Best time to travel to Banff & Jasper National Parks

Moraine Lake in Banff & Jasper National Parks

It's not a 20 dollar view, it's a million dollar view!

Best time: late June–early October

Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake

Set in the Ten Peaks Valley, Moraine Lake is surrounded by rock piles, mountains, and waterfalls—a landscape so fantastic it almost seems unreal. The waters of Moraine Lake are a hypnotizing bright turquoise that changes colors as the glaciers melt. There is nothing better than sitting lakeside and absorbing the pure mountain air while taking in all these fantastic sights. You can explore this area further by going canoeing and hiking. This epic end-of-the-world place is sure to leave an ever-lasting impression.

The brilliant blue-green color of Moraine Lake is the result of light refracting off the fine particles of rock in the glacier tunnel that flows into the lake. Elevated at a height of 1,885 m, the lake can remain frozen until late May or even into June depending on temperatures. Peak water levels and the vivid color can be seen in late June until early October, so you won't see turquoise water when the road first opens in late May. The best weather to view the lake is between late June and August.

There are many hikes around this magical place, ranging from accessible routes to more challenging trails. The Rockpile Trail, for example, is a short and easy path. The trail leads to the top of the natural dam—a vista known as the “Twenty Dollar View” because Canadian 20 dollar bills that have been issued between 1969 and 1979 have this scene on their back side.

After marveling the beautiful lake surrounded by majestic mountain peaks, you can rent a canoe or go hiking, having a choice between dozens of scenic trails. Keep in mind that Moraine Lake is an area with high grizzly bear concentration, so don't forget to carry a bear spray, travel in a group, and make noise to warn the bears.

Moraine Lake can be accessed by one of the highest roads in Alberta and the country—Moraine Lake Road. The asphalted road winds through the Valley of the Ten Peaks, one of the most photographed spots in Canada. Due to heavy snowfalls and blizzards, the road is closed from early October to late May, but dates may vary from year to year.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Moraine Lake?

The best time to visit Moraine Lake is between late June and early October, when it reaches peak water levels and vivid turquoise colors. The water will not be turquoise when the road opens in late May, so plan accordingly. Note that the road is closed from early October to late May due to snow. Show more

What causes the unique turquoise color of Moraine Lake?

The blue-green color of Moraine Lake is unique and caused by light refracting off rock particles from a glacier tunnel that flows into the lake. As the glacier melts, the color of the lake shifts seasonally depending on weather, angle of the sun, and time of day. The lake can stay frozen into June. Show more

Which is the easiest trail to hike around Moraine Lake?

The Rockpile Trail is one of the easiest hikes around Moraine Lake, leading to the top of the natural dam where you can see the Twenty Dollar View. The Larch Valley Trail is moderately difficult and brings hikers directly into the heart of the Ten Peaks, while other trails lead to the Giant Steps, Wenkchemna Pass, and Sentinel Pass. Show more

What precautions should be taken when visiting Moraine Lake due to the wildlife concentration?

Moraine Lake is a high-concentration area for Grizzly bears, which means visitors should be careful. Carry bear spray, travel in groups, and avoid off-trail hiking. Wildlife should never be fed, and visitors should stay in designated areas. If recent signs of bear activity are spotted, travelers ought to make noise to alert Grizzlies. Being prepared for weather changes and wearing layers will also help. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin