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The Other Lake

Elliott Chau


Behind the Shot

Outside Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, is Moraine Lake, the glacially fed lake located in Banff National Park. In the shadow of the Valley of the Ten Peaks, the famously azure blue lake gets its unique color from the minerals from the melt off Fay Glacier. Some people refer to Moraine Lake as the “other lake” because of its proximity to the much more tourist-friendly Lake Louise. But locals will joke that Moraine Lake is the “$20 view” because Moraine, and not Louise, has been featured twice on the back of the Canadian $20 bill (1969 and 1979).

This is not a lake for swimming. Rarely rising above 41 degrees Fahrenheit, the glacier-fed waters here are far too cold. Swimming and fishing are strictly prohibited at Moraine Lake. And other than canoeing, no other boating is allowed. Instead, most visitors enjoy the paths and trails around the lake. Paved and natural paths provide beautiful and relatively easy views of much of the lakeshore.

To a degree, Moraine Lake is in Elliott’s backyard, “I used to live about an hour and a half from here. In July I drove out in the middle of the night. I arrived around 6 a.m. to get sunrise shots. I stayed around after sunrise and photographed from the canoe docks. Around 9 a.m. the light started to hit the lake. The way the light hits the particles in the water causes this glow to appear only in the summer. It’s a sight to see, and something that people should see in person.”