Our Moraine Lake guide will help to plan your trip in all 4 seasons! Including local tips, you won’t find elsewhere (believe me, I checked) about transport, camping, biking, hikes, and more.
Moraine Lake in Banff National Park often makes the list of the most beautiful lakes in the world. With its breathtaking turquoise colour, ten mountain peaks in the background, and easy access to the lake, it’s easy to see why.
You can rent a canoe, walk around the lake, hike above Moraine Lake, have a picnic on the shore and soak up the beauty for hours, and do many more activities.
Even though you were able to drive right up to the lake, it’s not as easy as it used to be. An insane amount of visitors and traffic, seasonal closure of the road, and rules implemented by Parks Canada are all important things to consider before visiting.
We’ve visited Moraine Lake many times over the years in all four seasons – even when the road was closed or a parking lot was full.
Now it’s time to show you all the tips for visiting Moraine Lake.
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Table of Contents
About Moraine Lake
Located in the heart of Banff National Park in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, the spectacular glacial-fed Moraine Lake sits at an elevation of 1,885 m.
It starts to thaw in late May (see photos below).
The narrow winding road from Lake Louise Village to Moraine Lake is only open from mid-May/June to mid-October. Because it passes a hazardous avalanche path, it’s closed and inaccessible during winter.
2023 Update: The Moraine Lake Road is scheduled to be opened on June 1, 2023, but access to private vehicles is forbidden. Continue reading for options on how to visit Moraine Lake in 2023.
If you’re looking for an adventurous trip and have freedom over your day while staying in campgrounds, book a Smile Campervan from us – a budget, family & pet-friendly option.
Changes about Moraine Lake in 2023
Over the past years, the popularity of Moraine Lake exploded and so did the crowds and traffic. Many people were illegally parking overnight in the tiny parking lot or had to visit at 4 am to find a parking spot at Moraine Lake. This naturally leads to some restrictions.
Sadly, Parks Canada didn’t think of a better solution than to close off the road to Moraine Lake completely for private vehicles in the 2023 season.
Now there are these options to visit Moraine Lake:
- Moraine Lake Shuttle
- Roam Transit
- Moraine Lake Bus Company
- Private tour companies
- Biking the road to Moraine Lake (my favourite)
- Hiking along the road to Moraine Lake
Best time to visit Moraine Lake
Glaciers surrounding Moraine Lake are thawing slowly, and the lake fills up in June. Until then, the low water level is covered with huge ice blocks, and you can walk on a wide beach shore (which will be covered by the lake in June).
When glaciers are thawing, the meltwater flowing through the rocks into the lake creates rock flour (also called glacial milk). Depending on the light reflecting off the rock flour, Moraine Lake can have different shades of blue colour. The same happens with the stunning Peyto Lake and many other lakes in the Rockies.
This process takes time in late spring, so don’t expect to see the gorgeous turquoise colour Moraine Lake is famous for until mid to late June.
The best time to visit Banff National Park is a separate topic, and it’s based on your preferences, but access to Moraine Lake is only available for a short period of time.
If you can, try to avoid holidays/long weekends in Canada when it’s the busiest time to visit Moraine Lake – Canada Day on July 1, Heritage Day on August 3, and Labour Day on September 4.
Read our recommendation: A comprehensive Banff packing guide for Canadian Rockies.
Early morning & sunrise at Moraine Lake
The best time to visit Moraine Lake is early in the morning, before sunrise, from late June to late September.
In fact, I would highly recommend visiting in September because the Ten Peaks will most likely have a dusting of snow, and it’s the most spectacular view of Moraine Lake.
Watching the sunrise over the Ten Peaks is a magnificent experience. While biking the road to Moraine Lake is also an option, I do not recommend it if you’d like to see the sunrise because you would have to bike in the dark in a bear country, which is not the safest option.
You can visit Moraine Lake at sunrise or early in the morning with these options:
1. Moraine Lake Bus Company – sunrise option
Moraine Lake Bus Company is one of the very few companies that provide transportation to Moraine Lake soon enough to catch a sunrise (all sunrise options companies are mentioned below under ‘How to get to Moraine Lake’).
