Skip to Content

Is Moraine Lake Worth it? – Our Review After More Than 5 Visits

Is Moraine Lake Worth it? – Our Review After More Than 5 Visits

This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.

Are you wondering whether or not visiting Moraine Lake is worth it? Honestly, it’s a fair question! This lake is stunningly beautiful, but it’s also really tricky to get to – especially now that the access road is closed to personal vehicles.

So if you’re unsure whether Moraine Lake is worth the hassle, this blog is here to help you decide.

We’ve visited Moraine Lake at least 5 times (and even got engaged here) so for us, the short answer is yes. And since we’ve visited so many times, we’ve got tons of insider tips and tricks to share to make visiting as easy as possible. Let’s dive in!

Quick Answer: Moraine Lake is 100% worth visiting and one of the most beautiful lakes in Canada. Even after visiting Moraine Lake multiple times, I’ll be back again this summer!

Why is Moraine Lake so Popular? 

Bailey in a canoe at Moraine Lake, Banff NP
Look at the water!
Moraine Lake at sunrise in fall
Moraine Lake at sunrise!

Well, for one thing, it’s insanely beautiful! I mean, there’s a reason I decided to propose to Bailey here. The water is such a vivid shade of blue that it’s hard to believe it’s real, and it’s surrounded by the dramatic Ten Peaks. It really does have to be seen to be believed. 

There are also lots of fun things to do at Moraine Lake. We especially love renting canoes and gliding across the surface of the lake. Not only is it a lot of fun, it’s an incredible photo opportunity. Swimming in the lake is technically allowed, but the water is only a few degrees above freezing, so personally, I’m good on that front! 

The Lakeshore Trail offers fantastic views and we love strolling along the water’s edge when we visit. It’s only 3.7 kilometers (2.3 miles) out-and-back, so it usually takes us an hour in total, as we tend to take it slow and admire the views. The best viewpoint, though, can be found at the top of the Rockpile. It only takes 5 minutes to walk to the top and the views are beyond comparison. It’s also the exact spot where we got engaged!

Another reason Moraine Lake gets so crowded is that it’s only open for a few months out of the year. It usually opens on June 1 and closes during the second week of October, although exact dates do vary according to snow conditions each year. 

Pros to Visiting Moraine Lake

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo the the rockpile at Moraine Lake
Hands down the prettiest lake in Banff

Most beautiful Lake in Banff:

Banff may be full of gorgeous lakes (we even made a whole list of the best lakes to visit!), but Moraine Lake is undeniably the crown jewel. In fact, I think it’s the most beautiful lake in the whole of the Rockies – and therefore, Canada! It is just too stunning to skip. 

Best place to canoe on a lake in Canada:

If you ask me, everyone should go canoeing at least once while in the Rockies, and I don’t think there’s a better place to do it than Moraine Lake. The views are absolutely magical and since the water is so calm, it’s a very easy activity and no experience is required! We do this pretty much every time we visit Moraine Lake, as canoes are available from Moraine Lake Lodge until early September. Prices start at $140 CAD per hour, which includes life jackets and paddles.

Amazing hikes leave from Moraine Lake:

Strolling along the Lakeshore Trail and climbing up the Rockpile are must-dos while at Moraine Lake, but did you know that some of the Rockies’ most scenic hikes start here, too? Moraine Lake is the trailhead for the Larch Valley Trail, which is spectacular during the fall, the easy Consolation Lakes Trail, and the epic scramble up to the Tower of Babel! We have a list of the best hikes starting at Moraine Lake and there are so many good ones!

Related Read: For more of the best hikes in the Rockies (for all levels of hiker!) check out our top hikes in Banff and Lake Louise!

Cons to Visiting Moraine Lake

Canoes sit in the water at Moraine Lake, Banff National Park
It can get crowded quickly here

Very busy:

The biggest con to visiting Moraine Lake is that it gets so busy. That clearly doesn’t put us off, since we visit every summer, but it definitely is overly touristy. We think this is a great reason to visit extra early for sunrise to avoid the worst of the daytime crowds. 

Want to visit Moraine Lake for sunrise?

Since the road is closed to personal vehicles, there are three options to visit Moraine Lake at sunrise: this organized tour, booking this privately-operated shuttle, or taking the Parks Canada Alpine Start shuttle.

