Moraine Lake, with its Ten Peaks mountains, is one of the most photographed landscapes in Canada. Although this mountain lake is not big at all, the color of the lake and the surrounding landscape is overwhelming. We were more in awe than paddling. The azure water, the picturesque mountains with their snow peaks, the lush green pine forests create a unique experience on the water. This canoeing and kayaking tour report is not only about the route on the lake, but above all about important tips that you should consider.
Key facts about the paddling tour
1 – 4 hours
no traffic noise
azure water, stunning mountain scenery, surrounded by forests
The best time for kayaking and canoeing on Moraine Lake
It’s normally possible to paddle on Moraine Lake from mid-June to mid-September . At that time the canoe rental is also open. Out of season, the lake may freeze over or the weather may be too inconsistent. We paddled the lake at the end of June and had perfect conditions. Especially between June and early July, the water is supposed to be particularly azure blue, as the meltwater is fresh from the mountains and still crystal clear.
The canoe rental shop is open from 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM. We recommend paddling early or late, as at other times of the day there are a lot of tourists. Even at 8:30 AM, if the weather forecast is good during the summer months, the lake will be very busy. The problem with Moraine Lake, first and foremost, is getting a parking spot. There are not many parking spaces and if it is completely overcrowded, the 12 km (7.5 miles) access road will be closed or the road will be completely jammed.
We recommend to paddle in the late afternoon, because then many tourists start their drive to the hotel. Also, the light conditions for photos are better in the late afternoon or evening than in the morning. The morning sun shines very strongly on the mountains and then makes them look a bit too bright. In the evening sun, the whole landscape looks beautifully warm-exposed.
Canoe rental at Moraine Lake and prices
Renting a canoe is very expensive, starting from $130.00 CAD plus tax per canoe for a one-hour rental. A canoe can take up to 2 to 3 people. Is this price worth it? In good weather, definitely. It is a unique way to experience the lake and get away from the crowds for a bit. Since the lake is not big, an hour is usually enough. However, we must confess that we spent several hours on the lake because the lake and the landscape fascinated us so much.
We were in the comfortable situation to explore the lake with our own inflatable kayak. So we were able to start our tour in the evening when there were only a few people out. We arrived at about 5:30 PM and after a little exploring on foot and setting up the boat, we were on the water from 6:30 PM to 9 PM. Apart from another inflatable canoe, we were the only boat on the water and could enjoy the silence as well as beauty of nature completely for ourselves. There are already inflatable kayaks for around $150 (e.g. Intex Explorer K2 or Challenger K2), which costs slightly more than the rent. You can stay longer on the water, start at a late hour and have the lake to yourself as well as use the boat afterwards for other tours. Also in our inflatable kayak or inflatable canoe guide you will learn more useful information if you want to buy your own boat.
INTEX CHALLENGER K1
for 1 person
pump and paddle incl.
INTEX CHALLENGER K2
for 2 persons
pump and paddles incl.
INTEX EXPLORER K2
for 2 persons
pump and paddles incl.
Our kayaking tour on Moraine Lake
Let’s get to our actual route on Moraine Lake. Since Moraine Lake is very small, it is not necessary to plan the route in advance. You can paddle as you like without missing anything. Nevertheless, we would like to present our route to you and mark some spots that we found particularly interesting.
If you go from the parking lot towards the lake and walk along the right side of the lake, after a few minutes you will see the canoe rental. There or just around the canoe rental there are good opportunities to assembly your own boat and get it in the water. In the middle of the lake you have the best view of the mountain panorama. Nevertheless, you should also paddle along near the shore, not only to get an impression of the lake and the massive mountains, but also to get a look at the beautiful shore.
We recommend paddling along both the west and east shore sides for a bit. Moraine Lake then narrows at the end, from a distance it looks like a bend. But here it really ends unfortunately, the lake is blocked and it is a shallow tributary that you cannot paddle. At the western end of the lake there is still the possibility to dock with the boat to be able to look at the lake and its tributary from the land.
Many wonder whether to rent a canoe for one or two hours. In general, one hour is enough to explore the lake for the most part. However, we think that you can and should enjoy it longer than one hour. With two hours you simply have more time and you can enjoy the really unique nature without time pressure. In the end, however, it is a matter of taste and a question of budget. Here it would be advantageous to take your own boat. We had met a couple from the U.S., which had taken among other things for this lake their inflatable kayak, because it came cheaper than to rent a canoe. We had done it that way too and compared to high rental costs it was definitely worth it. So you can paddle in the evening and you have the lake almost for yourself.
More information about the lake can be found on the page of Banff National Park.
Other Activities in Banff
Banff National Park offers countless other opportunities for hiking and paddling enthusiasts. We would like to briefly introduce you to other activities we have done in the region.
Paddling Lake Louise
Only 20 km (12.5 miles) away is Lake Louise, probably the most famous lake in Canada. We paddled Lake Louise the next morning. Especially how the cloud cover opened up and the mountains came out was spectacular. In size, it is similar to Moraine Lake. Again, there are canoe rentals or you can paddle your own boat. Learn more about our paddling trip on Lake Louise in our article.
A few miles north begins the Icefield Parkway, which connects the Banff and Jasper National Parks. The highway is considered one of the most beautiful roads in North America. We drove the Icefield Parkway in both directions and would not want to miss the experience. We were even lucky enough to see several black bears along the way.
Hiking the Sunshine Meadows Trail
The Sunshine Meadows Trail is said to be one of the most beautiful trails in Banff. Depending on the day, you can get to the trail either by gondola or by bus from Sunshine Village. On the website of Sunshine Meadows Banff you will find the exact departure information. At the top you will find small pretty lakes and well laid out hiking trails, which can be hiked in 3-4 hours. We can only recommend the hike, because it gives another insight into the mountains of Banff.