We won’t sugarcoat it. Parking at Moraine Lake is not fun, especially during July and August. Truthfully, parking is an issue almost as soon as Parks Canada opens Moraine Lake Rd for the season.
Thankfully, Parks Canada has worked hard to combat the problems with parking at Moraine Lake over the past few years. It’s not perfect, and it never will be. There are thousands of visitors in the park trying to see one of the best sights in Canada, where there is only parking for 150 or so vehicles.
We know you have questions, so we will answer some of your top Moraine Lake parking questions here.
Moraine Lake Road is now open for the Summer 2022 season
Moraine Lake Parking Information
Believe what you have read previously. To secure a parking spot at Moraine Lake in the morning between June and the end of September often requires you to be driving up Moraine Lake Rd well before sunrise.
This means well before 5:30 am in June and July. Being at Moraine Lake before 5am am means that you will have to be driving out of Banff or Canmore sometime around 4am, which means a wake up around 3:30am – yikes! This may not be how you intended to spend your vacation in Banff.
I’ll let you in on a secret…we have visited Moraine Lake countless times and have never ever caught sunrise there. We are not early risers, and I cannot be bothered to compete with traffic at such an early hour.
There are plenty of ways to see Moraine Lake without losing sleep (though you will miss sunrise). Let’s dig into a few questions first.
Why is Moraine Lake So Popular
Why will people put up with the hassle of Moraine Lake parking on their once in a lifetime trip to Banff? Moraine Lake is considered one of the most beautiful places in the world and a symbol of Canada. It’s graced Canada’s twenty-dollar bill before and is a pristine area of sheer wilderness.
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 just because they have seen images of beautiful Moraine Lake.
Is Moraine Lake Really That Great?
I hate touristy places. I don’t like crowded hikes, parking issues, or overcrowding – and Moraine Lake is all of these things. Still, I consider Moraine Lake one of the most beautiful places in the world, and I can’t believe it’s a real place in the world. So despite all the issues, Moraine Lake really is THAT great.
Where Do You Park to Visit Moraine Lake?
There is a parking area at Moraine Lake Lakeshore, at the end of a 14 km road. There is space for about 150 vehicles and a few spaces for RVs. You may not park along Moraine Lake Rd at any time.
Do You Have to Pay for Parking at Moraine Lake?
Parking at Moraine Lake Lakeshore is free, though you do need a Parks Canada pass to visit any sight in Banff National Park.
What Time Does the Moraine Lake Parking Lot Fill Up?
The parking lot at Moraine Lake often fills up before sunrise between June to the end of September. This means before 5 am in the summer. Once the parking lot is full, the road closes the road to vehicles, so if you don’t get a spot, you’ll have to make alternative plans.
This risk often means visitors wake up earlier and earlier each year to ensure a spot, and in recent years we’ve heard of the parking lot filling up before 4am. Weekends are slightly busier than weekdays, but not by much.
We highly recommend utilizing the Park and Ride shuttle. Yes, this means you will miss sunrise at Moraine Lake, but in all honesty, there are plenty of other stunning places to catch sunrise around Banff National Park. We are not so sure why every visitor has their eye on sunrise here.
What If I Miss Getting Moraine Lake Parking in the Morning?
It happens! In past years if you missed getting a spot, you could theoretically circle the area until people leave and the road opens to let a few vehicles in. They have since cut this out, as it creates more congestion in the area. Not to mention it’s a waste of your time in Banff.
So if you miss getting a spot, your best option is to head to Lake Louise Lakeshore and pay to park there ($12.25) before that lot also fills up. Enjoy Lake Louise, perhaps hike up to the Lake Agnes Tea House and attempt to book a ticket on the shuttle bus (there is cell service at Lake Louise). Advance purchase is required.
Try your luck on the Parks Canada reservation system. It’s always a good option to have a backup plan for the day in case you can’t score parking. We recommend driving up the Icefields Parkway. The beautiful Peyto Lake is not too far away.
Pro Tip: Late afternoon/ evening shuttles are less busy than morning shuttles. You are able to reserve a shuttle day of, if there is space available.
Can’t I Just Wait Until the Parking Attendants Open the Road Again?
This would be an inefficient use of time. And there is nowhere to sit and wait for the road to open again, meaning you’ll have to keep circling the area until you get extremely lucky and they open the road to a few vehicles.
The road never becomes completely “open again” until the evening time, but instead operates on a “5 cars just left, so we’ll let 5 vehicles in.” Like I said, waiting and getting on Moraine Lake Rd would be complete happenstance and planning to do this would be a poor use of your time in the Rockies.