  1. The tour begins at 4 am in Banff. It costs $287 CAD and includes not only a visit to Moraine Lake with hot chocolate and coffee to enjoy, but also an early morning visit to Lake Louise. That means you can visit two of the busiest lakes in Canada without the crowds or the stress of parking/shuttles. You can book the tour here with free cancellation up to 24 hours before.
  2. The new Moraine Lake sunrise shuttle includes transport only from Lake Louise Village at a cost of $99 CAD. They offer a few pick-up times with the first shuttle leaving at 4 am and the second at 5 am. You must book your spot online in advance here to avoid missing out.
  3. The Parks Canada Alpine Start shuttle leaves at 4 am and 5 am for $8 CAD. While it’s the cheapest option, it’s also the hardest to book. If you don’t grab tickets during the initial release of tickets in April, you’ll need to try to get tickets online at 8 am MDT two days before your trip.

Hard access due to restrictions: 

Since the access road is now closed to cars (except for those with disability permits), getting to Moraine Lake can be a bit of a headache. There’s a Parks Canada shuttle to transport visitors to the lake, but snagging a spot can feel like an Olympic sport! Fortunately, there are tours and private shuttles which are much easier to book, but even then, some advance planning is required as they sell out fast.

Can’t visit outside the summer season:

Moraine Lake is only open between June and mid-October, so the window to visit is pretty narrow! It’s not possible to visit during the late fall, winter, or spring, which is a bit disappointing if that’s when you’re in Banff. But it also means that you can’t miss the opportunity to visit if you are here during the summer season. 

Requires planning in advance:

Since driving to Moraine Lake is not an option for most people, shuttles and tours book up fast, so you need to be on the ball when it comes to planning your visit! The Parks Canada Shuttle reservations usually open in mid-April (dates and schedules are available here). Alternatively, you can also book tickets by visiting the website at 8 am local time two days before your visit. Either way, it’s competitive, so we recommend setting an alarm so that you don’t forget – treat it like getting Taylor Swift tickets!

How do you Get to Moraine Lake? 

Driving directly to Moraine Lake is not allowed except for those who have a disability parking permit. So if this isn’t the case for you, then you’ll need to choose from one of the options below. 

Parks Canada Shuttle 

Parks Canada bus the Lake Connector
The Parks Canada Bus

The Parks Canada Shuttle is the cheapest way of getting to Moraine Lake at only $8 CAD a ticket, but the drawback is that it’s the hardest to book. If your dates for visiting Banff are set in stone, we’d advise you to try and grab tickets when they first become available in April – keep an eye on the website for the exact release date. 50% of tickets for the season are released at 8 am MDT, so in the past, we’ve set alarms to make sure we’re online at the right time, wherever we are in the world.

If you miss the first release, more tickets are released on a rolling basis, at 8 am MDT two days before the date of travel. So for example, if you want to visit Moraine Lake on Wednesday, you’d need to be online at 8 am MDT on Monday to book. Make sure to create a Parks Canada account ahead of time, as every minute counts! 

The shuttle departs from Lake Louise from 6:30 am until 6 pm every day from early June to mid-October. This means that you’ll need to get yourself to the Lakeshore in time for your shuttle. There are no timed slots for the return trip, which can be a bit chaotic, to be honest. 

We’re excited about the fact that Parks Canada has launched a new sunrise shuttle for this year! There’s truly nothing like sunrise at Moraine Lake, and the Alpine Start shuttle works much the same as the daytime one, only it leaves at 4 am and 5 am, in time for an epic sunrise at the lake. 

Private shuttles 

Moraine Lake bus company shuttle at Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake Bus Company is our top choice!

Last summer, we used the Moraine Lake Bus Company’s new private shuttle service and were very impressed by how efficient and organized they were. It was really easy to book, although we were still careful to reserve our places a few weeks in advance, but that’s just the way it goes with Moraine Lake. 

The shuttles leave from either the Lake Louise sightseeing gondola or the Samson Mall, and they’ve also got shuttle options that include a stop at the Lake Louise Lakeshore, which is ideal for those who are coming from further afield. And best of all, they have sunrise shuttle options, too! Prices start from $49 CAD for a daytime shuttle and $99 CAD for the sunrise trips, and we do recommend booking at least two weeks in advance.

Organized tour

Sunrise reflections at Moraine Lake, Banff
This tour takes you to Moraine Lake for sunrise!

We think this award-winning sunrise tour is absolutely ideal for anyone visiting Moraine Lake from Banff! We absolutely love the fact it includes a stunning sunrise visit to Moraine Lake, complete with hot drinks and expert photography tips from your guide. Afterward, it’s on to Lake Louise, and it’s possible to arrange a cooked breakfast or a canoe ride to make the most of your time here, which we would highly recommend doing. 

We think that this is one of the easiest ways to visit Moraine Lake AND Lake Louise from Banff. It costs $288 CAD and includes free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance, so we really appreciate the flexibility of this option. 

