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11 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Morant’s Curve (2024!)

11 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Morant’s Curve (2024!)

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If you’re creating your Banff travel itinerary, Morant’s Curve should be at the top of your list. This curve is where the Bow River bends, with a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains and the surrounding valley. It’s one of the most famous views in Canada and one you must see for yourself!

Photographers come here all year long to snap a photo of the iconic train passing through the gorgeous scenery. But even without trains, the image looks straight out of a postcard. And you don’t have to be a professional photographer to stop by. Anyone can witness this stunning sight and it’s super easy to visit! I know whenever we’re planning a road trip around Banff, this is one of our must-visit stops.

This quintessential Canadian vista is in Banff National Park, just a short drive from Lake Louise. So whether you’re passing by on a road trip or seeking out Instagrammable spots in Banff, you must stop at Morant’s Curve. It doesn’t take much time, but the memory will stick with you forever.

As a Canadian, I’m very familiar with this area and have visited several times. I also love helping others appreciate its beauty – which is why I’ve compiled this list of things to know before visiting Morant’s Curve.

So keep reading to learn more and plan your trip!

1. About Morant’s Curve

Bailey at Morant's Curve on the Bow Valley Parkway
Morant’s Curve is stunning!
Morant's Curve in winter
Morant’s Curve during winter in Banff

Morant’s Curve has a history almost as impressive as the views it offers. The name itself comes from Nicholas Morant, a famous 20th-century staff photographer for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).  

His stunning photos helped promote tourism in Western Canada, and his many photos of Morant’s Curve were used in CPR’s marketing campaigns. The red Canadian trains were a common theme in many of his photos, alongside lots of stunning backdrops of the Canadian Rockies. Many photos were used on stamps, and two of his photos of Emerald Lake and Moraine Lake were even used on banknotes from that time. 

Even with an extensive portfolio like his, it’s said that Morant’s Curve was his ultimate favorite place to take photos. When you come here, you’ll understand why. It’s one of those spots that reminds me how much I love Canada and how beautiful it truly is!

Around Morant’s Curve, you can see the tall, rugged Lake Louise Mountains, named after the glacial lake to the north. Mount Fairview stands out as the tallest of these mountains. However, the serene river and rich forests that surround this bend really complete the scene.

Morant’s Curve has been famous for some time and hasn’t lost any of its beauty. So if you want to see it for yourself, keep reading to discover the best viewpoint and how to get there! 

2. Where is Morant’s Curve?

Bailey watches the train at Morant's curve

Now that you know the history of Morant’s Curve, we’ll explain how you can get there and snap your own photos!

Morant’s Curve is located deep within Banff National Park on the drive between Banff and Lake Louise on Highway 1A which is also called the Bow Valley Parkway. You can easily reach Morant’s Curve as it’s just off the highway.

You can get here from both ends of the Bow Valley Parkway, but the drive to Morant’s Curve is shorter from Lake Louise. It takes only 10 minutes by car from Lake Louise and about 40-50 minutes from Banff.

An insider tip: If you want to save some time, it might be faster to take the Trans Canada Highway to Lake Louise and then get onto the Bow Valley Parkway. This is a good plan if you are short on time or only have one day to spend in Banff.

If you’re coming from the south, you can get on the Bow Valley Parkway at Castle Junction and drive to Morant’s Curve. This option is often useful if you want to explore the Bow Valley Parkway but the section further south is periodically closed (more info on that below or in our Bow Valley Parkway blog).

There are no signs for Morant’s Curve, but there’s no way you can miss the spot. Once you see the free parking lot, you’ll know you’re there! We were worried about missing it the first time, but laughed after we saw how obvious it was!  

Once you park, you’ll need to cross the road to get closer to the river. When you cross, you’ll see a clearing in the trees ahead. Walk through it and you’ll find the concrete viewpoint. From here, you can see Morant’s Curve in all its beauty. And if you get lucky (or plan ahead), you might even see a train pass, so have your camera ready to snap that iconic photo! 

Closure info for Bow Valley Parkway: The section of Bow Valley Parkway between the Fireside Picnic Area and the Johnston Canyon Campground is closed to vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians from 8 pm until 8 am from March 1-June 25. You can find updates on the Park Canada bulletin.

a map showing the season road closure on the Bow Valley Parkway

The government is ALSO conducting a 3-year pilot cycling experience on the same portion of the Parkway. So, the same section of road is closed to vehicles 24/7 from May 1 – June 25 and September 1 – September 30. However, cyclists are allowed to travel through during the daytime hours. You can check for updates on the Park Canada site.