It’s also the most budget-friendly since it’s transportation only (not a guided tour), and buses depart only from Lake Louise. For sunrise at Moraine Lake, the bus departs from Samson Mall in Lake Louise village. You can choose a 4 am or 5 am departure.
If you’re a photographer, I’d suggest a 4 am option, so you have enough time to find a good spot, as you’ll be sharing it with lots of other photographers as well.
If you’re planning to go hiking at Moraine Lake, then the 5 am option is perfect. You catch a sunrise and start your hike before the crowds arrive.
Because the sunrise at Moraine Lake is so popular, the tickets start at 59 CAD (5 am departure) & 69 CAD (4 am departure). The tickets work on a variable pricing system, so prices for the weekend when there’s more demand will be higher.
Although the price is a bit steep, I’d pay for it. Especially if you’re on vacation in the Rockies and seeing the most beautiful lake in Canada is on your bucket list, you won’t regret it!
2. Moraine Lake Parks Canada Shuttle – early morning option
Early morning at Moraine Lake is a beautiful time and my favourite. Moraine Lake and the Ten Peaks behind it are dressed in the warm morning light, and the lake is calm before the canoe rentals open at 9 am.
The recipe for the perfect morning at Moraine Lake is hiking up the Rockpile for the best pictures and then enjoying a walk along the shore with a picnic.
Parks Canada operates Moraine Lake shuttles starting at 6:30 am. But for this early departure, you need to book tickets online as soon as possible as they go very fast. When shuttle bookings opened in spring, early morning tickets were the first to be sold out.
However, Parks Canada only releases 40% of available tickets. The remaining 60% of tickets will be released on a rolling window at 8 am and 48 hours before departure throughout the season.
Evening at Moraine Lake is the most peaceful time. Crowds are gone, and you can even have the scenery to yourself if you’re lucky.
Even though sunrise is much better than sunset at Moraine Lake, it’s still a better option than visiting mid-day.
How to get to Moraine Lake
Accessibility, which is the main reason for Moraine Lake’s popularity, couldn’t be any easier. When you’re visiting Banff National Park and driving the Trans-Canada Highway, exit at Lake Louise onto Lake Louise Drive and follow the signs to Moraine Lake. It’s 14 km and about a 20-minute drive from the exit to Moraine Lake parking lot. Unfortunately in 2023, you won’t be able to drive to Moraine Lake yourself as Parks Canada restricted access.
The options to visit Moraine Lake in 2023 are:
- Moraine Lake Shuttle
- Roam Transit (starts September 2023)
- Moraine Lake Bus Company
- Private tour companies
- Biking the road to Moraine Lake (my favourite)
- Walking/Hiking along the road to Moraine Lake
- Staying at Moraine Lake Lodge
A detailed description of each option is below.
Moraine Lake Shuttle (by Parks Canada)
Using the Moraine Lake Shuttle operated by Parks Canada is by far the easiest and most budget-friendly option.
Parks Canada recommends making a reservation online in advance. However, they only release 40% of available tickets. The remaining 60% of tickets will be released on a rolling window at 8 am and 48 hours before departure throughout the season.
Moraine Lake Shuttle details
Parks Canada operates Moraine Lake shuttles starting at 6:30 am with the last shuttle departing at 6 pm (and returning at 7:30 pm). For early departure, you need to book tickets online as soon as possible as they go very fast. When shuttle bookings opened in spring, early morning tickets were the first to be sold out. But afternoon and evening shuttles are less busy.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The ticket gives you access to see Moraine Lake & Lake Louise on the same day. For the transfer between the lakes, use the free Lake Connector bus (operating on a first-come-first-serve basis).
Moraine Lake Shuttle fees:
- 8 CAD/adult (18-64 years)
- 4 CAD/senior (65+ years)
- FREE for kids 17 & under
- 3 CAD non-refundable online reservation fee & 6 CAD if booking by phone
- FREE parking at the Park and Ride parking lot
- You’re required to purchase a park pass to enter Banff National Park separately, you can purchase it online here. I highly recommend purchasing a pass online before you visit. If you choose to purchase the pass at the gate of Banff National Park, you might wait in line for hours.
