Like most things in life, a little planning and forward-thinking will set you up for a more comfortable experience; the same applies when you’re planning day trips and outings on your vacation. If there are any hiccups, you’ll know your options, and you’ll have some backup plans to lean on.
The same mindset should apply to visiting Moraine Lake. It’s true, you’re not visiting Mount Everest — there’s not an excessive amount to do before your trip to — in our opinion — the most beautiful lake in North America. But(!) there are a few pre-visit measures that can set you up for a far more successful day of exploring one, two or three of the fun things to do at Moraine Lake.
Here, we will share our top tips — based on firsthand experience — so that you get the most out of your trip to Moraine Lake.
Book Your Shuttle Bus
This is the first and the most important tip: plan your transportation!
The road and parking for Moraine Lake are closed to private vehicles — unless your vehicle displays a disabled parking blue tag.
With Moraine Lake shuttle bus services, you can secure your ticket to and from Moraine Lake, which means that you know exactly when you’re coming and when you’re going. You don’t need to queue in line and hope for a seat, and the rest of your day’s plans won’t hinge on what time you can catch a ride.
Check the Weather
If you’re unfamiliar with Canadian weather, know it’s willing and able to turn on a dime. We highly recommend checking the weather report before your day at the lake. Don’t get us wrong; there are many days at Moraine Lake where the sun shines and blue skies prevail; hurrah! However, rain clouds can move in, and the temperature can switch, so be prepared.
Knowing in advance what you’d like to do at the lake will help you know what time you’d like to book your bus ride back. It will also give you a good handle on what you need to bring (and we’ll share some packing tips with you shortly).
While you don’t need to have your itinerary nailed down to the last minute, knowing whether you’d like to rent a canoe, take photos, sit and enjoy a picnic, or take one or more hikes in the area will let you accurately plan your day.
Moraine Lake has several different hikes that take completely different amounts of time to complete. The Rockpile Trail takes between 10 to 20 minutes there and back, depending on your pace, whereas the Shoreline Trail will take about an hour. On the other hand, some hikes, like the Eiffel Lake hike and Wenkchemna Pass trail, will take you around six hours.
Since there are lots of hikes at Moraine Lake, having an idea of which ones you’d like to do will help you make the most of your day.
While the trails are well-blazed, you won’t get phone reception at Moraine Lake. For peace of mind, you might want to download maps of your planned hiking routes to your cell phone before leaving your accommodation so you can access them offline.
What you bring will depend on a) the weather, and b) what Moraine Lake activities you have planned.
For example, if you plan to arrive early and spend your morning and afternoon conquering some of the hiking trails around Moraine Lake, you’ll likely need an extra layer or two, a bottle of water, sunscreen, bug repellent and a lunch.
If you plan to go to the lake, hop off the shuttle, spend an hour canoeing across the water, and then head back to town, you won’t need very much. Just don’t forget your camera, and be sure to layer on your sunscreen before you leave your accommodation — the lake really amplifies the sun’s rays!
If you’re planning to canoe at Moraine Lake, or to bring your inflatable kayak or paddleboard — we recommend bringing a Ziplock or drybag for your cellphone and wallet just in case you accidentally get sprayed by an overzealous passerby.
And if you plan to catch the Moraine Lake sunrise shuttle, then go straight back to Lake Louise Village for a well-deserved cup of coffee or hot chocolate — or a nap, if you’re not one for an early morning start — you’ll really just need to bring your camera and an extra sweater.