Related Read: Road closures along the Bow Valley Parkway ensure the safety of the local wildlife. To learn more, read about these must-see animals in Banff (and how to SAFELY see them!).

3. Is it free to visit Morant’s Curve?

Anyone can stop and visit Morant’s Curve for free. It’s actually one of my favorite free things to do near Banff!

However, you do need a National Park Pass BEFORE visiting. Trust us, you can’t stop or park anywhere in the national park without it. So while visiting Morant’s Curve is free, driving in this area is not.

The Parks Pass covers all of Canada’s National Parks and can be purchased online or in person at national park gates, information centers, or campgrounds. If you purchase the pass online, you’ll need to print and display it on the dash of your car. To avoid the hassle of printing, we bought our Parks Pass at the Banff Visitor Center just off the main highway.

There are two main options available, a daily pass or an annual pass – which you can read more about below.

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.

4. When is the best time to visit Morant’s Curve?

Bailey sips a coffee at Morant's Curve along the Bow Valley Parkway
Morant’s Curve in winter!

Morant’s Curve is an impressive place to visit all year round! We visited during both winter and summer. And while they’re both spectacular, they feel like a whole different experience.  

In Banff’s warmer months, Morant’s Curve is absolutely gorgeous. You’ll see rugged mountain peaks, lush green forests, and crystal-clear waters.

But if you visit Banff during winter, Morant’s Curve will look like a stunning winter wonderland filled with snowy treetops and mountains.

The red train that everyone’s waiting for stands out against both the summer green and the winter white backdrops. So regardless of the season, you can snap a memorable photo.  

As for the time of the day, it’s probably best to visit during the mornings or at sunset, when there are fewer people. We went there in the early morning, so we had no issues with parking. Plus, the morning mist and light made for a magical view – it felt like something straight out of a fairy tale! 

If you’re trying to take a photo of the train, we also recommend driving here during weekdays rather than the weekend. Trains are most likely to operate on this schedule. 

Related Read: If you want another amazing vantage point, read everything you need to know about the Lake Louise Gondola. It’s just a 10-minute drive from Morant’s Curve and also provides stunning views of Banff National Park.

5. Is there parking at Morant’s Curve?

A train travels past Morant's Curve in Banff along the Bow Valley Parkway

Yes, there is a free parking lot here. You’ll easily find it on the side of the road opposite the viewpoint.  

Unfortunately, the parking space is pretty tight. It can fit at best 6-8 cars. If you’re planning to come here with large vehicles (a motorhome, for example), we recommend visiting early to make sure there’s enough space. 

6. When does the train pass Morant’s Curve?

Morant's Curve train snakes it's way through the mountains in Banff
A train passes Morant's Curve in summer along the Bow Valley Parkway

Just like everyone else, we came to visit Morant’s Curve with one goal in mind – snapping a photo of the iconic freight train passing through the valley.  

Unfortunately, it’s near impossible to predict when the train comes since they don’t publicly announce their schedules. It’s said that most trains travel during business hours, so between 9 am and 5 pm Monday to Friday is your best chance to encounter them.  

Trains typically come every half-hour or hour during peak times, so you just need to be a little patient. We waited around 40 minutes before we spotted one, but it was definitely worth the view. And since we were on a road trip from Banff to Jasper, it was nice to get out and stretch our legs!

You’ll know when a train is nearby when you hear the horn and the train track rumble from a distance. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, just don’t forget to have your phone or camera ready! 

Even if you don’t catch a train, the scenery at Morant’s Curve is still breathtaking. So if you get unlucky or don’t feel like waiting too long, you’ll still have lots of memorable photos! 

There’s also a passenger train, the Rocky Mountaineer, that passes through Morant’s Curve during summer. However, it’s not nearly as impressive since it isn’t as colorful as the cargo trains. Still, you can check the schedule on their website to make sure you capture it on time. 

