Considering that the seasonal reopening of Moraine Lake Road varies due to weather conditions our timing was a bit risky by planning our visit to the area during the middle of May. Fortunately the road opened to visitors during our visit providing us with a few days to spare before leaving. Normally you can expect the road to Moraine Lake to open for the season from mid to late May until it closes in early October.
Moraine Lake continues to be one of the most popular and iconic photographed sites in the area, that being said you can also expect it to be one of the most crowded. With warmer weather comes lots of crowds, cars and tour buses. During summer and especially on weekends & holidays you need to plan to arrive as early in the morning as possible in order to avoid the hoards of people and snag a parking spot before the road is closed. The other option is to plan to arrive later in the day toward sunset. If you won’t be able to arrive near sunrise or sunset you can check out the shuttle options at Parks Canada.
Visiting early in the season provides you with the benefit of less crowds, although you can expect the lake to be frozen over during May and even into early June. As the weather warms and the glacier begins to melt the lake will be replenished raising the water level. The melting glacier waters are joined by the rock flour or silt that is created from the slow moving glacier crushing the rock beneath it. The silt remains suspended in the lake for long periods and gives the lake it’s striking turquoise color when light reflects off the silt. In order to see that iconic turquoise water you will have to wait for the warmer summer months from late June to the end of the season.
The Twenty Dollar View
The Canadian twenty dollar bills featuring Moraine Lake and the Valley of The Ten Peaks were part of the 1969 – 1979 Scenes From Canada Series of notes. The first twenty dollar note was issued in June 1970 based on a photo from the Canadian Pacific Railway collection.
The Rockpile Trail
For the best views of Moraine Lake you will want to head to the top of the Rockpile. The trail begins across a small bridge at the end of the the parking lot.
The trail winds it’s way up and around the rock moraine until you reach the top revealing those iconic views! Take time to explore and enjoy the views from the different vantage points at the top.
The Lake Shore Trail
The lake shore trail is far less crowded than the Rockpile as it follows the shoreline to the far side of the lake. The trail winds it’s way through the trees providing peeks of the lake and mountains along the way. The trail head is located near the canoe livery. When you come upon the boardwalk you’ve reached the end of the trail. The Lake Shore trail is approximately .8 mile (1.3 km) to the boardwalk.
Moraine Lake Lodge
If you want to make sure you catch an early or late viewing you might consider a stay at Moraine Lake Lodge. There is an on-site restaurant reserved for guests only.
Getting To Moraine Lake
From Trans Canada Hwy 1 follow Lake Louise Drive for 2-3 km’s. The Moraine Lake Rd turnoff will be on your left. The road winds it’s way up to the parking lot for approx 13 km’s.