Nestled in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake in Banff National Park has grown to be as iconic as its big sister Louise, just down the road.

Like Lake Louise, this glacier-fed lake owes its spectacular blue-green color to fine particles of rock (called “rock flour”), which refract light. But paddling here isn’t just about nailing that perfect Instagram shot—it’s about sinking your paddle into waters surrounded by craggy peaks, waterfalls and fresh mountain air.

However, Moraine Lake is a bit more elusive—it can only be accessed from late May until mid-October, and it’s an hour drive from the Banff townsite.

Ready to embark on canoe adventures at Moraine Lake, Canada? Here’s how to make it happen.

[This article is part of our Ultimate Outdoor Adventurer’s Guide To Banff. Find all the resources you need to plan an adventurous trip to Banff National Park.]


A red canoe on turquoise waters of Moraine Lake
Yes, it always looks this incredible. | Photo courtesy of: Jake Dyson

Canoeing in Moraine Lake

With Moraine Lake Lodge operating a canoe rental dock right on-site, canoeing in Moraine Lake isn’t just possible—it’s massively popular. With that being said, it’s one of the more expensive (if not most expensive) places to rent a canoe in and around Banff National Park; expect to pay around $100 CAD per hour.

To save money, you can bring your own canoe—including those rented from an outfitter in town—but be aware that you’ll need to launch it from shore, as there’s no public boat launch.


Can you kayak on Moraine Lake?

Where you can canoe, you can kayak. Moraine Lake is open to kayakers, although there are no kayak rentals available on-site. You’ll need to bring your own or rent one from Banff or Canmore. See below for more information on outfitters in the area.


Moraine Lake paddleboarding

Moraine Lake has to be one of the most idyllic locations to SUP in Banff National Park. The lake is smaller than Louise and sheltered, meaning it has relatively calm waters. As with kayaking, you’ll need to bring your own paddleboard, as there’s nowhere to rent one directly at the lake. See below for where you can rent these in town.

A standup paddleboarder on Moraine Lake, snowcapped mountains in the background
Bring your watercraft of choice, and get on the water. | Photo courtesy of: Erik McRitchie // @erikmcr

Rentals

Moraine Lake canoe rentals

Moraine Lake Lodge

The only place you can rent a canoe at Moraine Lake, Moraine Lake Lodge operates the Moraine Lake canoe dock. Rentals start from $95 CAD per hour and are first-come, first-serve. Its hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last boat leaving around 4 p.m. Given the short season and the activity’s popularity, you’ll want to get here early to rent a canoe or try your luck for one of the late afternoon spots.

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Kananaskis Outfitters

Located in the village of Kananaskis (an hour drive from Banff’s townsite), this outfitter rents out both canoes (starting at $70 CAD daily rate) and inflatable kayaks (starting at $45 CAD daily rate). The con? You’ll have to pick them up and transport them to Moraine Lake. The pro? They can be booked online in advance.

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Front of the canoe at Moraine Lake
Sit and reflect. | Photo courtesy of: Travel Alberta

Kayak rentals for Moraine Lake

Bow Valley SUP

If you’d prefer to kayak rather than canoe, Kananaskis Outfitters (listed above) and Bow Valley SUP in Canmore rent out kayaks that you can transport yourself to Moraine Lake. Bow Valley SUP offers half-day and full-day inflatable one and two-persons kayaks, as well as inflatable one-person and tandem SUP boards. All can be reserved online in advance, with prices starting at $39 CAD for the day.

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Paddleboard rentals for Moraine Lake

SkiBig3 Adventure Hub

As mentioned above, no paddleboard rentals are available at Moraine Lake itself. However, you can rent inflatable paddleboards right in Banff at SkiBig3 Adventure Hub, making it easy to procure and transport a SUP to the lake. Rentals can be booked online in advance—and you’ll save 15% by doing so.

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Banff Canoe Club

This is one “club” that you don’t have to be a member of to rent from (although if you are a Bow Valley local, you’ll get a discount). It’s first-come, first-serve, and SUP rentals cost $90 CAD for the day. Typically, Banff Canoe Club sends its rentals to specific locations nearby (such as the Bow River), but they do have a limited number of paddleboards available for offsite rentals on weekends. Check with staff the morning of your excursion for availability.

(Note that while the Banff Canoe Club also rents canoes and kayaks, these are not available for offsite rentals.)

Banff Canoe Club can be found on the corner of Wolf St and Bow Ave in downtown Banff and operates from mid-May until the end of September.

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Lake Moraine best time to visit

Due to avalanche risk, the road to Moraine Lake is closed during the winter, so this is a trip you’ll want to plan for between the end of May and mid-October.The lake sometimes doesn’t thaw until June, with its vibrant color usually peaking later in the month or early in July.

With such a limited time window, expect crowds in the summer months and into September. Arrive very early in the morning (think: before the crack of dawn) to nab a parking spot and one of the first-come, first-serve canoes. Not an early riser? Lessen your stress and schedule a sleep-in by taking a shuttle from the Banff township or from Lake Louise instead, but be sure to book your spot on the shuttle in advance.

Two people standing on the shore of Moraine Lake
Plan to arrive in the early morning to avoid the crowds. | Photo courtesy of: Pursuit: Banff Jasper Collection // Chris Amat

Regardless of what time of year you visit Moraine Lake, be prepared for chilly temperatures and frigid waters. The lake sits at 1,884 meters in elevation and is glacier-fed, so even in the middle of summer it won’t feel particularly balmy.


Moraine Lake camping

No doubt after reading this you’re eager to book your Moraine Lake camping reservations. Unfortunately, there is no camping at Moraine Lake. (Fair warning: You might find a “Moraine Park campground” if you Google it, but that one is in Colorado, not Alberta.)

The closest campgrounds to Moraine are in the town of Lake Louise, where you’ll find a tent and RV campground, run by Parks Canada. Both can be reserved online in advance through Parks Canada’s booking system. Nearby Protection Mountain Campground also has 72 sites, but they are only available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Hi, this came to my attention as a link from Banff Lake Louise Tourism.

    I’m concerned by your claim: “The lake is smaller than Louise and sheltered, meaning it has relatively calm waters.” This is simply not true. The lake is often calm in the early morning, but it gets windy enough that the canoe rental dock is regularly closed due to safety concerns. You may wish to modify your article to reflect this, to say that winds are common on Moraine Lake, and that they can come up pretty quickly. I’ve seen many a paddleboarder on Moraine Lake without a PFD, and all paddlers at ML should have the right safety gear.

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