Instructions on how to reserve your tickets (walk-up tickets are based on the availability on the bus, so better to reserve in advance):
- go to Parks Canada
- click on ‘Reserve Now’ under Parks Canada shuttles
- once redirected to a reservation site, go to the green tab ‘Day Use’
- select ‘Shuttle to Moraine Lake and Lake Lousie’
- under ‘Park’ select ‘Banff-Lake Louise’, choose your arrival date and party size & hit the Search button
- after the search is complete, select ‘Shuttle’ on the map
- you can choose from available dates and one-hour time slots
How your day with Moraine Lake Shuttle looks like:
- Park your vehicle at Park and Ride parking lot (free of charge) located at Lake Louise Ski Resort, which is the departure point for all shuttles operated by Parks Canada.
- Your pre-purchased ticket is for a one-hour window, so you can show up anytime during that hour.
- Once you arrive at the lake, you can stay as long as you like
- When you’re ready, hop on the free Lake Connector bus, which is operating on a first-come-first-serve basis, to connect between Moraine Lake and Lake Louise (note that the Lake Connector bus is for reservation holders only)
- Your ticket includes the return shuttle from Moraine Lake or Lake Louise back to the Park and Ride parking lot (the last one departing from both lakes is at 7:30 pm)
Moraine Lake shuttle schedule:
- Shuttle to Lake Louise Lakeshore runs every 20 minutes from 6:30 am to 6 pm (last return shuttle at 7:30 pm)
- Shuttle to Moraine Lake runs every 20 minutes from 6:30 am to 6 pm (last return shuttle at 7:30 pm)
- Lake Connector bus from Moraine Lake to Lake Louise runs every 15 minutes from 8 am to 6 pm
- Lake Connector bus from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake runs every 15 minutes from 8 am to 6 pm
All shuttles run daily until October 9, 2023.
For a detailed map and the most up to date information about the Moraine Lake shuttle, visit Parks Canada.
The direct Roam Transit bus only runs to Moraine Lake between September 19, 2023, and October 10, 2023. It’s a heavily used route by hikers for the larch season. For the schedule and fees of the Moraine Lake Route 10, from Banff to Moraine Lake, visit Roam Transit.
A regular Roam Transit bus, Lake Louise-Banff Express (Route 8X), operates year-round. To reserve your ticket or see their schedule, click here.
While you can pay directly on the bus, reservations are recommended. Roam bus tickets cost 10 CAD/adult (one-way), and children 12 and under are free (but require a reservation). Roam buses accept US and Canadian currency, but cash only.
The Roam Transit Super Pass is a ticket valid for one day only on any travel between Canmore and Lake Louise for 25 CAD/adult with unlimited rides (including the Lake Connector between Moraine Lake and Lake Louise). You can purchase the Roam Transit Super Pass on the bus, through the Token Transit App, or online here.
Moraine Lake Bus Company
Moraine Lake Bus Company is one of the very few companies that provide transportation to Moraine Lake for sunrise.
It’s also the most budget-friendly since it’s transportation only (not a guided tour), and buses depart only from Lake Louise. For sunrise at Moraine Lake, the bus departs from Samson Mall in Lake Louise village. You can choose a 4 am or 5 am departure. For later departures, the shuttle leaves from the Lake Louise Summer Gondola (same as Park and Ride parking lot).
Because the sunrise at Moraine Lake is so popular, the tickets start at 59 CAD (5 am departure) & 69 CAD (4 am departure). The tickets for later in the day usually cost 35 CAD/adult & 25 CAD/child. The tickets work on a variable pricing system, so prices for the weekend when there’s more demand will be higher.
Special features of the Moraine Lake Bus Company:
- Several of their departure times also include a 1-hour stop at Lake Louise
- You can book a specific departure time from Moraine Lake, so no need to wait in line
The bus can take inflatable kayaks, SUPs or strollers
Private tour companies
Hop-On Hop-Off Bus
The famous hop-on-hop-off bus arrived in Banff. It’s a popular option for travellers in many countries all around the world. This seems to be a real stress-free option.
This is how it works:
- You pay for a day pass and hop on the bus in Banff in the morning.
- The bus has scheduled stops at Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise gondola, Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. You are free to get off/hop off the bus at any of these stops.
