After exploring Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, we started calling it “The Lake that has it all”. It has everything you could ask for!
To get to Moraine Lake, the narrow road winds up to 6,183 feet, from the Lake Louise village straight to the Valley of Ten Peaks. When approaching the lake, it feels like the cliffs are so close that they are literally hanging above you!
Time to explore: 2-3 hours or more.
Parking: Limited. The best option is to reserve a seat at the local shuttle bus.
Explore Moraine Lake
1. Fun facts about the lake
Moraine Lake, surrounded by the Valley of Ten peaks, is so impressive that it was featured on the Canadian 20 dollar bill for 10 years (1969-1979). It isn’t as popular as Lake Louise, but it’s surely even more scenic and has one of the most beautiful views in Canada.
2. How to see beautiful Moraine Lake colors
Glacier-fed, Moraine Lake thaws only in June, exposing its stunning color: the sunlight reflects of powdered rock flour suspended in water and gives the lake its glowing turquoise color:
Come on a sunny, clear day. During overcast weather, the water in the lake looks pretty ordinary.
3. What is so special about Moraine Lake
For us, Moraine Lake became one of the most beloved places in Banff. It has everything we could ask for:
- An easy hike to the overlook where you will get the best possible views;
- Shade to hide from the midday heat;
- Mountains that are so close, you can even see small pebbles on them!
- Canoe rentals;
- A cafe and a restaurant with beautiful views of the lake.
Moraine Lake felt very cozy (it’s not as open-spaced as Lake Louise or Bow Lake). You can enjoy the views from the shore as well as from atop without a ton of effort. Everything is very close: lots of greenery, plenty of shade, benches, the cafe with outside seating, the restaurant.
The paths are stroller friendly, the shallow water is easy to enter for kids to wade, there is plenty of space to roam freely. Moraine Lake has it all and it cannot be missed!
4. Activities at Moraine Lake
Make sure you hike the “Rockpile trail“. This huge pile of rocks will be the first thing you notice while approaching the lake from the parking lot. Bring a baby carrier, the stroller won’t pass there due to some stairs and stones.
This out-and-back trail is only 0.5 miles long, good for all skill levels, and manageable for small children. Our “very tired” 8 y.o. did this hike 3 or 4 times, so excited he was of jumping from boulder to boulder all the way to the top.
This is the best way to experience Moraine Lake: the Valley of Ten Peaks and the lake are right in front of you:
Another great option is Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail. It will get you away from the crowds, no elevation gain, 1.8 miles, super easy. Bring a carrier instead of a stroller if you have a baby.
Have a Lunch or Dinner at Moraine Lake Restaurant/Cafe
While we didn’t see any picnic tables around the lake, there are some benches at the lake and plenty of outdoor seating at the cafe. The restaurant had a great location, with a floor to ceiling windows overlooking a lush green area. The menu looked pricy but yummy :).
At 7 PM, there were only 3-4 couples in the entire restaurant when we were there.
To explore Lake Moraine further, rent a canoe (more likely they will close at 5 PM). Or bring your own canoe/kayak, at no charge (there is no boat launch, but parking is very close to the water). Canoe riding is a great escape from the crowds and the scenery is breathtaking!
Explore Lake Moraine. Good to know
- Time to spend at the Lake: from an hour to a half-day.
- Parking: reserve a seat at the Shuttle bus.
- Beware of mosquitoes. Don’t forget mosquito repellent and try to wear long sleeves and long pants.
- Take swimsuits for kids: more likely they will want to splash on a hot day; picnic blanket, quick-dry towel.
- Make sure you have a water bottle, snacks, sunscreen, and sunhat.
- Always check out trail conditions, hours, fees, etc. before you go.
Thanks for reading and have fun!
Emerald Lake, Peyto Lake, Lake Louise, Johnston Canyon;
Planning a Great Trip To the Canadian Rockies: All You Need To Know Before You Go.