Lake Louise Parking: Everything You NEED to Know

While parking at Lake Louise is still possible, unlike Moraine Lake, it is no fun. It can be near impossible to score a parking spot at Lake Louise in the summer. Fortunately, Parks Canada operates a shuttle in the summer months, making access to the lake more manageable.

Millions visit the park yearly, and most have Lake Louise at the top of their list. This creates a massive demand for a little parking lot. Due to this, we recommend most visitors take advantage of the Park & Ride shuttle system.

Thankfully it is not like this year-round, and outside of the summer, parking at Lake Louise is not so stressful. We know you have questions about parking at Lake Louise, so let’s dig in!


Lake Louise Parking Info

Lake Louise Parking Meter
Parking at Lake Louise is no longer free.

Between mid-June to October, parking at Lake Louise is a struggle. You’ll want to arrive before 8:00 a.m. to secure a parking spot at Lake Louise, which means an early rise unless you stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

We’ve never had a problem parking at Lake Louise during the shoulder season or winter. Granted, the wintertime does involve winter driving conditions, and there is often ice or snow in the parking lot. The holidays around Christmas and the New Year can be a busy period.

The Lake Louise Parking Lot In Winter
Lake Louise parking in the winter

Parking congestion has been a problem in the past. There is only one-two road leading up to Lake Louise, with a dead-end at Lake Louise itself. If there is no parking, parking attendants will turn you around. There is nowhere to sit and wait for a spot to become available. By the end of this ordeal, you wasted 30 minutes if you didn’t secure a parking spot.

Thankfully, Parks Canada has introduced a helpful shuttle to assist visitors in getting to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Shuttles can be boarded at the Lake Louise Park and Ride, located at the Lake Louise Ski Hill. We’ll discuss that in this article, but first, a few popular questions.

20 Things to Know Before Visiting Lake Louise

Is it Free to Park at Lake Louise?

Lake Louise introduced paid parking from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. between May 10 to October 10, 2023. Paid parking dates align with the operation of the shuttle. You will also need a valid Parks Canada Pass for all National Parks in Canada. Look for pay stations when you arrive at Lake Louise; the fee is $12.25 per vehicle per day. You’ll need to input your license plate number into the pay kiosk. You cannot park overnight at Lake Louise lakeshore.

Is There Free Parking in Lake Louise?

There is no free parking at Lake Louise Lakeshore. The Great Divide parking lot was a popular free option, but the lot is now closed to relieve pressure on the grizzly bear population. Free parking in the Lake Louise village requires a 4km uphill walk to the lakeshore, which we do not recommend.

Can I Park Overnight in Lake Louise?

You cannot park overnight at Lake Louise.

Are there Places to Park an Oversized Vehicle at Lake Louise

There are designated spots for RVs and campervans to park at Lake Louise. However, parking spots are limited, so the Park & Ride shuttle is best.

Is There an Entrance Fee to Lake Louise?

Lake Louise is free to enjoy. You need a valid Parks Canada pass to recreate in any National Parks of Canada.

What Time Should I Get to Lake Louise?

The shuttle bus is the best option for visiting Lake Louise. The Lake Louise parking lot fills up during the summer between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. I would recommend getting there before 8:00 a.m. to ensure a parking spot. We often visit Lake Louise in the evening (after 7pm) when many have left for the day. During this time, you can usually get a spot quickly.

In the winter, parking at Lake Louise is much easier, and you should not have an issue parking anywhere at the Lake Louise Lakeshore outside of the holiday season.

How do I get from Banff to Lake Louise Without a Car?

Your best option is to take the Roam Transit bus. Roam Route 8S is the Lake Louise Scenic (Other stops include Johnston Canyon and Protection Mountain Campground.) Route 8x is the Lake Louise Express and runs between Banff and Lake Louise. Or join an organized tour like this Moraine Lake/Lake Louise combined tour or the Hop On Hop Off Bus.

Is Lake Louise Worth Visiting?

Lake Louise is one of the most beautiful sights in Banff and the world. It is a magnificent site and incredibly popular, so it attracts a big crowd. There are minor inconveniences around parking, but the shuttle system makes it easy. We recommend every visitor to Banff National Park to spend some time at Lake Louise.

Should I Stay in Lake Louise?

There are a few hotel options around Lake Louise. They are often even higher priced than the hotels in Banff because you are paying for a location at Lake Louise. Staying at Lake Louise means you’ll have better access to Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and the Icefields Parkway.