- Note the bus schedule and hop back on whenever you’re ready to leave your destination.
- Hop off at any other scheduled bus stops.
- Hop back on any time to get back to Banff, and you’re guaranteed to have a seat.
Open top shuttle to Moraine Lake & Lake Louise
A fun way to see Moraine Lake and surrounding mountains is on an open-top double-decker bus. Buses depart every hour from the Lake Louise Skir Resort between 8 am and 3 pm. You can spend as much time as you like at either lake and return when you’re ready. Buses leave from either lake every hour. Prices start at 36.95 CAD/person even on weekends!
Moraine Lake sunrise shuttle
Another option for sunrise is with the Moraine Lake sunrise shuttle. For 75 CAD/person, you get a round-trip sunrise shuttle service with pick up from Canmore, Banff or Lake Louise, a headlamp, blanket, complimentary hot drinks, and 2 hours at Moraine Lake.
They also offer storage for photography gear, backpacks, strollers, and inflatable stand-up paddleboards.
Biking to Moraine Lake
1. Biking the Moraine Lake Road
Biking the Moraine Lake Road is a treat for cyclists, especially before the road opens for vehicle traffic. It’s 12 km one-way with a small and steady incline. We biked in late May, and the road wasn’t plowed all the way to the lake, but it was still a beautiful ride and worth it.
If you bike the road to Moraine Lake shortly before the road opens and arrive at the lake, there will most likely be lots of ice blocks floating around, low water level and the lake won’t have the famous blue colour yet. The lake fills up in June when the gorgeous colour starts to appear.
You can bike when the road is open during summer as well, but nothing beats the silence and freedom of having the road to yourself.
Biking the road in May before it opens for vehicles might only be possible until the Ten Peaks viewpoint. That’s the first part they plow, and after that, the last 3 km can have waist-deep snow.
We’ve biked this stretch and had a great time. It was so hot we could bike in shorts and t-shirts while the road was semi-dry with huge snowbanks around. We were able to ride to the Ten Peaks viewpoint where we met the plow making its way further and preparing the road for opening.
Biking the Moraine Lake Road in October after it closes for vehicle traffic is a better idea, and it’s one of the best biking trails in the Banff area. You should check weather conditions beforehand, and if it hasn’t snowed heavily, you can bike all the way to Moraine Lake and have it all to yourself. What a treat!
This option worked better for us as well. We biked the road shortly after it closed with no snow in sight. It’s an easy uphill ride to a pristine and quiet Moraine Lake with well-deserved downhill afterwards.
2. Biking the Moraine Lake Highline Trail
Another option is biking the Moraine Lake Highline Trail, which is a single-track through the forest. There are several bridge crossings and beautiful vistas along the way. This would be a great option in summer when it’s really hot, and the road is busy with buses.
If you bike the Moraine Lake Highline Trail before the road opens to vehicle traffic, you might be able to park before the gate to the road, but there are only a few spots for parking.
When there are no spots left or if Moraine Lake Road is open for traffic, you can park at the paid Lake Louise parking lot (and then downhill to Moraine Lake Road) or at the free but limited parking at Samson Mall in Lake Louise village (and then need to bike uphill).
You start on Moraine Lake Road for about 2 km before turning right at the sign for Moraine Lake Highline Trail/Paradise Valley Trail. From there, it’s 8.4 km to Moraine Lake. However, the last 3 km of the Moraine Lake Highline Trail is closed every year from mid to late summer to protect bear habitat. I suggest checking at the visitor centre before the ride to see if it’s open.
If you don’t have your own bike, you can rent one at Wilson Mountain Sports in Lake Louise Village.
Walking/hiking to Moraine Lake
You’re free to walk the Moraine Lake Road, it’s 12 km one-way. It’s a paved road through the forest area, so there’s not much to see along the way.
More enjoyable might be hiking through the forest on Moraine Lake Highline Trail which follows the Moraine Lake Road.
You start on Moraine Lake Road for about 2 km before turning right at the sign for Moraine Lake Highline Trail/Paradise Valley Trail. After 1 km on the Paradise Valley Trail, you will turn left and follow Moraine Lake Highline Trail to Moraine Lake. From there, it’s 8.4 km to Moraine Lake.
