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Pyramid Lake is a super calm, kidney-shaped lake that sits at the base of the iconic Pyramid Mountain in Jasper National Park. It’s a great place to go canoeing, swimming on a warm day, or even ice skating in the winter. Plus, there’s even a little island in the middle that you can go and visit!
The lake is located at the base of the super-symmetrical Pyramid Mountain, so you’ll get great views of this iconic peak as you explore the lake.
The lake is also really close to Jasper town, so it’s a super convenient spot to visit, and it’s absolutely beautiful. In fact, it’s probably one of the most accessible and beautiful lakes in the area.
But before you hit Pyramid Lake, there are a few things to keep in mind, so we’ve compiled a guide to visiting so that you know what to expect!
1. About Pyramid Lake
Pyramid Lake is shaped like a kidney and covers an area of 1.2 square kilometers (0.46 square miles). It drains out through Pyramid Creek to the Athabasca River, and is overlooked by Pyramid Mountain, which you can see reflected on the water during the summertime.
The lake is close to Jasper town (only about a ten-minute drive) and as such, is a popular spot for water sports in the summer, and ice skating in the winter, when the lake freezes over. There’s also a chalet-style resort at the edge of the lake where you can stay, or just rent equipment from for the day.
We’ve had a lot of fun visiting Pyramid Lake over the years, and we think that it’s a great, outdoorsy day out when you’re in Jasper! In fact, to us, visiting Pyramid Lake is easily one of the best things to do while you’re in Jasper!
2. Where is Pyramid Lake?
Pyramid Lake is located just 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) from the town of Jasper, so you won’t have to spend half of your day just getting there. It takes about 10 minutes to drive to Pyramid Lake from town, but since it’s so close, you can also walk or cycle there.
Related Read: Another nearby spot from Jasper that we consider a must-see is Mount Edith Cavell – see a glacier, wildflowers and cute pikas!
3. Why is Pyramid Lake famous?
Pyramid Lake is known for its natural beauty. It’s surrounded by the Canadian Rockies – including Pyramid Mountain – so you’ll get plenty of stunning views. There’s a tree-covered island in the middle that adds to its postcard perfect appeal. In fact, you can even walk across the bridge to the island for another great vantage point of the lake and the soaring peaks all around it.
The lake also has a lot to offer nature lovers. You can go early in the morning to spot some interesting wildlife along its shores, or enjoy other bucket-list activities in Alberta, like canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding on its calm waters. Plus, Pyramid Lake is a year-round destination – in the winter, you can skate on its surface or snowshoe around the edge!
So basically, we think that Pyramid Lake has more than earned its reputation as one of the best lakes to visit in Jasper National Park.
4. How do you get to Pyramid Lake?
Pyramid Lake is really close to Jasper town, which makes it nice and easy to get there. You can drive yourself, which should only take about 10 minutes.
There’s no bus service that will drop you there, but if you haven’t got a car, you can also take a taxi from town, which should cost about $20 – $25 CAD each way.
Alternatively, you can walk there, which takes about 90 minutes. So, if you’re up for a hike, then this is a great (and free!) way to add some extra activity to your day. You can also cycle from Jasper to Pyramid Lake, which will take about 20 minutes. There are lots of places to rent bicycles from in Jasper, so you won’t struggle to find one!
Related Read: Heading to Banff and into hiking? Check out the best hikes in Banff that you don’t want to miss!
5. Is there parking at Pyramid Lake?
Yes, there are two free parking lots close to the Lake. One is next to Pyramid Lake beach, but bear in mind that the road is only open from June – October. The other lot is next to the Pyramid Island bridge and is open all year round.
Both lots are pretty small and fill up quickly during the summer, so if you want to park here, then it’s best to arrive either early in the morning or later on in the afternoon. I recommend arriving before 9 am at the latest, or after 4 pm in the summer months to have a better chance at securing a parking space.
Pyramid Lake Resort also has on-site parking for guests, so staying there means that you won’t need to worry about finding parking – plus, it’s a lovely place to spend a night or two.
6. Can you visit Pyramid Lake all year round?
Yes, Pyramid Lake is a year-round destination! Visiting during the summer months means that you’ll get to see the beautiful reflections of Pyramid Mountain, because the water is so calm. In the winter, the lake freezes over and people actually go ice skating on the surface.
Essentially, whatever time of year you visit, Pyramid Lake is a fantastic place to spend time in the great outdoors!
7. What is Pyramid Island and how do you get there?
Pyramid Island is a small island in the middle of the lake, and you can either paddle or walk there. If you want to reach the island via the water, then Pyramid Beach is the main launch point, although there are a few other spots to depart from if the parking lot is full.
