If you are a first-time visitor to Banff, chances are you have Lake Louise on your list. Over the years, there have been many changes in how we access some of the most popular places in the park, including paid lots and shuttle systems.
The Lake Louise shuttle system goes through some of those changes every year, but we still believe it is the best way to guarantee you see beautiful Lake Louise. Let’s dig into all the specifics of how to utilize the Lake Louise shuttle.
All About the Lake Louise Shuttle
Can You Park at Lake Louise?
Unlike Moraine Lake, visitors are still able to park at Lake Louise. However, finding a parking spot at Lake Louise can be challenging from mid-June to October, and to relieve the stress of parking at Lake Louise, Parks Canada has implemented a Lake Louise shuttle.
That’s because visitors usually have to arrive well before 8:00 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. Parking at Lake Louise is not free, and paid parking is present from 7 am to 7 pm between mid-May to and mid-October (2024 dates tbd).
Paid parking dates align with the operation of the Lake Louise shuttle. The parking fee is $21 per vehicle per day. You will also need a valid Parks Canada Pass for all National Parks in Canada. Parking overnight at Lake Louise is not allowed.
When Does the Parking Area Fill Up?
During the high season, which runs from the beginning of June until the end of larch season (around the first week of October), you can expect the Lake Louise parking area to fill up before 8 am, even earlier on weekends and holidays. Once the lot is full, parking attendants will step in to direct traffic and turn away vehicles to Lake Louise.
You’ll want a backup plan if you don’t get parking at Lake Louise. Some of our suggested backup plans include:
- Try your luck at the Park and Ride Lot and get on the Lake Louise shuttle without a reservation. If there is space available, Parks Canada will try to accommodate.
- Book a Parks Canada shuttle reservation online if they are available. There is service around Lake Louise.
- Drive part of the Icefields Parkway and stop at Bow Lake and Peyto Lake
- Drive the Bow Valley Parkway and stop at Morants Curve.
- Head to Emerald Lake and Tak Falls, for a long day hike opt for the Iceline Trail.
- Go up the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola
Is the Road to Lake Louise Open?
Lake Louise Drive is open year-round.
When Does Lake Louise Thaw?
Lake Louise is typically frozen solid from November to late May. It typically begins to thaw in late May, and you’ll be able to see Lake Louise in all her blue glory by the first or second week of June.
All About the Lake Louise Shuttle
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.
For visitors who want to see Lake Louise in the summer without the hassle of parking, 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 Lake Louise and Moraine Lake on their Banff itinerary.
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.
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.
When Do Shuttle Reservations Open for Lake Louise?
The 2024 Reservation Launch date for Lake Louise shuttle reservations is April 18, 2024 at 08:00 a.m. MDT.
Reservations for 40% of the operating season will open during this time. The remaining 60% will be released on a rolling window at 8 am, 48 hours before departure throughout the season. The shuttle service to the lakes starts at 6:30 am, and at 6:30 am last return bus departs from the lakes to the parking lot at 7:30 pm.
Parks Canada changes these times throughout the season. We try to keep this article as updated as possible, but it's always important to check when the last bus time is.
Where is the Parking and Departure Point for the Lake Louise Shuttle?
To park for the Lake Louise shuttle, you must park at the Park & Ride Shuttle lot and catch the shuttle from there. The Lake Louise Park and Ride lot is at the Lake Louise Ski Resort (1 Whitehorn Road – GPS POINT). Parking here is free.
What Are the Lake Louise Shuttle Times?
The Lake Louise Shuttle will run from May 19 to October 9, every 20 minutes from 6:30 am – 6:30 am. The last return shuttle from Lake Louise to the Park and Ride Lot will be at 7:30 pm.
How Do I Book My Lake Louise Shuttle Reservation?
To make a reservation for the Lake Louise shuttle, you can use the Parks Canada Reservation Service or call 1-877-737-3783. An account with Parks Canada Reservation Service is necessary to proceed with the booking. To avoid any inconvenience during the checkout process, it is recommended to create your account beforehand.
