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Visiting Moraine Lake is easily one of the best things to do in Banff National Park. It’s known as one of the most picturesque lakes in Canada – maybe even the world! Chances are, you’ve seen photos of this iconic place plastered across Instagram or even postcards.
Nobody can deny that Moraine Lake is beautiful. But besides enjoying the view of the turquoise lake and the Ten Peaks in the background, what else is there to do at Moraine Lake?!
Well, lots actually!
I’ve been to Moraine Lake more times than I can count, and I’ve explored the area thoroughly. I can, with confidence, tell you there are more things to do at Moraine Lake than first meets the eye. And in this blog, I’ll tell you about the different activities you can do and places to explore at Moraine Lake!
- 9 Things to do at Moraine Lake
- Parking at Moraine Lake
- Where to Stay near Moraine Lake
- Before you go…
9 Things to do at Moraine Lake
1. Walk the Lakeshore Trail
The Lakeshore Trail is arguably the most popular hiking trail at Moraine Lake. I love this trail as you get to enjoy magnificent views of Moraine Lake from angles you simply don’t get from the viewpoints near the parking lot.
The trail starts at Moraine Lake Lodge and follows the edge of Moraine Lake for 1.5 kilometers. Once you reach the end, you must return via the same trail. In total it takes around an hour to walk the trail and admire the views.
The Lakeshore Trail is a great option for those who don’t consider themselves hikers, families, and even those with strollers. The path is both well maintained and flat, so it’s super easy!
2. Take in the views of the lake from the Rockpile
There’s one photo of Moraine Lake that everyone who’s visiting has most likely seen before. It’s the most famous view of the lake and the Ten Peaks. Well, that photo is taken from the Rockpile, and it’s also where I proposed to Bailey on our romantic trip to Banff.
The Rockpile is exactly what the name suggests, a huge pile of rocks. However, this pile of rocks has been turned into the ultimate viewing platform of Moraine Lake and EVERY visitor should walk to the top of the Rockpile to enjoy the view.
To reach the Rockpile, take the trail next to the bathrooms in the parking lot. Follow this trail and cross a small wooden bridge. Once you cross the bridge, keep walking up the trail and keep right (left goes to Consolation Lakes) and this trail leads up to the Rockpile where you can find lots of small viewpoints of the lake. This trail is signposted so you don’t need to worry about getting lost.
It only takes 5 minutes to walk to the top of the Rockpile and although not flat, it’s an easy walk!
3. Go canoeing on the lake
Can you imagine anything more mesmerizing than taking in the views of Moraine Lake and the Ten Peaks from a tiny canoe?! Me either!
This has to be one of the most iconic activities you can do at Moraine Lake and it’s actually an iconic activity in Canada too. So, if you’ve ever wanted to canoe in a Canadian lake, I don’t think there’s a more perfect place to do it than at Moraine Lake!
Canoes can be rented from the Moraine Lake Lodge and they start at $95 CAD for one hour. The canoes can fit up to three people so if you’re in a group, this is actually a relatively cheap activity in Banff National Park!
Rentals include life jackets and because of the stability of Canadian canoes, even those with no or limited experience can give it a try.
Related Read: Lake Louise is another place renting a canoe is extremely popular. We also have a guide to the 19 best things to do in Lake Louise.
4. Hike the Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass
During fall in Banff National Park, the Larch Valley Trail is one of the most spectacular hikes you can do. The entire valley erupts into a sea of yellow Larch trees with an epic backdrop of the famous Ten Peaks.
However, what many people don’t realize is the Larch Valley Trail is also a spectacular trail in the summer months. In fact, wildflowers blossom in the valley during this time, and to some, it’s their favorite time to hike the trail.
The Larch Valley trail starts from the Moraine Lake parking lot and follows the Lakeshore Trail before you reach a sign for the track telling you to go left. Once on this track, the trail quickly begins to climb high above the valley up a range of switchbacks (there are 10 to be exact.)
The initial climb gains around 450 meters in elevation which is not a walk in the park. But once you reach the valley, the trail flattens out until the end and you can finally enjoy the views! The total elevation gain of the track is 535 meters (1,755 feet.)
It takes around 4 hours to finish the 8.6 kilometer, out and back hike. If you’re feeling up to it you can also continue on to Sentinel Pass. Hiking to the pass not only gives you great views of the Larch Valley but also Paradise Valley on the other side. The extra hike to Sentinel pass is 1.5 kilometers each way and takes around 1.5 hours.
Hot Tip: If you want to see the fall colors, visit around the end of September to mid-October. There are also lots of other fun things to do in Banff in September, so make a full trip of it!
5. Eiffel Lake Trail
Eiffel Lake is a remote alpine lake situated not far from the Larch Valley. The beginning of the trail to Eiffel is actually the Larch Valley Trail, however, after you conquer the ten switchbacks you hit a fork in the road with one path heading to Eiffel Lake.
The Eiffel Lake Trail then continues on in the Valley of the Ten Peaks with stunning scenery everywhere you look. In some parts, you can even peer down at Moraine Lake and see her shine bright blue – especially on a sunny day! Eiffel Lake is only a small lake but it’s the surrounding landscapes that make visiting so rewarding.