Alternatively, you can just walk across the wooden bridge to Pyramid Island. It’s only about 300 meters (985 feet) long, so it’s a quick walk.
The island is super scenic and you get amazing 360-degree views of the lake from there. So in our opinion, it’s a must-visit when spending time at Pyramid Lake! Plus, there are even some benches on the island where you can sit and take in the scenery for a while. It’s a great place to bird watch if you come early in the morning.
8. What are the best things to do at Pyramid Lake in the summer?
Kayaking on Pyramid Lake is so much fun, and the calm water means that you don’t need to be experienced or super duper fit to enjoy it! Plus, you can kayak out to Pyramid Island for beautiful views of the lake and its surroundings.
The best place to rent a kayak from is the Pyramid Lake Resort, which is right next to the lake, so you don’t need to worry about lugging one all the way from town. It’s $45 CAD per hour for a single kayak or $80 CAD for a double.
Canoeing is another great way to combine the beauty of Pyramid Lake with an active adventure! If you want to go independently, then you can rent a two-person canoe from the lodge for $80 CAD per hour, or you can join this guided 3 hour tour for $130 CAD per person. It departs from the lodge at either 8:30 am, 1 pm or 5 pm during the summer, and your guide will help you to spot wildlife along the shore as you go!
We think that this is one of the best tours in Jasper that’s both great value for money, since it also includes blankets, rainwear, and extra outerwear when the weather is cool, and you get to refuel with some hot drinks and freshly baked treats along the way. And if the water is warm enough, you can even stop for a quick swim at the beach!
Check availability and book this Pyramid Lake canoe tour online here!
Related Read: Canoeing is also one of the best things to do at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park.
There are a couple of hiking trails around Pyramid Lake, many of which are excellent for wildlife spotting. You can spot pika, squirrels, deer, and even bears in the early morning or evening!
The Pyramid Lake Loop is one of the most popular trails. It’s a 5.6 kilometer (3.5 mile) loop that takes you from the Pyramid Island bridge parking lot through the forest to the Two Lakes lookout point and then back along the lakeshore (or vice versa). It’s moderate in difficulty with some steep sections, and it should take around 2 hours to complete. It’s best to wear hiking boots to tackle this one because it can get quite muddy, especially in the spring and autumn, and it’s also a popular trail for mountain biking and horseback riding, which means extra mud!
There’s also the Pyramid Lake Overlook Loop, which is easier than the above option but also longer at 9 kilometers (5.6 miles). Again, you can start close to the bridge to Pyramid Island and head through the forest, but this trail also takes you past Patricia Lake on your way back.
Many people also choose to hike (or trail run) from Jasper town to Pyramid Lake. The trail begins at the parking lot for the Jasper Activity Center and then takes you along Pyramid Lake Road until you reach the shore, which should take 1-1.5 hours, depending on where around the lake you choose to stop. You’ll be walking along the edge of a forest and you’ll go past Patricia Lake on the way there, so it’s a pretty nice route.
Relax at Pyramid Lake Beach and swim
Pyramid Lake Beach is a pretty spot to relax and soak in the views, and the water is even warm enough to swim in, which we assure you is pretty rare in the Canadian Rockies! The best time to swim in the lake is between June and August, when the weather (and the water) tends to be warmest.
Don’t get us wrong – it’s not exactly bath water, but it is pleasant enough to cool off in, especially after you’ve been hiking or canoeing!
Since Pyramid Lake is super calm, it’s also a great spot for SUPping. In fact, you can even paddle out to Pyramid Island! You can either bring your own paddleboard with you, or rent one from the Pyramid Lake Lodge resort for $45 CAD per hour, which is also ideal if you’re walking or cycling here from town.
4-Person Row Boat
If you’re visiting with a small group, you can get together and take a 4-person rowboat out onto the lake, which is a really cute way to enjoy the scenery (and is maybe a good opportunity for some bonding!)
It’s $80 CAD per hour to rent a rowboat from the resort, which works out at $20 CAD per person, which we think is a pretty good deal! Obviously, getting a rowboat here from town is a bit of a mission, even if you have a car, so if you want to row, row, row your boat on Pyramid Lake, then we highly recommend renting one from the resort.
There are several cycling trails around Pyramid Lake, and you can rent mountain bikes or e-bikes from the Pyramid Lake Resort.
For mountain bikes, it’s $25 CAD per hour, $50 CAD for a half-day rental, or $75 CAD for the full day. Meanwhile, e-bikes cost $50 per hour to rent, or $150 CAD per half day.
