16 FUN Things To Do At Moraine Lake

It’s no secret that visiting Moraine Lake is one of the best things to do in Banff. But once you get there and admire her astounding beauty, what is there to do? Many visitors put in all the work to get to Moraine Lake but then only spend an hour or so there just taking in the view. And while the view is fantastic, there is enough to do in the area to easily spend hours here.

Some of the best things to do at Moraine Lake include renting a canoe for a peaceful paddle, or attempt a hike like Sentinel Pass or Consolation Lakes. No matter what you choose to do, you’ll have views of the Ten Peaks and memories that will last a lifetime.


The Best Things To Do at Moraine Lake


Secure Your Reservation

Lake Moraine Road
Moraine Lake Road

One of the best things to do at Moraine is book your shuttle or tour! Okay, this is a joke, as it’s not truly one of the best things to do at Moraine Lake.

However, there is no more parking offered at Moraine Lake, so if you get your Parks Canada shuttle bus reservation in order, you can check one thing off for the day because you just overcame a severe hurdle that many face on any trip to Banff. If you can’t get the time you want on the Parks Canada shuttle we recommend looking into other private shuttle options like Moraine Lake Bus Company or Via Via Shuttle. If you’d rather not have to deal with any hassle getting to Moraine Lake, you can always book a tour and let them handle all the logistics for you!

Getting to Moraine Lake is not as easy as rocking up, parking, and getting out of your car anymore. Thankfully there are still quite a few ways to get to Moraine Lake. We detail a few other options below.


Catch Sunrise or Sunset at the Rockpile Trail

moraine lake

The most popular thing to do at Moraine Lake is take a stroll up the Rockpile Trail. The Rockpile Trail is where you can get some of the best photos of Moraine Lake, especially at sunrise and sunset.

A nice and short walking trail will lead you to the top, and you will no doubt find plenty of photographers here at any point in the day. We encourage everyone to take in the view from the Rockpile, but be forewarned; this is where all the crowds all hang out. You’ll have to hike further away or get out on the water to get away from people.


Walk the Moraine Lake Lakeshore

things to do at moraine lake

This flat trail goes around Moraine Lake and is one of the most accessible hikes you can do in the area. The Moraine Lake Lakeshore trail starts near the canoe docks and continues along the lake, moving in and out of the forest.

The trail is 5.15 km out and back, and despite being an easy one with little elevation gain, it sees far fewer visitors than the Rockpile Trail. The hike ends at a boardwalk near the waters flowing down from Wenkchemna Pass.


Canoe on Moraine Lake

natasha alden canoeing on moraine lake

Canoeing on Moraine Lake is one of the most sought-after activities in the entire park. There’s no better feeling than paddling on a brilliantly blue-colored Banff lake with the most majestic mountain peaks ahead of you.

You can either bring your own canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard or rent a canoe from the canoe docks operated by Moraine Lake Lodge. However, with the parking restrictions, getting your own watercraft to Moraine Lake will require a bit of advanced planning. You can still bring inflatable kayaks and stand up paddleboards on the Parks Canada Shuttle and on private shuttles like the Moraine Lake Bus Co.

Canoe rental fees are hefty at $140 an hour here, so if you can split the cost with one or two other people, it will help keep costs down. Canoe rentals come with paddles and a lifejacket and operate on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Have Lunch at Moraine Lake Lodge

Moraine-Lake-Lodge

After a few years of closure, we’re happy to report that Moraine Lake Lodge is now open! This means that visitors to Moraine Lake can enjoy dining in the Walter Wilcox Dining Room at Moraine Lake Lodge.

This is one of the top restaurants in Banff National Park, set in one of the most pristine locations. Make reservations and enjoy a large stone fireplace, an elegant interior, and huge windows looking out to Moraine Lake. If you don’t want to dine in, the Snowshoe Café is always open between 9 and 4 every day in the summer for a quick bite to eat.


Cycle to Moraine Lake

Biker on Moraine Lake Road at sunset
Biking Moraine Lake Road When it Is Closed to Vehicles

Biking to Moraine Lake is more fun than it sounds! Although it’s 14km one way and all uphill, your reward is fantastic. We’ve biked to Moraine Lake a few times in the past, and every time get to enjoy Moraine Lake without the crowds. From Lake Louise, it’s approximately 14 km uphill. This takes me about one hour on a mountain bike and 45 minutes on a road bike. It’s all uphill, but the fun ride down makes it all worth it.

The best time to bike to Moraine Lake is when it is car-free. This happens around the third or fourth week of May for a very short period. This one short week in Banff is when they plow Lake Moraine Road but don’t open the road to vehicles. This means you can bike to Moraine Lake and have it all to yourself – which we guarantee is impressive. (Though you can bike to Moraine Lake anytime you want, but you’ll be sharing the winding road with buses).

