These are probably the two most well-known lakes in Banff National Park. They’re both glacial lakes that have beautiful blue water from the rock flour of the glaciers that feed them. Before we went to Canada, I had several recommendations to go to Lake Louise.
I personally preferred Moraine Lake but Lake Louise has more hiking options so it depends what you’re looking for. Moraine Lake is just along the road from Lake Louise so it’s worth visiting them both if you can.
The Fairmont Chateau hotel at Lake Louise is worth having a wander into, there’s a gift shop as well if you want to pick up some souvenirs. The lake is beautiful but it was very busy when we went. As with most places, I’d advise going early to avoid some of the crowds.
From the lake, you can hike up to Lake Agnes Tea House which is supposed to be a great walk. We wanted to do this hike but ended up prioritizing seeing other places. The little tea house has been there since 1905. This is a great way to beat the crowds at Lake Louise, even just following the path a little way will get you away from the bulk of tourists.
There are canoes available to hire at the lake. Lake Louise is a bit easier to park at as there are more spaces. This does mean that there are more tourist buses and people though.
As with Lake Louise, there is a hotel that you can stay at right alongside the lake. This is a much smaller lodge but the guests get use of the canoes on the lake. When we visited the canoe rental wasn’t open so it was only if you brought your own or were a guest at the hotel that you could go on the lake.
We found it quite difficult to get to Moraine Lake, the car park is relatively small so gets full fairly quickly. Every day that we drove past it was full. We decided to head out there early and got there soon after sunrise. It was already full. So I asked the staff if I could just drop Lee off at the lake and they had no problem with that. Luckily once we got there we happened to find a parking space so I was able to have a look around as well. I would definitely recommend using the shuttle bus to get there though.
Moraine Lake is busy all through the season that the road is open (from May to October) but later in the season is definitely the better time to go as this is when the lake is the most full. It doesn’t usually thaw until June so if you want to see the blue waters then August – September is probably the best time to visit.
There are a couple of vantage points at Moraine Lake. The most popular being the top of the path at the car park end of the lake. We climbed up the rocks from the lakeshore and only discovered there was a path after we’d gotten to the top and saw people heading back down that way. Seeing the lake and mountains through the trees really is spectacular.
The other path that you can take is alongside the lake. If you keep walking along from the lodge you can go right to the top of the lake. This was a really nice walk through the wooded area and much quieter than the more popular viewpoint.
If you’re looking for more things to do and places to see around Banff National Park, take a look at my posts on Johnston Canyon, Sulfur Mountain, and Field, or view all my posts from our trip to Canada where I’ll be adding more posts soon.
I’d love to hear about your visits to Lake Louise or Moraine Lake. Let me know if you’ve been!