Taking the Rocky Mountaineer passenger train

If you’d rather board the Rocky Mountaineer to experience Morant’s Curve, take the First Passage to the West journey. It runs from Vancouver to Banff or visa versa, passing Morant’s Curve at milepost 113 (roughly an hour and 10 minutes from Banff). The trip takes 4 days and 3 nights and costs between $2,200 – $4,200 CAD, which covers hotels, train tickets, some meals, and the National Parks Pass.

But truthfully, we wouldn’t board this train solely for Morant’s Curve. Although the experience is awesome, we think the view and photo opps of Morant’s Curve are better from the lookout point!

7. Best tour that visits Morant’s Curve

A car drives along the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff National Park
The Bow Valley Parkway!

If you’re interested in taking a tour that covers both Morant’s Curve and the surrounding area, this Discover Lake Louise sightseeing tour is a personal favorite. It’s a great way to see a lot in a short time, including seeing the lake and grabbing those perfect shots of Morant’s Curve. And if you don’t have a car – this is one of the best bus tours in Banff to take!

On this 4-hour tour, you’ll head along the scenic Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and Lake Louise. There are three main stops along this tour, each one more impressive than the last. To start, you’ll spend an hour strolling around the beautiful Lake Louise. Keep your eye out for wildlife in this area!  

After that, you’ll stop at the historic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. The view of the hotel watching over the crystal-clear turquoise lake might just be one of the best views we’ve ever seen! And, of course, you’ll visit Morant’s Curve for that epic shot.

When we went, the tour guides did a fantastic job sharing the mountaineering history of the region. We also enjoyed maple cookies and hot chocolate which was a nice touch (and very Canadian!).

To join this tour, you’ll need to be at the Royal Mount Hotel by 12:35 pm sharp (the tour begins and ends at this location). It costs $105 CAD which includes transportation, snacks, as well as a professional guide that is super knowledgeable about the area. To book this half-day tour with awesome views, check availability online here!

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.
  • 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.

8. Do you need to hike to Morant’s Curve viewpoint?

Morants-Curve-viewpoint-as-seen-from-the-other-side-of-the-road
This is taken from the edge of the parking lot so it’s not a long walk.

Nope! Getting to the Morant’s Curve viewpoint is very easy.

Just park in the free lot, then cross the road. You’ll notice a clearing on the other side of the road which is very easy to spot (even without any official markings). From there, it’s just a 20-meter (65-foot) walk to reach the concrete viewpoint. Once you arrive, you can enjoy the view and wait for the famous train! 

There is also another viewpoint on the same side of the road as the parking lot. It’s reached by short walk as well. However, the view just isn’t as good.  

9. Can you visit Morant’s Curve in winter?

Bailey walks along the pathway to Morant's Curve in winter
Just bring a coffee!

As we’ve mentioned, you can visit Morant’s Curve during any season! It’s an amazing experience year-round, but there’s just something extra magical about winter. We’ve visited during winter, and we can’t recommend it enough!  

With the icy river, untouched snowy treetops, and rugged peaks, Morant’s Curve looks like an enchanted valley. It feels like this area was frozen in time. Not only that, but the red trains stand out so much against the pure white snow. We definitely felt like we were looking at a Christmas postcard. 

Just make sure to check the weather forecast and road updates before driving on the road – and come equipped with winter tires. As a heads up, right after a big snowstorm, plowing services prioritize the TransCanada Highway before clearing Bow Valley Parkway, so it’s best to give it some time before driving here!  

When we were there, the ground around the viewpoint was also quite slippery due to the ice. However, with appropriate winter shoes, you should be fine.

If you’re around Banff during Christmas, you should check out the CP Holiday Train. The bright red train is decorated with colorful Christmas decor and lights and looks particularly festive at night. It travels across the country, stopping at various locations to collect food and put on quite the performance, including live music. So if you’re staying in Banff, make sure to check the schedule so you’ll know when it passes through.

Related Read: If you’re staying in Lake Louise over the holiday season, check out the my favorite things to do in Lake Louise in winter!

10.  How long do you need to visit Morant’s Curve?

The train passes Morant's Curve in fall
Just check out those colors during late fall around Banff!

Visiting Morant’s Curve shouldn’t take too long. 15 to 20 minutes is enough to walk up to the viewpoint and take in the gorgeous scenery at a relaxed pace.  

