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Moraine Lake

Canoeing Moraine Lake Banff National Park Jake Dyson

Moraine Lake

Its waters are the most amazing colour, a vivid shade of turquoise that changes in intensity through the summer as the glaciers melt. Set in the rugged Valley of the Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake is surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, and rock piles, creating a scene so stunning it almost seems unreal. Sit lakeside and absorb the sights and pure mountain air, or explore further by canoeing and hiking. It’s an iconically jaw-dropping place that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Moraine Lake is 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) southeast of the hamlet of Lake Louise. Glacier-fed, its brilliant blue-green colour is a result of light refracting off the rock flour (fine particles of rock) in the glacier run-off which flows into the lake. At an elevation of 1,885 metres (6,183 feet), the lake does not begin to melt until June. Water levels, and its vibrant colour, peak in late June.  

There are several hikes around the lake ranging from accessible walks to more strenuous hikes. The Rockpile Trail is an easy and short path with switchbacks along the back of the moraine to the top of the natural dam. The vista from the top is known as the “Twenty Dollar View”, as the scene featured on the back of Canadian twenty dollar bills issued between 1969 and 1979. 

  • Cross Country Skiing, Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, AB
  • Photographer at Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta

Venturing further afield offers solitude from the crowds and a different perspective of the lake and its craggy surrounds. Other trails to explore include Moraine Lake Lakeshore Trail, Eiffel Lake, Wenkchemna Pass, Larch Valley, and Sentinel Pass. In the fall the larches light up in rich shades of yellow, gold, and orange and paint a surreal backdrop for a hike.

During times of high grizzly bear activity there are hiking restrictions in place for many of the trails in the Moraine Lake area. Learn more from the Parks Canada website.

It can and will take your breath away more than once. – Patricia Weaver

During the winter, cross-country skiers can take a 15-kilometre (9.3-mile) invigorating adventure to the end of the road and back. Parks Canada sets tracks for skiing which end at the viewpoint for the Consolation Valley and Ten Peaks. Access to the lake itself is not permitted during the winter due to the high avalanche risk from November to late April.

Getting to Moraine Lake

From Lake Louise Village, located just off the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1), drive uphill on Lake Louise Drive until you see the access road for Moraine Lake on your left. Follow the winding road for 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) to the parking area. The road to Moraine Lake and the parking lot can be very busy during the summer and in late September. 

Consider taking the seasonally available shuttle to Moraine Lake. For up-to-date shuttle information, visit the shuttle to Moraine Lake page. 

The road to Moraine Lake is closed during the winter due to heavy snowfall and high avalanche risk. Depending on the conditions, the road opens sometime between the third week of May and the first week of June and closes in October after the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend (the second Monday in October). 

Plan Your Stay

Browse and book accommodation and lodging packages with our trip planning tool. To learn about the different types of accommodation available in Banff and Lake Louise, visit our Places to Stay page or Contact Us to speak to a local expert.