Head to Alberta for a lesser-known travel icon, suggests Fiona Clark, Canada, Alaska and New Zealand specialist. One of Canada's best kept secrets, Moraine Lake offers fresh air, adventures and breathtaking views.
Although most people are more familiar with world-famous Lake Louise, its nearby cousin, Moraine Lake, is just as beautiful — but gets fewer visitors.
The lake lies within Banff National Park, just 14 km (9.3 miles) along a beautiful mountain road from the village of Lake Louise, nestled like a huge turquoise jewel in the Valley of the Ten Peaks at an elevation of 1,885 m (6,184 ft). The lake is glacier-fed, and reflects a beautiful and distinct shade of blue due to the refraction of light off the fine-grained 'rock flour' that is continually deposited by the glacial streams.
Moraine Lake is the perfect place for lovers of the great outdoors. The mountain scenery, mirrored in the still, glassy water, is simply spell-binding. Plus, the area has many walking trails: some routes are strenuous, others require less energy. The Rockpile Trail is a great short and gentle option that leads into the midst of this wonderful landscape, offering epic views. Breathe in lungfuls of purest chilled air and keep a look out for grizzly bears, mountain goats, chipmunks and marmots.
Moraine Lake Lodge basks at the water's edge, overlooked by Mount Temple — 3,549 m (11,643 ft) —, the third-highest mountain in Banff National Park. This lovely lodge offers simple but charming rooms, has an excellent restaurant, and rents canoes for paddles on the lake — so you can become part of this spectacular scene.
Did you know?
- In August 1899, Yale student Walter Wilcox became the first non-native to set eyes upon Moraine Lake, while in search of a new route up Mount Temple.
- Moraine Lake was named after the moraine left by the Wenkchemna Glacier. The Valley of the Ten Peaks was featured on the reverse side of the 1969 and 1979 issues of the Canadian $20 bill.
- The peaks were subsequently known as the Twenty Dollar View.
- Snow blocks vehicle access to the lake between October and the end of May. The only way to get there is to cross-country ski.
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