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.
It’s important to note that these fees are in addition to your National Parks entry fee.
The 2024 Reservation Launch date for Lake Louise shuttle reservations is April 18, 2024 at 08:00 a.m. MDT.
Is it Possible to Purchase Walk-Up Tickets for the Lake Louise Shuttle?
If space is available, Parks Canada staff at the Park and Ride can assist you in reserving the next available time slot that day if you show up to the Park and Ride lot without a reservation. However, booking in advance is highly recommended, as Lake Louise shuttles do sell out.
What is the Lake Connector Shuttle?
The Lake Connector shuttle is for Parks Canada Shuttle reservation holders only, after they have checked in at the Park and Ride (boarding pass required) or those riders who have purchased a Roam Superpass (more on that later).
The Lake Connector shuttle is a free shuttle that connects Lake Louise to Moraine Lake on a first come, first serve basis. You must have a paid for reservation on either the Moraine Lake Shuttle or Lake Louise shuttle to use the Lake Connector Shuttle. To use the Lake Connector, you must check in at the Park and Ride Lot and take the shuttle. The only exception is for those that have the Roam Transit Super Pass.
The Lake Connector shuttle frequency is every 15 minutes starting at 8:00 am and the last shuttle runs at 6 pm, from both lakes. Most visitors to the park want to see Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in one day – the Lake Connector Shuttle ensures that can happen.
How Do I Visit Moraine Lake and Lake Louise in the Same Day?
With the Lake Connector shuttle one can easily visit Moraine Lake and Lake Louise in one day. When booking your Parks Canada shuttle you will be given the option to select the shuttle to Moraine Lake or Lake Louise.
It’s up to you which one you select to visit first, there truly is no difference. Once you are finished at either Lake Louise or Moraine Lake, you can hop on the first come, first serve Lake Connector shuttle to the other lake.
What If I Can’t Book the Lake Louise Shuttle?
If you cannot book the date you want on the Lake Louise shuttle for whatever reason, we recommend:
- Keeping your plans flexible and trying for a different date.
- Taking the Roam Transit bus from Banff or Canmore
- Booking a Tour of Lake Louise
- Driving to Lake Louise with a car after 6 or 7pm, typically after these times, you can find parking in the summer.
Roam Public Transport 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 to Lake Louise from Banff. The Roam Transit Route 8S: Lake Louise Scenic also runs to Lake Louise during the summer months (stops include Johnston Canyon and Protection Mountain Campground).
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 Dollars as small as a nickel and up to $20. Children 12 and under are free but still require a reservation.
Then there is also The Roam Transit Super Pass. Roam has a One Day Super Pass, which allows travel on any/all Roam routes – From Canmore or 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, making it a fabulous way to leave the car at home and still get to both Lake Louise and 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.
What If I’m Staying at a Hotel in Lake Louise?
Guests of Lake Louise hotels do not get special access to Lake Louise or Moraine Lake. Unless you are staying at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise, right on Lake Louise, where you can wake up on the lake’s shore.
Other Lake Louise hotels may run shuttles to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, but you must call them to find out their details. The Deer Lodge and Paradise Lodge are within walking distance of Lake Louise.
Can I Bring My Kayak/Canoe to Lake Louise?
Yes, you can bring your kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard to Lake Louise, and since you can still park at Lake Louise (unlike Moraine Lake), it is much easier to get your personal watercraft to Lake Louise.
If you get parking at the Lake Louise Lakeshore, you can walk your watercraft from the parking area to Lake Louise, which is about a 5-minute walk.
If you are utilizing the Lake Louise shuttle, you can bring inflatable kayaks and stand-up paddleboards on the shuttle as long as space is available.
You may also rent a canoe from the Lake Louise boathouse.
Is the Lake Louise Shuttle Pet Friendly?
