How To Get To Lake Louise in 2024 (Can You Drive?)

Most people visiting the Canadian Rockies have the majestic Lake Louise on their bucket list. However, getting to Lake Louise may not be as easy as some may think, particularly if visiting during the summer months. Whether you are driving, using public transport, or mapping out a tour, we break down how to get to Lake Louise below.


Can You Drive to Lake Louise?

Can You Drive to Lake Louise?

Unlike Moraine Lake, visitors can still drive and park at Lake Louise. However, finding a parking spot can be vert challenging from mid-June to October, and to relieve the stress of parking at Lake Louise, you may want to look at other ways to get there.

To park at Lake Louise, visitors usually have to arrive well before 7:00 am to secure a spot during the summer. This requires quite an early rise if coming from Banff or Canmore.

Parking at Lake Louise is rarely an issue during the shoulder season or winter. However, it is not free during the summer months, and paid parking is available from 3 a.m. to 7 p.m. between May 17 and October 14, 2024. Paid parking dates align with the same operation dates of the Lake Louise Shuttle. The parking fee is $36.75 per vehicle per day ($8 for those with a handicapped placard). You will also need a valid Parks Canada Pass for all National Parks in Canada.


Is Lake Louise Accessible in the Winter?

Driving to Lake Louise during the holidays - congestion on Christmas
Driving to Lake Louise during the holidays – congestion on Christmas

Again, unlike Moraine Lake, Lake Louise is accessible year-round, including the winter. Lake Louise welcomes all visitors 365 days a year – even Christmas. In the winter, the easiest way to get to Lake Louise is by driving yourself. The Parks Canada Lake Louise Shuttle only runs during the summer months, and many tour operations are summer-only tours.

If your goal is to get to Lake Louise Ski Resort, there is a free shuttle service that connects Lake Louise Village hotels and Banff hotels directly to Lake Louise Ski Resort. The Lake Louise Ski Resort shuttle runs during the ski season, from November to early May. Banff to Lake Louise shuttles have a slightly shorter operating window, from December 8, 2023 to April 14th, 2024. The shuttles run very frequently every day, and all the times can be found here.


How To Get To Lake Louise


Drive There Yourself

(Not recommended in the summer months)

lake louise parking information

As you can still get parking at Lake Louise, many people’s first choice may be to drive to Lake Louise. At $37, the parking fee may not be cheap for one person, but if you have a car full of five people driving to Lake Louise is going to be cheaper than the Parks Canada Shuttle or a tour.

Paid Parking at Lake Louise
Paid Parking at Lake Louise

However, Parks Canada has made it clear that they do not want people driving themselves to Lake Louise during the summer months to reduce congestion, and introduced a parking fee a few years ago. Since its inception, the parking fee has increased every year. Parks Canada suggests booking the Park & Ride shuttle, but this may not be viable for all visitors.

Parking at Lake Louise is rarely an issue between October and mid-May. Even on a busy Christmas day we could still get parking at Lake Louise.

However, if you have your heart set on driving to Lake Louise during the summer months you’ll have to plan accordingly, especially in July or August. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekend or weekday during these months, Lake Louise is always busy. To score a parking spot, we would recommend arriving well before 7 am to get parking at Lake Louise. If you don’t get parking at Lake Louise in the morning, we would recommend having a backup plan, so you don’t waste more time. There’s nowhere to sit and wait for a parking spot at Lake Louise, and parking attendants will turn you away. Return in the evening, sometime after 7pm, will likely get you parking at Lake Louise.

Have a Backup Plan

You’ll want a backup plan if you don’t get parking at Lake Louise. Some of our suggested backup plans include:


Stay at the Fairmont

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is easily one of the most famous and well sought after places to stay in Banff. It’s also one of the most expensive places to stay in Banff, though if you book a night or two there, you get one major perk. You get to wake up at Lake Louise, and not have to deal with parking, shuttles, or tours.

That being said, you certainly pay for this privilege, as the Fairmont easily reaches over $1000 a night during the summer months, and even guests have to pay an additional parking fee of $30! Though many people still find it worth it to be able to stay at Lake Louise and wake up at one of the most beautiful places in Canada.


Stay at a Lake Louise Hotel

Paradise-Lodge-and-Bungalows

Guests of Lake Louise hotels do not get special access to Lake Louise. Unless you are staying at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise, right on Lake Louise, where you can wake up on the lake’s shore. The Deer Lodge and Paradise Lodge are within walking distance of Lake Louise, and are alternative options to the Fairmont.

