6 Reasons Why Moraine Lake Is Definitely Not The Best Place To See Sunrise In Canada

It's so overrated!

Sunrise at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta, and right, a couple take a selfie at Moraine Lake.
Western Canada Editor

Sunrise at Moraine Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta, and right, a couple take a selfie at Moraine Lake.

This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Moraine Lake in Alberta has been ranked as one of the best places to watch sunrise in Canada — and while the location itself is stunning, it's definitely an overrated experience and I'm going to tell you why.

According to a report by Mornings.co.uk, that used Tripadvisor to gather data around people searching for "sunrise" or "sunset", Moraine Lake in Banff National Park came top of the list in Canada.

However, before you plan your early-morning drive to Moraine Lake, I have a few words of warning.

You might as well not go to sleep

Because there's limited parking (which I'll get to in the next segment), people start arriving at 3 a.m. for this tourist hotspot.

This basically means that if you're staying in a hotel nearby, like we were, by the time you've had dinner out in the evening and got back to your room, you're only getting a couple of hours sleep.

Trying to get parking is a nightmare

This has to be one of Canada's toughest places to get a parking spot.

There's only a couple of hundreds spaces in the parking lot and, due to demand, people seem to be arriving earlier and earlier. We had one shot to do the experience so we arrived at 4 a.m. and there were 10 other vehicles ahead of us!

Moraine Lake parking lot on a summer sunny day. Moraine Lake parking lot on a summer sunny day. Kaedeenari | Dreamstime

Once the parking lot is full, it's a one in, one out process, so there are people every day being turned around and left disappointed.

It is poorly signposted

You'd think that if somewhere is billed as an ultimate location to see sunrise that there would be some clear instructions where you were supposed to walk from the parking lot to the lookout.

No, there wasn't. Thankfully, we'd done our own research before setting off, but if you weren't sure (or didn't understand/read English) you'd be going in blind — literally.

The walkway to the lookout isn't lit

Even though we knew the general direction we were heading, you couldn't see where you were walking.

Since the site attracts thousands of people every day for this precise activity, you'd think it might be sensible to place some dim lights either side of the path.

The crowds are crazy

Now I realize that I was part of the crowds/the problem here, but sunrise is supposed to be this tranquil moment where you can get lost in your own thoughts, relax and start your day off strong.

Nope! The only thoughts I was lost in was listening to a kid moaning his family hadn't been to Tim Hortons and another couple nearly falling down the cliff edge because they were trying to get an edgy picture for their Instagram feeds.

I will say the location is stunning but, as with many things in the world right now, the humans ruin it.

The bugs are everywhere

We visited Moraine Lake during the heatwave in western Canada in late June/early July 2021.

We had great weather, a little chilly but clear skies and no wind. The price you pay for the calm conditions - mosquitos and midges everywhere!

It takes a heck of a long time

For what was probably a five-hour expedition from start to finish, there was probably only 15-20 minutes of pure magic.

When the sun hits the top of Canada's iconic peaks, the sun glistens down at such an impressive speed. But, after that, it kind of stalls and takes another two hours to move noticeably down the far left side of the peaks.

So while the sunrise is amazing, the experience you get at Moraine Lake is not really worthy of a top Canadian destination in my opinion.

Daniel Milligan
Western Canada Editor