Canada’s Moraine Lake: One of the Most Beautiful Spots in the World

Being an idyllic hideaway, Moraine Lake is a little tricky to get to and as a result, isn’t open all year round
Being an idyllic hideaway, Moraine Lake is a little tricky to get to and as a result, isn’t open all year round
James Smart

Idyllic turquoise waters, towering pine trees and snow-capped mountains await…

You’ll need to revise your destination wish list if Canada’s Moraine Lake isn’t on there already, because this is one place that has to be seen to be believed.

Moraine Lake is also beautiful in the winter, when it is covered in snow.

Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest national reserve, established in 1885, and is packed full of picturesque locations that will leave your jaw firmly rooted to the ground. One of the jewels in its crown is Moraine Lake, a stunningly beautiful landscape and one of the most gorgeous sights you’ll ever set your eyes on.

Vivid, clean turquoise water that’s icy fresh with an average temperature of 41F (5C), Moraine Lake is surrounded by the magnificent Canadian Rockies. If you were to close your eyes and imagine the perfect mountainous lake setting with staggering contrasts of color, you would be visualizing Moraine Lake.

The vibrant colors of Moraine Lake

This picture-postcard lake, with snow-peaked mountains as far as the eye can see and lush pine trees as tall as they are evergreen, is a true sight to behold. But you’ll really be taken aback by the color of the lake. This almost ethereal body of water gets its colorful turquoise hue when the glaciers melt. The glacial melt deposits fine particles of bedrock into the water, which go on to refract light. The end result is the stuff of dreams – bright, almost otherworldly neon waters, the sight of which will stay with you for life.

Exploring Moraine Lake

The tranquility of the lake is there to savor, but if you’re the adventurous type, then Moraine Lake has plenty of amazing activities to partake in. Providing a sought-after backdrop for hiking trails, there’s no shortage of guided hikes that operate in the area. There are hundreds of trails in Banff National Park, with some accessible around Moraine Lake. Canoeing, boating and rafting are all on offer, as is kayaking, but if you’d rather leave the paddling to the professionals, you can take a gondola ride. Fishing is also a big pastime here. If you want to take in the sights from up above, there are guided helicopter tours to capture the majestic views.

When to visit Moraine Lake

Being an idyllic hideaway, Moraine Lake is a little tricky to get to, and as a result, it isn’t open all year round. Adverse weather conditions throughout the year means that from mid-October to mid-May, the road taking you to the lake is closed due to the very real risk of avalanches (which just adds to the exclusivity of the visit if you actually do make it there in-season).

Parking at Moraine Lake

As you can imagine, this level of beauty proves to be very popular with tourists from all around the world, so coming to marvel at its splendor takes a bit of careful planning, especially if you are planning to drive there. Parking is extremely limited, so one option could be to leave your car at the resort town of Banff in the province of Alberta, located within Banff National Park. You can then ride Roam Transit or Parks Canada shuttles to Moraine Lake and the neighboring Lake Louise. The environment will no doubt appreciate the gesture, and you can make the most of your visit by utilizing the local transportation on offer.

Staying at Moraine Lake

With so many amazing views to take in, it’s no surprise that people would love to stay on-site. If that sounds like you, then Moraine Lake Lodge is your best option to really immerse yourself in the environment. Located on the edge of the lake, iterations of a lodge have stood on the site going back as early as 1908.

The current structure of the lodge (which was built in 1988) allows the public staying on-site the rare chance to see Moraine Lake during dusk and dawn when there are fewer people around. Enhancing the experience even further, designer Arthur Erickson was briefed to build a facility that would blend into the environment. A series of spectacular cabins emerged that offer one- or two-room purpose-built log cabins with balconies that face the lake and mountains.

Some might say they are small, but cozy is a more apt description – these cabins have been built to admire the scenery, with sunken seating opposite a large window to mull over life’s bigger questions. There’s a balcony for two with chairs made from untreated logs that add a proper rustic feel to your stay. Even the beds overlook the scenic views, and each has a fireplace to really make those nights homey and welcoming. Reading by the fireside could be the perfect end to a day’s exploring. Accommodation can be pricey, but this isn’t your average destination, so it’s probably worth it for such a unique and special night’s stay.

Part of the lodge is available to the public even if you aren’t planning on staying overnight. A gift shop on the upper level is on hand for all of your trinket needs, and the Snowshoe Café is perfectly situated to catch your breath and get some well-earned rest from taking in all of the splendor.

Banff National Park

The national reserve is a real high point for Canada, maintained and nurtured to startling effect, giving visitors a real sense of how beautiful this planet can be when it’s left unspoiled.

Banff is your go-to destination for horseback riding, whitewater rafting or even a spot of golf. Banff lagoons and hot springs are popular attractions, too. If the splendor of Moraine Lake has left you wanting more, you can take the short journey to Lake Louise. Unlike Moraine, Louise is open all year.

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