You can go mountain biking along the Pyramid Lake Loop that we talked about earlier, which is 5.6 kilometers (3.5 miles) long and takes you through the forest and along the lakeshore. There’s also the Pyramid Trail, a wide out-and-back trail alongside Pyramid Lake Road that takes you to Patricia Lake and back.
If you’re in the mood for something more challenging, the Pyramid Mountain Fire Road is an 11.6 kilometer (7.2 mile) gravel trail that takes you from the end of Pyramid Lake Road to the base of Pyramid Mountain. Be warned, this one is steep, with 861 meters of climb, so it’s for advanced mountain bikers only!
Pyramid Lake is one of the best places in Jasper National Park to go birding, and you can spot species like barred owls, red-necked grebes, and golden eagles. If you’re keen to admire the birdlife around the lake, then we recommend grabbing your binoculars and heading out early in the morning when the birds are most active.
There are also many interesting animals to spot around the lake, including bears! It’s a good idea to bring bear spray with you, especially if you’re planning on hiking or mountain biking around the lake.
Bears are most active in the early morning or the evening, so if you’re keen to spot some then this is the best time to go looking for them. Alternatively, you can book a small group wildlife tour like this one to maximize your chances. This tour costs $85 CAD per person and includes transportation and a knowledgeable guide who will know all the best spots for bear spotting.
Related Read: There are a couple different wildlife tours in Jasper to choose from – read our comparison about them all!
Visit the dock and take a photo with the famous red chairs
Just outside of the Pyramid Lake Lodge Resort there’s a floating dock complete with the iconic red Adirondack chairs that have been placed in scenic spots throughout the country.
To give you a little context, Parks Canada placed these chairs in over 200 locations, and it’s become kind of a tradition to take photos with them! In fact, this was purposefully done to encourage visitors to share their experiences on social media, so it would almost be rude not to take advantage of this excellent photo opportunity.
As well as relaxing in the famous chairs, the floating dock is also a great place for jumping off to go swimming in the lake.
Check out Patricia Lake
Patricia Lake is another scenic lake close to Pyramid Lake, and some of the trails we’ve mentioned in this blog even take you along the northeastern section of the lakeshore. Since Patricia Lake is only about 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) from Pyramid Lake, it’s definitely worth going there to check it out while you’re here.
Patricia Lake is smaller than Pyramid Lake but still very pretty, and there’s a lakeshore beach where you can relax. The water here is also calm and relatively warm for the Rockies, so you can enjoy a swim here during the summer months, too!
9. What are the best things to do at Pyramid Lake in the winter?
Pyramid Lake freezes over during the winter, so if you’re in Jasper during the colder months, don’t miss the opportunity to go ice skating on the surface! In fact, Pyramid Lake is considered one of the best places to go ice skating in the whole of Jasper National Park.
With the snow falling and mountains all around you, it is something out of a winter wonderland. Ideal if you are on a romantic honeymoon in Jasper, if you ask us!
You can rent skates from the lodge for $20 CAD per hour, or $30 CAD for a whole day of frozen fun.
Cross Country Skiing
You can go cross country skiing on the frozen surface of Pyramid Lake during the winter, which we have to say is a pretty magical experience. You’ll have amazing mountain views and can even head out to Pyramid Island in the middle. This is a pretty easy route, so there’s no need to worry if you’re not a seasoned skier.
Alternatively, if you’re something of a pro, the Pyramid Fire Road will take you through winding forested paths with a pretty intense elevation gain, but for adrenaline junkies, the rush of going back downhill again will be a handsome reward. The ski trail is 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) long in total, but there are two turnaround spots along the way, so you don’t have to do the whole thing. You can ski 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) to the slough or 5.5 kilometers (3.4 miles) the a lookout point and head back from either of those instead.
Related Read: Heading to Banff to ski? Learn about the best places to stay in Banff for a ski holiday!
Fat biking is essentially the winter version of mountain biking. The bikes have oversized tires that are designed for riding in snow and icy weather, or sometimes on sandy terrain (not that that applies here). You can go fat biking through the forest around the lakeshore during the winter, and you can rent a bike from the Pyramid Lake Lodge for $25 CAD per hour, $50 CAD for a half day, or $75 CAD for a whole day.
In terms of trails, there’s the Pyramid Lake Loop or the Pyramid Fire Road to choose from, although the latter is definitely best for experienced riders.
Snowshoeing around Pyramid Lake is a great way to explore the area during winter. You can rent snowshoes from the lodge for $20 CAD per hour or $30 CAD for a full day and hit one of the hiking trails around the park. The Pyramid Lake Loop is a good one to choose because at 5.6 kilometers (3.5 miles) long, it’s not too lengthy and gives you a nice overview of the area, although it is definitely a bit more challenging during the winter.