However, this is at the expense of some Banff town amenities like great restaurants and more things to do. If you are considering staying at Banff or Lake Louise, we compare the pros and cons of each here.

Is Lake Louise Parking Free in Winter?

Parking at Lake Louise is free from mid-October until May 12th 2023. Paid parking dates align with the operation of the shuttle.


Tips For Visiting Or Parking At Lake Louise

Lake Louise is so Blue
Lake Louise on a summer evening

Visit Lake Louise at Sunrise or Sunset

Sunrise and sunset are the best times to visit Lake Louise for beauty and crowd management. It’s during these times you’ll find the fewest people. You have plenty of time to complete a Lake Louise hike if you arrive around sunrise. Though this sunrise secret is nothing new, plenty of other people in the park are willing to get up early to score a parking spot at Lake Louise for sunrise.


Visit Lake Louise in the “Off Season”

The busiest months to visit Lake Louise are June -through the end of September. The rest of the year is relatively quiet for Lake Louise.


Stay in a Lake Louise Hotel

Those staying at Fairmont Château Lake Louise, Paradise Bungalow, and Deer Lodge will not need to fight for parking at Lake Louise as the hotels are close enough to Lake Louise that guests can walk. The Fairmont charges guests an additional $30 per day fee for parking, and they get direct access to Lake Louise at all times of the day.

There is a difference between Lake Louise village and Lake Louise lakeshore. The village lies about 4km away from the lakeshore. Visitors staying at those hotels must either arrange a private shuttle, take the shuttle, or walk. Several Lake Louise village hotels offer free shuttles to Lake Louise and possibly Moraine Lake, but it’s best to call and verify the hotel.

Guests staying in the Lake Louise village or campground can take advantage of the Parks Canada Park and Ride Connector for free. This loops between the Lake Louise Campground, the village of Lake Louise (Samson Mall), and the Lake Louise Park and Ride. This service runs from May 10 to October 10, 2023. This route does not require reservations and is free of charge.

Note that guests staying at a Lake Louise hotel still have to make arrangements to get to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. They do not get special access to the Parks Canada Park and Ride or the Lake Connector Shuttle.


Book an Organized Tour

A surefire way to get to Lake Louise is to book an organized tour.


Bike to Lake Louise

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.


Roam Transit to Lake Louise

Town-of-Banff

The Roam Transit Route 8x (Lake Louise Express) runs to Lake Louise from Banff in the summer. The Roam Transit Route 8S: Lake Louise Scenic also runs to Lake Louise. (stops include Johnston Canyon and Protection Mountain Campground). These routes run from May 20 to September 18, 2023.

The cost is $10 per adult. Reservations are recommended; however, you can walk- up to the fare boxes. Roam buses accept U.S. and Canadian currency as small as a nickel and up to $20. Children 12 and under are free but still require a reservation.

The Roam Transit Super Pass. Roam has a One Day Super Pass, which allows travel on any/all Roam routes – From Canmore to Banff to Lake Louise for just $25. The Super Pass is sold only on the bus, at the Roam office in Banff, or through the Token Transit App.

The Super Pass offers free access to the Parks Canada Lake Connector shuttle. With the new Roam Transit Super Pass purchase, visitors will receive free access to the Parks Canada Lake Connector shuttle from the Lake Louise Lakeshore or Moraine Lake.  Show a valid Roam Super Pass to Parks Canada staff at Lake Louise or Moraine Lake to receive your Parks Canada boarding pass. 


The Parks Canada Park and Ride

Park and Ride

The parking concerns at Lake Louise have worsened each year. The best option for most visitors to see the lake is the Park & Ride shuttle. This guarantees seeing Lake Louise and nearby Moraine Lake. This new system reduces the harmful impacts of crowds and ensures visitors do not have to deal with the stresses around parking at the lake. It cuts back on congestion and emissions too!

All shuttle passengers must leave their vehicle at the Park and Ride.  Visitors cannot park at Lake Louise Lakeshore or Moraine Lake and board the shuttle service. Parking at the Park and Ride is free, and there is ample parking for visitors.

The Park and Ride parking lot is located at Lake Louise Ski Resort with direct buses to Lake Louise or Moraine Lake. It is recommended that you make a shuttle reservation in advance.

