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There’s no better way to enjoy the beauty of the Valley of the Ten Peaks than by canoeing or kayaking on Moraine Lake.
As you glide across the brilliant turquoise water of this glacier-fed lake you get an up-close, intimate look at the iconic ten peaks framing part of Moraine Lake- Mount Fay, Mount Little, Mount Bowlen, Tonsa Peak, Mount Perren, Mount Allen, Mount Tuzo, Deltaform Mountain, Neptuak Mountain, and Wenkchemna Peak.
Kayaking Moraine Lake allows you to experience several vantage points for admiring the Valley of the Ten Peaks, going beyond the classic view that once graced the back of Canada’s $20 bills. Instead of looking into that famous scene as a passive observer, you actually become immersed in it when you kayak Moraine Lake.
UPDATE: Starting in 2023, private vehicles are no longer allowed to drive Moraine Lake Road, meaning the only way to access Moraine Lake is by the Parks Canada shuttle or other public transportation. It’s unknown yet whether Parks Canada will come up with a transport option for people with their own hard-sided boats or if a private company will step up to offer a kayak/canoe shuttle to Moraine Lake. Visit the Parks Canada website for more information about shuttles to Moraine Lake.
Kayaking Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks
If you want to paddle Moraine Lake, you can use your own kayak or canoe, or rent a canoe at the dock. Since the Moraine Lake canoe rentals are quite expensive, it’s best to bring your own boat if you have one.
If you’ve brought your own kayak or canoe, you can launch anywhere along the lakeshore trail where there are no obstructions. Wooden fences and piles of rocks have blocked off the lake access points closest to the parking lot, so you have to walk a little further towards the private canoe dock if you don’t want to maneuver over/around rocks and other obstacles.
The canoe dock is about 200 m from the parking lot. If it’s not busy there’s enough space to launch a kayak right beside it, otherwise continue past the dock until you find a suitable location. You can’t launch from the dock itself because it’s used for canoe rentals.
Once you’re on the water, start paddling towards the far end of Moraine Lake. In front of you will be the rocky peaks that form the most famous view of Moraine Lake.
If you paddle up the right hand side of the lake, you’ll be following a similar path as the Moraine Lakeshore Trail. This side of the lake is forested and can be less peaceful if there are a lot of tourists walking the trail.
On the left side of the lake you can paddle near the base of a towering mountain that has chutes of loose rock sliding down to the water.
To make the most of your Moraine Lake kayaking trip you should circumnavigate the entire lake, paddling up one side then returning along the opposite shore. The lake is small enough that you can see it all in an hour or two.
As you kayak Moraine Lake, you’ll notice the water colour change depending on the sunlight and your location on the lake. Sometimes it’s a vibrant glistening turquoise, sometimes a milky emerald green, and other times blue is the dominant shade.
Moraine Lake’s stunning colour is the result of light refracting off rock flour, the fine particles of rock deposited by run-off from surrounding glaciers. The colour is at its best in late June and July when the lake has reached its crest after the first heavy melt of the year.
Once you get to the far end of the lake, near the right corner you’ll see a creek flowing into the lake. It doesn’t look like much, but the water has some power and will push back your kayak if you try and get close.
From the creek, continue along the forested shoreline to the left hand side of the lake. Once you come around the bend there’s a stunning view of the mountains and their avalanche chutes.
This sheltered part of the lake is a great place to float around for a while because you get to see Mount Fay and Fay Glacier, which you can’t see from the Moraine Lake viewpoint on Rockpile Trail. You can also get pretty close to the base of some of Moraine Lake’s most beautiful peaks.
It can be really hard to tear yourself away from this view, but when you’re ready to leave simply paddle back down Moraine Lake towards the Rockpile at the end of the lake.
Review of Moraine Lake Kayaking
Kayaking Moraine Lake is not only one of the top summer activities in Banff, it’s one of the most special experiences in the Canadian Rockies, especially if you’re lucky enough to be the only paddler out on the water.
Looking up at the soaring peaks while surrounded by vivid blues and greens is a humbling, unforgettable experience. It’s impossible not to feel small when surrounded by such grand, monumental beauty.
Not only do you experience some new points of view when you kayak Moraine Lake, you get away from the crowds that congregate at the north shore. From a boat at the far end of the lake, away from the tourist circus, you get to experience Moraine Lake as it should be- in silent wonderment.
Tips for Kayaking Moraine Lake
Location: Moraine Lake is located 14 km south of the hamlet of Lake Louise in Banff National Park.
Getting There: Starting in 2023, Moraine Lake Road is closed to private vehicles year round. To get to Moraine Lake you have to take the Parks Canada shuttle or another public transportation option.
- Moraine Lake Road is closed to all vehicles, including public transport, from early October (after the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend) to early June because of large snowfalls and avalanche risk
Moraine Lake Shuttle: Information about shuttles to Moraine Lake, including price, routes, schedules and how to make reservations, can be found on the Parks Canada website.
- Regarding transportation of personal boats, the FAQ section on the parking information page of the website states, “The Parks Canada shuttles can accommodate many different types of watercraft including inflatable paddleboards, packrafts, inflatable kayaks, and even small hard-sided kayaks provided space permits. If you are unsure about whether your watercraft can be accommodated, please speak to the Parks Canada staff at the park and ride.”
Parking at Moraine Lake: As mentioned, private vehicles are no longer allowed to park at Moraine Lake. An exception will be granted for people who have a disabled parking hang tag.
Best Time to Kayak Moraine Lake: Moraine Lake doesn’t begin to melt until June. Depending on weather conditions, and taking into account road access, the only time you can kayak or canoe Moraine Lake is from June to October.
- A great time to kayak Moraine Lake is after the canoe rentals close for the day (5:00 pm) so the lake is not as busy.
Launching Area: You can launch your kayak anywhere along the Moraine Lakeshore Trail where you find a suitable spot. At one time there were several easy access points to the water (near the parking lot), but those have either been fenced off or piles of rocks have been put in front of them (perhaps to discourage people from bringing their own boats?) The closest lake access is about 110 m from the first stall in the parking lot, but there are some obstacles.
- There’s enough room beside the canoe dock to launch, but only if you won’t be in the way of rental customers (the dock is for them). The dock is approximately 200 m from the front of the parking lot.
Moraine Lake Canoe Rentals: The canoe dock is run by Moraine Lake Lodge and is open for rentals from mid-June to mid-September. Hours are 9:30 am- 5:00 pm. They will close without notice due to inclement weather. It’s best to confirm hours and prices directly with Moraine Lake Lodge here, as they are subject to change.
- Rental canoes are available on a first come, first served basis.
- The dock is reserved for customers renting canoes from Moraine Lake Lodge.
Facilities: There are outhouses across from the parking lot and the lodge has a café, restaurant, and gift shop.
Information was updated February 2023, but can change without notice. Please confirm directly with service providers.
You may also enjoy these other things to do near Lake Louise village:
- Eiffel Lake Hike- Moraine Lake
- Big Beehive Hive- Lake Louise
- Lake Agnes Tea House Hike- Lake Louise
- Devil’s Thumb Hike- Lake Louise
Here are some more places to go kayaking in Banff National Park:
Accommodations in Lake Louise
For your convenience, here is a list of HOTELS IN LAKE LOUISE. Please consider booking your Lake Louise accommodations through the included link. It costs nothing extra and helps support this website. Thank you!
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