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20 Best Tips For Vising lake moraine for Sunrise

Banff, Canada

by Coco Tran On February 24, 2024

moraine lake sunrise

Are you planning a trip to Moraine Lake in Banff National Park and want to experience sunrise at Moraine Lake? If so, you’re in for a treat! Moraine Lake is known for its stunning views, crystal-clear water, and breathtaking scenery. But with so many people flocking to the park each year, it can be challenging to make the most of your visit. With the park’s recent ban on personal vehicles, it can be tricky to navigate Moraine Lake’s limited parking and access options. Not to worry, though—I’ve got you covered. In this guide, I’ll share 20 insider tips for experiencing the perfect sunrise at Moraine Lake. From lodging options to hiking trails, I’ll cover everything you need to know to make the most of your trip!

20 Tips for Visiting Lake Moraine For Sunrise

lake moraine during sunrise

1. Book Accommodations in Moraine Lake

The early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the best spot for sunrise. With the recent Parks Canada new parking restrictions for 2023, you can no longer drive your personal vehicles into the park (permanently effective at all hours). The Best thing to guarantee a view of sunrise is to book a room at the lodge located right on the park. It’s the only accommodation in the park so book ah early, like 7 months out early!

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the best hotel
lake moraine lodge

Best Hotel Closest to Moraine Lake

The only accommodation within walking distance of lake moraine. Staying here will take the hassle of planning. Stay here to enjoy the convenience of being right next to the lake.

rating :

3 star rating
3 star rating
3 star rating

3 star lodge

key features:

  • located in the park
  • best view of lake
  • walking distance to the lake
  • Restaurant on property

2. Take a Private Sunrise Tour of Lake Moraine

If you don’t want to take the shuttle or stay at the lodge, the other option is to book a private tour to Moraine Lake. This will allow you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the stunning views on the way to the lake! Here are the best tours for catching the sunrise at Lake Moraine.

The Best Private Sunrise Tour for Lake Moraine! Check Pricing & Availability at for this Private Sunrise Tour of Lake Moraine Banff

What To Do At Lake Moraine

3: Plan Your Trip in Advance

Moraine Lake is a popular destination, and the best way to ensure you don’t miss the sunrise is to plan in advance. Check the weather forecast, and book your Lake Moraine accommodations way in advance. In advance, I mean 6+ months.

4. Take a Sunrise Shuttle To Moraine Lake

This a great way to ensure you get the best views and locations to capture those epic sunrise shots! If you’re traveling solo or are a huge photo enthusiast and the people your traveling with don’t care to wake up early, this is the best option! It’s the only shuttle that is allowed to go to Moraine Lake Rd, and it’s affordable at only $29 RT.

5. Arrive Early to Beat the Crowds

Moraine Lake is one of the most popular destinations in Banff National Park, and parking is limited. Personal vehicles are no longer allowed at Moraine Lake, and visitors must take the shuttle from the parking lot. The earliest shuttle at 6.30am unfortunately isn’t early enough to catch the sunrise. So what can you do if you can’t stay at the lodge in the park?

6. Take a Group Tour Of Lake Moraine

If you’re looking for a more cost-effective option, consider taking a shared Banff tour. These tours typically offer transportation to the lake and a guide!

7. Camping at Moraine Lake for a Budget-Friendly Option

For a budget-friendly option, consider camping in Banff National Park. There are several campgrounds in the area, including the Moraine Lake Campground, which is located within walking distance of the lake. You have to reserve these in advance!

lake moraine tips

8. Use a polarizing filter

A polarizing filter can help to reduce glare and reflections on the water and help keep the sky being blown out, making it easier to capture stunning sunrise photos!

9: Bring a tripod

Bring a tripod. This will allow you to steady your camera and capture sharp images during the low light at sunrise!

10. Be Prepared for Changing Weather Conditions

The weather can change suddenly and it is very cold early in the morning, so being prepared is essential! Keep in mind, the weather in Banff and at Moraine Lake can vary depending on the time of year. Here are the average temperatures and rain levels for Moraine Lake in Banff National Park:

moraine lake tips for visiting

What the Weather and Temperature is Like in Banff

  • Spring (March to May): Average temperatures range from -4°C to 11°C (25°F to 52°F) with an average precipitation of 43mm (1.7 inches) per month.
  • Summer (June to August): Average temperatures range from 6°C to 20°C (43°F to 68°F) with an average precipitation of 62mm (2.4 inches) per month.
  • Fall (September to November): Average temperatures range from -2°C to 10°C (28°F to 50°F) with an average precipitation of 40mm (1.6 inches) per month.
  • Winter (December to February): Average temperatures range from -18°C to -5°C (0°F to 23°F) with an average precipitation of 30mm (1.2 inches) per month.