But if you’re waiting for the train, it’ll require some patience and time. There’s no way to know for sure just how long but expect at least half an hour. Trains typically run every 30 minutes to an hour Monday to Friday from 9 am – 5 pm. When we were there, we waited 40 minutes which is about average from what we’ve heard.  

If you’re driving from Lake Louise, we recommend passing by Laggan’s Mountain Bakery & Delicatessen to get some snacks on your way out of town. When we arrived at the viewpoint, we sipped on their coffee and freshly-baked chocolate croissants while waiting for the train. It was the perfect way to pass the time! And since it was early morning, so we could admire the view without noisy traffic or crowds.

The bakery is located just before you hop on the freeway and is open from 7 am – 5 pm weekdays and from 7 am – 6 pm on weekends.

11. Is visiting Morant’s Curve worth it?

Light fog over Morant's Curve as the train passes by
Yes, it’s stunning!

Yes! A thousand times yes. Not only does this place have a coveted spot in Canadian railway history, but the scenery is spectacular.

No matter what season you visit Morant’s Curve, you’ll get some of the most stunning views of the Canadian Rockies. You may even get lucky enough to see the iconic red trains or snap some Instagram-worthy photos!

Other Things to do While You’re in Banff

Banff gondola building and boardwalk on a early spring day with lots of snow
The top of the Banff Gondola
Bailey and her mum pose for a photo at Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake!

Visiting Morant’s Curve is just one of the many awesome things you can do in Alberta! If you’re staying in nearby Banff, there’s lots to explore. To give you an idea, here are some of the other things you can do while you’re in Banff:

Where to Stay in Banff

At the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Me, in front of the Fairmont.

Most people that visit Morant’s Curve stay in Banff. There are so many things to do in Banff all year long, and it’s only a 45-minute drive from the viewpoint.

This area is also used to tourists so there are plenty of great hotels in Banff town. But since the selection can be overwhelming (and book up months in advance!), we’ve chosen some of our favorite options for each budget below:

Samesun Banff Hostel – $

Samesun Banff Hostel is a great budget hostel with dorm rooms. It has everything you could need on site including laundry, a restaurant and lounge, and a common area. It’s also perfect for those on a tight budget who want to stay in the heart of Banff town. This is only a backpacker place though, as there are no private rooms available. A bed here starts at $64 CAD, so for a great price and prime location, book a stay on either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.

Banff Inn – $$

The Banff Inn is the perfect mix of comfort and affordability. It has a budget-friendly price tag but also comes with lots of luxuries like a hot tub, steam room, and sauna, as well as a restaurant and bar. The hotel is located right on Banff Ave and all rooms are air-conditioned. A room here starts at $166 CAD but you should book the Banff Inn well in advance as this is one of the most popular hotels in Banff!

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort – $$

The Banff Rocky Mountain Resort has a swimming pool, hot tub, and gym, and all the rooms have kitchenettes or full kitchens. It’s the perfect place for families since it also offers two and three-bedroom units. The location is peaceful on Tunnel Mountain but yet only a 5-minute drive from Banff town. Rooms here start at $155 CAD and you can check availability and book online here.

Fairmont Banff Springs – $$$

The Fairmont Banff Springs is easily the most luxurious hotel in Banff. It’s not cheap, but the place is simply incredible – it seriously looks like a castle! Inside the hotel, you’ll find 11 restaurants, 14 shops, bowling, bars, a top-rated spa, a couple of pools, and so much more. If you’re visiting Banff on a honeymoon, then this should be the hotel you choose! Rooms here start as high as $755 CAD, and you can check prices and room availability online here.

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is mesmerizing!

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.

Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for reading!

Bailey poses for a photo at Morant's Curve in Banff
Thanks for reading!

If you’re traveling through this part of Canada, you should definitely stop at Morant’s Curve! We loved taking in this gorgeous site and highly recommend you go. Not only is it easy to visit, but it doesn’t take long and you’ll have an impressive photo to show for it. Hopefully, my guide has helped you learn more about this iconic location so you can easily plan your journey.

If you’re visiting other areas of the country, read my other blog about Canada here. I write about everything including road trips, location guides, and where to stay in each city. To give you an idea, I’ve linked to some articles below. Thanks for reading and safe travels!

33 Absolute BEST Things to do in Jasper, Alberta

26 Exciting Things to do in Saskatoon, Canada

Where to Stay on the Icefields Parkway: The Best Hotels & Campgrounds