Can You Park Overnight at Moraine Lake?
You cannot park overnight at Moraine Lake and sleep in your car to ensure a spot. Parks Canada does check for people sleeping in their cars and will issue fines. This does not mean you can’t enjoy Moraine Lake at night as stargazing is popular, you just cannot sleep in your vehicle. Also, it gets very cold at Moraine Lake at night, even in the middle of the summer.
What Season is Quiet at Moraine Lake
Access to Moraine Lake via Moraine Lake Rd only opens up around the last weekend of May, though dates are subject to change based on weather and conditions. This year the road is not set to open until after 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 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.
The Best Way to See Moraine Lake
Instead of dealing with parking at Moraine Lake, we recommend visitors to use the Parks Canada Park and Ride as well as Roam Transit.
ROAM Transit to Moraine Lake
The Roam Transit bus does not run to Moraine Lake except between the periods of September 19 – October 10, 2022 for larch season. During this time, you can catch the Roam Route 10: Moraine Lake Express from Banff to Moraine Lake.
The Roam Transit Route 8x runs daily between May 20 – September 18, 2022 to Lake Louise from Banff. The Roam Route 8X: Lake Louise Express runs from the town of Banff to Lake Louise Lakeshore along the Trans-Canada Highway, with a stop 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.
New in 2022 – 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.
With the Super Pass comes free access to the Parks Canada Lake Connector shuttle. With the purchase of 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.
The Parks Canada Park and Ride
The parking concerns at Moraine Lake have gotten worse each passing year, not better. Because of this, in 2021, Parks Canada introduced the Park and Ride to Moraine Lake. This is the best way to guarantee you get to see Moraine Lake. We tested out the shuttle last summer and thought it was great.
In previous years we would make the 50-minute drive from Canmore, hoping we would get to see Moraine Lake, but not with the shuttle. With a shuttle reservation, you never have to stress whether you will get to visit Moraine Lake on your vacation. It cuts back on congestion and emissions too! The Moraine Lake shuttle deserves more information, so we’ll break it down in the next section.
The Parks Canada Moraine Lake Shuttle
The most direct option and surefire way to see Moraine Lake is to book the Parks Canada shuttle from the Park and Ride directly to Moraine Lake, which requires reservations.
The Park and Ride parking lot is located a few km away at Lake Louise Ski Resort and will bring you to either Lake Louise or Moraine Lake first, depending on the type of ticket you reserve. Once at Moraine Lake, you can connect between Moraine Lake and Lake Louise Lakeshore on a first-come, first-serve basis via the Lake Connector shuttle.
Or you can book the shuttle that will get you right to Lake Louise Lakeshore. Reservations are required to utilize the Parks Canada shuttle system. Once at Lake Louise Lakeshore, you can connect between Lake Louise and Moraine Lake on a first-come, first-serve basis via the Lake Connector shuttle.
The Park and Ride shuttle to Moraine Lake runs every 20 minutes between 8:10 am and 4:50 pm. The Park & Ride shuttle to Lake Louise runs every 20 minutes between 8 am and 5:40 pm. The final return bus from Moraine Lake and Lake Louise Lakeshore to the Park and Ride is at 7:30 pm.
**Beginning June 24, Moraine Lake service begins at 6:30 am and runs every 30 minutes until 8 am. This service is perfect for the hikers wanting to get and early start to their day.
The Lake Connector bus is free of charge for visitors who booked a shuttle ride from the Park and Ride to either lake destination, making it easy to see both lakes in one day. This shuttle is for reservation holders only (proof of ticket required), and tickets are booked during popular times. However, you do not need to book a specific time for the Lake Connector shuttle.
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 final return bus from Moraine Lake to the Park and Ride is at 7:50 pm.
Early Bird Service begins on June 24. Shuttles run at 6:30 am and runs every 30 minutes until 8 am. Reservations are required for early bird departures from the Park and Ride to Moraine Lake.
It’s important to note that these fees are in addition to your National Parks entry fee.
2021 was the first year we tried the Park and Ride Shuttle and loved how easy it was. We didn’t have to worry about parking for the day when in past years we’ve had to strategize our visit to Moraine Lake.
The Park and Ride also allowed us to finally 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, this year we took the Park and Ride to Moraine Lake, hiked to Lake Louise, and took it back to the Park n Ride from Lake Louise.
Certified service animals are allowed on the shuttle buses. All other pets must be crated and kept on their owners lap while riding the shuttle.
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 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.