11. Dress For The Changing Weather

  1. Dress in Layers – Dressing in layers allows you to adjust your clothing to changing weather conditions. Start with a base layer of moisture-wicking fabric, add an insulating layer, and finish with a waterproof and windproof outer layer.
  2. Wear Proper Footwear – Make sure to wear shoes or boots that are appropriate for the weather and terrain. Good traction and ankle support is highly recommended! The terrain is rocky on some of the trails at Moraine Lake like the Rockpile Outlook.
  3. Pack a Rain Jacket or Poncho – Always pack a rain jacket or poncho, even if the forecast calls for clear skies. Weather can change quickly, and it’s better to be prepared than caught off guard.
  4. Bring Extra Clothing – Pack extra clothing in case you get wet or need to change.
  5. Sun Protection – Even on cloudy days, UV rays can still be harmful to your skin. Bring and apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and wear sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
  6. Bring Gloves– this will save your hands from the early morning chilly weather. Trust me!

12. Bring Snacks and Plenty Of Water

There isn’t a cafe or any place to eat by Lake Moraine. You’ll have to pack your snacks and water. Bring enough and a bit of extra just in case you need it. and don’t forget, do not leave your food in the car as this is bear territory!

13. Check the sunrise time

Be sure to check the sunrise time for your desired date. The sunrise time varies throughout the year, so make sure you allow enough time for hiking to the viewing area and using the restroom!

14. Bring a headlamp

If you’re arriving before sunrise, it’s important to bring a headlamp to light your way! A cell phone flash will do it, but you probably don’t want to drain your battery.

15. Follow the Leave No Trace principles

To help preserve the natural beauty of Lake Moraine, follow the Leave No Trace principles. This means packing out all of your trash and leaving the area as you found it.

16. Take advantage of shuttle services

If you’re staying in Banff or the surrounding area, take advantage of shuttle services to get to Lake Moraine. These services are convenient and easy. but unfortunately aren’t early enough for sunrise as the first shuttle is at 6:30 . you have to reserve them in advance.

17. Be patient

Sunrise at Lake Moraine is a popular time, and it’s important to be patient and considered others! Remember, everyone is there to marvel at this magical time. Practice patience and kindness!

18. The Best Photo Location for Sunrise at Lake Moraine

The rockpile outlook is the most popular, but not a lot of people know that if you keep going to the right deeper in, there is much more room and the view is better! Most people gather at the very beginning of the outlook and gatekeep their photo spot, but if you keep going in, you’ll actually have a way better view and fewer people!

19. What time of day is best to see Moraine Lake

Because the sun is at different positions during the day, and Lake Moraines location, the best time will depend on your priorities and preference. Here are the best times to see Moraine Lake for different preferences.

Sunrise usually before 6:30 am is popular among photographers because the water is usually the calmest and the sunlight rays paint the valley of ten peaks in spectacular shades of pink and orange.

Midday at noon is when the sun is the strongest and highest and turns the lake a bright turquoise blue.

Sunset is when the golden rays hit the snow-capped mountain tops and are ideal for portraits.

20. Take in the moment

Finally, remember to take a break from capturing photos, be in the moment and enjoy the experience of watching the sunrise over Lake Moraine. It’s a truly breathtaking sight!

Why Visit Moraine Lake Banff for Sunrise?

Lake Moraine, located in Banff National Park in Canada, is a popular destination for watching the sunrise due to its stunning natural beauty, which has also earned it the designation of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The lake is surrounded by towering mountains that reflect in the still waters, creating a stunning and serene landscape that is simply breathtaking.

There’s something magical about watching the sun rise over the turquoise waters of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park. The stillness of the lake in the early morning hours, combined with the light of the sunrise. The early morning sunrays transform the mountains into pink and orange hues. The reflection in the water of the ten peaks is a breathtaking display of color and beauty. It’s a bucket-list experience that you won’t want to miss!

moraine lake sunrise
Canoe rental at lake moraine

Is Lake Moraine worth visiting for Sunrise?

When I visited in September, I wasn’t expecting to be picking up my jaw from the floor! It’s worth seeing it and experiencing it. And it’s so true, photos don’t do it justice. The wonderful thing about experiencing this for yourself is it will be unique because the sky, the weather, and the time of year all make up the unique experience. Sunrise at Lake Moraine is a must-see, and I know how hyped up this is among photographers (me included!) but there’s a reason for the madness. It’s what you make of it and what it makes to you! I absolutely think it’s worth experiencing.

Can you do Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in the same day?

while it’s technically possible to visit both lakes in the same day, I recommend taking your time to truly soak in the beauty of each destination. Both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake offer a wide range of activities and attractions to suit all tastes and interests, and rushing through either one would mean missing out on some truly unforgettable experiences.

Instead, we recommend taking at least one full day to visit each lake, giving yourself plenty of time to explore the surrounding area, take in the stunning scenery, and enjoy all that each destination has to offer. If you’re short on time, you could also consider taking a guided tour that includes both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, which can be a great way to see the highlights of each destination without feeling rushed.

Ultimately, whether you choose to visit both lakes in the same day or take your time to truly experience each one, we’re sure you’ll fall in love with the breathtaking beauty of these iconic Canadian destinations.

What is the best time of year to visit Moraine Lake?