There are other Lake Louise hotels that are near the Lake Louise Village, like the Mountaineer Lodge and Post Hotel. These hotels are not at Lake Louise, and instead in the village, about a 10 minute drive (7km) away. Some of these hotels offer shuttles to Lake Louise (it is best to call ahead and speak to them), or you can still book the Parks Canada shuttle to get to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.


Parks Canada Shuttle

lake-louise-shuttle
Lake Louise Shuttle Ticket

Parking at Lake Louise has become a growing concern year after year, and finding a spot without waking up at the crack of dawn can be challenging for visitors in the summer, so Parks Canada has their own shuttle to take visitors to the Lake Louise Lakeshore. Book in advance and never worry about getting to Lake Louise.

For visitors who want to see Lake Louise in the summer without the hassle of parking or paying for a tour, the best option is to take advantage of the Lake Louise Shuttle. The Lake Louise shuttle is an excellent option for any park visitor with both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake on their Banff itinerary, as riders can make use of the free Lake Connector shuttle to get to both lakes in one day.

This convenient service ensures that visitors can enjoy Lake Louise and nearby Moraine Lake while avoiding the stresses of finding a parking spot. It also reduces congestion and emissions, making it an excellent environmental choice. The shuttles are a great choice if you want to enjoy a very long hike between Lake Louise and Moraine Lake on the Paradise Valley Trail.

It’s highly recommended to book your shuttle reservations in advance, as Lake Louise is easily the most popular place to visit in all of Banff, and shuttle reservations do sell out, especially on beautiful summer weekend days.

Park And Ride Shuttle Fairs (Return Trip)

(prices listed in CAD)

  • Adults$8
  • Seniors (65+): $4
  • Youth (17 and under): Free
  • *There is a $3 non-refundable transaction fee per reservation when purchasing shuttle tickets on the Parks Canada Reservation System.

It’s important to note that these fees are in addition to your National Parks entry fee.

**The 2024 reservation launch date for shuttle reservations is April 18, 2024 at 08:00 a.m. MDT. You can reserve your shuttle on the Parks Canada website. The Lake Louise Shuttle will run from May 17th to October 14th, 2024, every 30 minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The last return shuttle from Lake Louise to the Park and Ride Lot will be at 7:30 p.m. Keep in mind this is different than the Moraine Lake Shuttle which begins operations on June 1st. It’s not possible to access Moraine Lake by vehicle before June 1st.

READ MORE: We break down all you need to know about the Lake Louise shuttle.


Public Transit Option: ROAM Transit

Public Transit Option: ROAM Transit to Lake Louise

If you don’t have a car while visiting Banff or would prefer to leave your car back at your hotel, it’s possible to catch public transport to Lake Louise.

The Roam Transit Route 8x (Lake Louise Express) runs daily to Lake Louise from Banff. The cost of the bus is $10 per adult. Reservations are recommended; however, you can walk up to the fare boxes. Roam buses accept U.S. and Canadian Dollars as small as a nickel and up to $20. Children 12 and under are free but still require a reservation.

Roam Transit at Lake Louise
Roam Transit at Lake Louise

Guided Option: Book an Organized Tour

Natasha & Puppy At Lake Louise

A great way to see Lake Louise is by booking an organized tour. Many tour operators have access to park at Moraine Lake and often provide transport and a guided tour of the area. So, if you want to see Moraine Lake and Lake Louise in one day without having to worry about a thing, you may want to look into a few tour options.

Radventures is one of our favorites as they offer small group (max 14 guests) guided tours, starting and ending with hotel pick up in Banff, with local interpretation and an amazing guide on hand to answer questions. Enjoy complimentary hot drinks, see the best spots at Moraine Lake to view the sunrise, and get our guests set up for sunrise photos (as their guiding team has photography training).

After guests can get an optional hot cafe breakfast at Trailhead Cafe, before heading to Lake Louise where you get front of the line access to canoe rentals (something unique to only a Radventures tour). Book that tour here.

Other Lake Louise Tours

If you don’t want to deal with the headache of parking or dealing with the shuttles there are a few tours that operate at Lake Louise. Many of these also include Moraine Lake, which is great if you are dying to see both lakes (which you likely are!)


Multiple Stops Option: Hop On Hop Off

plain-of-six-glaciers-in-banff
Plain of Six Glaciers Hike

The Banff Hop on Hop Off Bus has become quite popular in recent years. The hop-on-hop-off bus is exactly what it sounds like – a bus that lets you hop on and off when you want! The bus starts in Banff and stops at Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise Summer Gondola, Lake Louise, and Moraine Lake. We recommend utilizing your time to enjoy some of the hikes in the area, like the Plain of Six Glaciers or Lake Agnes.

