Moraine Lake • Guide to Visiting Canada’s Most Beautiful Lake

There is no image more iconic of the Canadian Rockies, or Canada for that matter, than Moraine Lake. The alpine lake is a wild turquoise blue fed by glacier melt and set with a backdrop of the Ten Peaks. This pristine piece of wilderness draws in millions of visitors a year and once graced Canada’s twenty-dollar bill.

It’s hard to find a more majestic and awe-inspiring place in the world than Moraine Lake. After taking in the spectacular scenery, go for a hike, climb, ski, or canoe in Banff National Park. Moraine Lake (or Lac Moraine) is an image that will last with you for a lifetime.

Is Moraine Lake Open?

Cameron standing on the log on Moraine Lake at sunset

The road to Moraine Lake is closed for the season and will reopen in June 2023. Continue reading for all the information about this stunning lake.

About Moraine Lake (Lac Moraine) in Alberta

Natasha holds Canadian Flag in canoe on Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake (Lac Moraine) is 14 kilometers southeast of Lake Louise. The lake can attribute its brilliant blue color to glacier waters full of rock flour (fine particle of rock) that refracts the light, like many other blue lakes in Banff.

The time to witness this brilliant color is relatively short-lived as most of the year, the lake is frozen, from October to June. This is due to its elevation of 1,885 meters or 6,183 feet.

Cameron Relaxes on the Rock pile trail at Moraine Lake
Enjoying the view from the rockpile

There are several fantastic hikes and walks around the lake. The most famous is a short walk up The Rockpile Trail that leads to the “Twenty Dollar View.” The scene is featured on the Canadian twenty-dollar bill and is the vantage point for almost every photograph of the stunning lake.

Tips To Visit Moraine Lake

When Is The Best Time To Visit Moraine Lake?

Moraine Lake in May with snow and ice leaves a low water level lake
Moraine Lake in mid May

Unless you’re an experienced adventurer with avalanche knowledge and snowshoes or skis, you can only visit Moraine Lake from late May to October. The road is closed the rest of the year because it is snow-covered and crosses avalanche paths.

If you want to cross country ski, fat bike, or snowshoe in the winter, that is an option. Since the lake sits at a high elevation, it remains frozen until late May. So any visit to see Moraine Lake in its prime should be planned for June to late September.

Natasha paddles a canoe on Moraine Lake in the summer
Canoeing on Moraine Lake in July

Since the lake is fed by Glacial melt, its water level and color change based on temperatures. The water level upon first melting remains low until Fay Glacier begins to melt in June. It’s during this time Moraine Lake reaches its peak fill and beauty.

To ensure warmer weather, as it’s never hot in the Rockies, and a good chance to witness the most vivid turquoise water, visit Lake Moraine from mid/late June to August.

Cameron stands on Rock Pile at Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake in August

That being said, the color never leaves, and you can witness the lake until early October, when the road to the lake closes due to avalanche risk. However, the lake recedes by then, and there will likely be snow and possibly ice. Though in my opinion, the ten peaks are amazing when blanketed in a fresh layer of snow.

What Time of Day Should I Visit Moraine Lake?

View of Moraine Lake from top of the Rockpile
Moraine Lake around 8pm in the mid-June

We’re sad to say that Moraine Lake’s beauty and popularity are also its downfalls. The demand to see the lake by almost every visitor to Banff National Park on a narrow mountain road with a small parking lot means that to drive to Moraine Lake requires arriving around 5:30 a.m. or earlier in the summer months if you want a guaranteed parking spot.

Canoe with Canadian flag paddles across Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake on Canada Day

Your other option, and one we’ve done a few times, is to wait until sunset around 8:30pm or later. If you’re visiting in early June or late September/October, you’ll have better luck parking at Lake Moraine outside “normal” hours.

Moraine Lake at sunset mid September

Parking at Moraine Lake is particularly tough for those who plan to tackle some of Moraine Lake’s more arduous hikes/scrambles, such as Eiffel Peak or Mount Temple. If you don’t feel like waking up at 4:00 a.m. to see the lake, don’t fret too much you have some options with shuttles and public transport that we will break down.

