Hemmed in by the dramatic Valley of the Ten Peaks, Banff National Park’s glacier-fed Moraine Lake is renowned for its bright blue-green waters. The surreally vivid color results from light refracting off of tiny glacial rock particles. Stunning Lake Moraine was famously featured on the back of Canada’s $20 bill between 1969 and 1979.
Moraine Lake, one of the most photographed spots in the Canadian Rockies, is a common fixture on sightseeing tours of Banff National Park, Lake Louise, and Yoho National Park. Moraine Lake tours depart from Banff and Calgary, and typically include sightseeing stops at other Alberta beauty spots such as Victoria Glacier, Takakkaw Falls, Lake Louise, and Bow, Emerald, and Peyto lakes. Moraine Lake is also a stop on the hop-on, hop-off Banff bus, which runs between Banff and Lake Louise. Active travelers can opt for a 5.6-mile (9-kilometer) guided hike through Larch Valley, or, in summer, rent a canoe from the Moraine Lake Boathouse and paddle out onto the water.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Moraine Lake is a must-see for photographers and appreciators of natural beauty.
- Wear sturdy shoes, as the lakeside trail can be uneven.
- Bring warm clothes. Even on pleasant summer days, weather patterns here are unpredictable and can change rapidly.
How to Get There
Moraine Lake is about nine miles (14 kilometers) from Lake Louise. Follow Moraine Lake Road, which branches off from Lake Louise Drive. Parking is limited at the site, and finding a spot can take some time. Private shuttles also depart from Lake Louise, while Parks Canada shuttles run from the Lake Louise overflow parking lot from mid-September to mid-October.
When to Get There
Access to Moraine Lake is available from mid-May through mid-October. The lake is fed by glacier melt, and water levels often remain low until late June. Larch tree viewing season, between mid-September and mid-October, is the busiest period. Sunrise is one of the best times for photographs, when the soft, low-angle light shines on the peaks and sightseers are few and far between.
Where to Find the Best Views of Moraine Lake
For views of Lake Moraine that will have you reaching for your camera, follow the 1,150-foot (350-meter) Rockpile Trail. The trail begins at the parking lot, crosses over a bridge, and connects to a series of stone steps. The steps lead up to the top of some glacial rock, from which elevated viewpoints offer sublime lake vistas. Other trails in the vicinity include the 2-mile (3-kilometer) Lakeshore Trail, a relatively easy lakeside route.