During the summer months, typically from mid-June to mid-September, Moraine Lake is at its busiest and most crowded. However, this is also when the weather is warmest and the lake is at its bluest. Summer is a great time to go hiking or canoe on the lake.

If you prefer cooler weather and fewer crowds, consider visiting Moraine Lake in the fall. The foliage around the lake turns stunning shades of orange and gold, and the weather is cooler but still pleasant. September and early October are some of the best times to visit for fall foliage!

Winter is also a magical time to visit Moraine Lake, as the snow-covered peaks and frozen lake create a winter wonderland. However, access to the lake may be limited due to snow and ice, so be sure to check for road closures and other restrictions before planning your visit.

Why is Moraine Lake so popular?

Moraine Lake is one of Canada’s most popular destinations, and for good reason. This stunning lake is surrounded by towering mountains, crystal-clear waters, and an abundance of natural beauty that’s sure to take your breath away!

One of the reasons that Moraine Lake is so popular is its sheer beauty. The lake’s turquoise waters are unlike anything you’ve ever seen, and the surrounding mountains create a picture-perfect backdrop that’s perfect for photography and sightseeing.

Additionally, the lake offers a wide range of activities and attractions to suit all tastes and interests. From hiking and boating to wildlife viewing and scenic drives, there’s something for everyone at Moraine Lake.

Finally, the lake’s accessibility is another reason for its popularity. While personal vehicles are not permitted to park at the lake during peak travel times, there are still plenty of ways to reach the lake and enjoy its beauty. Whether you take the shuttle, a taxi, or a guided tour, it’s easy to experience all that Moraine Lake has to offer.

Which is better Lake Louise or Lake Moraine?

Ah, the age-old question: which is better, Lake Louise or Lake Moraine? It’s a bit like asking which is better, chocolate or vanilla. The answer, of course, is both!

In all seriousness, both Lake Louise and Lake Moraine are absolutely stunning destinations that offer their own unique charms. Lake Louise is known for its iconic turquoise waters, soaring mountains, and the luxurious Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Visitors can enjoy hiking, canoeing, and skiing, among other activities, and take in the breathtaking scenery that surrounds the lake.

Meanwhile, Moraine Lake is known for its crystal-clear waters, towering peaks, and stunning hiking trails. Visitors can enjoy hiking, boating, and wildlife viewing, among other activities, and take in the beauty of this iconic Canadian destination.

Ultimately, if you’re planning a trip to the area, I highly recommend visiting both Lake Louise and Lake Moraine. Each lake has its own unique beauty and charm, and you won’t want to miss either one.

Can you walk between Lake Louise and lake Moraine?

While it is technically possible to walk between Lake Louise and Lake Moraine, it’s not a recommended or practical option for most visitors. The journey would take you on no marked trails or facilities along the way. Also, it’s about 9 miles one way, definitely not a stroll in the park!

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lake moraine visiting


Frequently Asked Questions about visiting Lake Moraine

No, personal vehicles are no longer allowed at Moraine Lake. Shuttle bus reservations are required to access the lake or you can book a private tour!

A: Shuttle bus reservations can be made online in advance. It is recommended to book your reservation as soon as possible as spots fill up quickly.

A: Arrive at least 45 minutes before sunrise to secure a good spot.

Pets are not allowed at Lake Moraine or in Banff National Park. Please leave your furry friends at home or make arrangements for their care while you visit the park.

No, swimming is not allowed in Lake Moraine to protect the fragile ecosystem and preserve the natural beauty of the lake.

It takes about 45 minutes to hike around Lake Moraine. However, if you plan to stop and take pictures or explore the surrounding area, it can take longer.

The fee to visit Moraine Lake is included in your National Parks A small fee of $8 to reserve the parking shuttles

No. You cannot stay overnight in your vehicle, as personal vehicles aren’t allowed on the road starting 2023. But don’t worry! You can book a stay at the lodge in the park .

The answer will depend on your individual preferences and travel plans. However, as a general guideline, I recommend spending at least 2-4 hours at Lake Moraine to truly take in the beauty of this stunning destination. Longer if you are planning to hike.

in general, Moraine Lake is typically open to visitors from mid-June to mid-October, when the snow melts and lake thaws. Check the latest information on Parks Canada’s website.

While Lake Moraine is accessible by car, personal vehicles are not permitted to park at the lake itself during peak travel times starting in 2023 due to limited parking availability and environmental concerns.

Instead, visitors are encouraged to use the Parks Canada shuttle service, which operates between the Lake Louise overflow parking lot and Lake Moraine. This service runs several times per day during peak travel times and offers a convenient way to reach the lake without having to worry about parking.

Alternatively, visitors can take a taxi or ride-sharing service to the lake or participate in a guided tour that includes transportation to and from the lake.

It’s important to note that while personal vehicles are not permitted to park at Lake Moraine during peak travel times, there are still plenty of ways to reach the lake and experience its stunning beauty. Whether you choose to take the shuttle, a taxi, or a guided tour, we’re sure you’ll fall in love with this iconic Canadian destination.

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