In 2023, Moraine Lake Parking will be officially closed to personal vehicles. This new policy will help alleviate some safety, preservation, and congestion concerns around Moraine Lake.
Visitors can now visit the lake through the public shuttle bus system known as Park & Ride. It is also possible to access the lake via bike, taxi, public transport from Banff, or a private tour company. We will get into all these options in this article. Disabled visitors can still access the Moraine Lake parking lot.
It’s not perfect, and it never will be. Millions visit the park yearly, and most have Moraine Lake at the top of their list. Unfortunately, demand has outgrown the limited facilities at the lake. It’s a special place and a sensitive environment; we must ensure it remains that way. This decision was made with this in mind.
We know you have questions, so we will answer some of your top Moraine Lake parking questions here.
Moraine Lake Parking Information
You can no longer park at the lakeshore at Moraine Lake. The best option to get to Moraine Lake is the Park & Ride system with Parks Canada. The parking lot for the shuttle system is located at the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
It is dependent upon conditions, but the summer season at Moraine Lake runs from June to Mid-October. Parks Canada shuttle reservations ensure visitors can reach Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, eliminating the risk of not being able to park a personal vehicle upon arrival.
There is an exception to this rule for disabled visitors. Those possessing a disabled hang tag may proceed to the road to Moraine Lake, and staff will permit access to Moraine Lake Road.
The 2023 Reservation Launch date for Moraine Lake shuttle reservations is Thursday, April 13th, 2023 at 8 am MT. If you already missed this launch date, keep reading. You have options for getting to Moraine Lake.
Why Is Moraine Lake So Popular?
Why do people put up with the hassle of Moraine Lake during their trip to Banff? The national park does not lack jaw-dropping vistas and beautiful areas to explore. However, with easy access and arguably one of the finest scenes in all of Canada, it’s hard to dissuade visitors from visiting Moraine Lake.
Moraine Lake is considered one of the most splendid places in the world and a symbol of Canada. It’s graced Canada’s twenty-dollar bill and is a pristine wilderness area.
The image of Moraine Lake with the ten peaks behind it has been shared millions of times across social media. Many people plan their trip to Alberta because they have seen images of the famous Lake. It even has its own forum (subreddit) on Reddit — it’s called RedditLake.
Is Moraine Lake Really That Great?
We despise touristy places. We avoid crowded hikes like the plague and generally stay home on weekends. Moraine Lake is probably the most visited location in Western Canada, and we still treasure every visit.
The scenery is astounding, and the tranquility of the place descends on every visitor. Staggering peaks reach for the sky and flank a turquoise-blue lake surrounded by pine trees. Its grandeur and wonder inhale the hum of its crowds and leave almost every visitor speechless.
Where Do You Park to Visit Moraine Lake?
You can only park at the Park & Ride Shuttle lot in 2023, which is located at Lake Louise Ski Resort and is free to park. The address to that is 1 Whitehorn Road. Those with a disabled hang tag may access the parking lot at Moraine Lake. There are no other exceptions for personal vehicles.
It’s a big free lot, and the system works wonderfully in our experience. We can’t recommend the Park & Ride enough as it does a great job accommodating visitors and makes visiting Lake Louise easy, too, with the Lake Connector shuttle.
When Does Moraine Lake Open?
Access to Moraine Lake via Moraine Lake Rd is set to open until June 1st. Moraine Lake Rd closes around the second week of October. This means the season to enjoy Moraine Lake is relatively short. June, July, August, September, and half of October.
The busiest months are between mid-June and the end of September. It doesn’t get quiet until after the golden larch needles have fallen, typically the first or second week of October.
If you visit Moraine Lake before June 15th and after October 1st, you stand a chance of not dealing with the craziness, but it will still be busy. Moraine Lake is unlikely to be fully thawed until early June.
In 2023, the Moraine Lake Road closed to vehicles on October 10th. It will reopen in late May or early June 2024 – weather dependent.
How To Visit Moraine Lake
Parking at Moraine Lake is now closed to personal vehicles. What now? We discuss your options below and answer some frequently asked questions.
The Parks Canada Park & Ride
The parking concerns at Moraine Lake have gotten worse each passing year, not better. Because of this, in 2023, Parks Canada stopped all personal vehicles from accessing the road. The best option for most visitors to see the lake is the Park & Ride shuttle.
It is the best way to guarantee you get to see 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!
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 6:30 am, and the last return bus from the lakes to the parking lot is 7:30 pm.
Pro Tip: Late afternoon/ evening shuttles are less busy than morning shuttles. You are able to reserve a shuttle day of, or even purchase walk up tickets, if there is space available.
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 6:30 am –
6 pm. The last return bus from Moraine Lake to the Park and Ride is at 7:30 pm.
It’s important to note that these fees are in addition to your National Parks entry fee.
