Empty parking lot at Moraine lake? Unpossible!
How to enjoy Moraine Lake without the crowds!
Distance: 91.6Km Height Gain: 1181m Round Trip Time: 4h30min Including Lunch break Surface Type: Paved Weapon of Choice: Road bike (I took my trusty gravel bike) Resources: Google Maps, Strava
NOTE: There can be avalanche danger along this route. If you don’t feel comfortable evaluating the risk, turn around before the end of Moraine Lake road.
With the southern portion of the 1A highway in Banff closed to traffic, it means the northern portion has very little traffic. There are multiple parking lots at Castle junction to start your journey. I won’t post many pictures of the 1A ride but you can learn more about it here if interested: https://www.tripbagger.com/2020/07/21/shawn-bags-the-1a-highway-bike-ride-bow-valley-parkway-johnson-canyon-banff-national-park/
Near the end of the 1A you head over the TransCanada highway and toward Lake Louise. The large mountain in the distance is Mount Temple: https://www.tripbagger.com/2012/07/29/shawn-bags-mt-temple/
After passing through the lake Louise townsite, you will have to climb the worst hill of the entire journey. It is steep, busy and goes on forever. Just before Lake Louise itself, you will find the turn off for Moraine Lake.
Moraine Lake is normally insanely popular. However, in the winter and spring the road is closed. If you get the timing just right, after the snow melts, but before the road opens, you can ride into Moraine lake on the closed road. Another option is to start at the gates to the road if you want a shorter, easier day out.
The road climbs steadily but never gets too steep. It is full of twist and turns that will be a blast on the way back down.
Not surprisingly, the views along the road are spectacular. Side note that the road does pass through some avalanche chutes. If you are here earlier in the spring or even skiing the road in winter, be sure you are prepared with the equipment and knowledge to travel safely.
Here is something I have never seen in my lifetime. An empty parking lot at Moraine Lake. In the summer, this lot is typically full by 5am and parks Canada use buses to ferry tourists to the lake for a selfie.
Today, it is just a handful of cyclists at the lake. To the right are small cottages you can rent for a measly $1000.00 per night or so. Instead of staying two nights, I’d recommend buying a bike instead!
Normally, this pile of rocks would be just crawling with people. All trying to get that perfect shot of Moraine Lake. Scientists believe this pile of rocks is either from an avalanche or left behind from retreating glaciers.
I just snapped a quick picture with my phone and had lunch while sitting on the log.
If you walk around the back side of the rock pile, there is a trail with steps leading to the top.
View is okay from up here too. The famous blue color of the lake is due to glacial rock flour in the water. The water flowing into the lake is actually a grey color but as the rock flour disperses it gives a blue or green color.
Traditional Summit Selfie!
From the other side of the pile, you can get a pretty nice view of the tower of babel. More on that summit here: https://www.tripbagger.com/2009/07/22/shawn-bags-tower-of-babel-banff-national-park/
One last moment to enjoy the views at Moraine lake, then a fast descent back down the road!
After descending the Moraine lake road, I figured since I was in the neighborhood a little more suffering was in order. So I climbed up to Lake Louise as well. Then, it was certainly time to head back. There are some rock climbing routes toward the back of Lake Louise, you can learn more about here: https://www.tripbagger.com/2009/09/14/shawn-bags-back-of-lake-lake-louise/ .
On the return journey on the 1A a stop at photographer’s favorite spot, Morant’s Curve. I didn’t wait around for a train like most but of course heard one just a few minutes after leavening. From here, it was a trip back down the 1A to the parking lot. An excellent spring bike ride I would certainly recommend.