Horse Carriage Ride
Many people think you must visit Banff in the winter to ride in a horse-drawn sleigh. Not true! You can actually ride in one right here at Pyramid Lake!
Cozying up under a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate as you enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride across a frozen lake is nothing short of heavenly. It’s one of those experiences that feels hand-picked from a Hallmark movie.
This is definitely a must if you’re on a romantic trip in the Rockies or traveling with kids, but to be honest we think that pretty much anyone would enjoy this super wholesome sightseeing experience.
You can catch a carriage ride from the Pyramid Lake Resort every day from mid-December until the New Year, and then every weekend in January and February. It’s $38 CAD per adult, $19 CAD for 6-19 year olds, and $5 CAD for kids aged 5 and under, excluding GST and a 2% tourism fee.
In our opinion, it’s totally worth it because although you can take carriage rides elsewhere in the Rockies during the winter, it’s pretty rare that you get to do so on a frozen lake.
Related Read: A horse-drawn sleigh ride is also one of the best things to do in Banff!
10. How much does it cost to visit Pyramid Lake?
There’s no specific entry fee for Pyramid Lake itself, but you do need a Parks Pass to be inside Jasper National Park. It costs $10.50 CAD per day for adults, $9 CAD for seniors, and free for under 18s. You can also get a group pass for up to 7 people traveling in the same vehicle for $21 CAD per day, so it can actually save you a fair few bucks if you’re visiting with a few other people.
A day pass is valid from the date of purchase until 4 pm the following day, so you can actually get two days’ worth of use out of it as long as you get your timings right.
If you’re going to be spending a few weeks visiting Canada’s national parks, then it’s definitely worth buying a Discovery Pass. This is valid for a whole year and grants you admission to all of the national parks in the country!
A Discovery Pass costs $72.25 CAD for adults or $61.75 CAD for seniors (65 years and over). Again, you can also save money with a group pass, which costs $145.25 CAD for up to 7 adults all traveling in the same car.
On top of your Parks Pass, you’ll also need to budget for any tours you want to do or equipment rentals from the lodge, so bear that in mind.
11. What is the best tour of Pyramid Lake?
We definitely think that this canoeing tour is the best way to experience Pyramid Lake with a guide. It’s a lot of fun and you’ll learn about the area, as well as have lots of chances to spot wildlife. The guides are really friendly and will share lots of local knowledge about the lake and its surrounding peaks, and you’ll get to stop at a beach to snack on freshly baked treats.
There will be a group of 6 in your boat, and at $130 CAD for 3 hours, we think that this tour is really good value for money, since a two-person canoe costs $80 CAD an hour to rent.
12. Can you spend the night at Pyramid Lake?
Yes! The Pyramid Lake Resort is perched right on the edge of the lake and it even has a private beach area. It’s open all year round and there’s free parking on site for guests, which means you don’t need to worry about getting to the lake super early if you’re driving yourself.
Even if you don’t stay here, this is where you’ll need to go to rent activity equipment like canoes, paddle boards, bikes, and ice skates.
Pyramid Lake Resort is a popular hotel, so you should check availability and book well in advance.
13. Should you stay at Pyramid Lake Resort?
Yes! To me, Pyramid Lake Resort is easily one of the best places to stay in Jasper.
It’s right on the lakeshore and even has its own private beach area, as well as a hot tub, gym, and swimming pool for guests. All rooms are also equipped with gas fireplaces, which is perfect if you’re staying in the winter – although it also can get pretty chilly at night during the summer in Jasper, too!
The rooms are super cozy and beautifully decorated with a few lake-themed touches, like decorative oars above the beds. Plus, the rooms have amazing mountain and/or lake views, as do the communal areas. The staff are also super friendly and the on-site restaurant is really good.
But as with any of the beautiful hotels in the Canadian Rockies, Pyramid Lake Resort often is fully booked. If you’re considering staying there, be sure to book your stay online in advance.
14. Are there places to eat at Pyramid Lake?
The only place to eat at Pyramid Lake is The Pines restaurant at the Pyramid Lake Lodge, which is set to reopen in summer 2023. If you’re staying at the lodge, you can also buy sandwiches, salads, and snacks to take out with you from the lobby.
Other than that, the closest restaurants are back in Jasper. Luckily, there are some really tasty restaurants in Jasper to choose from.
Hot Tip: There are some really nice cafes in Jasper that are the perfect stop on your way out to Pyramid Lake. Grab a coffee to go and maybe even a sandwich for a picnic once you get there!