Parks Canada is constantly changing their times and rules, we try to update this article as much as possible but encourage you to Check the Parks Canada Reservation System Here.
Lake Connector Shuttle Frequency
- Lake Louise to Moraine Lake: Every 15 minutes between 8 am and 6 pm.
- Moraine Lake to Lake Louise: Every 15 minutes between 8 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.
Shuttle Reservations For Moraine Lake In 2023
Parks Canada shuttle reservations are required. Reservations for 2023 will be available in April 2023, and you’ll be able to book your seat on a shuttle bus in advance. The shuttle to Moraine Lake will begin on June 1 and run until mid-October.
There will also be a portion of seats released on a rolling basis, 48 hours before departure day at 8am MST starting in Late May 2023. You can reserve a seat up until the end of your timeslot this year. Walk-up seat sales may be permitted if there are still seats available. Book your seat reservation on the Parks Canada website.
We find the shuttle system very easy to use, which is an excellent solution to the parking issues at Moraine Lake.
What Shuttle Do I Take If I’m Staying in Lake Louise?
If you stay at a hotel in Lake Louise Village or the Lake Louise Campground, you can use the Park & Ride Connector shuttle for free as it stops in the village and campground. The Park and Ride Connector shuttle loops between the Lake Louise Campground, the town of Lake Louise (Samson Mall), and the Lake Louise Park and Ride located at the Lake Louise Ski Area. Once at the Park and Ride, you can catch the shuttle to either Moraine Lake or Lake Louise, you still need to have a purchased reservation.
Staying in a Lake Louise hotel does not get you special access to Moraine Lake. Some hotels and lodges around Lake Louise village offer private shuttles, though. You will have to call the Lake Louise hotel you have booked to confirm if they offer shuttles to Moraine Lake.
Parks Canada Park and Ride FAQ
- Are walk-up tickets available for the Parks Canada shuttle? Walk-up tickets are available at the Park and Ride, but planning ahead is recommended as getting these tickets are not guaranteed.
- Where can I catch the shuttle? The Park and Ride shuttles leave from the Lake Louise Park and Ride lot, located at the Lake Louise Ski Area. They moved to this parking lot in 2022. It was previously located off Trans Canada.
- When can I make my Park and Ride reservation? Shuttle reservations are available in April 2023. 40% of the operating season will be available to book. The remaining 60% will be released on a rolling window at 8 am, 48 hours before departure day, throughout the entire season.
- I have my reservation; now what? You will receive a confirmation email. It’s best to screenshot or save this email. You have a one-hour time block to arrive at the Lake Louise Park and Ride on the day of your reservation. Parks Canada may request your photo ID when checking you in.
- Does the Shuttle Stop at the Paradise Valley Trailhead? Yes, Parks Canada will release a limited number of first-come-first-serve tickets for the Paradise Valley. You cannot drive a personal vehicle to the Paradise Valley Trailhead.
- Are dogs allowed on the shuttle? Only service dogs are permitted on the Park and Ride without a crate. Owners of assistance animals should be prepared to show the animal’s verification of training. Passenger pets are allowed on board at no charge. Pets must be crated in a secure and clean carrier and held onto at all times.
- What happens if I miss the last shuttle bus? Parks employees keep an eye out for any visitors. If you arrive at the parking lot late, you are responsible for transportation. There is a phone at Moraine Lake Lodge. A permanent gate on Whitehorn Drive will be closed at 8:00 pm, so vehicles can not be retrieved from the Park & Ride lot until 6:00 a.m.
ROAM Transit to Moraine Lake
The Roam Transit bus does not run to Moraine Lake except between September 19 – October 10, 2023, for the larch season. You can catch the Roam Route 10: Moraine Lake Express from Banff to Moraine Lake during this time.
The Roam Transit Route 8x runs daily between May 20 – September 18, 2023, to Lake Louise from Banff. The Roam Route 8X: Lake Louise Express runs from Banff to Lake Louise Lakeshore along the Trans-Canada Highway, stopping at Lake Louise Village.
The Roam Route 8S: Lake Louise Scenic stops at scenic sights like Johnston Canyon and Protection Mountain Campground. Route 8S will run 3 days/ week (Fri-Sun), July 1 – Aug 31.
The cost is $10 per adult; reservations are recommended. However, you can walk- up to the fare boxes. Roam buses accept US and Canadian currency as small as a nickel and up to $20. Children 12 and under are free but still require a reservation.
If you are coming from Canmore, you can take the Roam Transit Regional Route 3 Bus from Canmore to Banff, and then take the Roam Transit from Banff to Lake Louise.
Read More: How to Get From Canmore to Banff
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 comes with free access to the Parks Canada Lake Connector shuttle. With the new Roam Transit Super Pass, 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.
