Laguna Yahuarcocha is a popular destination for people from Ibarra and the surrounding area on weekends. It is about 3 kilometers north of Ibarra. Recreational opportunities include paddle boating, biking, hiking, night-clubbing, dining, overnight lodging and car races. There are two race tracks circling the lake shore.
Picturesque expanses of totora reeds line the lake along the shoreline. Locals harvest and dry them, then weave them into large mats called esteras.
Not many would suspect the dark historical past that once turned the lake red with blood as natives from several villages battled to prevent the Inca from conquering the area. This battle earned the lake the name Yahuarcocha, which means “lake of blood” in Quechua. Legends say that the Inca Huayna Capac gained his revenge for local resistance by slaughtering all of the Caranqui men who were older than twelve years. He then ordered their bodies dumped into the lake.