If you’re a domestic traveler, make sure to bring your bike to Banff. It’s also possible to rent bicycles for the day in either Banff Cycle in Banff, Rebound Cycle in Canmore, or Wilson Sports in Lake Louise. If visiting during peak summers it’s recommended to reserve bike rentals in advance.


Scramble the Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel at Moraine Lake
Looking over Moraine Lake from the Tower of Babel


This is the most well-known scramble in the Moraine Lake area, but it’s a pretty steep climb at 2.9 km and 518 meter gain. Still, the Tower of Babel is a sub-peak that’s pretty easy to access and is appropriate for entry-level scramblers. You’re guaranteed some fabulous views of Moraine Lake, Consolation Valley, and the Bow Valley.

The route heads up a gully right off Moraine Lake and has a steep, consistent climb to the top. It’s a scree bash (loose rock), but it’s a pretty well-worn trail due to its popularity. It’s a challenging workout for novice hikers who may underestimate the 518m climb to the top as it’s literally straight up.

The biggest threat on this route is a loose rock falling down the gully from a party above; I strongly recommend wearing a helmet! It’s also best to start early and be one of the first to the top in the morning so you don’t have loose rock falling on you from hikers above.


Hike to Consolation Lakes

Consolation Lake in Banff

Consolation Lakes is a more accessible, family-friendly alternative to the Tower of Babel. This is a great beginner Banff hike that can be paired with the Moraine Lake Lakeshore Trail or Moraine Lake Rockpile Trail.

You get views of the scree slopes from the Tower of Babel along the hike. The hike passes through the old-growth forest before arriving at an alpine field and wetlands with the Consolation Lakes at the end. Once at the lakes, you’ll get tremendous views of Mount Fay.


Enjoy the Larches

Larch-Valley

The larch season is everyone’s favorite season in Banff. Sometime around the third week of September, the needles on the larch trees turn a beautiful golden color before dropping to the ground before the winter.

While there aren’t many larch trees around Moraine Lake, you can quickly be surrounded by them with a great Moraine Lake hike. The most notable is the Larch Valley up to Sentinel Pass, where you’ll be surrounded by larches galore!


Hike Sentinel Pass

sentinel pass hikeat moraine lake
Sentinel Pass Hike

Hike up to Larch Valley from Moraine Lake and continue on to Sentinel Pass. This is a relatively challenging and hugely popular hike in Banff. Though, it’s easy to see why as it offers some of the best views in Banff – especially during the larch season.

The pass is most well known and attracts hundreds of photographers and hikers during Banff in the fall, so don’t expect to be here alone. For the best chance at a quiet experience, hike this one on a weekday and start at sunrise.

If you really want a long but epic hike, you can hike up and descend Sentinel Pass along the Paradise Valley Trail. This trail will take you past Lake Annette, and ends at Lake Louise. There are so many trail options in this area, so you’ll have to grab a map to see which is best for you!


Have Lunch at Minnestimma Lake

 Minnestimma Lake
Minnestimma Lake

Lake Minnestimma is a beautiful lake that you’ll see when hiking the Larch Valley Trail. It sits right below the significant push-up to Sentinel Pass. If you don’t want to hike the final 200 meters up to Sentinel Pass, some at Minnestimma Lake with a packed lunch and enjoy the view of the Ten Peaks.


Scramble Up Eiffel Peak or Mount Temple

Mount-Temple
In Front of the Iconic Mount Temple

If you want to try some significant mountain objectives, there are fantastic scrambles in the area. The first is Effiel Peak, which at 11.3 km distance and almost 1300 meters of elevation gain, is no simple task. This is an excellent option for those with plenty of Canadian Rockies hikes and a few scrambles under their belt.

From the top of Eiffel Peak, you’ll get astounding views of Paradise Valley, Valley of the Ten Peaks, Mount Temple and Moraine Lake. Next to nearby Mount Temple, it’s one of the highest mountains you can climb without mountaineering or rock climbing experience.

Then there is Mount Temple, a popular objective for those who want to climb one of the highest mountains in Alberta. At 11,627 ft in elevation, it’s a huge day out. To summit Mount Temple, you’ll have to gain a whopping 1,682 meters and deal with a few tough scramble sections. It’s a long day out that is best reserved for experienced hikers. Additionally, it needs to be summited at the right time of year; usually, it’s best summitted between mid-July and mid-September as scramblers have to wait for the snow to melt off enough for a safe summit and also the time it right before the next season’s snowfall in late September/October. 


