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Moraine Lake Travel Guide Banff National Park

Published Date
Mar 26, 2024|
Themes
Adventure, Nature & Wildlife
A turquoise lake surrounded by large, snow-capped mountain peaks and tall green trees

Moraine Lake's reputation as a world-class natural wonder makes sense when you're standing at the lakeshore, gazing out at brilliant blue waters and reflections of surrounding peaks. What makes this place even more special is that it can only be accessed for a short time each year (June to early October)—so make the most of every moment here by planning your day in advance.

How to Get to Moraine Lake in Summer

Before deciding how to spend the day exploring Moraine Lake, it's essential to work out how you'll get there first. As of summer 2023, you can't drive personal vehicles up Moraine Lake Road at any time of day. This means you must hike, bike, take a shuttle or transit, or go on a tour.

Sightseeing Tours to Moraine Lake

Shuttle Options for Getting to Moraine Lake

Parks Canada Moraine Lake Shuttle Reservations

Parks Canada shuttles to Moraine Lake depart regularly from the Lake Louise Summer Gondola parking lot. The shuttle operates from June 1 to October 14, 2024 and it is recommended that you book your shuttle in advance. 2024 Moraine Lake shuttle bookings open on April 18, 2024, for the season. Some shuttle tickets are released 48 hours before departure time, so ensure to check two days before your planned trip to Moraine Lake.

Join a Guided Sightseeing Tour to See Moraine Lake

Take a guided sightseeing tour, and you'll enjoy a relaxing visit to Moraine Lake as well as other iconic Banff National Park locations. You are guaranteed to see iconic spots like Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Peyto Lake, Morant's Curve, and the best non-hiking viewpoints in Banff and Lake Louise. Please check with your tour provider for where exactly the tour will go.

These tour operators offer trips that go to Moraine Lake:

Sunrise at Moraine Lake

Sunrise is a special time of day to see Moraine Lake. There are a few options to see sunrise at Moraine Lake. You can hop on a shuttle between 4 and 5 am from the Moraine Lake Bus Company , get a ride with Fairview Limousine, or take a sunrise tour with Radventures to guarantee you can see the alpenglow as it cascades down the Valley of the Ten Peaks.

New for 2024, Parks Canada is offering its Alpine Start service, which departs the Lake Louise parking lot at 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. to get you to Moraine Lake early in the day.

Two people sit watching sunrise at Moraine Lake with orange hues touching the mountain tops in Banff National Park.Two people sit watching sunrise at Moraine Lake with orange hues touching the mountain tops in Banff National Park.Two people sit watching sunrise at Moraine Lake with orange hues touching the mountain tops in Banff National Park.

Roam Public Transit to Moraine Lake

All-Season: Route 8X - Banff to Lake Louise, then use the Lake Connector bus

Fall only: Route 10 direct to Moraine Lake

To get to Moraine Lake on public transit during the summer, you will need to book onto the Lake Louise 8X route with a pre-reserved Super Pass and take the Lake Connector to and from the bus stop in Lake Louise. The 8X departs from the Banff High School Transit stop.

Roam Transit operates Route 10, a direct-to-Moraine Lake service, during the fall season. Dates vary by year but typically begin in mid-September. Please check directly with Roam Transit for service times. Due to the popularity of this service, reservations are highly recommended.

Two people in front of the Roam Public Transit bus at Moraine Lake on a sunny fall day in Banff National Park.Two people in front of the Roam Public Transit bus at Moraine Lake on a sunny fall day in Banff National Park.Two people in front of the Roam Public Transit bus at Moraine Lake on a sunny fall day in Banff National Park.

Moraine Lake Shuttle Reservations

  • Moraine Lake Bus Company
  • Mountain Park Transportation
  • Fairview Limousine
  • Lake Louise Ski Resort & Summer Gondola (package with gondola visit)

Moraine Lake Bus Company and Fairview Limousine offer multiple shuttles daily from June to October, with various pickup points available in Lake Louise.

Mountain Park Transportation offers shuttles from Banff town with a stop at Lake Louise and Moraine lake.

You can make a full day adventure of your time here by also visiting the Lake Louise Ski Resort & Summer Gondola and taking advantage of their special gondola and shuttle package.

Bring your Dog to Moraine Lake

If you plan on bringing your dog with you to Moraine Lake this summer, there are a few dog-friendly shuttle options to get up to the lake.

The Parks Canada Shuttles , Moraine Lake Bus Company Mountain Park Transportation, and Roam Public Transit can accommodate service animals and pets in a small crate that can fit on your lap.

