By Katie May
Moraine Lake is one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in Canada, located in Banff National Park. With its azure waters mirroring the towering peaks that surround it, Moraine Lake is a destination that beckons travelers seeking an enchanting escape. Embark on an unforgettable journey with our ultimate Moraine Lake travel guide, where we unravel the secrets of this breathtaking wilderness haven.
Your ultimate travel guide to visiting Moraine Lake
Where Is Moraine Lake Located In Canada?
Moraine Lake is located in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. The lake is roughly 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) from the local town of Lake Louise. Moraine Lake is a glacially-fed lake surrounded by the Valley of the Ten Peaks that reaches its turquoise peak during the summer months when glacier meltwater rushes into its basin.
How To Get To Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake's parking issues have become worse, not better, with each passing year. As a result, Parks Canada prohibited all personal cars from using the route beginning in 2023. The Park & Ride shuttle is the best way for most people to see the lake.
Hike or Bike to Moraine Lake
Despite bus traffic and the hard, largely steep, and windy terrain, riding to Moraine Lake is easier in June, July, and August. Because of the limited shoulder, proceed with caution. Biking is ideal between late May and early October (dates vary), when the route is closed to all cars. This time of year is also perfect for trekking. However, you'll have to use the road because there is no dedicated hiking route.
Riding a bike through the mountains in Banff National Park
Parks Canada Shuttle to Moraine Lake
- Parks Canada offers a shuttle bus to Moraine Lake for people to visit.
- From June to October, the shuttle service is available.
- To utilize the shuttle, you must first secure a place on the Parks Canada website.
- The van will meet you at Lake Louise Ski Resort. You cannot park at the Lake Louise shoreline and then ride the shuttle to Moraine Lake.
- There is a connection that will pick you up at the Lake Louise Campground and take you to the Park and Ride at the Ski Resort if you are staying there.
Roam Transit (Public Bus)
Another way to travel to Moraine Lake is to use the ROAM Transit public transportation bus. This route will take you from Banff to the Lake via Lake Louise Drive and Moraine Lake Road.
- This service only runs in the fall (mid-September to mid-October) during the larch season to Moraine Lake (although there is a bus that travels all year to Lake Louise).
- This option is not available in the spring or summer.
- The bus to Lake Louise runs all year.
Public shuttle bus in the town of Banff
The last option for getting to Moraine Lake is to book a trip with a business. Moraine Lake is served by a number of tour companies, including:
- WowBanff Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are accessible by open-top bus.
- Banff Hop on/Off Tour Bus
- There are various trips that stop at Moraine Lake, but many just allow you half an hour to explore the lake; unless you're in a hurry, I'd recommend a lengthier stop!
- Mountain Park Transportation also operates a shuttle to Moraine Lake, which departs from a few Banff hotels. If this is your preferred choice, make a reservation in advance.
Top Things To Do In Moraine Lake
1. Catch the Sunrise at The Rockpile Overlook
The Rockpile Trail is one of the top things to do around Moraine Lake, offering spectacular views, particularly during sunrise and sunset. A well-trodden walking path takes you to the peak, attracting numerous photographers throughout the day. While we encourage everyone to savor the Rockpile's breathtaking vista, be prepared for crowds as it's a popular spot. For a more secluded experience, consider venturing further along the trail or exploring the lake by boat.
2. Walk the Moraine Lake Lakeshore
This level track wraps around Moraine Lake and is one of the more accessible walks in the area. The Moraine Lake Lakeshore walk begins near the canoe docks and travels around the lake, weaving in and out of the forest. The path runs 5.15 km out and back, and although it is simple with minimal elevation rise, it receives significantly fewer tourists than the Rockpile hike. The trail concludes with a boardwalk beside the rivers pouring down from Wenkchemna Pass.
Walk the Moraine Lake Lakeshore
3. Wildlife Watching at Lake Moraine
Elk, deer, bears, and mountain goats are among the animals that call Moraine Lake home. If you enjoy animal watching, you must schedule this fantastic wildlife excursion. Bring binoculars as well as a camera with a decent zoom lens! A 70-140mm focal length is suitable. A trained guide will accompany you the entire time on this wildlife-watching excursion and will know where to look and what to look for! A fantastic way for the entire family to enjoy the beautiful outdoors.
4. Go Canoeing on Lake Moraine Banff
With its crystal clear waters and magnificent surroundings, canoeing is the best method to discover the lake in a unique and serene manner. Rent a boat and spend the afternoon paddling around the lake, taking in the breathtaking scenery! You are welcome to bring your own canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard or to rent one at the Moraine Lake Lodge canoe docks.
Canoes on a jetty at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park
5. Hike to Lake Louise
The 20-kilometer Paradise Valley path connects Lake Louise with Moraine Lake. It's best to start at Moraine Lake and go up to Sentinel Pass before descending to Paradise Valley. The height climb happens on a well-worn path to Sentinel Pass, followed by a steep scree trail descent to Paradise Valley. The trip includes beautiful larches, Mount Temple vistas, and a lunch stop at Annette Lake. Use the Parks Canada Shuttle for this point-to-point walk for convenience.
Where To Stay Around Moraine Lake?
There are a couple of options for where to stay in the Moraine Lake area:
- Moraine Lake Lodge: A more expensive (but beautiful) option, this hotel sits right on the Moraine Lake lakeshore.
- Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: Lake Louise is quite close to Lake Moraine, and this is another luxury option for those looking to stay on the shore of another iconic Canadian lake.
- Lake Louise Campground: This is the closest campground to the lakes, and access to the Parks Canada Shuttle is free if you choose to camp here.
- Paradise Lodge and Bungalows: This hotel is on the road leading up to both Moraine Lake and Lake Louise and is another option for those who want to stay nearby (although it is not within walking distance of Moraine Lake unless you want to go a major hike up the road – 2.5 hours one way). It is about 15 minutes walking distance to Lake Louise.
- Banff or Canmore: Another option is to stay in the Town of Banff or the Town of Canmore. Although neither of these is particularly close (about 2 hours from either place), sometimes it’s your only option.
Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park
Moraine Lake is not just a destination; it's a canvas painted by nature's finest strokes. This Moraine Lake travel guide serves as a compass, guiding you through the best ways to experience this iconic destination while promoting responsible tourism. Whether you're seeking adventure, tranquility, or a glimpse of untamed beauty, Moraine Lake tourism invites you to step into its embrace and create memories that will last a lifetime.