About Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive/Loop
Lake Minnewanka Loop (24km) is a scenic drive in the Banff National Park, along few of the Alphine lakes of Canadian Rockies.
Remains of an old booming coal mining town, Bankhead, is also found along the loop.
What to do at Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive/Loop?
Attractions at the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive/Loop
Johnson Lake: Hike the Johnson Lake trail(3 km loop). Picnic. Swim during summer and Snowshoe during winter. Fish.
Two Jack Lake: Enjoy the beautiful scenery. Camp by the lakeside. Ice skate during winter. See Big Horn sheep between here and the road to Lake Minnewanka. Fish (license required). Canoe in the calm waters.
Lake Minnewanka: Click on the link for more details on all activities that can be done at the Lake.
1. Upper Bankhead (Residence section of the mining town): Picnic at the day-use picnic area. Hike the C-Level Cirque (moderate trail – 4.2 km one way) along the old coal mine shafts to reach Cascade Mountain basin. The cascade trail starts at the parking lot. Further along the road, before reaching Lower Bankhead, see the remains of Holy Trinity church.
2. Lower Bankhead: Walk along the interpretive trail (1.1 km) that passes through an old mining town that was shut down in 1922.
Who all can go to Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive/Loop? – Everybody
How to get to Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive/Loop?
Location/Directions/Access to Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive
The above map is made to give one a pictorial idea (not using exact GPS coordinates).
To reach the scenic drive from Banff town, Head north on Banff Ave, and pass under the TransCanada Highway to start the scenic drive.
From Calgary, Take the exit toward Banff/Minnewanka Loop from Highway 1. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for Cascade Pond/Two Jack Lake/Lake Minnewanka and merge onto Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive.
Once you start on Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive, Cascade Ponds is the first turnout on your right. Take the right(going the loop counterclockwise) when the road forks and the turnoff to the Johnson Lake is to your right. Continuing along the drive Two Jack Lake, Lake Minnewanka, Upper Bankhead (turnout on the right)& Lower Bankhead (on the left) appear in the mentioned order.
GPS : 51.212395,-115.537426
The Minnewanka Route 6 will travel from downtown Banff to Lake Minnewanka via the Lake Minnewanka Road. Stops along with way will include Cascade Ponds, Cascade Overflow Parking, Johnson Lake Road, Two Jack Lakeside Campground, Two Jack Main Campground, Two Jack Day Use Area, and finally Lake Minnewanka. The bus will then continue back to Banff with a stop at Lower Bankhead and the Cascade Ponds stop. The routing returns to Banff via the Norquay Exit, with stops at the Banff Train Station and the Banff High School.
How much to drive Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive?
Admission / Rates Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive
Free with Banff National Park admission
oTENTik – Cabins @TwoJack Lakeside – $120.00. (Details)
When to go for Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive?
Hours Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive/Loop
Lake Minnewanka scenic drive in Winter
The section from Cascade trail (Upper Bankhead) to Lake Minnewanka is closed every year from mid November to mid April for wildlife travel route.
To reach Johnson Lake and Lake Minnewanka during winter, use the eastern section, i.e, go along the loop counter clockwise. All access to Lake Minnewanka area winter activities will the through the eastern section of the loop.
Lake Minnewanka scenic drive in Spring
Parks Canada has announced that the Minnewanka Loop Road will be closed to public vehicles on weekdays, Monday to Thursday, from May 1-20, 2021. The road will be available to cyclists. Public vehicle access to Lake Minnewanka and Two-Jack Lake day-use areas will be available on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays May 1-20, 2021.
How long will it take to enjoy Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive?
Depending on interest, one hour (for just stop, look around & photograph) to a full day (boat cruise, hikes).
What about Amenities, accessibility & parking?
Parking available. Restrooms.
Café at Lake Minnewanka.
Campgrounds. Fire wood available at Two Jack Lake campgrounds.
oTENTik, exclusive to Parks Canada, is a cross between an A-frame cabin and a prospector tent mounted on a raised wooden floor. These permanent and comfortable accommodations require no set-up by campers is available at Two Jack Lake Campgrounds.
Picnic tables and cooking shelters at Lake Minnewanka & Upper Bankhead.