Getting to Moraine Lake

Park and Ride to Lake Louise or Moraine Lake

Canoe docks at sunset on Moraine Lake

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 at the Lake Louise Ski Resort and runs daily to Moraine Lake. 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. The Park and Ride shuttle runs every 20 minutes between 8:10 am and 4:50pm to Moraine Lake. The final return bus from Moraine Lake to the Park and Ride is at 7:30 pm.

Or you can book the Park and Ride that will get you to the Lake Louise Lakeshore. Reservations are required to utilize this Park & Ride. The Park and Ride to Lake Louise runs every 20 minutes between 8 am and 5:40 pm. The final return bus from Lake Louise Lakeshore to the Park and Ride is at 7:30 pm. 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.

For visitors who booked a shuttle ride from the Park and Ride to either lake destination, the Lake Connector bus is free of charge, making it easy to see both lakes in one day. This shuttle is for reservation holders only (proof of ticket required). However, you do not need to book a specific time for the Lake Connector shuttle.

Park And Ride Shuttle Fairs (Return Trip)
  • 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.

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 at all for the day, when in past years we’ve either have to try to get to Moraine Lake at the crack of dawn, at sunset, or be stealthy and wait in our car until other cars departed, which wasted a lot of time.

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 were never able to complete it. However this year we took the Park and Ride to Moraine Lake, hiked to Lake Louise, and took it back to the overflow lot from Lake Louise.

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. This is a new system and was introduced to help with the congestion at Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. We are frequently updating this section as Parks Canada changes rules often.

Shuttle Reservations For Moraine Lake in 2022

Park And Ride Bus Lot
Park and Ride

If you plan to take the shuttle to Moraine Lake shuttle reservations are required to visit Moraine Lake between June 1st and October 10th. Reservations will be available beginning on May 4th 2022, at 8am MST, and you’ll be able to book your seat on a shuttle bus in advance. Only 50% of the shuttle bus tickets will be released on May 4th.

The other 50% will be released throughout the summer. These portion of seats will be released on a rolling basis, 48 hours before departure day at 8 am MST starting on May 4th, 2022. Walk up sales may be permitted if there are still seats available. You’ll be able to reserve a seat up to 30 minutes before the scheduled departure. Book your seat reservation on the Parks Canada website.

The only way to avoid getting to Moraine Lake on the shuttle and guarantee you still get to see Moraine Lake is by booking an organized tour. However, I found the shuttle system very easy to use.

We know it's all a bit confusing! Still have questions? We break down all you need to know about Moraine Lake Parking in 2022

Roam Transit to Moraine Lake


The Roam Transit bus does not run to Moraine Lake except between the periods of September 20th and October 11th for larch season. During this time, you can catch the Roam Route 10: Moraine Lake Express from Banff to Moraine Lake.

The Roam Transit Express Route 8x and Scenic Route 8s, run in the summer to Lake Louise from Banff. 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. 

Stay in a Hotel and Catch the Park and Ride

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Many hotels and lodges around Lake Louise village offer private shuttles, or you can book one from your hotel with Mountain Park Transport. You need to check with your booked Lake Louise hotel property to see if they offer a free or paid shuttle to Moraine Lake. It’s best to call and confirm with reception before you arrive to manage expectations.

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 & Ride Connector loops between the Lake Louise Campground, the village of Lake Louise (Samson Mall) and the Lake Louise Park and Ride

If you are staying in the village of Lake Louise or at the Lake Louise campground, you are encouraged to use the Park and Ride Connector to get to the Park & Ride. This route does not require reservations and is free of charge.

Are Pets Allowed on the Parks Canada Park & Ride to Lake Louise or Moraine Lake?

One more thing to note is that dogs and pets are not allowed on the shuttle buses. Only certified service animals are allowed on the shuttle buses. If you hope to visit with your pet, you will need to secure your own parking.

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.

