Banff National Park Swimming

Johnson Lake is the most popular beach in Banff National Park.

Johnson Lake is the most popular beach in Banff National Park.

The rivers and lakes of Banff National Park are extremely cold, making swimming a choice only for the brave. That said, on the very hottest days of summer, there are a few spots where locals go to cool off. The most popular of these is Johnson Lake, which has  a short stretch of sand and safe swimming for children. Nearby Two Jack Lake is usually slightly colder, and Lake Minnewanka is a few degrees colder still. Al these swimming spots can be accessed from the Lake Minnewanka scenic drive.

Many of Banff’s bigger hotels have indoor pools, including the Fairmont Banff Springs, which has a heated outdoor pool with public access ($20). A popular place to swim and work out is in the Sally Borden Fitness & Recreation Facility (Banff Centre, St. Julien Rd., 403/762-6450, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily), which holds a wide range of fitness facilities, climbing gym, squash courts, a 25-meter-long heated pool, a wading pool, and a hot tub. General admission is $10.50, or pay $4.50 to swim only most days after 5 p.m. Go to www.banffcentre.ca/sbb for a schedule.

Banff Hot Springs

Banff Upper Hot Springs

Banff Upper Hot Springs

Banff Upper Hot Springs (Mountain Ave., 403/762-1515, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily May to Oct., 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sun. to Thurs. Oct. to May, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fri. to Sat. Oct. to May), toward the Banff Gondola on the south side of the Bow River, were first developed in 1901. Water flows out of the bedrock at 47ºC (116.6ºF) and is cooled to 40ºC (104 ºF) in the main pool. Once considered for privatization, the springs are still run by Parks Canada and are popular throughout the year. Swimming is $7.50 adults, $6.50 seniors and children; lockers and towel rental are a couple of dollars extra. Within the complex is Pleiades Massage & Spa (403/760-2500), offering a wide range of therapeutic treatments, including massages from $60 for 30 minutes as well as body wraps, aromatherapy, and hydrotherapy.

spacer