Bike To Moraine Lake
Although there is no more parking at Moraine Lake, you can still bike to Moraine Lake with any type of bicycle (pedal-assisted included). There is one short week in Banff when Parks Canada plows Moraine Lake Road but leaves the road closed to vehicles. This is when all the locals take advantage of biking Moraine Lake and seeing the beauty without the crowds or vehicle traffic. If you want to bike to the road in May before Parks Canada plows it, it might be possible until the Ten Peaks viewpoint as they plow this part first. After this viewpoint, you may encounter some snow.
The exact timing of road clearing depends on snowpack and avalanche conditions above the road. This is not announced and typically is only known through local know-how. We’ve biked to Moraine Lake a few times in the past. From Lake Louise, it’s approximately 14 km uphill. This takes me about 50 minutes on a mountain bike and 40 minutes on a road bike. It’s all uphill, but the fun ride down makes it all worth it.
There are a few spaces to park your car at the start of Moraine Lake Rd, but those often fill up in bike season. If you can’t get parking here, one of your options is to park at Samson Mall. This adds a lot of elevation and distance to your bike ride, so pack extra snacks.
If you’re a domestic traveler, make sure to bring your bike to Banff, or it’s possible to rent bicycles for the day in either Banff at Bactrax, Rebound Cycle in Canmore, or Wilson Sports in Lake Louise Village.
**You can always bike to Moraine Lake during any season, but when the road opens to vehicles, you will be biking next to buses.
Stay at Moraine Lake Lodge
If you can secure a stay at the Moraine Lake Lodge, you have guaranteed access to Moraine Lake. Since room rates range between $900-1100 per night, rightfully so. Moraine Lake Lodge is the only lodging at Moraine Lake, so if it’s in your budget, make sure to book well in advance.
Sunrise Shuttle to Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake Bus Company offers sunrise shuttles to Moraine Lake. This is a point-to-point shuttle service and is solely a bus transport, not a guided tour.
Shuttles transport guests to Moraine Lake as early as 4am, and from there guests can choose how long they want to stay. This is a fantastic option for hikers and climbers who want an alpine start. This service starts at $35 for a round-trip ticket and utilizes variable pricing, with tickets at 4am starting from $49. Long weekend and last weekend tickets are priced higher.
They also have four daily shuttles that include a one hour stop at Lake Louise. Check their schedule here.
Book an Organized Tour
Radventures 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.
Taxi to Moraine Lake
Let a taxi take you all the way from Canmore or Banff to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.
Three Sisters Taxi: Offers return service to Lake Louise & Moraine Lake from Canmore or Banff for up to 6 people. This self guided option offers one hour at Lake Louise and one hour at Moraine Lake for a total of a 5.5 hour tour ($100 per additional hour). They give you the option to leave at your time.
Hike There Via the Paradise Valley Trail
This option should only be reserved for those with experience hiking in the Rockies as it is a long hike, with a very steep section up Sentinel Pass (photo below,) so you have to be pretty determined for this method.
The Park and Ride allowed us to cross a point-to-point hike off our list. The Paradise Valley trail connects Moraine Lake to Lake Louise via a 20km hike. As we only own one car, we could never complete it. However, a few years ago we took the Park and Ride to Moraine Lake, hiked to Lake Louise, and took the shuttle back to the Park & Ride from Lake Louise for a truly epic day.
For those dead set on seeing Lake Moraine, it’s possible to hike there on the Paradise Valley Trail from either Lake Louise or the trailhead for Lake Annette, which you still need a shuttle reservation to get here as it’s along Moraine Lake Rd.
This trail is 20 km that is a point-to-point hike through the stunning Paradise Valley. During the larch season, it’s one of the most incredible hikes in Alberta!
Along the way, you’ll pass Lake Annette, Mount Little Temple, and Mount Temple before ascending to Sentinel Pass the back way. Once at Sentinel Pass, you’ll descend down to Moraine Lake.
If you have a shuttle reservation (park at the Park & Ride at the Lake Louise Ski Area), you can utilize the buses to complete this point-to-point hike. This hike had been on our list for a long time, and we finally checked it off last season. Even during the busiest time in the park, we didn’t see a soul for most of the trial.
Moraine Lake Highline Trail
A slightly easier alternative to the Paradise Valley Trail is the Moraine Lake Highline Trail, which almost runs parallel to Moraine Lake Rd. Start your hike at the Paradise Valley Trailhead, which after a kilometer will fork. Take the left trail to get on the Moraine Lake Highline Trail.
Walk to Moraine Lake
I’ve never walked to Moraine Lake along Moraine Lake Rd, and don’t have much desire to, but I should mention it as we’ve seen people walking the road to Moraine Lake during all months.
This takes a little over 2 hours one way. Parks Canada does not condone this, but they also do not forbid a walk on the road.
