If you haven’t heard yet, Moraine lake will no longer be open to personal vehicles starting this summer (2023).
This doesn’t mean you can’t visit – this just means that those sought after sunrise photos and hikes got a little more difficult to accomplish. And while the government hasn’t fully figured out a new bus schedule to accommodate the change yet, I do think it’s something they’ll iterate on in the years to come. Fret not!
I managed to do the 3 a.m. drive to Moraine Lake once. It was a great experience – and one I am glad we got done before this new rule came in. With that said, I think this should encourage us to give some love to other places nearby that will be a lot easier to access.
Here’s my top 3 spots to fill your Moraine Lake void. If you don’t want to take the shuttle buses, that is 😉
#1 Spray Lakes – Tent Ridge
Kananaskis can get busy throughout, especially between July and October. But even if it’s busy, there’s TONS of hiking trails in the area to take advantage of. And if you’re someone looking for a good sunrise/sunset spot, I have to imagine hiking up Tent Ridge will give you those stunning views, with out having to constantly get pushed around by antsy photographers trying to get their perfect shot.
- If you don’t want to do the full hike and only the views – do the Tent Ridge hike counter-clockwise and stop as soon as you hit the top of the ridge
- There’s also TONS of other great hikes in the immediate area, or even more on the way down from Canmore. Take your pick!
#2 Barrier Lake / Yates Mountain
This hiking spot will always have a soft spot in the ol’ ticker, mostly because it was one of the first hikes I had ever done as an adult – one that re-connected me with the outdoors.
YES. This place is popular. But you won’t have to race here for 3 a.m. to get a spot. And the views of the sprawling Kananaskis are well worth the sunrise/sunset hike.
- Do the Yates Mountain hike and stop at any of the 3 outlooks for some solid views
- During peak season, it’s best to arrive before 8am to have no problem getting a spot. I feel like this area gets busier every year.
#3 Three Sisters Viewpoint – Canmore
Last on my top 3 is a spot my partner and I visit every time we go to the mountains. It’s just a short walk with no incline, making it slightly more accessible if you’re not someone who’s up for a hike!
- Park at the off-leash park just on the outskirts of Canmore
- Walk under the bridges towards the river for an uninterrupted view of Three Sisters
If you have one take away today it’s to start planning ahead. You’ll quickly discover that between Banff, Jasper, Kananaskis and Kootenay parks, there’s an insane amount of beautiful spots to take advantage of. And you won’t need to stress yourself out to get access to most of them.
I’m just as upset as everyone else that it’s now a little harder to get to Moraine lake, with Lake Louise sure to follow. But I think it’s a necessary change to remove a lot of the unnecessary traffic in the immediate area. And no, the solution isn’t just ‘build a bigger parking lot’.