Ghost towns are popular above water attractions, but how about an underwater version? Look no further than Canada’s Lake Minnewanka. Located within Alberta’s Banff National Park, this seemingly ordinary lake conceals a secret: a completely submerged ghost town.
Established in 1888, the resort village of Lake Minnewanka was a summer resort-of-sorts for people living near Calgary. After construction of the first hotel called the Beach House, the small lodging grew into bustling hamlet of Minnewanka Landing, complete with cottages, hotels, restaurants and lake tours aboard cruise boats.
Unfortunately, the good times didn’t last. In 1912, a portion of Minnewanka Landing was flooded due to the construction of a new dam for a nearby hydroelectric plant. When a new dam was constructed in 1941, water levels rose by 98 feet, completely submerging Minnewanka Landing.
Today, the remnants of Minnewanka Landing can be explored beneath the lake. The old town’s buildings have been well preserved by the frigid waters and with scuba gear, one can literally swim into the hotels and houses. Each year, some, 8,000 scuba divers visit the lake to do just that.
Visibility fluctuates depending on the time of year and the number of divers at the site. Dives vary in depth from 12m to more than 25m and varies according to the time of year
Although no local operators provide scuba tours, several Calgary dive shops offer organized trips to Lake Minnewanka, as well as providing equipment rentals.
A comprehensive guide to the various dive sites can be found at the Parks Canada website at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/plonge-diving/sites-minnewanka