Shortly after I graduated college, my family went to Moraine Lake Lodge in Banff National Park, Canada. To this day it is the most beautiful place I have ever been. It beats out the Alps, and even Africa and Caneel Bay. Banff National Park spans 2,500 square miles of the most scenic terrain in all of the Rocky Mountain range. I’ve seen many parts of the Rockies, New Mexico to Colorado, and by far the part in Banff is the grandest, wildest, and most rugged.
A moraine is a mass of rocks and sediment deposited by a glacier, and is where Moraine Lake gets its name.
The lake itself, and its many neighboring lakes, glow an incredible shade of turquoise that is milky and solid like stone.
Moraine Lake Lodge, the only lodge on the lake, is a perfect getaway for truly anyone–from a couple looking for a secluded romantic scene to a family wanting an active vacation in the mountains. If I could only go on one mountain vacation for the rest of my life, it would easily be here.
During our stay we took the canoes for a spin on the lake. It was so much fun and I would definitely recommend you do the same. The water is frigid, so just make sure you don’t tip the boat!
The lodge provides guests with canoes and lifejackets.
One of the things I loved about the lodge was how modestly it fit into the landscape.
The hotel was barely visible when I looked back at the mountain from our canoe, which was nice. Pristine mountain views are what I came for, after all.
Now the fun part–the digs. The main lodge is cozy and luxurious. There are several rooms in the lodge and many cabins strung out along the lakeshore, one of which was ours.
It was charming and the view was incredible.
I remember walking in and thinking “This is ours?!”
The restaurant is exquisite. Glass walls and a glass ceiling let you soak in the panoramic view of the mountains while tasting fine wine, wild game, and steelhead trout. Every afternoon they serve complimentary tea and coffee for guests.
It’s easy to sit back and think, “This is my kind of roughing it.”
They will even pack a picnic lunch for you to take hiking, which we took advantage of.
We stayed very busy and entertained the entire time, though I did often think I would be entirely satisfied just sitting somewhere with a book and a view. All skill levels welcome here. Some of our faves: the Columbia Icefield, the Fairmont Hotel, and the Whyte museum in Banff. (See links below.)
My personal favorite: Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike. The trail starts at Lake Louise and leads upwards past continual panoramic views, a “beehive” rock, and ends at a teahouse by a glacial lake and waterfall.
We had warm soup, thick and fluffy homemade bread, and of course, tea. It was perfect. (For details see link at end of post.)
If you’re hardcore, you can climb Mount Athabasca glacier like my brother did on this trip. Although he said it left him “crying for his mommy.”
We also loved driving aboot, as Canadians say, and seeing the scenery.
By far, one of my favorite vacations I have ever taken. So before you think about the Alps, Appalachia, or anywhere else, do me a favor and visit Moraine Lake Lodge, eh? You will not regret it, I promise! Canadians are nice folks, and you will love standing in awe of the Rockies, the lake, and the endless views, like I did those many years ago when I was just a wee little college grad.
Plan Your Trip
- Moraine Lake Lodge Website: www.morainelake.com
- Very easy to get to! Fly nonstop into Calgary from Houston (and other US locales) and the park is only 1.5 hours away by car.
- To do: canoe, eat dinner at the restaurant, visit the store, or walk around the lake
- Nearby Sites: Lake Louise, the Fairmont Chateau (must see), Columbia Icefield (must see), town of Banff (Whyte museum and shopping),
- Banff National Park Website: www.banffnationalpark.com
- When to go: SUMMER. Many parts of the park are closed in the winter.
- TripAdvisor pages: Banff National Park, Moraine Lake Lodge
- Lake Agnes Teahouse Hike Website: click here
PS. Canadians are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met and made our visit incredibly cheery and pleasant.