Shuttle Reservations For Moraine Lake in 2022
Parks Canada shuttle reservations are required. Reservations for 2022 will be available on May 4th, 2022 at 8am MDT, and you’ll be able to book your seat on a shuttle bus in advance.
The shuttle to Moraine Lake is set to begin on June 1 and will run until October 10th.
There will also be a portion of seats released on a rolling basis, 48 hours before departure day at 8am MST starting in May 2022. You are able to 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 personally found the shuttle system very easy to use, and it seems to be a great solution to the parking issues at Moraine Lake.
Stay in a Lake Louise Hotel and Catch the Park and Ride Connector
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 village of Lake Louise (Samson Mall) and the Lake Louise Park and Ride located at the Lake Louise Ski Area.
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 a free shuttle 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 it’s recommended to plan ahead 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. This is a new location in 2022, as previous years the Park and Ride lot was located off the Trans Canada.
- When can I make my Park and Ride reservation? Shuttle reservations are available beginning at 8 am MDT on May 4, 2022. 50% of the operating season will be available to book. The remaining 50% 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? No. You will have to make parking arrangements if you wish to hike the Paradise Valley Trail or ride the Moraine Lake Highline Trail.
- Are dogs allowed on the shuttle? Only service dogs are allowed on the Park and Ride. 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 must be held onto at all times.
How Have We Seen Moraine Lake in the Past: Alternative Suggestions
I mentioned that we have never attempted to get to Moraine Lake at sunrise – and I meant it. Still, I have been to Moraine Lake around 15 times. Not just for the lake either, but mainly to enjoy all the great Moraine Lake hikes in the area. And also to canoe on the bluest lake in the world. I’ll break down how we’ve seen Moraine Lake without dealing with the parking nightmares.
Bike to Moraine Lake
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 to Moraine Lake and seeing the beauty without the crowds.
If you want to bike to the road in May before Parks Canada plows the road completely it might be possible until the Ten Peaks viewpoint as they plow this part first. After this viewpoint you may encounter some snow. Exact timing of road clearing is dependent 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 seem to get parking here, one of your options is to park at Sampson 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 a few cars.
Walk to Moraine Lake
I’ve never walked to Moraine Lake, but I feel I should mention it as we’ve seen people during all months walking the road to Moraine Lake. This takes a little over 2 hours one way, but you stand a chance of hitching a ride!
Visit Moraine Lake Near Sunset
Moraine Lake stays busy well into the evening. Though eventually, the parking attendants leave, and the road opens up. This happens around 7:00pm or so. Meaning you can drive up to Moraine Lake Rd and eventually find a parking space as visitors leave. This is typically how we catch sunset at Moraine Lake, though if you want to do any hiking in the area, this method will not work for you.
Visit Moraine Lake in the “Off Season”
Off-season is in quotations as Moraine Lake doesn’t really have an off-season. As it’s only open for four whole 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.
This is when Moraine Lake Rd first opens to vehicles, typically in early June before most of the park’s visitors have arrived. Or right after larch season in early October before Moraine Lake Rd closes for the season.
Take Your Chances in the Afternoon
Moraine Lake is busy in the morning as visitors, photographers, and influencers rush to get there before the first rays of the sun hit the ten peaks. It stays consistently busy throughout the morning, but occasionally we’ve noticed that the crowds die down in the afternoon around 2-3. Sometimes you can squeeze your way to Moraine Lake if you’re lucky.
Stay at Moraine Lake Lodge
If you can secure a stay at the Moraine Lake Lodge, you have guaranteed access to Moraine Lake. Rightfully so, since room rates range between $900-1100 per night. Moraine Lake Lodge is the only lodging at Moraine Lake, so if it’s in your budget, make sure to book well in advance.
Book an Organized Tour
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.
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 (limited parking here). 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 greatest hikes in Alberta!
Along the way you’ll pass Lake Annette, Mount Little Temple, and Mount Temple before ascending up to Sentinel Pass the back way. Once at Sentinel Pass you’ll descend down to Moraine Lake. Once at Moraine Lake, you’ll need to ensure you have a way back to Lake Louise whether that be walking Moraine Lake Rd or trying to hitch a ride.
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 very 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 the majority of the trial.
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 else besides wilderness – oh, 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 hikes and scrambles; here are a few of them ranked in difficulty.
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
- Travel Insurance: We don’t recommend traveling without travel insurance. We recommend checking out Safetywing or World Nomads offers competitive rates for all travelers.
- 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 Kayak. Or embark on an epic campervan trip with companies like Outdoorsy.
↓ 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. This is also a place where you can meet one another when you need adventure buddies.