Moraine Lake#3 in Best Things To Do in Banff
Located about an hour's drive north of town, Moraine Lake is the visual highlight of any Banff trip and labeled a must-see bucket list item by many recent visitors. Nestled in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, the lake mirrors the snowcapped peaks and is surrounded by backcountry hiking trails. The easiest trail is the flat Moraine Lakeshore path, which starts near Moraine Lake Lodge and takes about 45 minutes to complete (round-trip). As you walk along the lakeshore, you'll spot stunning views of Mount Fay and the Fay Glacier. If you've got a bit more time on your hands, consider embarking on the nearly 2-mile Consolation Lakes trail, which takes about two hours to complete. You'll encounter some elevation gains with this one, but you'll be rewarded with views of the high alpine meadows, enormous talus slopes and the Quadra Glacier. For a detailed list of all the available hikes in this area, visit the Parks Canada website.
When you're not admiring the bright blue waters from the trail (rock silt that's deposited into the lake from melting glaciers contributes to its vibrant hue), consider hopping in a canoe and experiencing it for yourself. You can rent canoes at the nearby Moraine Lake Lodge (rentals are available from mid-June to mid-September), which is also where you'll find parking and restrooms. Speaking of parking, recent visitors offer a word of caution: Parking becomes scarcer as the day progresses; if you can, try to get to the lake early in the morning. Not only will you have an easier time securing a parking spot, but you'll enjoy a little more peace during your hike or paddle on the lake. Canoe rentals cost CA$105 (or about $83).
Note: Moraine Lake Road is closed from mid-October to mid-May due to avalanche risk (mid- to late summer is considered the best time to go). Check the Parks Canada website for more information. If you're driving from Banff, you can reach the lake by taking the Trans-Canada Highway to Moraine Lake Drive. It doesn't cost anything to hike around the lake, but you will have to fork over some coin if you want to rent any equipment from the lodge. Parks Canada does offer a handful of free shuttles in the summer season to Moraine Lake, but driving yourself may be the most convenient option.
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#1 Banff Sunshine Village
Located miles 11 miles west of Banff Town, Banff Sunshine Village offers 12 lifts, more than 3,300 skiable acres and a peak elevation of 7,200 feet. And thanks to its location straddling the Continental Divide, Sunshine sees more snow than its neighbors, meaning the ski season here is long – typically from early November to late May. The powdery terrain beckons skiers of all levels (another point of praise from recent travelers), and the Sunshine Mountain Lodge offers a great setting for dinner and drinks after a day on the slopes.
If you're not in Banff for ski season, you should still make a point to visit Sunshine, according to reviewers. From mid-June to early autumn, the Sunshine Meadows are open for hiking and provide visitors spectacular alpine views of the surrounding peaks, including Mount Assiniboine. Hiking is free and so is the shuttle from town, which runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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