Our first afternoon in Banff, we headed to Lake Minnewanka for a boat cruise. We thought a guided tour would be a good way to get our bearings on the area & learn a little bit about the history & geography. After missing our scheduled boat cruise by just a few minutes, the folks at Brewster Canada (yup, the same guys behind the Glacier Adventure & the Banff Gondola) were happy to move us to the next cruise. This left us with about an hour to kill – which we spent enjoying an ice cream cone by the water (rough life).
Soon enough, it was time to board our little white & green boat & head out onto Lake Minnewanka. Our boat was filled with mostly Asian tourists (a common theme during our time in the area!) who couldn’t understand what our guide was saying, but he was good natured about it, regardless. He told us all about the lake & the park, with a few corny jokes thrown in.
The lake was created by a receding glacier & it was truly spectacular to look down one of the lake’s tributaries & see the path the glacier carved. It’s the largest lake in the Canadian Rockies, thanks to rather controversial dams built by Calgary Power at one end. A big fan of scuba diving? Then you’ll want to check out the village of Minnewanka Landing, which was submerged when a second dam was built in 1941 & rests at the bottom of the lake now…
While on the tour, we got our first taste of the crazy weather in the Canadian Rockies, as our beautiful sunny afternoon quickly turned into a drizzly overcast sky. The lake itself went from calm to quite choppy, but our captain handled it like a pro. We didn’t see any of the area’s famous bears on the cruise (it would take a full three days in the park to spot them!), but we did see several bald eagles (fact: did you know there are more bald eagles (America’s national bird) in Canada than America and more Canadian geese (Canada’s unofficial national bird) in America than Canada?) & some mountain sheep, who we would later run into again on our way out of the park.
The lake cruise on Lake Minnewanka was the perfect introduction to the park & a very accessible way to get out & see some wildlife. We can’t wait to return to Lake Minnewanka & hike some of their famous trails. Maybe we’ll run into this guy (that’s Lake Minnewanka in the background):
Side note: If you’re a child of the 1990s, then you are familiar with the Nickelodeon show “Salute Your Shorts,” a silly comedy about a bunch of kids at camp. Even if you haven’t seen the show, you’ve undoubtedly heard the theme song: “Camp Anawanna, we hold you in our hearts…” What does this post have to do with Nickelodeon or camp? Absolutely nothing. Yet, that didn’t stop us singing the song “Lake Minnewanka, we hold you in our hearts…” the entire time we were in Banff.