Morant’s Curve is a scenic viewpoint near Lake Louise of a dramatic bend along the Bow River where trains pass through the Canadian Rockies. As trains pass around the bend, they have a spectacular backdrop of the Lake Louise mountains and surrounding valleys.
The famed photo spot is along the Bow Valley Parkway and is a popular photographer location. It’s a fabulous stop for visitors planning to drive leisurely down the parkway.
All About Morant’s Curve
The famed photo spot is a short drive from Lake Louise, and you can even see the mountains surrounding the glacial lake. It is off the Bow Valley Parkway, an alternate scenic route connecting Banff and Lake Louise.
Photographers plan their time here strategically, and catching a shot of a train heading west in the morning light will surely be a winner. However, anyone can appreciate the spectacular view, so it’s well worth a stop for anyone driving along the parkway.
Mount Fairview is the most prominent mountain background, but also Mount St. Piran, Niblock, Whyte, Saddle, Sheol, and Haddo Peak. If you’re curious, Lake Louise sits North of Mount Fairview.
Why is it Called Morant’s Curve?
Morant’s Curve gets its name from Nicholas Morant, a photographer working for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the mid 20th century. He was hired by the railway to produce promotional material, but his extensive work in the Canadian Rockies was used to promote tourism to Western Canada.
Directions To Morant’s Curve
The fastest way to Morant’s Curve is from the North end of the Bow Valley Parkway. It is one of the first notable stops along the parkway from this direction and takes about a five-minute drive.
It’s pretty tough to miss the viewpoint as there is a nice concrete viewpoint with a railing constructed when the view opens up. Across from the viewpoint is a small parking lot with enough room for a dozen vehicles.
Is There Parking at Morant’s Curve?
There is a small parking area across the road from the Morant’s Curve viewpoint. It is free to park here. The parking area can get quite busy in the summer as it’s a small parking lot.
From the parking lot to Morant’s Curve is less than a one-minute walk – no hiking involved, making Morant’s Curve a great family-friendly activity in Banff.
Do You Have to Hike to the Viewpoint?
Nope! The viewpoint is right across the road from the parking area. It will take less than a 1-minute walk to reach the famous viewpoint. In fact, the parking area is so close that you can sit in your car and stay warm if you want. When you head the “choo choo” of the train, it’s easy to hop out and run across the road. This is best for people with excellent hearing.
When to Visit Morant’s Curve
If you hope to catch a train traveling along the train tracks, visiting on a weekday is best. The train line service businesses along the railroad, so it sees the most frequent traffic during business days and during working hours.
If you visit during the weekday, trains come almost every hour. However, there is no guarantee, and CPR does not post schedules for security reasons. We’ve waited over an hour before in the dead of winter for the train, only for it to never come. We left with very frozen faces and fingers, and the photo you see above!
You can visit the Morant’s Curve viewpoint during any season; it always looks magical. However, I love the winter season the most. Keep in mind that after a big winter storm, plowing is prioritized on the TransCanada before clearing the Bow Valley Parkway.
How Long Should You Spend at Morant’s Curve?
How long you spend at Morant’s Curve depends on if you are waiting for a train to pass by! If you are just after the view and a quick photo of Mount Temple with the train tracks, stopping at Morant’s Curve shouldn’t take 10 minutes.
However, if you are dead set on seeing a train come around the mountains, you could spend an hour at Morant’s Curve.
If visiting in the winter, make sure to dress warm. Hats, gloves, and a good parka are all your friends if you plan on standing outside waiting for the train.
Of course, you could wait in your car and listen for a train horn. Though, you’ll have to run, cross a street, and get your camera ready very quickly – but we’ve done it, and it’s certainly possible!
Tips For Photographs at Morant’s Curve
The classic shot for photographers at Morant’s Curve is of a red Canadian Pacific train traveling westbound in the morning light. Morning is the best time to photograph the location. However, it’s always worth a stop to grab a photo of the stunning landscape.
Most of the trains that pass along Morant’s Curve are freight trains and for security reasons, they do not post their schedules publicly. You can find the schedule of the passenger train, the Rocky Mountaineer, in the summer months, but the train is far less dramatic than a large freight train with a red CP train leading the way.