From Moraine Lake, it’s a 12 kilometer out and back hike to Eiffel Lake that takes around 4 hours to complete. The trail is moderately difficult but those with hiking experience could join both the Larch Valley and Eiffel Lake into one long hike. In total this would take around 7 hours!
6. Stay at Moraine Lake Lodge
If you’re still thinking about where you want to stay when you visit Banff National Park, consider spending a night or two at Moraine Lake Lodge.
Moraine Lake Lodge is the only hotel at Moraine Lake and although from the outside the rooms look a little outdated, on the inside you’ll find freshly renovated modern rooms with all the luxurious you could want. Of course, such an amazing hotel isn’t cheap and a room will set you back around $850 + per night!
I’ve personally never been able to stomach that cost so I haven’t stayed myself, but if I ever win the lottery, I might just move there!
7. Scramble up the Tower of Babel
This next hike isn’t actually a hike at all. In fact, it’s not even an “official” trail (if you ask Parks Canada.) However, it’s one of, if not the most popular scrambles in Banff National Park.
The scramble to the top of the Tower of Babel is iconic. It’s those panoramic views of the mountains that have made the trail so famous and a must for any beginner scrambler.
The trail is short at only 2.9 kilometers, however, it involves a 518-meter climb on some pretty rough terrain. Once you reach the top the views of Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks are out of this world. You’ll quickly see why so many people make the hike to the Tower of Babel.
Hiking the trail requires a little planning and knowing exactly where to go. I could try to explain it, but this Tower of Babel hiking guide does it really well and it’s actually the blog I used to hike the trail.
8. Enjoy coffee with a view
The Snowshoe Café is Moraines Lake’s very own boutique café serving all your favorites including delicious coffee. Even in the summer, it can be bitterly cold at Moraine Lake and there’s no better way to warm up or wake up, than with a hot brew in your hand.
If it’s raining in Banff National Park, then escaping to the cafe for a little while is a good idea too!
So, grab a coffee and head to the edge of the lake to enjoy the amazing scenery!
9. Walk to Consolation Lakes
If you’re looking for an easy hike at Moraine Lake that’s a little more adventurous than the Lakeshore Trail, then Consolation Lakes Trail is a great option.
This 2.9-kilometer one-way trail gets you far away from the crowds of Moraine Lake and out to two beautiful alpine lakes with epic mountain backdrops. The trail is relatively flat and rated as easy so it’s perfect for the whole family.
After the first lake, there is a bit of a scramble over some rocks to get to the second, but if you’re not comfortable with it you can just visit the first lake. In my opinion, it’s the most beautiful anyway. All up, it only takes just over two hours to hike the trail there and back.
The trailhead starts at the bathrooms at the Moraine Lake parking lot. From there, just follow the path to the small wooden bridge and continue on until you reach a bear warning sign. Here, turn left and you are on the trail!
Related Read: Consolation Lakes is one of the easiest hikes near Canmore – find out what the others are!
Parking at Moraine Lake
Parking at Moraine Lake is a nightmare. In fact, it can be so hard to get a parking spot that I actually wrote an entire guide to getting a parking spot at Moraine Lake. Crazy I know, but it’s just that popular.
I highly suggest reading it before you go, otherwise, you simply won’t be prepared and may miss out on seeing Moraine Lake entirely!
Where to Stay near Moraine Lake
As I mentioned above, there is only one hotel at Moraine Lake and it’s extremely expensive! However, there are lots of great places to stay in Lake Louise Village! Personally, I love staying in Lake Louise when exploring the area, although Banff is close, it’s still a 45 minutes drive each way! Plus, there are plenty of restaurants to enjoy in Lake Louise as well as a large selection of hotels to choose from.
I’ve stayed here on more than a few occasions. It’s a great budget hotel/hostel with dorm beds and budget private rooms. It’s clean, comfortable and the staff are really friendly!
The Lake Louise Inn is another budget option that’s slightly more luxurious than the Hi Alpine Center. I stayed here once and really liked it. I loved their pool and hot tub, especially on cold nights! The rooms are also really modern.
Unfortunately, I’ve never stayed at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise but it is the most luxurious hotel in Lake Louise. The hotel isn’t in the village, instead, it sits on the shore of Lake Louise. The rooms and everything about this hotel is spectacular!
Related read: If you plan on staying in Banff, check out our guide to the 10 best hotels in Banff!
Renting a Car in Alberta
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.
Car rental in Canada is relatively cheap especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $70 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Rental Cars.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 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!
Canada Travel Essentials
Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.
Crampons: In winter crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect icy conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $29 and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!
Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part though? It comes in pink!
Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.
Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.
Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.
Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in hand so many times especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $27 and they serve my basic needs without any issues!
Before you go…
Moraine Lake really is one of the most magical places to visit in Canada. Not only is it stunning, but there are so many amazing things to do at Moraine Lake! I hope that I’ll get to visit many more times during my adventures across Canada – it’s safe to say I never get sick of the views!
Thanks so much for reading! If you found this guide on the best things to do at Moraine Lake helpful then be sure to browse all our Canada blogs! We have lots of awesome guides to the rocky mountains including these: