To canoe across Moraine Lake is an experience that can not be recommended enough. Only a few are fortunate enough to make it to this lake in the Canadian Rockies and even less dip a paddle in its waters.
The turquoise waters of Moraine Lake are framed by the magnificent Ten Peaks for a splendid scene. It’s an iconic view of Canada and at one point was on the back of the Canadian $20 bill. There is likely no lake in the world more beautiful to canoe than Moraine Lake.
Moraine Lake Canoe Guide
Moraine Lake is one of the most popular attractions in Banff National Park and draws a crowd in the summer months. The main photo spot the Rockpile is a busy spot thousands of people grab their photo of the spectacular scenery. It is a magnificent setting, but it can be a little difficult to escape the crowds. One of the best ways to escape the crowds is to take to the water with a canoe. Or you can get out for a hike, but the Sentinel Valley and surrounding peaks can be intimidating for many along with the added threat of high levels of bear activity.
So if you’re looking for more to do at Lake Moraine than take photos and stand in awe a canoe rental is a great option. Visitors can rent canoes on the lake and it is at the canoe dock run by the Moraine Lake Lodge. There are a few downsides to canoe rentals at Moraine Lake. The price tag can be a little eye-watering, competitions to get a canoe, and limited parking.
Parking at Moraine Lake is limited by a small lot and the shuttle bus system although improving still makes it difficult to reach the lake. Access to the lake is at the end of a 20km long road and Parks Canada limits access to the road in the summer to stop a build-up at the parking lot. Most visitors will have to take advantage of the transfer bus from Lake Louise. To learn more read our main guide to Moraine Lake.
The canoe rentals at Moraine Lake operate on a first-come-first-serve basis so if you arrive late in the day you may be out of luck as it’s a popular activity. That being said outside of early morning or late evening there may be a brief wait for a canoe rental at Moraine Lake. It’s not near as busy as renting canoes at Lake Louise, probably due to the difficulty in reaching Moraine Lake. Once you’re out canoeing on Moraine Lake you won’t have the lake to yourself, but it’s easy enough to keep your distance from other canoes on the lake.
This is particularly easy if you aim to paddle the whole lake as most people tend to stick close to the dock and the middle of Moraine Lake. The lake is not as large as canoeing on Lake Louise so an hour-long canoe rental should suffice. It should give you enough time to paddle around the lake and grab a number of photos to save the memory, almost impossible to get a bad photo. Canoes can accommodate two to three people and they do not allow pets.
Of course, you’re welcome to bring your own canoe or watercraft to Moraine Lake. The only problem is the parking situation as it the only way to bring in your own kayak or canoe. This means an early morning in the summer months at the crack of dawn to secure a spot. We like to plan for a big hike/scramble in the region for in the morning like Eiffel Peak and then finish the day with a leisurely paddle.
Moraine Lake Canoe Season and Rental Hours
Every season is different as it’s entirely dependent on seasonal weather. Generally, the lake unthaws around mid-June and the canoe rentals run until mid-September when the lake water levels drop due to less glacial melt in colder weather.
The daily hours are from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. weather permitting as they will close with severe inclement weather. Keep in mind the last boat is around 4:00 p.m. as the boat dock closes to the public at 5:00 p.m.
Moraine Lake Canoe Rental Rates
|Canoe Rental For Public||$120 per hour (+tax)|
Why Are Canoe Rentals Expensive?
I’m sure by now you realize canoe rentals at Moraine Lake are pretty expensive. There are a number of reasons for the prices of canoe rentals. The first is the short season so the operator has to recoup their investment in the few months that Moraine Lake is unfrozen. You also have zero competition so the Moraine Lake Lodge can set whatever price they see fit, which follows just behind the prices set by the Fairmont at Lake Louise. On top of all that the liability insurance for operating in the park and renting canoes is very expensive.
Tips For Canoeing on Moraine Lake
- Temperatures are very cool in the shoulder months of June and September. When you go out on the water, be sure to pack in layers so you can remain warm.
- Weather on the lakes particularly the large bodies of water can change rapidly. Keep an eye on the horizon if it’s looking like a storm or the wind starts to pick up it may be time to get off the water.
- Take sun protection seriously on warm days as the water reflection is very strong. We suggest making sure you have a hat, long sleeve shirt, and sunglasses.
- Bring a water bottle in case you start heating up in the peak summer.
- Remain calm and don’t rock the boat when out on the water. The glacial-fed Moraine Lake is frigid all year round and you’re not going to be a happy camper if you end up in the water and require rescue.
- All canoe rental operators provide life jackets so make sure to take advantage.
Can You Bring Your Own Canoe Or Kayak?
Yes, you can bring your own canoe or kayak to Moraine Lake or any body of water within Banff National Park. As stated earlier there is no public boat launch at Moraine Lake this means you’ll have to carry your canoe from the public parking lot. That is if you can get a parking spot as they fill up fast in the summer months. We love to go for a SUP on the lake by arriving early in the morning for a hike and then relaxing on the water in the afternoon. However, we’ve been able to get a parking spot and get out own canoe in the water occasionally too. All the photos from this post are with our personal canoe!
Canoes in Banff
If you’re not keen on waiting in line or paying the high prices for a canoe rental at Lake Louise there are other locations that you can head in the Banff National Park. For more information, you can check out our post on canoe rentals in Banff.