Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Canoe Across the Turquoise Waters of Moraine Lake

canadian rocky mountains, canoeing

Close your eyes and picture a lake with the bluest, clearest waters you can imagine.  Then add a stunning mountain range framing this lake, capped with pure white glaciers and carpeted with lush, green trees.  In your mind’s eye, slice through this lake in a bright yellow canoe, silent and calm, leaving a slight ripple as you glide across its blue waters.  

There.You have just visualized my Sunday afternoon at Moraine Lake. It was a little piece of heaven.

Moraine Lake is a glacially-fed lake 14 kilometers from the village of Lake Louise in the Alberta Rockies.  It is sometimes overshadowed by the larger and very picturesque Lake Louise (for which the village was named), but should never be ignored.  Yes, it is smaller and yes, it is a bit more remote, but its beauty more than makes up for these two truths.

Trans-Canada Highway 1 drive, driving through the mountains
Roadside stop as we drive through the Albertan Rocky Mountains
 
I have wanted to see Moraine Lake for a very long time, and not just its image which is stamped on the Canadian $20 bill.  Set inside the gorgeous “Valley of the Ten Peaks” mountain range in the Rockies, Moraine Lake is famous for its bright turquoise-blue color.  It did not disappoint!

My husband and I decided to stop for a visit to Moraine Lake on the way up to our family vacation in Invermere, British Columbia.  We were driving up the TransCanada Highway #1 anyway, and Lake Louise was only another short jaunt past our turn-off to B.C.  Before we even drove into Lake Louise, we saw signs clearly marking the way to Moraine Lake, which made it extremely easy to find.  It is about a 2.5 hour drive from Calgary, depending on traffic. 

20 dollar bill view, Banff National Park, Valley of the Ten Peaks
The "20 Dollar View" of Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks

As we approached Moraine Lake, cars began to appear parked on the side of the road.  We’d been warned that during the summer months, Moraine Lake could be very tourist-laden and that it would be better to visit either before 11 a.m. or after 5 p.m., but since that didn’t fit into our schedule, we had decided to risk it.  Judging from the cars jammed up along the side of the road, it was busy at 2 p.m. for sure!  I insisted that we find a spot and just park, and then walk down to the lake, but my husband begged me to just try the parking lot first.  I was happy he did, as we lucked out and found a recently-vacated spot right away!  It would have been a long walk otherwise!   Remember to buy a Banff National Park day pass as well, to avoid a heavy ticket if you are caught parking without a pass.

Moraine Lake Alberta Canada, Banff National Park
A calm spot on the lake shows a beautiful reflection!

It was quite busy at the lake, but not so busy that it was uncomfortable or unenjoyable.  People milled about, marveling at the color of the lake, the view of the “Valley of the Ten Peaks”, and the giant rock pile just asking to be hiked.  A trail wraps all around Moraine Lake, and there are several different hikes with varying degrees of difficulty to suit any outdoorsman.  But what caught Joey and I was the lake’s water, and the brightly-colored canoes slicing through it.

Moraine Lake Alberta Canada, Banff National Park
The view from my canoe!

We rented a canoe for one hour, which cost us $47.15 ($45.00 plus GST).  You can bring your own canoe to the lake as well, if you are not into spending nearly $50 for an hour of paddling.  We decided it was worth it, so we paid (they took credit and debit cards, so you don't have to worry about having cash on hand), and off we went. After I got used to the rocking motion of the canoe every time Joey or I slightly shifted our weight, I really enjoyed myself!   

Moraine Lake Alberta Canada, Banff National Park
 Look at the color of that water - this is NOT photoshopped, folks!

I couldn’t get over the color of the water, or how clean and clear it was.  The scenery all around me was majestic and so peaceful - it was a lovely way to spend an hour.  We saw a group of little baby loons swimming with their momma, and came across a rushing waterfall where glacial run-off fed into the lake. 

Moraine Lake Alberta Canada, Banff National Park
Stones on the lake bed show clearly through the pristine waters of Moraine Lake

When our canoe journey was over, and the boat successfully returned, it was time for us to leave.  There were about ten different hikes that I wanted to go on, the first being the easy loop around the lake, but due to our family vacation, we had to leave.  Since Moraine Lake is only about four hours from my house, I foresee us visiting it again quite soon!

Moraine Lake Alberta Canada, Banff National Park
We truly enjoyed our canoe ride

7 comments:

  1. Great pics Marti! I love the lake too but never take time to fully explore it.

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  2. Love the pics Marti! I never take time to fully explore moraine lake but I need to do that. Another add to my list.

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    1. It is worth it - such beautiful water! You won't regret it - the canoe trip was a bit pricey but worth it in the end!

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  3. blue....gorgeous color, and that without food dye!

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    1. Have you been there Laeta? You are the photographer - I'll bet you could do it some justice! ;)

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  4. ooo.. i can see why you've always wanted to see this lake.. absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Great pix and post babe! :D

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    1. Thanks lady! I'm lucky to live so close by! It is great for a picnic lunch, too - since you are a foodie and all! :)

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