If you don’t feel like getting up before the crack of dawn, then we would suggest booking this tour instead. It leaves from Banff and includes a 30-minute visit to Lake Louise before continuing onto Moraine Lake for another half-hour stop, so we think it’s the perfect choice for those who are short on time but still want to see Banff’s two most iconic lakes! It costs $113 CAD, including transport, drinks, and maple cookies to snack on, and again you get free cancellation when you book through Viator.

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

Is Moraine Lake Worth it?

Bailey and her mum at Moraine Lake Rockpile Viewpoint on a sunny afternoon in Banff National Park
Yes, puppy and mother approved!

Yes! Although Moraine Lake gets very busy and visiting does require advance planning, we promise that it’s worth the effort. In fact, we love visiting so much that we try to visit at least once every summer. You really cannot miss it, because it truly is one of the most beautiful lakes in the world.

Related Read: For more ideas on how to spend time in this area, check out our perfect 1-day itinerary for Moraine Lake and Lake Louise!

Other Things to do While You’re in Banff

Bailey at the Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
Johnston Canyon is a super easy hike!
Evelyns Cafe in Banff, Canada
Walking Banff with a coffee!

Banff is chock-full of so many amazing activities and things to do, it’s impossible to put them all down on one list! To save you some time, here are some of our favorite activities that are always included in our Banff itinerary:

  • Ride the Banff Gondola – There are four gondolas in Banff that provide pretty spectacular views. While we’d have a hard time choosing a favorite, a ride up the Banff Gondola never lets us down! Not only is it a great way to see some amazing wildlife, but you’ll find a host of things to do at the top, including a lovely café, shops, and even a theater! The best way to get Banff Gondola tickets is to book ahead in advance here.
  • Hike Johnston Canyon – One of the stops on the Banff hop-on hop-off tour, Johnston Canyon is famous for its picturesque location and magnificent waterfalls. It’s also one of the easier hikes in the Banff area, making it super accessible for most people.
  • Look for wildlife – Banff is home to some incredible wildlife. You might just spot elk, bears, deer, foxes, coyotes, bighorn sheep, and more! The best chance you have of seeing the most critters is on a wildlife tour in Banff. We really liked this small group tour where the guides tailor the itinerary to recent wildlife spottings and you get to see highlights of the national park along the way.
  • Explore Banff town – It’s easy to get immersed in the beauty of the mountains, but there are also a ton of things to do in downtown Banff too! Bear Street is where you’ll find tons of boutique shops and cute cafés, and from May to the beginning of October the farmer’s market is held in Central Park, bringing with it amazing local produce and some unique souvenirs too!

Where to Stay near Moraine Lake

Lake Louise Inn pool
Photo credit: Lake Louise Inn

There’s only one actual hotel at Moraine Lake. The Moraine Lake Lodge is beautiful, but books up months in advance and is often $1,000+ CAD per night! Because of that, I recommend finding a nice place to stay in Lake Louise Village. My favorite options are below:

Fairmont Château Lake Louise ($$$)

For those with a bigger budget, you can’t look past the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. The hotel sits on the shoreline of Lake Louise with epic views in the most stunning of locations. I’ve added spending a night or two here to my personal bucket list! There are also a few restaurants in the hotel that are only available to hotel guests, not to mention the onsite spa! A night here will set you back at least $550 CAD but typically it will be even higher in peak season. You can book the Fairmont online here!

Lake Louise Inn ($$)

The Lake Louise Inn features an indoor pool, an onsite restaurant and bar, modern rooms, and even apartments for larger groups. It basically has all the comforts you’d expect at a standard hotel and the reviews are really good. Its location is also ideal, right in the heart of Lake Louise Village and you can grab a room for an average of $200 CAD. You can book the Lake Louise Inn online here!

Hi Lake Louise Alpine Center ($)

For budget travelers, the Hi Lake Louise Alpine Center is the best option in Lake Louise Village. The location is right in town, they have a shared kitchen, basic but comfortable rooms, and friendly staff. You can choose between dorm rooms starting at $33 CAD a night or private rooms for around $100 CAD a night. It is by far the cheapest place to stay in Lake Louise, and honestly, it’s a nice hostel and we’ve actually stayed there a few times. You can book it online through or!

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $22.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo at Moraine Lake
Thanks for reading!

I hope I’ve convinced you that Moraine Lake is worth a visit! While we’ve been 5 times (and counting!), I think it’s a place I’ll never get tired of. There are a few different options to get here, so as long as you plan ahead and find the one that’s right for your trip, you’ll have an amazing visit.

If you found this blog helpful, make sure to check out our other guides on Lake Louise and Banff. We’re here every year and spent a long time living in nearby Canmore, so we have lots of travel tips to share!

How to Get to Moraine Lake (from Banff, Canmore, Calgary, and More!)

35 BEST Things to do in Lake Louise, Alberta

How to Get from Banff to the Columbia Icefield + Best Tours