Last summer Bryson and I drove to Banff over the August long weekend and headed to Moraine Lake as one of our first hiking stops. Our top tip, do not visit Moraine Lake or Lake Louise during this weekend - if you do, head out early to avoid crowds and traffic.
Crowds are expected when heading to places like Moraine Lake, especially during the summer months, and they don't really bother me, but the traffic was unreal. Unreal as in the the entire road up to the Fairmont was almost at a standstill and on the Moraine Lake road cars were parked all along the already narrow mountain road almost halfway from the lake itself because the parking lot was full. We got lucky and snagged a spot as someone was leaving!
For reference, Lake Louise is located at the end of a short road (about 4 km) passed the village of Lake Louise and the turn off for Moraine Lake is on the same road almost right before Lake Louise (the turnoff road is about 14 km). Once you get there you can hike along the lakeshore (3 km return) for a beautiful perspective of the lake that is not often seen in photos as well a less crowded gaze (we had the trail to ourselves for a good portion of the hike) into the crystal clear waters.
To get the classic Moraine Lake shot hike up the Rock Pile trail - it's a really short hike with the trail entrance starting next to the row of outhouses at the front of the lake. During the busy season the entire rock pile/mountain is covered in tourist trying to get photos of the lake. We didn't even attempt to climb the pile because it seriously was that crowded and just looked really unsafe in general. Do as you please, but the trail will give you proper steps to walk up and take you to insane views anyways (more photos to come)! You can also rent canoes by the hour.
Even with the crowds and traffic this place was completely worth it! The water is incredible and basically begs you to jump in to take a swim, the surrounding mountains only make it that much better. If any of you have ever tried swimming in this lake please let us know if the chill was worth it!