How To Visit and Photograph Morant’s Curve in Banff

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

Morant's Curve in the winter

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.

The Best Banff Photography & Picture Spots (and How to Get To Them)

Why is it Called Morant’s Curve?

Portrait Photograph in Summer of 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.

His images of Emerald Lake and Moraine Lake were used as sources for the banknotes that featured the two iconic lakes. It’s said that the curve was his favorite location to photograph.


Directions To Morant’s Curve

Morant's Curve Map

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?

Morants Curve Parking
Taking a photo from across the road from the viewpoint – it’s just a short walk!

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

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?

morant's curve banff
Morant’s Curve in early April

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

Train Passing 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.

morants curve

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?

biking the bow valley parkway
We always stop at Morant’s Curve when we bike the Bow Valley Parkway!

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

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.

10 Awesome Bow Valley Parkway Stops (Driving Banff to Lake Louise)

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

banff lakes - lake louise

After you stop at Morant’s Curve, keep heading towards Lake Louise for plenty of things to do like canoeing on Lake Louise, hiking the Big Beehive, or going up the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola.

21 Amazing Things to Do in Lake Louise

Where to Eat Around Morant’s Curve?

Trailhead Cafe at Lake Louise
Trailhead Cafe at Lake Louise

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.

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About Cameron

Cameron is a resident of Canmore, Alberta. After traveling the world for six years, he settled down in the beautiful Bow Valley with Natasha. He has been featured as a travel expert with numerous publications worldwide and has spoken on several occasions about the power of travel. He has a passion for all things in the Canadian Rockies and loves to spend his time snowboarding, scrambling, camping, biking, and trail running. Conservation is a deep fundamental in his life, and he aims to inspire others to care about our natural world. You can learn more on the about us page.

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