Certified assistance animals are allowed on board, and owners should be prepared to show the animal’s verification of training.
Passengers are permitted to bring their pets on board free of charge. These pets must be placed in a secure carrier designed for animal transportation and small enough to fit on the owner’s lap.
Are Strollers Permitted on the Lake Louise Shuttle?
The Lake Louise shuttle can take strollers, climbing gear, and large backpacks.
Is the Lake Louise Shuttle Accessible?
The Lake Louise Shuttle has limited accessibility, and it’s advised that handicapped visitors try and get parking at Lake Lakeshore. There are multiple handicapped spaces available for those with a disabled permit.
Does the Lake Louise Shuttle Run in the Winter?
The Lake Louise shuttle operates in the summer only, as there are rarely parking and congestion issues at Lake Louise in the winter and shoulder seasons.
This is separate from the Lake Louise Ski Resort shuttle which runs from November to May and is operated by Lake Louise Ski Resort. You can read all about their winter shuttle here.
Is There a Shuttle From Lake Louise Village to Lake Louise?
If you are staying in the village of Lake Louise or in the Lake Louise Campground, you are encouraged to leave your vehicle at your accommodation and use the free Park and Ride Connector shuttle that will take you to the Park and Ride lot.
Once at the Park and Ride parking lot can get on either the Lake Louise Shuttle or Moraine Lake Shuttle (you still need to pre purchase shuttle tickets).
Visiting Lake Louise FAQ
When is the Best Time to Visit Lake Louise?
If you are interested in seeing the brilliant blue Lake Louise that you have likely seen on social media and countless photos, the best time to visit Lake Louise is between mid-June and late September.
Lake Louise is buzzing, and beautiful come July and August, but these are also the busiest times in the park. Visiting in the early morning or late evening is recommended for a quieter summer experience.
What are the best hikes around Lake Louise?
There are so many fabulous hikes around Lake Louise ranging in difficulty. A few of our favorites are the Plain of Six Glaciers, the Beehive Circuit, Fairview Summit, and Mount Saint Piran. You can see all our favorite Lake Louise hikes here.
How Long Should You Spend at Lake Louise?
When we visit Lake Louise, it’s typically to go for a hike or a paddle – or both, so we usually spend most of the day there. However, if you visit Lake Louise only to enjoy the views, we recommend 1-2 hours at Lake Louise. This allows you enough time to enjoy the beautiful scenery and take a walk around the lakeshore.
If you plan on hiking, you’ll need at least half a day, depending on which hike you plan.
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!)
- Hop on Hop off Bus: Explore the most popular spots in Banff at your own pace. Hop on and off when you please!
- Moraine Lake Bus Company: An alternative option to the Parks Canada shuttle, the Moraine Lake Bus Company provides early access to Moraine Lake with shuttles starting as early as 4am.
- Radventures Earlybird Explorer: offers 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.
- From Banff: Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Sightseeing Tour
- Lake Louise and the Icefield Parkway – Full-Day Tour
- Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Icefields Parkway Tour
- Open-Top Shuttle to Moraine and Lake Louise: Drive to the lakes with the wind in your face!
Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies
- Hiking in the Rockies: Purchase an AllTrails subscription to have a mobile map on you as you hike.
- Tours (New in 2024): The Banff Blog is partnering with one of the leading tour companies in Western Canada so readers can experience the magic of the Rockies with other travelers – without having to think about a thing. See all our 2024 tour offerings here!
- Hotels in the Rockies: There are many places to stay, from luxury hotels to wilderness cabins. See all our favorites here.
- Pack for the Rockies: See our complete Alberta packing list here.
- 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 prices on Motorhome Republic and Outdoorsy.
- Fly For Free: Turn your spending into airline miles and points with travel credit cards (that’s what we do!). See our favorite travel credit cards. We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals!
- 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!
- Travel Insurance: We don’t recommend traveling without travel insurance. We recommend checking out HeyMondo, which offers competitive rates for all travelers.