Moraine Lake

View of Moraine Lake from xx shore

For years I’ve driven 90 miles west of Calgary to visit Banff National Park. I’ve roamed around the Banff townsite (kind of like an elk, but with a wallet), skied at the three major resorts, hiked, soaked my tired body in the hot springs, all the usual stuff.

Every once in a while I get an urge to visit Lake Louise, which is another 40 minutes west. It’s probably because I don’t spend enough time in crowds, so I need my fix of jostling and shoving. With a large hotel, and tourist buses unloading a steady stream of visitors, “The Lake” is a busy place.

First stop on the way to “The Lake” is the hamlet of Lake Louise. No water, but a shopping mall and gas stations. From the hamlet to “The Lake” is a seven-minute drive.

My usual routine is to set the autopilot and, before I know it, end up being pulled by the gravitational force of “The Lake” to its shore. This time, however, noticing a sign for Moraine Lake Road, I spun out of orbit – and set off for an alien planet.

It’s a slow, twisty road to Moraine Lake – closed from mid-October to mid-June. That’s fine, because the next time I drive it I’ll be on my motorcycle. My bike isn’t very happy once the snow falls.

I discovered that Moraine Lake is a smaller, gentler version of “The Lake”. There were flocks of tourists, but it’s not quite as hectic as it’s bigger sibling. And the views are incredible.

View of Moraine Lake

View of Moraine Lake from the rock pile

At the near end of the lake is a massive rock pile; it was deposited by Wenkchemna Glacier. I climbed to the top of the rocks on a marked trail to get the best view of the valley.

Tourists passing a camera between themselves

Tourists enjoying a great photo op

Spectacular, well worth the diversion. There are hiking trails in the area, but it was buffet season for grizzlies – tight groups of at least four were required. (I guess this makes it easier for the bears to serve themselves, not having to waste precious time and calories chasing down the main course.)

A deer peeks at hikers, just off the trail near Moraine Lake

A deer peeks at hikers, just off the trail near Moraine Lake

It’s hard to believe that it’s taken so long for me to visit. I’ll definitely be back — hopefully with enough entrées (fellow hikers) so that I can try one of the hikes in the area.

Practical info

  • best to visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon
  • washroom and cafe/store on site
  • even if you don’t have a party of four, you can hike along the shore
  • bring a camera


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