Stand Up Paddle Boarding on Moraine Lake – Everything You Need to Know!

Author: Celine Brewer

Last Updated:

Moraine Lake truly is a gem of the Canadian Rockies and one lake that you’ll want to include in your Lake Louise itinerary. Nestled in the valley of the ten peaks, Moraine Lake is truly is a must-see. Even as you stand atop the Rockpile, it seems unreal looking at the turquoise blue waters of Moraine Lake. The stunning mountain backdrop just adds to the overall beauty of the Moraine Lake area.

While many people will go to Moraine Lake to take a few pictures, we truly believe that this area deserves more time and stand up paddle boarding on Moraine Lake is the perfect way to extend your visit and get a different perspective of the incredible scenery.

You’ve likely heard that getting to Moraine Lake requires some additional planning to get to now. Parks Canada has made the decision to close Moraine Lake Road to private vehicles, meaning you need to either book a Parks Canada Moraine Lake Shuttle or transportation from another commercial operator. While that may sound like it would make it impossible to go stand up paddle boarding on Moraine Lake, it is still entirely possible.

Sunrise Paddle on Moraine Lake
Paddle boarding at Moraine Lake at sunrise.

In this post, I’ll share everything you need to know stand up paddle boarding on Moraine Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in Banff National Park.

Banff National Park requires you to fill out a self-certification permit before entering any body of water in Banff National Park. If you are coming from BC, Alberta or one of the territories, your watercraft must be dry for a minimum of 48 hours before entering a new body of water. If you are coming from anywhere else, your watercraft must be dry for a minimum of 30 days. This is to help reduce the spread of invasive species. Read more here.

Sunrise at Moraine Lake in Banff.
Moraine Lake sunrise from Rockpile.

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Getting to Moraine Lake with a Stand Up Paddle Board

Thankfully, both Parks Canada and several of the other commercial operators have recognized the need to have space for visitors to bring inflatable paddle boards to enjoy this incredible Banff lake.

The inflatable part is important. If you have an inflatable paddle board or kayak, you should be able to bring it along on your shuttle to Moraine Lake. If you are traveling to Moraine Lake on a commercial operator, other than Parks Canada, you’ll want to check in with them before hand to make sure there will be space for your inflatable kayak or inflatable paddle board.

You will not be able to bring a hard sided kayak or solid paddle board with you.

We brought our inflatable paddle boards to Moraine Lake in June, when we visited Moraine Lake at sunrise. We used the Moraine Lake Bus Company for our shuttle and checked in with them prior to make sure there would be room for our SUPs.

Moraine Lake Bus Company Shuttles.
We took Moraine Lake Bus Company shuttles.

Given that we were visiting at sunrise to paddle board Moraine Lake, there weren’t any other people bringing inflatable kayaks or stand up paddle boards, so there was plenty of room for ours. We packed all our life jackets, paddles and pumps into our paddle board backpacks along with the paddle boards to make it easy to stuff them in the back of the Moraine Lake Bus Company shuttle bus.

Man Carrying Paddle Board to Moraine Lake - Banff.
Carrying our paddle board in a backpack style bag at Moraine Lake.

The Parks Canada shuttle buses are large coach buses and have room underneath for paddle boards, hiking carriers, etc.

Where to Launch Your Paddle Board on Moraine Lake

You might be wondering where you can launch your SUP when you visit Moraine Lake. There is no public boat launch and you can not launch your stand up paddle board from the canoe dock. You’ll need to launch your paddle board right from the shore.

Aside from the canoe launch, you can put your paddle board or kayak into Moraine Lake anywhere along the Moraine Lakeshore trail.

View of Moraine Lake Lodge at Sunrise.
View of Moraine Lake Lodge and canoe rentals from on the water.

We went for the first available access to the water, just below the Rockpile. Thankfully this spot was a short distance from the parking lot, which made it easy to carry our paddle boards over.

We launched our paddle boards from the shore immediately near the self-certification kiosk (this is really just a post with a metal container holding the permits for visitors to fill out). There’s a fence that ends at that spot allowing you to climb past the rocks. The shore had plenty of space to lay out your inflatable kayak or paddle board to get it inflated.

filling out self-certification in Banff National Park
Filling out self-certification at Moraine Lake.

How Long to Paddle Board on Moraine Lake

How long you decide to spend on Moraine Lake paddle boarding is up to you. By the time we were ready to head out on the water, we only had about 40-50 minutes because we had to pack everything up for our return shuttle.

Make sure you leave enough time to inflate and pack up your paddle board when you are done and take this into consideration when booking your return shuttle. We know that our paddle boards take a good 20 minutes for us to get the inflated and ready to go.

Paddle Board on Moraine Lake shore.
Our paddle board on the shores of Moraine Lake.

We decided to pump them up before we climbed the Rockpile to watch the sunrise. There were so few people around that we felt we could leave them on shore without them being in the way.

I don’t recommend this if you are visiting in the late morning or afternoon. You could certainly leave them in the bags on the shore, while you take in a view atop the Rockpile, so you don’t have to carry them around. Just make sure they don’t have any food or animal attractants in them.

In the 40 minutes we had to paddle board on Moraine Lake, we were able to make it almost to the back of the lake. This also takes into consideration that we were stopping several times to take pictures, videos and just to enjoy the experience on the turquoise waters of this glacier fed lake.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding Moraine Lake in Banff National Park.
Early morning stand up paddle boarding on Moraine Lake with kids.