Fairview Limousine is able to accommodate well-behaved dogs, and an extra fee may apply.

Please reach out to companies directly to fully understand their pet policies.

Dogs are welcome at Moraine Lake but must follow all of Parks Canada's regulations, including remaining on leash.

Top Things to Do at Moraine Lake

To start, just walk up to the lake shore and take in the lake and the towering Valley of the Ten Peaks. This is the perfect way to begin your trip to Moraine Lake.

For the classic and iconic view of the lake, head up the Rockpile. The trail is short, has stairs to the top and starts on the east side of the parking lot. From here, you will get slightly above the lake and be able to fully see the surrounding peaks and the turquoise waters. The ecosystem around here is fragile, so please stay on the paths.

Guided Hiking at Moraine Lake

Taking a guided hiking experience at Moraine Lake is the perfect way to find a great trail. We guarantee you'll get to hike at Moraine Lake and learn about the local flora, fauna, and history. Guides in Banff and Lake Louise are full of local knowledge and special tips, as well as highly trained. If you are looking for something specific, please reach out to each company.

Local guided hiking companies offering trips to Moraine Lake:

  • Yamnuska Mountain Adventures
  • Discover Banff Tours
  • Banff Hiking Company
  • White Mountain Adventures
A guided sightseeing experience in Larch Valley with a group of hikers in Banff National Park on a sunny fall day.A guided sightseeing experience in Larch Valley with a group of hikers in Banff National Park on a sunny fall day.A guided sightseeing experience in Larch Valley with a group of hikers in Banff National Park on a sunny fall day.

The Best Hikes at Moraine Lake

  • Moraine Lake Lakeshore
  • Consolation Lakes
  • Larch Valley
  • Sentinel Pass

Moraine Lake Lakeshore Hike

Length: 5.1 Km round trip

Elevation: Minimal

Starting Point: Moraine Lake Parking Lot

The Lakeshore Hike at Moraine Lake is the perfect path for most explorers. You can go all the way to the small waterfall at the back of the lake or turn around wherever you like. All while experiencing Moraine Lake's glistening turquoise waters and the towering mountain peaks.

Heading to the back of the lake and back to the shuttle parking is about 5.1 km with minimal elevation gain. While the path is mostly flat, it is not paved the whole way.

Two friends walk along the lakeshore at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park on a cloudy afternoon with mountains behind them.Two friends walk along the lakeshore at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park on a cloudy afternoon with mountains behind them.Two friends walk along the lakeshore at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park on a cloudy afternoon with mountains behind them.

Moraine Lake Rockpile Trail

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1 km round trip

Elevation gain: 10 m

Hiking time: 10 minutes (but plan for more to take in the view)

Trailhead: The trail is near the bathrooms on the East side of the parking lot. Follow the signage from the parking lot.

Aptly named the Rockpile Trail is a pile of rocks pushed together at the north end of the lake near the parking lot. This short and quick hike leads to the iconic Moraine Lake view, where the 10 peaks tower over the lake, and you can see the glistening turquoise colour from above.

Moraine Lake on a blue bird day as seen from the rockpile trail in Banff National Park.Moraine Lake on a blue bird day as seen from the rockpile trail in Banff National Park.Moraine Lake on a blue bird day as seen from the rockpile trail in Banff National Park.

Consolation Lakes Hike

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 2.9 km one way

Elevation gain: 65 m

Hiking Time: 2 hour round trip

Trailhead: Head towards the Rockpile hike from the parking lot and follow the signage towards Consolation Lakes at the fork before heading up the Rockpile.

Consolation Lakes is the perfect trail to immerse yourself in awe-striking scenery without putting in too much effort. The trail takes about an hour with minimal elevation gain. Be aware of potential trail restrictions due to bear activity - at certain times of the year, you will be required to hike in groups of 4 or more to see this beautiful lake.

A photo of a clear lake reflecting the trees, snow-capped mountains, and rock formations surrounding itA photo of a clear lake reflecting the trees, snow-capped mountains, and rock formations surrounding itA photo of a clear lake reflecting the trees, snow-capped mountains, and rock formations surrounding it

Larch Valley Hike

Difficulty: Moderate

Length: 8.5 km round trip

Elevation gain: 535 m

Hiking time: 3 - 4 hour round trip

Trailhead: Head south from the parking lot on the west side of Moraine Lake. Follow the trail until you see signage and a path on your right for Larch Valley.