Shuttle reservations will be made available in the spring of 2023. Parks Canada will release 40% of the operating season. The remaining 60% will be released on a rolling window at 8 am, 48 hours before departure day, throughout the entire season.

The Park and Ride shuttle to the lakes shall begin at 6:00 am, and the last return bus from the lakes to the parking lot is 7:50 pm.

Shuttle reservations are for one specific bus route. Once at Moraine Lake or Lake Louise, you can connect between the lakes on a first-come-first-serve basis via the Lake Connector shuttle.

The Lake Connector bus is free of charge for those with a shuttle ticket, making it easy to see both lakes in one day. The shuttle is for reservation holders only. You can not park at Lake Louise and hop on the Lake Connector.

Certified service animals are allowed on the shuttle buses. All other pets must be crated and kept on their owner’s lap while riding the shuttle. No large pets are permitted on the shuttles.

Park And Ride Shuttle Fairs (Return Trip)

(prices listed in CAD)

  • Adults$8
  • Seniors (65+): $4
  • Youth (6-17): $2
  • Children (under 6): Free
  • *There is a $3 non-refundable transaction fee per reservation when purchasing shuttle tickets on the Parks Canada Reservation System.

The shuttle runs every 20 minutes between 8:10 am and 4:50 pm. The last return bus from Moraine Lake to the Park and Ride is at 7:50 pm.

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

**The 2023 Reservation Launch date for the Lake Louise shuttle is Thursday, April 13th, 2023 at 8 am MT


Lake Connector Shuttle Frequency

  • Lake Louise to Moraine Lake: Every 15 minutes between 9 am and 6 pm.
  • Moraine Lake to Lake Louise: Every 15 minutes between 9:10 am and 6 pm.

Check out the map to better understand the layout and where to park. If you’d like more info, such as schedule and up-to-date fairs, check out the Parks Canada Website.


Where Is The Parks Canada Park and Ride?

Please study the map above. The Park and Ride shuttle has moved locations and is now at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. This is where you will park to catch the shuttles to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Parking here is free, and there is plenty of it.


What Are Facilities Like At Lake Louise?

Lake Louise has quite a few facilities for visitors. There is a large public restroom in the parking lot with flush toilets. The only facility at actually Lake Louise itself is the Fairmont, which is open to non-guests to walk into. There are a few Lake Louise restaurants inside the Chateau (reservations recommended) and a deli, coffee shop, gift shop, and restrooms.

If you would like to rent a canoe at Lake Louise, you can do so at the Lake Louise canoe house operated by the Fairmont.


Where to Stay Near Lake Louise?

The only place to stay at Lake Louise herself is Chateau Lake Louise. It’s an iconic place to stay in the Rockies and rates easily top $1000 a night in the summer. You are paying a high premium for the Fairmont name and the location.

There are a few other options in the hamlet of Lake Louise. Paradise Lodge & Bungalows offers cute cabins for guests and is walkable to Lake Louise. Deer Lodge is also walkable to Lake Louise but is run down with abysmal reviews.

Another option is the Post Hotel, Lake Louise Inn, Mountaineer Lodge in the village, and the HI Lake Louise Alpine Center for those on a budget.

10 Awesome Lake Louise Hotel and Accommodation Options

Things to do at Lake Louise

Lake Louise
canoeing on Lake Louise

There are so many things to do at Lake Louise we have a separate article! Our favorite activities include hiking to the Fairview Lookout, Lake Agnes Teahouse, Little Beehive, or Big Beehive. As well as enjoy a paddle on the beautiful blue lake.


Hopefully, this Lake Louise Parking Guide helped you plan your trip.

If you have any other questions, leave a comment or see our Canadian Rockies travel guide for more articles about photography spots, lakes, hikes, etc.


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About Natasha

Natasha lives in Canmore, Alberta. After traveling across seven continents and 85 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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20 thoughts on “Lake Louise Parking: Everything You NEED to Know”

  1. Hi Natasha, I am staying in Banff from Fri 2 – Sun 11 Sept (8 whole days). I’ve found your blog super helpful 😊 but also feeling a bit overwhelmed as so many things I want to do and trying to keep it realistic. My younger daughter lives in Banff and I’ll be travelling with my older daughter. We all like hiking and biking etc and will have a car. I’d like to drive the Icefields Parkway but it would have to be in 1 day that leaves 7. If we are happy to get up super early to see Moraine Lake I’m thinking we skip the shuttle and drive midweek, is that reasonable?

