Lake Minnewanka

An underwater ghost town is hidden 60 feet beneath Lake Minnewanka in Banff

Ringed by towering evergreen trees and nestled on the eastern edge of Banff National Park, the beautiful and pristine Lake Minnewanka draws hundreds of visitors each year. But not everyone who visits this lake know of its secret, hidden 60-feet below its surface.

This seemingly standard body of water hides an entire underwater ghost town. The area, before it was flooded, was home to a bustling lakeside resort town called Minnewanka Landing. The town can now only be visited with scuba gear.

The summer village located at the base of the Canadian Rockies had lured in vacationers for years, beginning in the 1880s with the completion of the main hotel constructed out of logs.

Over the years the town grew to include four avenues, three streets, dozens of cottages, hotels and restaurants, and multiple sail boats that would take guests on excursions around the much smaller original lake.

In 1912 a portion of Minnewanka Landing was flooded due to the construction of a new dam for a nearby hydroelectric plant. Then, in 1941, another dam was built, raising water levels by 98 feet and completely submerging Minnewanka Landing.

Now all that can really be seen is Lake Minnewanka, but the remnants of Minnewanka Landing can still be found and explored beneath the body of water.

The glacier-fed and icy waters of the lake have fortunately preserved the town well. Scuba divers have the opportunity to see actual cottages, complete with intact windows, remnants of the old hotel, and wharves. Even the footings from the two different dams remain visible. 

Underneath the surface, scuba divers can also see a native campsite from thousands of years ago, with spear points and arrowheads found more recently. 

Above Minnewanka Landing, the lake continues to be a favourite spot for kayaking adventures in the summertime and ice skating in the winter.

Lead photo by

erisaavedrachannel


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