Since we also had our kids with us, we know that they have about an hour time limit where they are content to sit on the paddle boards. We were also out there first thing in the morning on the frigid waters, rather than finding a cool place on a hot summer day!

Ideally, I’d recommend planning on 1 hour minimum to be on the lake and 1.5-2 hours for getting the boards inflated, your time on the lake and packing up. Had we not had our kids with us, I would have planned slightly later shuttle to have this extra time on the lake.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding with Kids on Moraine Lake.
Such a fun experience gliding across Moraine Lake in the early morning!

Best Time of Day for Paddle Boarding Moraine Lake

There are certainly benefits to paddle boarding at different times throughout the day. Choosing the best time of day for paddle boarding on Moraine Lake will be a personal preference. To help you choose, here are the pros/cons of different times throughout the day for paddle boarding on Moraine Lake.

Early Morning

Going at sunrise or early in the morning increases the likelihood that you’ll have most (if not all) of Moraine Lake to yourself. The canoe rental at Moraine Lake isn’t open yet, so while there may be other people visiting, only those with their own paddleboards or kayaks will be on the lake.

The mornings also tend to be more calm, where you’ll get to enjoy that stunning reflection. However, it’s likely to be much chillier in the morning before the sun comes up.

Paddle Boarding on Moraine Lake with Kids.

Afternoon

With canoe rentals open and more people visiting, you’ll be sharing the lake with plenty of other people. The flip side of that, is that it’s the perfect way to enjoy a hot summer afternoon! You can’t beat that scenery!

Moraine Lake in the afternoon.
Moraine Lake in the afternoon in 2022.

Early Evening

Canoe rentals are only available until 5pm, so as long as you have planned your return shuttle with enough time, the early evening can also bring calm waters and less crowds.

We opted to arrive early and enjoy being the only ones on the lake at sunrise! This is an experience I highly recommend, though you may have a more difficult time in peak summer months getting it all to yourself.

If you are visiting Banff in September, it’s important to note that the canoe rentals are only available until mid-September. So there will also be fewer visitors on the water once that closes.

What to Bring for Moraine Lake Paddle Boarding

We recommend dressing in layers for paddle boarding Moraine Lake, especially if you are going in the morning. It can feel colder on the lake, especially if the wind picks up. With a rocky shore, we found it easiest to wear sandals we would walk in the water with (with rolled up pants), to keep as dry as possible!

Woman with son Paddle Boarding on Moraine Lake at Sunrise.

We also recommend packing everything in your case, so you have only one thing to carry. A backpack carrying case for an inflatable paddle board is best.

 For our visit to Moraine Lake for stand up paddle boarding, here’s what we brought

  • Toques (mostly for our kids who weren’t paddling)
  • Life Jackets
  • Phone protectors
  • Sandals
  • Fleece & light down jackets (we even wore them under our life jackets, but this was early June).
  • Inflatable paddle board, paddle, & pump (obviously)
  • Dry bag for camera
Child on front of Paddle Board - Moraine Lake in Banff.

Moraine Lake Paddle Board Rental

Unfortunately there is nowhere at Moraine Lake to rent a paddle board or kayak. Moraine Lake does have canoe rentals for $140 per hour on a first-come first-serve basis. These canoe rentals are free for Moraine Lake Lodge guests to use on the lake.

To rent a paddle board or kayak, you’ll need to do that in the Banff townsite. SkiBig3 Adventure Hub has both inflatable paddle boards and inflatable tandem kayak rentals.

Other Places for Paddle Boarding in Banff

If you are looking for other places to get out on the water in Banff National Park and the surrounding area, we’ve written a full post on the best places for paddle boarding in Banff.

Stand up paddle boarding in Banff on Johnson Lake
Paddle boarding on Johnson Lake.

Here’s a recap of some of our favorites places for stand up paddle boarding in Banff National Park:

Paddle Boarding on Johnson Lake

Johnson Lake is where the locals like to hang out in the summer. On a hot summer day it’s where most people will swim. It’s also a great spot to let kids try paddling. There are plenty of other things to do at Johnson Lake too!

Paddle Boarding on Lake Minnewanka

One of the best things to do at Lake Minnewanka is get out on the water! Just be aware that it can get very windy on Lake Minnewanka, so don’t get too far out and make sure you are able to get yourself back to shore.

Paddle Boarding on Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes is just outside the town of Banff. It’s a beautiful place for stand up paddle boarding, especially on a calm day where you can get the reflection of Mt. Rundle on the water.

stand up paddle boarding on Vermilion Lakes in Banff
Paddle boarding on Vermilion Lakes in Banff.

Banff National Park requires you to fill out a self-certification permit before entering any body of water in Banff National Park. If you are coming from BC, Alberta or one of the territories, your watercraft must be dry for a minimum of 48 hours before entering a new body of water. If you are coming from anywhere else, your watercraft must be dry for a minimum of 30 days. This is to help reduce the spread of invasive species. Read more here.

Other Things to do at Moraine Lake

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Looking for other things to do at Moraine Lake? Stand up paddle boarding on Moraine Lake is the best way to get a different perspective of this stunning turquoise blue glacier fed lake and the surrounding mountains. Here is everything you need to know about paddle boarding at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park.
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Celine Brewer, a local Canmore resident, is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada. She has a passion for being out in the mountains any time of year. In the summer, you'll often find her hiking or mountain biking. In the winter, she enjoys cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking the most.

As much as she loves the mountains, she also loves travel! When she's not playing outdoors at home, she's either traveling the world with her husband and two kids or working on their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.