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We discover a stunning lake in the Canadian Rockies.   By Charlie Huisking   Everybody who visits the Canadian Rockies stops at Lake Louise. But many tourists fail to drive eight more miles up a twisting mountain road to the even more spectacular Moraine Lake.   Filled with turquoise water that gleams in the sun, […]

June 21, 2007


We discover a stunning lake in the Canadian Rockies.
 
By Charlie Huisking
 
Everybody who visits the Canadian Rockies stops at Lake Louise. But many tourists fail to drive eight more miles up a twisting mountain road to the even more spectacular Moraine Lake.
 
Filled with turquoise water that gleams in the sun, Moraine Lake is much smaller than its more famous counterpart. But its remote, dramatic setting accounts for the almost spiritual pull it has on people—well, certainly on me.

 
Ten mountain peaks, each more than 10,000 feet high, rise dramatically from the far shore. The scene is so stunning that, for many years, it was depicted on the back of Canada’s $20 bill. Queen Elizabeth has that honor now. No offense, Liz, but I don’t think that’s an improvement.
 
You won’t find a sprawling hotel like Chateau Lake Louise at Moraine Lake. Instead, you can stay at the cozy Moraine Lake Lodge. You can choose from simply but comfortably furnished rooms in the main lodge, or one of the one-bedroom cabins that are only a few feet from the lake.

 
My cabin had a king-sized bed, a sunken living area with a working fireplace, and a balcony overlooking the lake. After the day tourists have pulled out of the Moraine Lake parking lot in the late afternoon, lodge guests have this gorgeous spot to themselves. It was thrilling to walk along the lake at midnight, looking at the stars twinkle over the mountains.

By early the next morning, the parking lot was full again, and visitors were climbing the rockpile, a mound of giant boulders that were deposited on the shore of the lake in the Ice Age. A 15-minute hike brings you to the top, where the view of the water, the mountains and the canoists far below is fantastic.


Me with my friend, Barby, inside a cabin at the Moraine Lake Lodge.
 
By early the next morning, the parking lot was full again, and visitors were climbing the rockpile, a mound of giant boulders that were deposited on the shore of the lake in the Ice Age. A 15-minute hike brings you to the top, where the view of the water, the mountains and the canoists far below is fantastic.


Me at Moraine Lake.
 
I sat atop the rockpile for a couple of hours, listening to visitors from Italy, Spain, England, Australia, Japan, India and the United States marvel at the sight. Many of them asked me to take a picture of their group.
 
One young woman started to walk down the hill, but then returned. "I had to take one more look," she said. "It’s like you want to burn this sight into your mind so you never forget it."
 
I feel the same way.