Moraine Lake – Crown Jewel of Banff National Park

May 2016 – While Lake Louise may be the heart of Banff National Park in Canada, Moraine Lake is its crown jewel. During our stay in this glorious part of the Canadian Rockies, we visited Moraine Lake several times.

Moraine Lake Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Moraine Lake is without doubt the crown jewel of Banff National Park!

If you do a Google search for Banff National Park and click on “Images,” almost every image is of Moraine Lake. It is such a beloved spot that the iconic view of the lake from the moraine rock pile on its northern shore was on the back of the Canadian $20 bill for ages.

Moraine Lake Canada 20 dollar bill

Moraine Lake was on the back of the $20 bill in Canada.

For much of our stay in Lake Louise, the road to Moraine Lake was closed to motor vehicles. However, it was open to cyclists, and we enjoyed a fabulous 18 mile round trip bike ride to the lake and back.

Moraine Lake Bike Ride View Lake Louise Bnaff

The view over the handlebars!

The snow was still thick in certain areas, and Mark noticed someone had drawn a heart in the snow and put their initials in it. He made a slight modification to those initials so they would be “M + M.” Sweet!

Moraine Lake Bike Ride Lake Louise Banff National Park Canada

There was still a lot of snow along the road to Moraine Lake when we rode there on our bicycles.

The bike ride to Moraine Lake is very popular, especially in the pre-season when bikes have the entire road to themselves.

Tandem bicycle Moraine Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada

There’s a bit of a climb heading to the lake, but what a view to ride towards!

When we got to the lake we found hundreds of logs lying on the ground. Even though we were in cycling clothes, we scrambled all over the place on the shore to get photos and enjoy the views that were all ours for the moment.

Moraine Lake Bike Ride Banff National Park Alberta Canada

When we first got to Moraine Lake on our bikes, we were the only ones there.

Cyclist at Moraine Lake Banff National Park Canada

Woo hoo!!

The lake was extremely low. It was so low that a floating dock in front of the Moraine Lake Lodge was sitting on the ground.

Moraine Lake Dry lakebed Lake Louise Banff

The water level in the lake was low enough that a summertime float was sitting on the ground.

Luckily, there was still plenty of lake to enjoy. I crawled up on the huge pile of rocks to get a bird’s eye view. Wow!!

Moraine Lake Banff National Park Lake Louise Canada

What a view!

Our bike ride to Moraine Lake was one we will never forget.

Bike Ride Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Banff National Park Canada

What a fantastic ride this was.

On the return trip from Moraine Lake to Lake Louise, after an initial climb, we had a fantastic, screaming descent. I was surprised to look on my bike computer afterwards and see I’d hit 40.5 mph. Not bad for just coasting on a mountain bike! (But not quite as zippy as when Mark and I hit 64.5 mph on our tandem descending a steep hill in Texas years ago!).

Bicycle computer 40.5 mph riding at Moraine Lake Banff National Park

Not too shabby for a mountain bike.

The road to Moraine Lake was finally opened to motor vehicles in the last week of May, and we drove up there early one morning to catch a sunrise.

Sunrise Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Banff National Park

The first glimpse of sunrise at Moraine Lake.

The pink and orange hues of the mountain peaks reflected beautifully in the lake below.

Dawn Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Banff National Park

Reflections at daybreak.

As we were leaving, we noticed a nearly full moon between the peaks.

Moon at dawn Moraine Lake Banff National Park Canada

There was a cool moon too!

Full moon at Moraine Lake Banff National Park Canada

Moraine Lake deserves many return visits, and we couldn’t stay away.

Cycling Lake Moraine Banff National Park Alberta Canada

What a place to ride a bike!

Both cyclists and motor vehicles of all kinds drive up from Lake Louise all day long. It’s an okay road for a small RV, but I wouldn’t take anything much bigger than a short Class C because the parking lot at the lake gets crowded.