15. Is visiting Pyramid Lake worth it?
Yes, it’s so beautiful at all times of the year, whether you visit in the summer to see Pyramid Mountain reflected in the calm surface of the water or in the winter to see the whole lake frozen over. Plus, it’s really easy to access from Jasper, so you should definitely tick it off while you’re in town. There’s a ton to do here and it’s a lovely place to spend a day relaxing in the Rockies.
Other Activities to do while you’re in Jasper
Jasper National Park is just filled with fun things to do and see! So besides visiting Pyramid Lake, there are a few other activities that we recommend that you check off your to-do list. They are:
- Whitewater rafting – Jasper is one of the best places in Alberta to go whitewater rafting with a few different rivers nearby. For an adrenaline-filled rafting experience complete with class 3 rapids, opt for this rafting tour. It has nearly all 5-star reviews and costs $123 CAD per person. For something a little calmer and family-friendly but just as highly rated, choose this scenic rafting experience for only $85 CAD each.
- Visit Maligne Lake and Spirit Island – Maligne Lake is arguably the most famous lake in Jasper National Park. At Maligne Lake you can hike, canoe on the lake, or eat at a lakeside restaurant. However, the best activity at the lake is this scenic Maligne Lake Cruise which takes you out on the water for the best vantage point. The cruise also takes you to the famous Spirit Island, which is so picture-perfect that you’ve likely seen it on Instagram before.
- Drive the Icefields Parkway – The Icefields Parkway is the super scenic stretch of road that connects Jasper with Lake Louise. There are tons of attractions on the Icefields Parkway including hikes, stunning blue lakes like Peyto Lake, as well as the Columbia Icefield. If you’ve ever wanted to walk on a glacier, you can do that at the Columbia Icefield on this guided hiking tour that takes you onto Athabasca Glacier. If you aren’t much of a hiker, join this bus tour onto the glacier instead – you’ll still stand on the glacier but no hiking is required!
- Explore Maligne Canyon – Located on the edge of Jasper town is the beautiful Maligne Canyon, where you can hike alongside and peer down into the deep canyon. There are also a few bridges you can walk on to really take in the views. In the winter, we highly recommend doing an icewalk in the canyon where you put on ice cleats and explore frozen waterfalls, ice caves, and walk in the middle of the frozen canyon!
Where to Stay near Pyramid Lake in Jasper
As mentioned above, the best place to stay that is closest to Pyramid Lake is the Pyramid Lake Lodge, that sits right on the lake’s edge (talk about a room with a view!) But, naturally, a hotel this beautiful is often fully booked, in which case you’re going to need somewhere else to stay in Jasper.
Here, I’ve handpicked some of my personal favorite hotels in Jasper suitable for any type of traveler with any type of budget!
Jasper Downtown Hostel (Budget Backpackers)
Jasper Downtown Hostel is the best place to stay for those on a tight budget. The central location, shared facilities, and friendly atmosphere makes it a great place to stay. They offer budget dorm beds as well as affordable private rooms.
You can book Jasper Downtown Hostel on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.
Patricia Lake Bungalows (Moderate Budget)
Patricia Lake Bungalows are a great place to stay if you want a comfortable stay for a reasonable price. There are some standard rooms as well as some units with kitchenettes. There is a hot tub on-site as well as a playground for children and the location is close to town, but far enough that it is quiet and relaxing.
You can check prices and book Patricia Lake Bungalows on Booking.com.
Whistlers Inn (Moderate to High Budget)
Whistlers Inn is the perfect place to stay if you are looking for a nice escape right in town and only a short walk from popular bars, restaurants, and attractions in Jasper. They also have a rooftop hot tub (pictured above) – need I say more?
You can check prices and availability on Booking.com.
Renting a Car in Alberta
If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.
Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Travel Insurance is more important than ever right now!
If you’re traveling during these uncertain times, be sure that you have travel insurance!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance when we are going on longer trips. They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $42 USD per 4 weeks!) and even have coverage in case you get that dreaded c-word. The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!)
It’s safe to say that travel insurance has saved us thousands over the years!
Thanks for reading!
As you now know, Pyramid Lake is a super beautiful and special place! Be sure to make the most of your time in Jasper by visiting Pyramid Lake.
While you’re in Jasper, be sure to check out all of our Jasper blogs – there are a ton of them. Some related posts you might find helpful are:
Where to Stay on the Icefields Parkway
16 Things to KNOW Before Riding the Jasper SkyTram
Road Trip Guide to Driving from Edmonton to Jasper