Moraine Lake Parking: What You Need to Know

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 the Moraine Lake site.

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, public transport from Banff, or a private tour company. 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; 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

moraine lake parking

You can no longer park at the lakeshore at Moraine Lake. Visitors must take advantage of 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.


Why Is Moraine Lake So Popular?

Moraine Lake

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?

Moraine Lake At Sunrise

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. 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 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?

moraine lake parking

Access to Moraine Lake via Moraine Lake Rd is 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 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. The lake is unlikely to be fully thawed in early June.


How To Visit Moraine Lake

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

Lake Moraine Road - moraine lake parking

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!

Moraine-Lake-Parking

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.

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.
park and ride parks canada

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.

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 2023

Park And Ride Bus Lot

Parks Canada shuttle reservations are required. Reservations for 2023 will be available in the spring of 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 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.

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

lake louise in summer
  • 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 is 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 the spring of 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.
  • Are dogs allowed on the shuttle? Only service dogs are permitted 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 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

larch valley trail - 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.

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

Moraine Lake Biking
We love to bike to Moraine Lake in May.

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. 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.

Moraine Lake
Relaxing on the lakeshore with no other visitors in sight.

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 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 buses.


Stay at Moraine Lake Lodge

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.


Book an Organized Tour

Another way to guarantee that you will see Moraine Lake is by booking an organized tour or utilizing the Banff Hop on Hop Off Bus. Tour operators have access to park at Moraine Lake.


Hike There Via the Paradise Valley Trail

Paradise-Valley
Hiking between Lake Louise and Moraine Lake on 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, this year we took the Park and Ride to Moraine Lake, hiked to Lake Louise, and took it back to the Park & Ride from Lake Louise.

Lake-Annette

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 most incredible hikes in Alberta!

Paradise-Valley-Trail
The steep trail up to Sentinel Pass (the back way). I told you you should be prepared!

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.


Walk to Moraine Lake

I’ve never walked to Moraine Lake along Moraine Lake Rd, 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.


FAQ About Parking At Moraine Lake


Can I Catch Sunrise At Moraine Lake?

peyto-lake

There are no sunrise shuttles from Parks Canada to Moraine Lake. 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. This may change in the future, but I’m sure people will find a way to see the sunrise at Moraine Lake, such as biking Moraine Lake Rd during twilight hours.

Personally, we find Moraine Lake to be 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.


How Can I Take My Watercraft To Moraine Lake?

canoeing on 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?

Moraine-Lake
Moraine Lake in October

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.

This is when Moraine Lake Rd first opens in early June before most of the park’s visitors arrive. Or right after larch season in early October before Moraine Lake Rd closes for the season.


What are Facilities Like at Moraine Lake?

moraine lake parking

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?

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.

10 Awesome Lake Louise Hotel and Accommodation Options

Things To Do At Moraine Lake

Larch-Valley

There are two main things to do at Moraine Lake. Go for a canoe or get on a hike. The most accessible and iconic hike is the Rockpile Trail, though this is easily where all the crowds hang out.

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.

10 Moraine Lake Hikes With Amazing Views

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.


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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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3 thoughts on “Moraine Lake Parking: What You Need to Know”

  1. My question about the Lake Louise, Moraine Lake shuttles is this: If I book a shuttle to Lake Louise in the morning, can i catch a connector shuttle in the afternoon to Moraine Lake? Or do I need a separate ticket as it will be in a different time period? Parks Canada web site was not helpful.

    Reply
  2. Parks Canada issued a statement saying ALL personal vehicles are no longer allowed into Morraine this year. You have to take a bus or shuttle.

    Reply
    • Thank you we are aware, Shannon… They just issued this 24 hours ago, and as this is a personal blog, and not our full time job, we appreciate your patience as it takes time to update articles.

      Reply

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