Moraine Lake vs. Lake Louise—this lacustrine battle has been raging in the minds of tourists ever since Banff National Park opened in 1885 and introduced the general public to two of North America’s most gorgeous bodies of water. While we highly recommend seeing both places, here are some comparisons to help you make up your mind if you only have time for one:
Both Moraine Lake and Lake Louise are considered to be the most beautiful lakes in Canada, so there’s really no wrong answer if you’re looking for a scenic view. Both lakes receive their water from glaciers, and the glaciers’ deposits of rock flour give them both a stunning aquamarine color. However, we have to give the edge to Moraine Lake, which is so lovely that it has to be seen to be believed—that’s why it’s featured on several denominations of Canadian money.
When it comes to easy access, there’s really no comparison. Lake Louise is simple enough to get to and features plenty of lodging, while reaching Moraine Lake is a bit of a challenge. As of 2023, the only way to get to Moraine Lake is by taking the shuttle from Lake Louise. If you want to see Moraine, make sure to reserve your spot on the shuttle as early as possible—we’re talking months in advance. The shuttle only runs during the spring and summer, so if you’re visiting in the winter months, you’ll have to ski there.
Both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake have plenty of hiking trails and opportunities for kayaking and canoeing, so there’s no wrong answer here either. However, the resorts at Lake Louise also offer other activities like rock climbing, dog sledding, and skiing that you can’t find at Moraine Lake. Here’s a tip: renting a canoe at either lake will cost you over $100 per hour, so bring your own boat if you have one.
To make the most of your trip to Banff National Park, check out our Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Self-Guided Driving Tour, or you can sign up for Action+ to gain access to over 100 tours for a single yearly price.