Canoeing at Moraine Lake

Cameron paddles a Canoe on Moraine Lake

Beyond walking around the lake, canoeing is the most popular activity at Moraine Lake. It’s an amazing experience to paddle across the alpine lake with the mountains towering high above. The dock is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm from mid-June to mid-September.

Canoe Rentals are run by the Moraine Lake Lodge, and rates start at $115 CAD an hour. The canoes include paddles, life jackets, and some basic instructions. Each canoe can accommodate two or three people and pets are not permitted.

Reservations are not accepted, and the canoes operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Also, keep in mind the dock is weather dependent and can shut down in inclement weather such as heavy snow, rain, or wind.

Can you Bring a Private Canoe, Kayak, or SUP to Moraine Lake?

Visitors can bring their own personal watercraft to any of the lakes or rivers within Banff National Park. The tricky part with Moraine Lake is acquiring a parking spot and then launching from the lakeshore, but it can be done if you time it right! All the photos in this post are with our personal canoe. We arrived before sunset and were able to get a parking spot so that we could launch our canoe easily.

Of course, you can get inflatable SUPs too and pack them into Moraine Lake via the shuttle bus. Parks Canada requires a self-certification for all non-motorized watercraft in Canadian Rocky National Parks.

The Moraine Lake Rockpile Trail

Natasha Stands on the Rock Pile at Moraine Lake

The Moraine Lake Rockpile trail brings you to the aptly named “Twenty Dollar View” because it is the scene used on the former Canadian twenty-dollar bill and shot by almost every photographer.

We like to consider it one of the best views in the world. Moraine Lakes’ deep blue is backed by the famed Ten Peaks – ten towering snow-capped peaks.

View of the Rock Pile at Moraine Lake
The Rockpile

It’s a short walk up to the top of the rockpile trail that almost anyone can accomplish. The trail switchbacks along the backside of the rocky moraine. There are stone and log steps that make it accessible to most able-bodied people. Keep an eye out for pikas and chipmunks frequently seen darting in and out of the rocks.

  • Trailhead: Begins at the end of the parking lot and over the bridge.
  • Distance: 350 meters
  • Elevation: 30 meters
  • Time: 20 – 40 minutes (return)

Can You Bike to Moraine Lake?

Biker on Moraine Lake Road at sunset
Biking Moraine Lake Road When it Is Closed to Vehicles

I’ve biked to Moraine Lake a few times in the past, and it’s actually not as bad as it sounds. From Lake Louise, it’s approximately 14 km uphill. This takes me 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. If you can’t seem to get parking, one of your options is to park at Lake Louise Village or a small parking area at the start of Moraine Lake Road.

There is one short week in Banff when they plow Lake Moraine Road and don’t open the road to vehicles. Meaning you can bike to Moraine Lake and have it all to yourself – which is amazing! Though you can bike to Moraine Lake anytime you want.

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.

Hiking Around Lake Moraine

There are some very popular hikes around Lake Moraine should you want to get more activity in! I’ve ranked them all here in terms of difficulty. You can also find all the best Lake Moraine hikes summed up here as well.

Moraine Lake Shore Trail

Moraine Lake Canoe Lake Shore

From the Canoe docks, this is a flat trail that works its way along the lake’s shoreline and back. It’s a wonderful trail that moves in and out of the forest with great lake views and mountains.

You’ll be shocked at how few visitors to Moraine Lake go just a little further to hike along with one of the easiest trails in the area. At the end of the hike is a boardwalk near the waters flowing down from Wenkchemna pass.

  • Trailhead: Begins at the canoe docks.
  • Distance: 2.9 kms
  • Elevation: 162 meters
  • Time: 45 to 60 minutes (return)

Consolation Lakes Trail

Consolation Lakes in Banff National Park

This is a family favorite as it can be paired with the Moraine Lake Rockpile, and it’s pretty easy with a little elevation gain. It’s a nice step up from the Lakeshore Trail as the terrain is more difficult with greater elevation gain and a short section that crosses over a boulder field.