In autumn, Roam Transit provides a shuttle to Moraine Lake for hikers during the very popular larch season, check here for the current schedule.
Traveling on a budget? See our step by step Banff budget guide for local tips and secrets.
Taxi to Moraine Lake
Three Sister’s Taxi can pick you up in Canmore or Banff and provide round-trip transport to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. You spend an hour at each lake, and then they drive you back to your hotel. You can stay longer at either lake for the additional cost of 100 CAD/hour.
Since they take up to 6 people, you can split the costs and have the freedom of admiring the lakes while someone’s waiting for you.
How to get to Moraine Lake when the road is closed
The Moraine Lake Road closes for the season in mid-October every year, right after Thanksgiving.
Sadly, based on our experience, the road closes on the scheduled date no matter the conditions. Even if it’s sunny and dry with no snowfall, Parks Canada closes the road on schedule, not at a later date. We’ve been disappointed to find out a few times already. But if there was a heavy snowfall, they close the road earlier.
The important thing to note is that Moraine Lake Road closes for vehicle traffic only.
When the barricade is indicating a closed road, there’s a parking area with an outhouse right at the beginning of Moraine Lake Road, where you can leave your car. From there, you can either walk, hike or bike to Moraine Lake.
Check for latest weather conditions at Lake Louise Visitor’s Centre before you go. It might not be safe to visit if it has snowed.
Staying overnight near Moraine Lake
The only option for staying directly at Moraine Lake is at Moraine Lake Lodge. It’s a luxurious stay in a room or cabin with a hefty price tag.
For an early start to visit Moraine Lake, you can stay in several other lodges in the Lake Louise area. I highly recommend staying overnight as close as you can to Moraine Lake so you can get there early.
Hotel options near Moraine Lake:
- Deer Lodge – check the reviews and their rates here
- Lake Louise Inn – check the reviews and their rates here
- Paradise Lodge and Bungalows – check the reviews and their rates here
Hostel & camping near Moraine Lake:
- HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre hostel in Lake Louise Village – check their rates here
- Lake Louise Campground – available for vehicles and tents starting at 29,25 CAD per night
- Lake Louise Overflow – conveniently located along Trans-Canada Highway (more info in our camping guide linked below), it’s only available for vehicle camping (no tents) for a fee of 11,50 CAD per night. We’ve stayed here several times before visiting Moraine Lake or Lake Louise and found it to be the best option on how to beat the crowds. Rent a Smile Campervan from us, and you can do the same.
For more camping options in Banff, read our comprehensive guide.
Rockpile Trail – the best view of Moraine Lake
From the Moraine Lake parking lot, it’s a 2-minute walk to the shoreline. But it’s not the best view you can get.
From the parking lot, head to the short Rockpile Trailhead located near the outhouses. It’s a very easy 15-minute hike up the moraine until the viewpoint.
Photos you’ve seen all over the internet and Banff souvenir shops are taken from this exact spot.
Hikes in the Moraine Lake area
I highly recommend spending a whole day in the Moraine Lake area, escaping the crowds and hiking around for different viewpoints.
For many, visiting Moraine Lake is once in a lifetime opportunity, and it would be a shame to spend here only an hour taking photos from the Rockpile viewpoint.
If you’re hiking in the Moraine Lake area, or any other trail in the Rockies for that matter, make sure you’re carrying a bear spray. It’s highly recommended by Parks Canada to carry it within arm’s reach while hiking.
Moraine Lakeshore Trail
If you’re short on time, make sure to at least walk around the lake on the lakeshore trail. It’s short and flat with spectacular views. From the Moraine Lake Lodge, take a stroll along the shore for 1.5 km, find a bench and soak up the views.
Grizzly bears are known to frequent trails around Moraine Lake. Parks Canada puts group restrictions for safety and below trails might have a mandatory minimum group of 4 requirement. Don’t worry if you don’t have enough people, there are usually other hikers waiting at the trailhead.
If you’d like to see Canadian wildlife, read our post 10 beautiful animals you can see in Canada and where to see them.
Even though this hike takes you away from Moraine Lake, you’re bound to have great views. In just 3 km and very little elevation, you reach meadows and stunning Consolation Lakes.