If you're up for a challenge, head up the Larch Valley trail. You'll walk through a forest of larch trees (that turn golden in the fall for a short time) and can admire mountain reflections on Minnestimma Lakes at the top of the valley. The hike is strenuous, with over 500 meters of elevation gain in just 3.5 km. In total, the hike is about 8.5 km to Minnestimma Lakes and back, so expect to be on the trail for 3-4 hours.

Mountains are reflected in a clear blue lake along a stunning hiking trailMountains are reflected in a clear blue lake along a stunning hiking trailMountains are reflected in a clear blue lake along a stunning hiking trail

Sentinel Pass

Difficulty: Difficult

Length: 11.5 km round trip

Elevation gain: 762 m

Hiking time: 5-6 hour round trip

Trailhead: Take the Larch Valley hike to the pass past Minnestimma Lakes.

At the back of Larch Valley, you can head up Sentinel Pass. The top of Sentinel Pass gives you the perfect view of the Valley of the Ten Peaks and the forest of larch trees stretched out below.

The pass is a steep challenge, with 300 meters of elevation gain in 2 km. To head there, pass the lakes at the end of Larch Valley and follow the trail. Expect this to add an additional 1-2 hours to your hike from Larch Valley.

From the top, you peer into Paradise Valley, which connects you to Saddleback Pass and down into Lake Louise with a challenging 20+ km hike.

Two people walk up Sentinel Pass in Larch Valley near Moraine Lake on a bluebird day in Banff National Park.Two people walk up Sentinel Pass in Larch Valley near Moraine Lake on a bluebird day in Banff National Park.Two people walk up Sentinel Pass in Larch Valley near Moraine Lake on a bluebird day in Banff National Park.

Moraine Lake in the Fall

Visit during fall for a unique chance to see larch trees decorate the trails in stunning golden hues. This is a unique opportunity to walk through a golden forest with spectacular colours.

Roam Transit's exclusive fall service is a great way to access Moraine Lake during this popular hiking season. Roam Transit runs a bus directly from Banff to Moraine Lake just for larch season.

A guided hike could be the perfect addition to your itinerary for those just beginning their love for hiking or simply looking to get the most out of the trails. White Mountain Adventures and Great Divide Nature Interpretation offer daily private hikes for all levels of adventurers.

However you choose to hike in this spectacular area, do your part to preserve its precious landscape by keeping on marked pathways.

A family explores next to a lakeshore as they look through stationary binocularsA family explores next to a lakeshore as they look through stationary binocularsA family explores next to a lakeshore as they look through stationary binoculars

Preparing for a Visit To Moraine Lake

Getting to Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake Road is closed to personal vehicles. Your options for accessing the lake include:

  • Taking a guided tour/sightseeing tour
  • Booking a shuttle service
  • Walking the road (not recommended due to the prevalence of vehicles and the narrow winding road)
  • Biking the road (not recommended due to the prevalence of vehicles and the narrow winding road)

Preparing for a Hike at Moraine Lake

Items to Bring on a Hike at Moraine Lake:

  • Water & Food
  • Bear Spray
  • Good quality hiking boots/shoes
  • Lightweight Jacket

Remember to pack essentials like bear spray and snacks before heading to the lake since stores are limited when you arrive. Banff is home to various stores and cafes, while the Samson Mall in Lake Louise is the perfect place to pick up ready-made lunches and grocery items closer to the lakeshore.

It's hard to believe that the scenery gets better than standing at the lakeshore or top of the Rockpile viewpoint, but the real magic happens when you venture to the back of the lake and beyond.

Visit Lake Louise on the Same Day

Banff and Lake Louise's shuttle and sightseeing tour providers can provide access to Lake Louise on the same day you visit Moraine Lake. If you are on a Parks Canada or Roam Transit shuttle, you can take the Lake Connector bus between Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Sightseeing tours can also take you to some of the park's best views, including Lake Louise. Please check with your sightseeing tour provider where your tour will take you.

A Discover Banff Tours guide takes a photo of a person at Lake Louise in Banff National Park.A Discover Banff Tours guide takes a photo of a person at Lake Louise in Banff National Park.A Discover Banff Tours guide takes a photo of a person at Lake Louise in Banff National Park.

There are countless ways to make the most of your mountain summer at Moraine Lake. Plan your day ahead of time to enjoy a seamless experience and soak up every moment discovering its breathtaking beauty.

Ready to make the most of your visit to Moraine Lake? Use our Trip Planner to help you create the perfect itinerary for your getaway!

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Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

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