Buses depart seven days a week from either the Moose Hotel and Suites on Banff Avenue or The Banff Heritage Train Station. Just note that the later you depart, the fewer places you can explore, so we recommend hopping on the earliest tour so you can make the most of your day in Banff! The buses come back to Banff at 4:55 PM and 6:00 PM. Book that bus here.


Bike to Lake Louise

Lake Moraine

Those looking for a fantastic uphill bike ride can park their car at the Lake Louse Village or Lake Louise Ski Resort and bike up to Lake Louise.

The bike ride is roughly 4.5 km from Samson Mall, but it has a 200+ meter gain, which is relatively steep in such a short period. Cyclists are advised to travel along the shoulder of Lake Louise Drive or take the Tramline Trail, which is gravel.

Are you a big biker? Another option is to bike from Banff along the Bow Valley Parkway, and up to Lake Louise. If you return to Banff via bike, you’re looking at a huge day (140km+) with lots of elevation gain, but hardcore bikers love this challenge!

*Keep in mind there is significant construction along Lake Louise Drive during summer 2024, which might make biking unpleasant.


Getting to Lake Louise Ski Resort

Lake Louise Ski Resort

If you are visiting Banff in the winter and want to go skiing at one of the best ski resorts in Canada, without the hassle of driving, there is a free shuttle service that connects Lake Louise village hotels and Banff hotels directly to Lake Louise Ski Resort. The Lake Louise Ski Resort shuttle runs from Lake Louise hotels to the ski resort during the ski season, from November 3rd, 2023 to May 5th, 2024.

Banff to Lake Louise shuttles have a slightly shorter operating window, from December 8, 2023 20 April 14th, 2024. The shuttles run often to and from the ski resort.

2024/2025 information has not been released.


Calgary to Lake Louise

how to get from calgary to lake louise
Calgary to Lake Louise

If you have just arrived to Calgary International Airport and plan on visiting Banff without a car, you have options to get to Lake Louise.

  • Brewster Express is the largest operator of group tours and bus services in and around the Canadian Rockies. Their parent company, Pursuit, also operates major attractions like Banff Gondola and the Lake Minnewanka Cruise. They run daily shuttles from Downtown Calgary and YYC to Lake Louise and back.
  • The Rider Express travels every day from Vancouver to Banff and makes one stop at Lake Louise Village on their route. This is one of the most cost-effective ways to get between Calgary and Lake Louise.
  • Mountain Park Transportation runs daily shuttles from Calgary to Lake Louise hotels. See all their fees and schedule here.
  • On-It Regional Transport is now offering buses to from Calgary to Lake Louise from June 14th to September 2nd, 2024. These buses run on weekends only from South Calgary. See their schedule.

Can I Visit Lake Louise and Moraine Lake on the Same Day?

how to get to moraine lake

The good news is you can easily visit the two famous Banff lakes in one day. While you can’t drive to both lakes, the easiest way to get between the two is the Lake Connector shuttle (for Parks Canada shuttle reservation holders only), which connects the two every 15-30 minutes.

If you have a Moraine Lake or Lake Louise tour booked, chances are it includes both lakes so you don’t have to fret about seeing both!

Readers often ask us which lake they should visit first, and all we can say it’s up to personal preference. There is no benefit to seeing one lake before the other, unless you plan on hiking around or canoeing on one. Then we think you should visit that lake first so you have enough time!


Getting to Lake Louise Important Notes

Lake Louise summer gondola
The Lake Louise Summer Gondola is separate from the Lake Louise Lakeshore
  • Whether you book the Lake Louise Shuttle, or a tour, make sure you know the departure point. Many tours leave from Downtown Banff, while the Parks Canada shuttle leaves from the Lake Louise Ski Resort/Summer Gondola (so you must get yourself there first). Other bus companies like the Moraine Lake Bus Company also depart for the lakes from 1 Whitehorn Road, and not Downtown Banff. If you book these options, make sure you can get yourself to Lake Louise Ski Resort, which is about 40 minutes from the Town of Banff.
  • Make sure you know the difference between Lake Louise Lakeshore, Lake Louise Village, and the Lake Louise Ski Resort. You can see a simple map of the whole Lake Louise area below.
  • If you want to get to Moraine Lake, we have an entire article detailing that process.
  • Although you’ll see train tracks, there is no passenger train service to Lake Louise.
The whole Lake Louise Area
The whole Lake Louise Area

Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip, we like to compare camper prices on Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals and like to use travel credit cards to hack our way into free flights and hotels! Our favorite cards are the Capital One Venture X and Chase Sapphire, which both work well in Canada and have no foreign transaction fees.
  • Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!

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About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

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