Moraine Lake is one of the most photographed scenes in Canada. The “Twenty Dollar View” takes in the turquoise lake and ten surrounding mountains. The vista was once the picture on the back of 20-dollar notes in Canada, and the nickname stuck.
Most visitors spend several hours soaking up the views and snapping pictures. The scene of rugged snow-capped peaks and crystal-clear water surrounded by larch trees is postcard-perfect. There are hiking trails around the lake and canoes for rent. The lake is only accessible June through September, as the road is blocked by snow in winter.
The lake is 8.7 miles (14 kilometers) from Lake Louise and about 1 hour’s drive west of Banff. From the parking lot, it’s a short walk, roughly 980 feet (300 meters), up a rocky hill to a viewing platform, where you’ll get the best view.
The glacial lake gets its startling blue color from the minerals in the water that come down from the surrounding mountains. The Valley of Ten Peaks has the third-highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. The peak of Mount Temple is 11,500 feet (3,540 meters) high. Take all this in from the viewing platform.
The lake is brightest during the day when the sun is directly overhead. This is also when the lake is the most crowded, and it can be hard to find parking. Come before 10 a.m. and stay to watch the changing colors on the lake – the water’s surface reflects the ten peaks.
There are miles of hiking trails surrounding the lake. Hiking can be dangerous, because there are often bears roaming the area. Call Parks Canada for a safety update before you set out. Always walk in groups of four or more.