14 Jun Canoeing at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park
I hadn’t been this giddy in quite some time. I’m not sure if it was the sight of crystal clear turquoise waters that twinkled under the sun or the fact that we were out paddling again, this time with rocky mountains and glaciers towering all around us. But, it was probably a little of both–the perfect combination of activity, stillness and scenery. The morning left us with smiles that we just couldn’t erase. It’s safe to say, canoeing at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, was one of our favorite adventures to date.
We arrived around 9 a.m., about an hour before the canoe rental shop opened. No one was around, so we ventured off to the nearby trails until we noticed a line start to form for the canoes. We were 4th in line for a boat, and the queue was growing longer by the minute. Our time limit to use the canoe was one hour due to the long lines, so we paid and quickly made our way down to the dock to launch our canoe.
Once we set off, we couldn’t stop gaping with excitement. Watching the paddle take its first dip into the water was a bit mind-boggling. The water was so clear it looked like we were canoeing through the air.
With each paddle stroke our energy seemed to multiply exponentially and we felt as though we were gliding over glass. “The water! The mountains! Look how clear! Look at the colors!” were all we could manage to sputter. We were completely entranced and continued our oohing and aahing for the majority of the paddle. The shutter on our camera was practically on the brink of burning out with all the rapid-fire photos and videos we took—we just couldn’t put the cameras down.
When we did finally pull it together, we calmed down and decided to float for a few minutes to soak up the beauty around us. We stared at the glaciers and mountains in the distance, we ran our fingers through the vibrant and clear waters below us, and we put our feet up to soak up the sun rays beaming down from above.
We had just enough time to paddle to the other side of the lake, relax for a bit and then make our way back to the docks, all while taking a bazillion photos. The lake is small enough where an hour should be plenty of time to explore, but honestly, we could have spent an entire day out on this lake in a canoe.
We enjoyed it so much, that we actually ended up renting canoes a second time when we visited later in the summer. The first time we made our way to Banff National Park was in conjunction with a filming project, and the second visit was a road trip with a couple of our friends; it just so happens the visits were about a month and a half apart.
The second time around we encountered completely different lighting and a fairly different style of scenery. What was once a bright, sunny warm day was now an overcast and chilly morning, the mountains had significantly more snow, and the lake changed from a bright, aqua-turquoise to a more deep greenish-teal hue. We definitely felt the shift in seasons even though mid-July and end of August aren’t really that far apart. The mood changed from bright and cheery to moody and dramatic.
We arrived at the canoe rental facility prior to its opening time once again, which proved to be just as good of a choice the second time around. The lines were long, but thankfully we arrived early enough to be some of the first out on the lake.
While we had many of the same reactions on our second paddle as we did on our first, we took less photos and spent more time soaking up every ounce of the experience possible. Funny enough, without even trying, Micah managed to capture a photo almost exactly like one from our first trip—from the same spot of the lake and everything. We didn’t even realize we had taken two super similar photos until we were back home sorting through our footage!
After our second hour-long trip around the lake, we knew that we had a special connection with this gorgeous slice of Banff National Park. Both trips were fantastic in their own right, and we just can’t seem to get enough of canoeing at Moraine Lake.