Banff National Park – day trip to Moraine Lake

If you are planning a trip to Banff National Park, you must set aside some time to explore Moraine Lake. The pictures I had seen of Moraine Lake were THE reason I chose Alberta as the destination for mine and my husband’s 4-day babymoon.  James was due in October and we arrived in Banff National Park in early September.  Needless to say, Moraine Lake was at the top of my bucket list for this vacation and I was not going to miss it!  Below are some tips for exploring the lake.

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1. Get to Moraine Lake EARLY!

We woke up at the crack of dawn to avoid the crowds but, most importantly, to get a parking spot.  There is only a small parking lot by the lake and that fills up quickly.  So you must get there early.  We spent a few hours enjoying the lake. And by the time we were about to leave (around 10am) there was no parking spots left and a line of cars all the way down the road waiting to grab our parking spot!  Moraine Lake Banff National Park

Moraine Lake

2. Moraine lake is NOT walking distance from Lake Louise.

We were staying at a lodge near Lake Louise. The drive from there to Moraine Lake is about 1 hour and 10 minutes, so plan ahead!  I also remember hearing that the road (there is only 1 road) is not open all year round due to weather conditions. We went in early September and had no problems.

Moraine Lake

3. For the Best View, hike to the top of Rock Pile Trail

From the parking lot, you will go straight to the first viewing point which is at the bottom of the lake. But the best view is at the top of the trail on Rock Pile.  Now, you can’t miss Rock Pile.  It is exactly what you would expect it to be….a pile of rocks.  When standing at the first viewpoint of the lake, walk to your left and at the bottom of the left side of the pile of rocks there is a somewhat hidden entry to the trail that leads you to the top.

Rock Pile Moraine Lake

We were lucky to have been there on a partly cloudy day.  This made the blue water all the more outstanding.

Moraine Lake Banff National Park

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake

Walking back down rock pile trail

One might think that hiking in purple rain boots might be odd.  But these wellies (click to get your own) were very comfortable and the weather was so unpredictable that, more often than not, they came in quite handy.

4. Take a Canoe out onto Moraine lake!

After spending some time on the hill, we decided to take a canoe out on the water.  Near the restaurant by the lake there is a canoe rental company that charged us $50 for an hour.  We decided to go ahead and spring for it and I’m so glad we did.  You definitely get a different perspective from being on the water.

Even with my high expectations for this lake, I was still blown away by its beauty.  They say it is one of Canada’s most photographed locations and I completely understand why.  Fun fact: the view of the mountains behind the lake, “the valley of the Ten Peaks,” is known as the Twenty Dollar View as it used to be on Canada’s twenty dollar bill.

If I had to pick my favorite of all the lakes we saw during our Banff National Park road trip, Moraine Lake would be it!  Although Peyto Lake was a VERY VERY close second. Click here for my post with tips on viewing Peyto Lake.  It’s one you MUST add to your list while in Alberta!

Happy and Safe Travels!

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