Moraine Lake is situated inside Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. The lake is 8.7 miles outside the hamlet or village of Lake Louise. It sits at an altitude of around 6,183 feet above sea level, in a valley known as the Valley of the Ten Peaks. It is glacially fed, and it reaches its peak volume in mid to late June. The waters of Moraine Lake are a vivid shade of blue, and the intensity of the color varies through the summer as the nearby glaciers melt. The lake has a scenic view, with the Ten Peaks, rock piles, waterfalls, and lush green vegetation forming its background.
Moraine Lake’s blue-green waters are one of its unique attributes. The color is caused by refraction of light off fine particles of rock deposited in the lake by glacier run-off. These fine rock particles are called rock flour. The breathtaking sight of the surrounding mountains and their snowy peaks also contributes to its uniqueness and fame. The view of Moraine Lake with the surrounding mountains in the background is often called the “Twenty Dollar View” because it was featured on twenty dollar bills issued in Canada between 1969 and 1979.
Moraine Lake is home to a variety of fish species including trout, Mountain Whitefish, and Lake Whitefish. The Banff National Park, where the lake is found, has more than 53 mammal species, some of which can be seen around the lake. They include Columbian Ground Squirrels, pikas, black bears, hoary marmots, and red squirrels. Occasionally, visitors may also encounter grizzly bears as they take hiking trips around the lake. The lake is surrounded by coniferous trees like spruce and larches. The larches in Larch Valley draw a lot of tourists in fall as they turn golden during the season.
Moraine Lake is a popular natural attraction site in the Canadian Rockies because of its beauty and activities. Tourists often explore the lake in canoes which are available for rent at the lodge. Fishing is allowed in the lake under Catch and Release Only regulations. Hiking is also another way of exploring the lake and its surroundings. There are several trails around the lake such as the Rockpile Trail, Moraine Lake Lakeshore Trail, and other trails leading to the Larch Valley, Eiffel Lake, Consolation Lakes, Sentinel Pass, and Wenkchemna Pass.
While visiting the lake, visitors can eat and stay at the Moraine Lake Lodge which provides all onsite commercial services to guests. The lodge organizes a range of activities for visitors including helicopter rides, gondola rides, guided fishing trips, white water rafting, and horseback tours. The road leading to the lake is closed during winter due to heavy snowing and avalanche.
One of the major threats facing Moraine Lake and other glacial lakes around the world is the thawing of glaciers due to global warming. As the glaciers retreat, some fauna species inhabiting the lake and the surrounding mountains are faced with extinction. Human activities such as fishing and poaching also endanger animal life in the lake and the surrounding ecosystem. Black bears, for example, are extensively hunted in North America for their gall bladders. Banff National Park has an anti-poaching program to protect the bears. To protect fish species in Moraine Lake from humans, authorities at the lake only allow fishing under strict policies.