It’s said that the trains travel the most during business hours. This means Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm.
My favorite photos of Morant’s Curve are taken during the winter months. After a fresh snowfall, the trains pop out amongst a sea of frosted trees and frozen mountains. Of course, it’s an amazing photo location any season of the year! If you are celebrating Christmas in Banff and happen to be in town when the iconic red CP Holiday Train is coming through, check their train tracker to catch it passing through Morant’s Curve.
My preference for photographing Morant’s Curve is a fast shutter speed as it captures a sharp train versus the slow shutter speed and movement. However, with a tripod and a long exposure, you can get a stunning photograph of a blurred train moving.
Is Morant’s Curve Free?
It is free to visit Morant’s Curve, however you need a Parks Canada pass to recreate in Banff National Park, and stopping at Morant’s Curve is definitely recreating. An adult park pass costs $11.00 for the day, or if you’re spending multiple days in Banff with the family, you can consider getting a Discover Pass. Read more about the Banff Park Pass here.
Is Morant’s Curve Worth Visiting?
If you are already driving the Bow Valley Parkway, Morant’s Curve is one of the top stops on the road, just after the famous Johnston Canyon. It’s well worth a stop if you driving the parkway, as well as if you are already at Lake Louise. Morant’s Curve is just a 9-minute drive from Lake Louise Village, so you must stop if you are already in Lake Louise.
That being said, if you are coming to the end of your trip and you have accidentally skipped Morant’s Curve, or you just don’t have the time, don’t feel bad! While Morant’s Curve is an amazing viewpoint, its highlight is if you can catch it with the train passing. It’s not one of the must-see sights in Banff like Moraine Lake or Peyto Lake, although it is exceptionally beautiful, particularly in the winter. I wouldn’t make a trip just to Morant’s Curve, but would instead combine it with a day on the Bow Valley Parkway, Moraine Lake, and Lake Louise.
Continue Driving the Bow Valley Parkway
After you’ve snapped your photos of beautiful Morant’s Curve, we recommend continuing the drive on the Bow Valley Parkway. If you’re driving from Banff to Lake Louise, your time on the Bow Valley Parkway is almost complete after Morant’s Curve. If you are driving from Lake Louise to Banff, Morant’s Curve is just the beginning!
The Bow Valley Parkway (1A) is easily accessible from both Banff and Lake Louise, and in between at Castle Junction. The Parkway is slower to drive than the Trans Canada, but the views and stops are simply magical. Some of my favorite stops are Castle Junction and Storm Mountain Lookout.
Where to Stay Near Morant’s Curve?
There are a few great places to stay along the Bow Valley Parkway and near Lake Louise. Some of our favorites are:
Things To Do In Lake Louise
Where to Eat Around Morant’s Curve?
You are less than a 10 minute drive from Lake Louise village if you are at Morant’s Curve, so if you are hungry, it’s best to head there. At the Samson Mall there are a few Lake Louise restaurants such as Trailhead Cafe and Laggan’s. I’m particularly fond of Trailhead Cafe smoothies and coffee.
There’s also a bubble tea joint, and a small grocery store. If you are in the mood for a burger check out Bill Peytos Cafe, and if you are craving a meal with a view head on up to the Lakeview Lounge at the Fairmont.
Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies
- Hiking in the Rockies: Purchase an AllTrails subscription to have a mobile map on you as you hike.
- Tours (New in 2024): The Banff Blog is partnering with one of the leading tour companies in Western Canada so readers can experience the magic of the Rockies with other travelers – without having to think about a thing. See all our 2024 tour offerings here!
- Hotels in the Rockies: There are many places to stay, from luxury hotels to wilderness cabins. See all our favorites here.
- Pack for the Rockies: See our complete Alberta packing list here.
- Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip. We like to compare prices on Motorhome Republic and Outdoorsy.
- Fly For Free: Turn your spending into airline miles and points with travel credit cards (that’s what we do!). See our favorite travel credit cards. We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals!
- Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!
- Travel Insurance: We don’t recommend traveling without travel insurance. We recommend checking out HeyMondo, which offers competitive rates for all travelers.
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