It is named after James Hector, a geologist and naturalist with the Palliser Expedition.
The lake is formed in a valley of the Waputik Range, north of the Waputik Icefield, between Pulpit Peak, Mount Balfour, Crowfoot Mountain and Bow Peak. Hector Glacier and Mount Hector rise on the opposite side of the Bow River.
Hector Lake is one of the lakes that line the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, other such lakes being Bow Lake, Lake Louise, Peyto Lake, Mistaya Lake, Waterfowl Lakes, Chephren Lake and Sunwapta Lake.
Hector Lake is the second lake from the headwaters of Bow River, the first one being Bow Lake, and has a total area of 5.23 km2 (2.02 sq mi).
Banff National Park (pronunciation: //) is Canada's oldest national park, established in 1885 in the Rocky Mountains. The park, located 110–180 km (68–110 mi) west of Calgary in the province of Alberta, encompasses 6,641 km2 (2,564 sq mi) of mountainous terrain, with numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. The Icefields Parkway extends from Lake Louise, connecting to Jasper National Park in the north. Provincial forests and Yoho National Park are neighbours to the west, while Kootenay National Park is located to the south and Kananaskis Country to the southeast. The main commercial centre of the park is the town of Banff, in the Bow River valley.