though, very few of them are in the shade), a cafe, restrooms, and a gift shop. Bow Lake has a vast open space to fit all the visitors. There are hardly any crowds here.
The views around the lake are incredible: Bow Glacier, a glacier waterfall, a turquoise-colored lake, and plenty of greenery. Crowfoot Glacier can be easily viewed at the south end of the lake.
1. Hiking at Bow Lake
To explore Bow Lake, Canada, go on an easy, family-friendly hike along the lakeshore, right from the Bow Lake parking lot, passing Num-Ti-Jah lodge on the way.
The hike is out and back, 3.5 km with a mostly flat surface, with some wet areas. Don’t forget sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat, summers could be hot!
On the trail:
2. Bow Lake, Canada: truly perfect for kids!
Bow Lake is perfect for kids: they can roam around, splash in natural “wading pools”, dip their toes in the lake, stroll along the lake, and cross bridges. Buckets and shovels will be great for some water play. Since we didn’t have any, kids were happy even with a couple of paper cups.
Catching tadpoles in front of the Num Ti Jah lodge:
Bring waterproof shoes/crocks/flip-flops or no shoes at all to enjoy the water play :).
3. About Num Ti Jah Lodge
The “Num Ti Jah” name was created by Jimmy Simpson, a legendary Canadian outfitter. He and his family were dreaming about building a lodge in the beautiful Canadian wilderness. One day they finally accomplished it. Today, for about 300CAD you can spend a night in a lovely room with a view right at Bow Lake.
Bow Lake is worth a short stop along the Icefields Parkway. Especially if you need some quiet time or wait for a couple of hours until crowds wear off at Lake Louise/Lake Moraine. A truly serene place! We would love to come back.
Lake Louise, Lake Moraine, How to Explore Banff in 5 Days.
Thanks for reading and have a great time at Bow Lake!