Surrounded by the dramatic Valley of the Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake has to be one of the most photographed spots in Canada. The iconic blue lake is like a giant bathtub, filling up with melted glacier water in early summer until it reaches its apex in mid to late June. But why is Moraine Lake so vividly blue? That’ll be the refraction of light off the glacial rock flour (tiny particles) in the lake.
Featured in countless National Geographic issue as well as on Canada’s $20 bill from 1969 to 1979, Moraine Lake and its backdrop of snowcapped peaks is world-famous. Half the size of Lake Louise but perhaps even more picturesque, the lake is best seen at sunrise or sunset, when the surrounding mountains are colored pink and reflected in Moraine’s cool blue waters. The main viewpoint is from the shoreline Rockpile trail, which makes a great route for a gentle stroll. If you fancy getting out and about on those icy waters, canoes are available to rent at the Moraine Lake Boathouse.
Nine miles from Lake Louise, Moraine Lake can be reached via Moraine Lake Road. As Moraine Lake is 1,885 meters above sea level and in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, snow and ice limit the road to being open only from June until early October. In the winter months, however, visitors can cross-country ski along Moraine Lake Road. There are no campsites in the area, but there is an upmarket hotel to stay in at Moraine Lake Lodge.