Larch Valley & Sentinel Pass
This is one of the most scenic trails in Banff National Park. It’s rated as difficult due to the elevation gain of 750m. You can hike in summer for wildflowers or in autumn for golden-yellow larch trees. 3 km one-way to Larch Valley + 2.7 km more to Sentinel Pass
Paradise Valley/Giant Steps
The hike starts after about a 2.5 km drive on Moraine Lake Road where you park your car. In 6 km, you reach Lake Annette, and in another 4 km hiking under Mount Temple, you arrive at Giant Steps, a quiet and incredibly scenic spot.
Love hiking? Check out our post for the best hikes in Banff National Park
Tower of Babel
Past the trail to Consolation Lakes, the scramble above takes you to a very unique viewpoint of Moraine Lake. It’s a short scramble and not an easy hike. Wearing a helmet and sturdy footwear is recommended as you’ll be going up the scree and loose rocks.
Moraine Lake canoe rentals in 2023
Canoe rentals are available right on Moraine Lake’s shore daily from 9 am to 5 pm, mid-June to mid-September.
They operate on a first come first serve basis for 130 CAD + GST per canoe for a 1-hour rental. The canoe accommodates two to three people, and they provide everything you need – life jackets, paddles and basic instructions.
Given the price and the number of canoes on the lake, I suggest the next option.
Bring your own kayak/stand-up paddleboard to Moraine Lake
Lake Louise has similarly priced canoes, and canoe rental on Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park costs 90 CAD per canoe for 1-hour rental.
A budget-friendly option would be to bring your own canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard. That’s what gear rental companies are for!
You can bring your equipment and paddle on any lake in the Rockies. But unfortunately, it is no longer possible to use the same paddleboard in several lakes in one day (see below).
From June 2021, new measures have been put in place in order to protect the spread of aquatic invasive species. It is mandatory to complete a free self-certification with a date and name of the waterbody on the permit, either online or at the stand located at most lakes. You must wait for 48 hours for your watercraft to clean, drain, and dry after each location/lake you visit, and carry the permit with you. For online self-certification, self-certification stations, and more info, visit the Parks Canada website.
I’ve seen Moraine Lake plenty of times over the years and let me tell you, nothing compares to seeing it from a different perspective when the unreal turquoise water is underneath you.
Bringing our stand-up paddleboards to Moraine Lake was one of the most memorable experiences in the Rockies.
We paddled leisurely around the lake without any time restrictions, stopped for a picnic on the shore halfway through the lake, and for the first time ever, explored the backside of Moraine Lake from which you can see the famous Ten Peaks.
Read our comprehensive guide to the best places for stand-up paddleboarding in Banff & beyond
Visiting Moraine Lake in winter
The Moraine Lake Road becomes a ski trail in winter, and tracks are maintained throughout the winter for cross-country skiers. This is one of our favourite trails for cross-country skiing in the Banff area.
On a clear day, you have a view of the Lake Louise ski resort on the opposite side of the valley, otherwise, the trail is not scenic – until the end. Tracks are maintained for 11 km to the viewpoint of Ten Peaks.
Winter update: coming in winter 2023. You can walk, snowshoe or fat bike as well but not on tracks. Please respect skiers and don’t ruin the tracks.
Continuing further is not recommended if you don’t have the proper equipment and avalanche training. The road passes a dangerous avalanche path. You can even hear several avalanches coming down the mountains when you visit in spring.
Frequently asked questions
Can you swim in Moraine Lake?
Yes, you can swim in Moraine Lake, it’s not forbidden. But unless you wear a wetsuit or you’re a practitioner of the Wim Hof method, I would advise against swimming in Moraine Lake. The year-round temperature hovers around 5C, so it’s a matter of seconds until you get hypothermia.
The same goes for Lake Louise as well. However, I enjoyed my dip in Lake Louise after stand-up paddleboarding on a very hot day. It was a dip with a few swim strokes, and that felt way too long. A quick dip in and out would be more enjoyable.
What amenities are available at Moraine Lake?
Moraine Lake Lodge provides accommodation, a gift shop and a café. They have a limited selection of snacks; you’re better off bringing your food and having a picnic by the lake.
