The iconic Banff National Park in Canada is home to many marvelous lakes, and one such famous lake that makes it to everyone’s Canada bucket list is the gorgeous Moraine Lake. Read on to learn more about how you can plan your visit to this splendid lake.
About Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake is a glacially- fed lake nestled in the Valley of Ten Peaks in the heart of Banff National Park. It is situated at an elevation of 1885m and gets its deep turquoise shade because of rock silt deposited from the melting glaciers. Depending on the light reflecting off the rock silt or flour, Moraine Lake can change to different hues of blue color. It has a depth of approximately 50 meters and spans an area of 0.5 km. It is believed that the lake got its name due to a ‘moraine’ (a pile of glacial rocks and boulders) formed by the Wenkchemna Glacier next to the lake.
Why is Moraine Lake famous?
Moraine Lake is one of the most picturesque lakes in Canada and globally. It is one of the most photographed lakes because of its breathtaking beauty, and it was also featured on the back of the Canadian $20 note in 1969 and 1979. Its photo also makes it to several calendars, wallpapers, and screensavers. It is one of the most scenic places to visit in the Canadian mountain town of Banff.
Things to do at Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake offers myriad activities during the summer months. Here is the list of the top adventurous activities that you can indulge in Moraine Lake:
- Canoeing: Canoeing on the lake is one of the favorite activities for tourists. You can rent canoes or carry your canoe, paddleboard, or kayak. The dazzling blue lake surrounded by the magnificent Canadian Rockies and lush greenery is a feast for your eyes.
- Spotting wildlife: While this depends entirely on your luck, Moraine Lake is home to several incredible wildlife, such as grizzly bears, chipmunks, coyotes, moose, marmots, ground squirrels, and pikas.
- Hiking: If you love hiking, Moraine Lake has many hiking trails that offer some of the most enchanting views of the mountain peaks and the lake. The most popular ones are Rockpile Trail, Sentinel Pass, Larch Valley, Eiffel Peak, Paradise Valley, Giant Steps, Tower of Babel, and Consolation Lakes.
- Having a picnic: Lake Moraine is a popular spot for a picnic, and numerous visitors pack their food and have a cheerful time here, enjoying the stunning views with their loved ones.
When is the best time to visit Moraine Lake?
Moraine Lake Road is closed during winter from mid-October to late May-early June as it is frozen. It is used for cross-country skiing during these months. The best time to visit Moraine Lake is from mid-June to the end of August, as the melting glaciers and lake levels tend to peak around the middle of June. The temperatures are also pleasant during these months, and you can enjoy an array of outdoor activities at the lake. It’s a great escape for people living in hot and humid places like Sri Lanka and the UAE.
Should I go to Moraine Lake or Lake Louise first?
Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are two of the most beautiful lakes in Banff National Park. They are situated just 20 min apart by road and you can cover them in one day. However, there are more things to do at Lake Louise, so it is better to visit Moraine Lake first and then spend the rest of the day or a few days exploring Lake Louise. Moraine Lake is also not open throughout the year but when it is accessible, it tends to get very crowded. So, if possible, visit it early in the morning, and then by afternoon, you can proceed to Lake Louise.
How long is the hike to Moraine Lake?
You can walk to Moraine Lake; a 12 km stretch one-way. This is a paved road that passes through the forest area, so on your journey you are wrapped around the giant coniferous trees and mountains.
Hiking is another excellent option if you are up to it. You hike through the Moraine Lake Highline Trail forest following the Moraine Lake Road. The hiking trail begins approximately 2.5 km from the parking lot called as Paradise Valley Trailhead. After a hike of 1 km on the Paradise Valley Trail, you must take a left and follow Moraine Lake Highline Trail to Moraine Lake.
Moraine Lakeshore Trail Hike
Moraine Lakeshore Trail is one of the most popular trails around the lake. It also offers captivating views of the entire lake and the surrounding vistas. It is an easy and flat trail that starts near the canoe docks at the Moraine Lake Lodge, and you walk along the shoreline to the back of the lake. There is a boardwalk at the end of the lake, where gushing water flows from the Wenkchemna. The total hike is approximately 3 km, and you return via the same trail. The entire walk takes around 45 min.
How to get to Moraine Lake
From Banff National Park, it takes around 1 hour to reach Moraine Lake. You will have to drive along the Trans-Canada Highway. You need to exit at Lake Louise and go along Lake Louise Drive. Follow the signs to Moraine Lake for around 14 km. You will reach in about 20 minutes from the exit to the Moraine Lake parking.
1. Is swimming allowed in Moraine Lake?
Though swimming is allowed at Moraine Lake, the average temperature is around 5 degrees Celsius throughout the year, and it is freezing.
2. What are the amenities available at the lake?
Moraine Lake Lodge provides accommodation for people who want to stay near the lake. It also has a cafe called Snowshoe Cafe, serving snacks like sandwiches, quiches, and croissants, and hot beverages like tea and coffee. There is also a gift shop where you can pick up souvenirs and other knick knacks.
3. What is the best time of the day to visit Moraine Lake to avoid crowds?
The best time to visit the lake is in the morning, around 9-10. There are fewer people, and you can see the reflection of the surrounding mountain peaks and trees on the lake.
4. Is Moraine Lake open in winter?
Though the lake is open all year round, the road to the lake is closed in winter due to heavy snow. However, the road is converted into a cross-country ski trail during this time.
5. Is there a fee to visit Moraine Lake?
There is no fee to visit Moraine Lake. However, you must buy a seasonal or annual pass to enter Banff National Park.
Moraine Lake is one of the prized jewels of Canada, and if possible, it is better to spend a couple of days here and soak in the awe-inspiring beauty of this place.