I previously wrote about our stay in Yoho National Forest and hiking at Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. Just when my daughter and I thought we saw the most gorgeous lakes in the world, we got a glimpse of Moraine Lake and were stunned by its exquisite beauty.
Booking the Hop on Bus
My daughter booked the Hop on Banff bus to take us around for the day. That way we wouldn’t have to deal with high-season traffic. They would drop us off at Moraine Lake, so we could explore, pick us up and drop us off at Johnston Canyon and then drop us off where we started. The bus starts off in Banff, but since our hotel was in the town of Field, we picked it up near Lake Louise.
We started the morning at the Trailhead Café at the Samson Mall and ordered organic coffee and wrapped sandwiches to take with us in our backpacks. I loved this sign that sits in the café.
Canadians have a fun sense of humor.
Moraine Lake – Can it get any bluer?
The bus was a converted yellow school bus and most of its passengers had started in Banff. The first stop was to the Fairmont Chateau where most of them got off. We continued up the mountain until we reached Moraine Lake. Our guide suggested we climb up the Rockpile for a spectacular view of the lake before taking a stroll around it.
She was right. The view was amazing! Moraine Lake is a jewel and was the most picturesque lake we visited on our trip. Climbing the Rockpile is a little challenging but steps lead to the top, so it isn’t that hard. The view was well worth it, and we spent time taking photos.
Definition: Moraine – A moraine is any glacially formed accumulation of unconsolidated glacial debris that occurs in both currently and formerly glaciated regions on Earth, through geomorphological processes. That’s what gives Moraine Lake it’s vivid color.
There’s a lovely lodge next to the lake with a restaurant and gift shop. We thought about going canoeing but didn’t think we’d have enough time before the bus came to pick us up. Instead, we walked along the lakeshore and meditated on a bench along the trail.
The road to Johnston Canyon and some creatures!
When the bus picked us up it had a new guide. He told us the Bow Valley Parkway had just reopened after being closed for a while and there was a chance we’d get to see some wildlife. He wanted us to keep an eye out for cars stopped by the road, because they may be looking at animals.
During our drive, he had the bus stop at a viewpoint that’s been used in ads to sell coming to the Canadian Rockies.
After a while, we saw some cars that were parked on the side of the road and sure enough, there were several large Elk with huge antlers meandering by the railroad tracks. Cargo trains sometimes drop grain on the tracks and animals congregate to eat it. We opened some bus windows and I managed to snag a shot of one of the Elks.
Bear Tips: Our guide gave us some tips on what to do if we ran into a bear. If you run into a Grizzly, you need to back away slowly. Chances are they just want to gorge themselves with berries, which happened to be in season when we were there. If they try to attack you, play dead. Black Bears are more territorial. They can also be brown. If you are attacked DO NOT play dead. Try to escape and if that’s not possible, fight back. (Easier said than done) Bear spray may be a good idea.
Hiking Johnston Canyon
We arrived at Johnston Canyon and my daughter and I were the only ones getting off. The remaining passengers were headed back to Banff. The canyon is popular for families and easy for most fitness levels. You can walk to the lower falls (30 minutes) or take a longer hike to the upper falls. (60 min) Since we hiked our butts off at Lake Louise the day before, we decided to take it easy and take the lower route.
The trail is a series of catwalks that have been built into the limestone cliffs. Water from the falls rushes down through the canyon. It was a little tricky taking a photo while dodging tourists with smartphones, little kids and a variety of big and small dogs, but it was beautiful and well worth it.
There are a small café and gift shop at the entrance. Since we already packed sandwiches, we bought some tea at the cafe and ate our lunch. There are also nicely maintained restrooms nearby. Always a plus if you are female!
As we sat and waited for the bus we noticed a crowd of people in the parking lot. It turned out a black bear had made its way up a tree next to the lodge and bungalows near the café. He was stuck, and we managed to get a few photos before the ranger showed up. I was glad I took my Canon Powershot camera with its zoom lens and managed to get him in focus.
We were the only two on the bus going back to Lake Louise beside our guide and driver, but they graciously entertained us with information about the area and stories. It was a nice way to see the sights without having to worry about driving.
Read my other posts about the Canadian Rockies here:
Visit Lake Louise
Hotels near Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
- Booking.com – find a place to stay near Lake Louise
Flights to Calgary
- Skyscanner – Find the most affordable flight to Calgary on a search engine you can trust.
Car Rental in Alberta, Canada
- RentalCars.com – offers car rentals worldwide that are affordable and trust-worthy.
Tours near Lake Louise
- Find a Tour – Book a tour on Viator to see the fabulous sites of Lake Louise.
It was amazing to visit Moraine Lake and Johnston Canyon. Have you been to Canada yet? Please leave a comment and share this post with your friends. Enjoy my previous posts from our trip about Yoho National Park, Lake Louise, and Banff.