RV travel Moraine Lake Banff National Park Alberta Canada

RVing in the Canadian Rockies – Wow Wow Wow!

There is a terrific viewing area right next to the parking lot called the “Rock Pile.” When we had come by bike, we didn’t see it, and I had scrambled all over the slippery rock pile. But when we came by car, we saw the trail right by the bathrooms and joined the throngs of people that were walking on the easy and short paths and staircases in and around the rocks.

Rock stairs Moraine Lake Banff National Park

On our first visit, we had no idea there were stairs up onto the rock pile for the best lake views.

Everyone wants to see “The View” at Moraine Lake, and no wonder, it is gorgeous! But this is also a place where you can slip away from the crowd a bit, find a comfy seat on a rock, and take in other views around the lake.

Relaxing at Moraine Lake near Lake Louise Banff NP Alberta Canada

Mark took a little time out away from the crowds.

Snow clouds Moraine Lake Banff National Park

And how great it is to kick back and gaze at this view high above!

We both savored our time at Moraine Lake, and I wandered away from the rim too.

Happy camper Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Alberta Canada

Sometimes it’s most satisfying to stop dashing here and there and just to sit down and look around.

I looked up and saw the crests of the mountains were filled with beautiful patterns.

Patterns in the Rocky Mountains Moraine Lake Banff Lake Louise

Wonderful patterns in the mountains around Moraine Lake

We discovered the rock pile at the north end of the lake is filled with savvy little chipmunks. These guys are adorable little beggars (buggers) who are anything but shy.

Chipmunk at Moraine Lake Banff National Park Lake Louise

Smart little chipmunks live in the rock pile and keep an eye out for free food.

Their main focus is seeing who’s got what kind of snacks to share. Sometimes they get lucky and can have lunch with a view.

Chipmunk at Moraine Lake near Lake Louise Alberta Canada

Sneaking a snack with a fabulous view!

The views at Moraine Lake drew us back again and again.

Boulders at Moraine Lake Banff National Park Canada

Moraine Lake is truly exquisite.

Even when the scenic overlook is filled with people who have turned their backs to the view while they worship the selfie god, it is still a spectacular place to be.

Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Worshipping the selfie god – what a great place to do it!

If you take your RV to Lake Louise, a visit to Moraine Lake is an absolute must.

In the pre-season, the car-free bike ride is truly exhilarating and you’ll find the lake very peaceful and quiet when you get there. But even in the busier season when the road and parking lot are loaded with cars, and people are crammed in everywhere, it is still a beautiful drive with utterly breathtaking views.

Moraine Lake Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Moraine Lake – Sensational!!

There’s more info about Moraine Lake in the links below…

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4 thoughts on “Moraine Lake – Crown Jewel of Banff National Park

  1. Hi Emily and Mark,

    I’m so happy you found and really enjoyed another jewel of the Canadian Rockies…. Your photos, as usual, are stunning! The ride there with that view is stunning…. I had no idea the roads were closed for so long! If you are still touring around for a bit, there is a fabulous guidebook that I wish I had thought to tell you about sooner… It’s “Don’t waste your time in the Rockies”. Check it out if you have more time. It’s an opinionated hiking guide, rating dozens of hikes with regard to Best Rainy day, Best Short, Mid, Long, overnight, multi, best way to avoid the crowds, time of year, etc… 4 boot stamps is premier down to not worth doing…. Feel free to ‘pass it on’!

    • We loved our time in the Canadian Rockies, Rose, and have quite a few more blog posts to publish about our experiences there. The season doesn’t really start until late June, so lots of things are closed, from roads to stores, especially in early May to early June which was the timeframe of our visit. We aren’t in the Canadian Rockies any longer, but will definitely get the book you recommend for our next visit!!

  2. WOWOWOW!! What do you do for internet when in Canada? We have twice bagged our Canadian RV plans because we had work to do and the cost of international service on our Verizon hotspot was prohibitive.

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