Hike to Lake Louise

Lake-Annette
Annette Lake

Yes you can connect Lake Louise to Moraine Lake via a hiking trail! The Paradise Valley trail is an extension of Sentinel Pass mentioned above. This 20 km point-to-point hike can begin at either Lake Louise or Moraine Lake.

This trail is best done starting at Moraine Lake, hiking up to Sentinel Pass, and dropping down into Paradise Valley. That way, you’re gaining most of your elevation gain on a well-worn trail up to Sentinel Pass and descending on a rough scree trail to Paradise Valley rather than ascending up to it.

You’ll pass through thousands of larches along the route while hiking under Mount Temple, which if hiking during the fall, you’ll be in a sea of golden goodness. You’ll pass by Annette Lake along the trail, which is a great place to stop for lunch. It’s best to utilize the Parks Canada Shuttle for this hike as it’s a point-to-point hike.


Cross Country Ski to Moraine Lake

moraine lake in winter

Moraine Lake isn’t accessible in the winter unless you cross-country ski to it. There are set tracks that almost go all the way to Moraine Lake along Moraine Lake Road.

The double-track-set ski trail will take you to a viewpoint out to Consolation Lakes, not all the way to Moraine Lake. Nevertheless, you’ll still get breathtaking views. It is not recommended to go past this point as there is high avalanche risk in the winter. Anyone getting back to Moraine Lake in the winter should have avalanche gear and training.


Hike to Lake O Hara

Hiking at Lake O Hara
Hiking at Lake O Hara

This one is for the super adventurous as this route takes a full day and involves lots of elevation gain and loss (over 1000 meters over 18km). It involves hiking to Lake O Hara via Wenkchemna Pass. At the top of the pass, you’ll find yourself standing on the Continental Divide, with a breathtaking view of British Columbia to the west and the impressive Wenkchemna Glacier.

To hike the full route this is best done with a guide as it involves roped glacier travel over the Opabin Glacier. This route is best reserved for those with intermediate to advanced hiking ability and fitness. Tours start at $240 a person with Alpine Air Adventures.


Stay at the Moraine Lake Lodge

sunset at moraine lake

There is only one place to stay on the stunning lake: Moraine Lake Lodge. Recently renovated, Moraine Lake Lodge is now accepting bookings in 2024.

You won’t forget your time here if you can score a reservation and dish out the $1000+ a night. There’s something special about being some of the only people to watch the night sky on top of the Rockpile Trail – and then getting to retreat back to your luxurious room when you get cold.


When is the Best Time to Visit Moraine Lake?

moraine-lake

Moraine Lake is only accessible once Parks Canada opens Moraine Lake Rd, which is between June 1st and October 14th, 2024. These dates and subject to change as the road opening all depends on snow conditions. That means dates can slightly change every year.

Seeing that Moraine Lake is only open between June and mid-October, this would be the best time to go. My favorite times to visit are July, August, and late September for the larches in Larch Valley. However, these periods are also the busiest times in the park.


Can You Visit Moraine Lake and Lake Louise in the Same Day?

banff lakes - lake louise
Lake Louise

You can absolutely visit Moraine Lake and Lake Louise on the same day, and we’ve done it many times. However, doing this will take some planning during the summer months, as they are both very busy lakes. Thankfully, the Parks Canada Lake Connector Shuttle makes it very simple to see both lakes with a shuttle reservation, and nearly every tour running to Moraine Lake also runs to Lake Louise!

If you plan to take on any large hikes or canoe on both lakes, it’s best to plan your day and start early to make the most out of your Banff itinerary.


Hopefully you found these things to do at Moraine Lake helpful for your trip planning! If you have any other questions leave a comment or see our Canadian Rockies travel guide for more articles about photography spots, lakes, hikes, and everything else.


Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • 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 camper prices on Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals and like to use travel credit cards to hack our way into free flights and hotels! Our favorite cards are the Capital One Venture X and Chase Sapphire, which both work well in Canada and have no foreign transaction fees.
  • 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!

↓ Join the community ↓

The Banff Blog Facebook Group is your headquarters for Canadian Rockies travel advice and information, including hike and off-season travel information. You can also meet new adventure buddies.

the banff blog facebook group

About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

If you have found the content on this site helpful to your trip planning please consider supporting The Banff Blog. You can say thanks directly by buying us a coffee. All support is much appreciated!

1 thought on “16 FUN Things To Do At Moraine Lake”

  1. hi Natasha,
    i was trying to rsvp the Lake Louise shuttle bus tickets today for July 3rd trip, but it wont allow yet and it says it will release daily 48 hrs before the departure. And this is the last minute departures only. Regular departures are not available to buy or maybe full already. Is this normal and you just have to be there and hoping there will be space to get on the bus? Please let me know. Thanks. Love your articles…

    Reply

Leave a Comment