Moraine Lake is a glacially fed lake and is known for its insane picturesque views. It was featured on the 1969 and 1979 Canadian $20 bill and is one of Canada’s most photographed locations. It sits in the Valley of the Ten Peaks so not only do you get the pristine blue water, but you also get the dramatic Canadian Rockies as its backdrop.
Just hiking Moraine Lake alone is an adventure but after finding out you could also rent canoes there, I made sure I didn’t leave Canada without crossing that off my bucket list. You can also rent canoes at nearby Lake Louise but since Moraine Lake is smaller in size and less crowded (which is still crowded), I opted for the more intimate experience.
From the town of Banff, Moraine Lake (and Lake Louise) is an hour drive north. We arrived at the lake around 8:30 in the morning and the parking lot itself was already full, but we were lucky enough to find road side parking. Unlike some lakes/hikes, road side parking at Moraine Lake is limited. The road that leads you to the lake is super windy which doesn’t leave a lot of room for parking. My advice, get there super early (that’s my advice for pretty much anything). Once the parking lot gets full and all the road side parking is gone, they close off the road to the lake and you are stuck either waiting it out until the evening or taking a $20/person shuttle. You could also head to Lake Louise instead, they have a free shuttle which is better than $20.00.
Before our trip, I read online that the canoe rental shop didn’t open until 10:00. Since we had an hour and a half to burn, we hiked around the lake for a bit. Once we made our way back, I noticed a line had already started to form at the canoe rental. I immediately jumped in line. Turns out, they open at 9:30… so much for the internet. While standing in line, I started talking to the guy next to me and his friends. They tried getting to Moraine Lake two afternoons in a row and both times, the road to the lake was closed. I guess they learned their lesson on day 3.
1 Moraine Lake Road
Come early and don’t forget your camera!