Moraine Lake.

©Justin Foulkes/Lonely Planet

Moraine Lake

Top choice in Lake Louise

Why you should go 

The spectacular, deep teal waters of Moraine Lake are one of Banff National Park’s most iconic sights. The lake’s rugged and remote setting in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, accessed via a narrow winding road, only add to its allure. Many visitors actually prefer Moraine Lake to the more famous Lake Louise–so many, in fact, that the lake no longer allows public access. You'll need to schedule a shuttle ride to reach it.

At the eastern end of the lake is the Moraine Lake Rockpile, a massive heap of boulders of somewhat uncertain origin. Some geologists think it was created by an ancient avalanche, while others believe it was formed by the long-gone glacier that carved out the rest of the valley. A paved trail leads up to a series of viewpoints at the top of the rockpile, offering a panoramic vista across the lake and the Wenkchemna Peaks beyond. 

A part-paved trail leads off around the lake’s northern shore, linking up with the branch trail to Larch Valley and Eiffel Lake. Another trail leads southeast from the rockpile to Consolation Lakes.

Alternatively, you can explore the lake in the manner of the old voyageurs by hiring a canoe from the boathouse next to Moraine Lake Lodge.

Tickets and other practicalities

Banff National Park admission is C$10 for adults, C$8.70 for seniors, C$20 for families and free for kids under 17. There are additional fees for campground use, backcountry camping, fire permits and fishing permits. See the latest fees on the Banff National Park website

The Moraine Lake Road is not open to the public, so reaching the lake requires scheduling a shuttle ride. Parks Canada offers shuttles, as do several private shuttle companies. Moraine Lake Bus Company is the only company that offers sunrise shuttles. The lake closes seasonally–from about October to May–due to the avalanche risk.

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