    Reply
    • you can definitely drive mid week but I would still plan for an early morning. Even mid week in the summer is busy and it’s recommended to get there well before 6am to guarantee a parking spot.

      Reply
  2. Hey Natasha, Greetings from the UK!! Just found your detailed and helpful Blog page on LL access and parking. Wonderful guide, thank you.

    I have one comment though, can you please clarify whether or not we can drive down to the shoreside car parks at, say 9pm, and stay for an hour or so until sunset time. You mention there is no over night parking and I only want to be there a short while. Paid parking stops earlier, so what is the situation for 2022?

    Keep up the excellent work,

    Clive

    Reply
  3. Hi Natasha, I am planning to hike Lake Louise areas in mid of Sept, the paid parking is in effect 7am-7pm. I guess after 7pm it is free parking, so how long can I park there at night? Did you do any sunset hiking there?

    Thanks You!

    Reply
    • You just cannot park overnight, but you can park until midnight or 1am if would like. I wouldn’t recommend sunset hiking in the area unless you have experience hiking in the Rockies, as you’ll be hiking out in bear country in the dark.

      Reply
  4. Hi – could I get your opinion on the Lake Louise Inn – the reviews are a mixed bunch and whilst we don’t need anything particularly fancy, I just want to check it’s of a reasonable standard. Your blog has been so helpful with planning our trip!

    Reply
    • We haven’t personally stayed, but it is of reasonable standard with above a 7.5 on Booking.com. Definitely not the Four Seasns, but if you want to stay in Lake Louise it may be your best bet for the price!

      Reply
  5. Hi Natasha – love your posts thank you for the helpful information. We have just reserved the Parks Canada shuttle from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake and are planning to hike back to our parked car from Moraine to LL. Just curious, if you have a shuttle booking, does that mean you will definitely have access to parking at the park and ride lot or how does this work?

    Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    • Yes all shuttle reservations guarantee you a parking spot at the Park and Ride at Lake Louise Ski Resort! Keep in mind the Park and Ride is in a different location from Lake Louise, so hiking back to your car parked at the Park and Ride would be extremely long.

      Reply
  6. We are traveling in Banff August 3-9. Looks like the shuttles are all reserved for groups of 4 or more. Do you recommend getting up at 3 or 4 am and driving from our place in Canmore as our only option if we can’t get a park and ride shuttle? Thanks

    Reply
  7. Very helpful blog! Thank you. I see you have to pay to park at the lot from 7a-7p, but Is the parking lot open before 7a? I want to be able to get a spot on this upcoming Tuesday so I want to know if I will just end up waiting in line for a spot or can actually park before 7a? How early should I arrive if I want to get
    a spot. I am bringing my 2 dogs and I’m not sure what other options I have because shuttles don’t seem to allow dogs.

    Reply
    • You can park for free before 7am, but once it hits 7am you are subject to a ticket if you haven’t paid. So if you arrive at 6am and stay until 8am you will still need to pay. Parking isn’t usually full before 7am, but this year has been busier than most.

      Reply
  8. Dear Natasha,
    We are family of two, driving from Saskatoon to Calgary. We are planning to stay in Calgary and make a day trip to Banff and lake louis. Your blog is very helpful

    Reply
  9. Hi Natasha!
    The information is terrific and quite useful. I’ll be driving up from Colorado to first visit Banff/Lake Louise (Sept 7 -13th) then to Grand Forks BC to visit family. Traveling solo and staying in Canmore, I was wondering if there was any way to find others hiking i.e. the Bee Hive circuit that might want company. I’m sure there are tours available, but thought I’d ask. Also, if I leave Canmore before 7 am will parking be available you think at Lake Louise? (Where is your store located?)

    Reply
  10. Hi Natasha!

    This blog is one of the most informative ones out there. Thank you!
    We are planning to go hiking at Lake Louise for Remembrance Day. Can you advise please what trails are open this time a year.

    Thanks.

    Reply
  11. Hi! I’d like to visit Banff this month. You mentioned that parking at lake Louise shouldn’t be an issue in the winter outside the holidays. Does holidays mean the dates close to Christmas or do you mean the actual stat holidays? I’m thinking of maybe going next weekend but I’m worried about not being able to find parking there and at moraine lake.

    Reply

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