Banff National Park + Moraine Lake
Keegan Leuer is back on the blog, giving us Part II of her Banff Honeymoon with husband Jon Leuer. While Part I included Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes, Part II features the famous Moraine Lake. If you’re ever having a rough day, cruise the #morainelake hashtag on Instagram for an instant daydream to one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever seen and one of the top spots on my travel bucket list. Also, be sure to check out Keegan’s newly launched KeeganMichelle.com - congrats, girl!
All you have to do is google Moraine Lake and you will immediately understand why that was one of our first choices when visiting Banff. In fact, many of the other visitors and locals that we spoke to before visiting Moraine Lake said that they liked it even more than Lake Louise! I mean, what could be better? My husband and I had seen the pictures and we knew that it was going to be beautiful. What we didn’t know was just how beautiful.
We were staying at the Chateau Fairmont by Lake Louise so only about a 20- minute drive away. We took everyone’s advice very seriously when they told us to get there earlier in the day as it gets packed, causing parking to be a nightmare. Because it is off the beaten path of the main road and there aren’t any satellite lots, your only option would be to park on the side of the road and walk. Which, we did! Even though we got there at 8 AM, the lot was full, so we obviously weren’t the only ones who got the memo.
From the parking lot you have several options; go straight to the lake, walk up The Rockpile, or take one of the other hikes surrounding the area. We took the last option. We passed a sign for Consolation Lakes on the left side of the parking lot and decided to avoid the crowd at the lake and blaze our own trail! This hike was about 45 minutes though the woods from Moraine Lake and a little different than the others we had ventured, as the second half of the path, which was our favorite, opens up as you walk along the creek. I highly suggest you stop and walk to the edge and take that view in. There is something so peaceful about the complete silence other than the rushing water.
Once you get to the end of the trail is when the real work begins. It seems that this lake has been victim to some vicious beatings by the rocks that fall from the mountains above. Hence, the obstacle course! It definitely made things interesting! But take care, as not all of these rocks are completely settled into their home and wobble more than you think.
We then made our way back, backtracking the same way and made our way to The Rockpile. This is also “the view” that everyone goes for and where 95% of the pictures that you saw from your google search are from. Be prepared to fight for good picture-taking positions because it is indeed busy, however completely worth it!
After we took 152,483 pictures from The Rockpile, we set off for the lake itself. We followed the path past the shop and cafe, and walked the length of Moraine. The path was along the water the whole time, which provided some great close-up views of the clear waters. Your prize at the end is a beautiful and peaceful waterfall. We could have sat there for hours just listening to the water and looking back at The Rock and entire lake, but again this was a hot spot, and your only choice is to walk back.
All in all, we did spend 4-5 hours at Moraine Lake, including a break between the two trails. The cafe is a great spot to stop and rest your legs, grab a snack and take it all in. There were also canoes for rent, similar to Lake Louise, but there didn’t seem to be any sort of wait. If you’re determined to get a canoe ride during your trip, consider saving it for Moraine Lake - less wait and the water is beautiful!
I hope you enjoy exploring this area as much as we did. We’re so glad we chose to include this lake on our visit to Banff, and we know you’ll feel similarly if you include it in yours!