There is no cell reception or Wifi at Moraine Lake.
Can you camp in the Moraine Lake area?
Wild camping is not allowed in Banff National Park, and there’s no campground at Moraine Lake. The closest campground is in Lake Louise Village.
How far is Lake Louise from Moraine Lake?
They’re 14 km apart so you can visit both on the same day. Luckily most shuttles for Moraine Lake make it easy to visit Lake Louise on the same day as well.
Which is better Moraine Lake or Lake Louise?
Moraine Lake is half the size of its neighbour Lake Louise and by far more popular and beautiful than Lake Louise. That’s what we keep hearing from locals and visitors alike.
Tips for visiting Banff National Park
How to get to Banff
Banff is a small town tucked in the Canadian Rockies, with the closest airport being Calgary. While there are some shuttles from Calgary to Banff, it’s a less convenient option if you’re short on time. You can see a breakdown of options in our post on how to get from Calgary to Banff.
For exploring the national park, you will need to rent a car. Calgary airport has many car rental companies although you will get a better price renting from downtown.
Packing list for Moraine Lake
These are just a few of the camping essentials we bring whether we camp in a tent or in our campervan. If you’re planning to go hiking, check out our Hiking packing list for summer in the mountains.
You can fill up water while biking/hiking the Moraine Lake Highline Trail or right from Moraine Lake if you use a filter. We always carry LifeStraw bottles for all of our trips.
One of the best-rated sunscreens from EWG, which I use and highly recommend, is Thinksport and Attitude mineral sunscreen. Alternatively, you can pack a sunscreen stick to re-apply during the day without getting your hands messy.
If you’re like me and don’t like DEET repellent’s smell or skin stickiness, you can make your own. It’s been effectively tested in the Canadian backcountry and smells incredible!
My recipe for DIY repellent – combine 200 ml Witch hazel, 5 drops of Lemon essential oil, and 5 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil and pour it into a glass spray bottle. Shake well before each use and spray on your skin or clothes a few times a day.
Alternatively, you can buy biodegradable repellent.
- Headlamp (for sunrise)
An essential item in any campground when moving around your tent/campervan or just heading to the washrooms. A reliable waterproof headlamp with different modes for light strength is light and small and makes a huge difference in your nighttime experience.
- Bear spray
Bear Spray Repellent is an essential item in the Canadian Rockies. If you’re flying in, you cannot take it on an airplane, but it can be purchased in most outdoor stores or rented at your hotel. Make sure you know how to use it, and keep it close.
Despite popular belief, Parks Canada stated that bear bells are ineffective in deterring bears, and you should make noise while hiking to let bears know you’re there.
National park fees
When you enter any national park in Canada, you’re required to pay an entrance fee. You have a choice of either a daily pass or a yearly pass.
- 10.50 CAD per person for a daily pass, 21 CAD for a group/family
- 72.25 CAD per person for a yearly pass, 145.25 CAD for a group/family
The yearly Discovery Pass is valid for all National parks in Canada. You can purchase it at the gate when you enter the national park, in the Visitor’s Centre or online here.
For trail closures due to wildlife presence or avalanche dangers in Banff National Park, check out the report from Parks Canada.
Accurate road conditions can be checked here.
Before you go hiking, check current trail conditions on Trail Report from Parks Canada.
As always in the Canadian Rockies, you are in a bear habitat. You should always carry a bear spray (can be purchased at Visitor’s Centre or outdoor stores), know when and how to use it and make noise while hiking and running (so you don’t surprise any bears)! Carefully read these instructions on how to behave around them.
Banff’s Visitor Centre is located at 224 Banff Avenue. They sell hiking maps, backcountry permits, souvenirs, and bear sprays and provide invaluable information about Banff and other parks. You can ask the rangers about trail reports before hiking for possible closures or to help you book a campground.
It’s open daily from 8 am to 8 pm from May 18 to October 8 and 9 am to 5 pm outside those dates. You can also reach them at +1 403-762-1550 or [email protected]
Lake Louise Visitor Centre is also open year-round. You will see it along the main road Lake Louise Drive when you come to Lake Louise village. You can reach them at +1 403-522-3833 or [email protected]
Read our Canadian Rockies travel guides
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