On this particular day I got to the Moraine Lake parking lot by 6:30 am. I was co-hosting a hiking and paddle meetup, and wanted to make sure we all got parking spaces for the day. I highly recommend getting here early. The parking lot isn’t very big, and crowds get insane here by 8 am. If you are unable to get a parking spot, you can always park offsite and catch a shuttle. It is sometimes a bit chilly in the mornings, so bring layers. I suggest hiking for a bit before paddling, as the trails are amazing. We did Tower of babel, a scramble that gives epic views of the lake and surrounding peaks.
Once we were done hiking, it was time to explore the lake. I inflated my new BOTE paddleboard back at my car, which took about ten minutes, and then carried it to the shore. You can launch your board pretty much anywhere but the dock for the canoes. There are a few spots nearby, and it can get slippery because of the rocks so watch your step. When your feet first touch the water it is COLD! But super refreshing, especially after a long hike.
Once on the lake, you realize how bright the turquoise color really is. It looks like Gatorade! Paddling on the lake, surrounded by the towering, snow-capped mountains and hearing distant avalanches is one of the most surreal experiences you can have. It is so peaceful out there (even though there are other people out there) and the surrounding nature really does make you feel small.
I recommend staying out there for awhile, and really exploring the landscape.
I really didn’t want the experience to end, but it was getting late and I had to Calgary for the night. By about 4:30 I headed back to the shore to deflate my board. Looking back at the mountains and lake, I realized this was one of those experiences that I had to do again, and bring more people out to show just how surreal it is. I can’t wait to be back, and paddle these waters again. Soon, very soon.
If you find yourself in Banff, I highly recommend taking the trip to Moraine Lake. Most people just go to take photos, which is fine. You won’t be disappointed. But, to really get a feel for the lake and the landscape, try a few hiking trails and a few hours on the lake itself. You can paddleboard, kayak or canoe. You won’t regret it.
Get there early. The parking lot fills up by 8 am, and you may have to park elsewhere and get a shuttle. I got there at 6:30 am, and stayed all day to hike, paddleboard and explore.
If you want to paddleboard, you must bring your own or rent in Banff or Canmore. If you want to canoe, you are in luck! Moraine Lake Lodge rents canoes right there at the lake. If you just keep right on the trail at the lake, you can’t miss them!
There is barely any reception, so be prepared. Have a map, and a designated meeting spot if you are meeting friends.
Bring lots of water, snacks and sunscreen. If you plan to stay all day, bring lunch.
Bring a camera. It is gorgeous. Seriously. It’s unreal.
Smile and have fun!