Cross Country Ski (Winter Option)
If you want to get to Moraine Lake Road during the winter, it is possible to cross country ski there. As the road is off limits to vehicles from October to June, this is the only way to access Moraine Lake in winter.
This round trip is about 16km and there is a double track set with a skating lane. This road is the main road that leads to the lake in summer (Moraine Lake Rd). Although much of the trail is uphill (250 meter gain), it doesn’t feel that way as you are surrounded by trees the entire time (and no traffic!).
Along the way, turn around to catch views of Lake Louise Ski Resort, the Bow Valley and Ten Peaks ahead of you.
If you want to experience Moraine Lake up close and personal, you must pack avalanche gear and have avalanche knowledge because the track setting ends at a viewpoint of Consolation Valley and the Ten Peaks. Beyond this point you must pass through an avalanche-prone area to reach the frozen lake. This is not recommended for beginners.
FAQ About Parking At Moraine Lake
Can I Catch Sunrise At Moraine Lake?
The sun rises incredibly early during the summer in Banff. There are no sunrise shuttles offered by Parks Canada to Moraine Lake. Parks Canada Shuttle service will not run between 8:00 p.m. – 6:00 a.m. This is done to help relieve the wildlife and protect an important wildlife corridor.
Commercial operators are allowed to provide a shuttle service for guests, so if you can find a tour that offers sunrise at Moraine Lake, this is a guaranteed option. We recommend Radventures Earlybird Explorer Tour.
Moraine Lake Bus Company is a private company that offers shuttles (not tours) to Moraine Lake as early as 4am. We expect there to be high demand for these sunrise shuttles and you should book your shuttle well in advance.
Another option is to book a night at the luxurious Moraine Lake Lodge, which is the only lodging option at Moraine Lake.
This may change in the future, and I’m sure people will find a way to see the sunrise at Moraine Lake, such as biking Moraine Lake Rd during twilight hours. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Personally, we find Moraine Lake to be a bit of an underwhelming sunrise location as the lake is nestled in such a deep valley you never see the early sun hit the entire Moraine Lake area. If you’d love to see the sunrise or sunset, there are many locations in the park. One of our favorite sunrise locations with easy access is Two Jack Lake.
One of our preferred tour operators - Radventures - now offers an Earlybird Explorer Tour, which includes a guaranteed sunrise at Moraine Lake experience, followed by golden hour at Lake Louise. If you want to catch sunrise at Moraine Lake, on a guided tour experience, this is an excellent option.
How Can I Take My Watercraft To Moraine Lake?
You can not drive to Moraine Lake for parking if you want to take your own watercraft. The Parks Canada shuttles can take several types of watercraft, including packrafts, inflatable kayaks, inflatable paddleboards, and some small hard-sided kayaks. If you’d like to canoe on Moraine Lake, you will have to rent one by the hour from the lodge.
If you are looking for a great foldable kayak option, we have recently fallen in love with our Oru Origami Kayak.
When Is The “Quietest Time” To Visit Moraine Lake?
The quietest time is in quotations, as Moraine Lake doesn’t really have an off-season. As it’s only open for four months out of the year, the demand to see the lake remains very high. Still, there are two main periods that are significantly quieter than peak summer.
What are Facilities Like at Moraine Lake?
There are pit toilets at Moraine Lake, but being some of the most used in the park, they are far from desirable.
There is one lodge – the Moraine Lake Lodge, which has a small cafe and gift shop for outside guests. There’s a bear bin for garbage, and typically a Parks Canada employee hanging around to answer any questions. Beyond that, you won’t find anything besides wilderness – and lots of people.
Where to Stay Near Moraine Lake?
Besides Moraine Lake Lodge, there is nowhere else to stay on Moraine Lake. Your next closest option is to stay at Lake Louise, where a few hotels and lodges are. Our absolute favorite is Paradise Lodge and Bungalows.
You can also stay at Chateau Lake Louise, the only hotel on Lake Louise.
Things To Do At Moraine Lake
We also recommend the Moraine Lake Lakeshore for a more straightforward endeavor. Beyond that, there are some fantastic Moraine Lake hikes and scrambles, a few ranked in difficulty.
Tours to Moraine Lake
Now that personal vehicles are no longer allowed at Moraine Lake, a plethora of tour operators have popped up. Here are some popular options:
- 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
Hopefully, this Moraine Lake 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, and everything else.
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.
- 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 either renting a car to get around, you can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip with companies like 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!
- Travel Insurance: We don’t recommend traveling without travel insurance. We recommend checking out HeyMondo, which offers competitive rates for all travelers.
↓ Join the community ↓
The Banff Blog Facebook Group is your headquarters for the Canadian Rockies’ travel advice and information. Including hike info and off-season travel information. You can also meet new adventure buddies.