After years of working at Maligne Lake, and with the easy accessibility of Lake Louise, it was a shame that I hadn’t been to one of the Rockies’ most underappreciated bodies of water, Moraine Lake. It’s not that nobody knows about this place, as it was featured on the back of the Canadian dollar bill (before we switched to the less regal-sounding loonie coin), and there is a homely looking resort on the premises.
It’s just that it languishes in the shadow of its more famous cousin Lake Louise, who has a much more glamorous resort on her shores, along with easier highway access. To get up to Moraine Lake, you have to drive up a winding, precarious (but breathtaking beautiful) mountain road that is only open in the summer time. Not only that, but in the fall, there are needled trees called larches whose needles turn a golden yellow, drawing hordes of people from nearby Calgary, creating horrific traffic jams.
So, needless to say, getting here is a matter of timing, patience, and willingness to get off the main track that time starved tourists seem to stay glued to, like a tongue on a icy flagpole. Despite these difficulties though, it is well worth to spend some time contemplating life on the shore here, as the clouds drift over the stalwart peaks, still laden with leftover snow from the previous winter (even though it’s early September), and as the icy cold but impeccably clean lake water laps on the shore, nibbling at your exposed toes.
Or you can come here for the epic hiking opportunities, but don’t come in a party less than four, as the presence of grizzly bears in the valley where Moraine Lake is located has caused Parks Canada to ban groups smaller than that for safety reasons.
Traveling by your lonesome, or in a small group? Check in at the Lake Louise info centre and register with other randoms so that your party will meet the prescribed size. It’s recommended that you take some bear spray in too, just in case of a hostile encounter (as long as you make enough noise on the trail though, this shouldn’t happen though).
To register to hike at Moraine Lake, first head to the info centre, then…
… head to Moraine Lake (not Lake Louise by accident) and enjoy some of Banff National Park’s most awe-inspiring scenery that you can see via automobile transport!
Ever been to Moraine Lake?