Along the hike, you get views of the scree slopes from the Tower of Babbel. The hike passes through the old-growth forest before arriving at an alpine field and wetlands with the consolation lakes at their end. You get tremendous views of the backside of the Ten Peaks Mount Babbel and Mount Fay, topped by glaciers from the lakes.

  • Trailhead: Begins from the Rockpile Trail
  • Distance: 5.8 km
  • Elevation: 255 meters
  • Time: 1.5 to 2 hours (return)

Eiffel Lake Trail

Eiffel Lake Trail

Witness amazing views of the Valley of Ten Peaks as you climb to two mesmerizing glacial lakes on the Continental Divide. The trail from Moraine Lake is pretty easy to follow up to the fork for Eiffel Lake or Sentinel Pass.

The route up to the fork is pretty demanding as it climbs 350m at a relatively high grade for about 40 minutes. From the fork, you take the less-traveled path to the Eiffel Lakes. Past the lakes lies Wenkchemna Pass Trail that passes through the mountains into Yoho National Park. The top of the pass provides stunning views of the Ten Peaks.

  • Trailhead: Begins at canoe docks
  • Distance: 11.7
  • Elevation: 570 meters
  • Time: 3 to 4 hours

Sentinel Pass via Larch Valley

Cameron runs along famous reflection pond in Sentinel Pass

Sentinel Pass is the quintessential Canadian Rockies hike. It’s fairly challenging, hugely popular, and offers an amazing view of the Ten Peaks. The hike follows a similar route at the Eiffel Lakes hike but departs at the fork and up into the Larch Valley.

The pass is most well known and attracts hundreds of photographers and hikers during the larch season in late September. During this period, the valley trees turn to a bright golden color, and the mountains are topped with the first signs of the new season’s snow. It’s a soul-stirring scene that can easily be considered one of the best day hikes in the world.

  • Trailhead: Begins at canoe docks
  • Distance: 10.9
  • Elevation: 792 meters
  • Time: 2.5 to 4 hours

Scrambles Around Lake Moraine

Tower of Bable above Moraine Lake
Looking at the Tower of Babel
View of Moraine Lake from Tower of Babel
From the summit of the Tower of Babel in June

These scrambles are for experienced hikers and people who have spent their fair share of time in the outdoors. These hikes are easy to moderate scrambles but occur on very serious mountains with real hazards that can result in death.

Every year tourists are evacuated by Search and Rescue on one of these hikes/routes. If you plan to tackle any of these, please plan accordingly and be prepared for the elements — also wear a helmet.

Moraine Lake Lodge Accommodation

There is only one place to stay at Moraine Lake, and that is the aptly named Moraine Lake Lodge. It has been closed for two years and is now newly renovated – reservations are open! Staying at the lake allows you to take advantage of the lake at all times of the day, and they have a private parking lot, so you’re guaranteed a spot to park.

The Moraine Lake Lodge is open from early June to early October. It does cost upwards of $1000 per night. At the lodge, you can find a cafe, restaurant, and gift shop. Note there is no camping at Moraine Lake, and you cannot sleep in your car overnight to ensure parking.

Parks Canada does check the area to make sure these rules are being followed, and you could be subject to a fine if you break them. However, you can arrive as early as 4am to grab a spot.

Frequently Asked Moraine Lake Questions

Cameron sits on the Rock Pile Trail as rain rolls over the Ten Peaks
Moraine Lake in Early October

Is Moraine Lake open?

The road to Moraine Lake is currently closed for season. The road to Moraine Lake closes for the winter every year due to avalanche risk. On average, the road to Moraine Lake is open every year from Late May to Mid October — weather-dependent.

Where is Moraine Lake?

Moraine Lake is located in Banff National Park, 14 km south of Lake Louise in Alberta. It is located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, with an elevation of 1,884 meters or 6,181 feet.

How Far is Moraine Lake from Lake Louise?

Moraine Lake is on Moraine Lake Road and 14 km from the Lake Louise lakeshore. The drive from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake takes around 20 minutes.

Can you Fish in Moraine Lake?

Yes, you can fish in many bodies of water in Banff National Park. However, there are better places for fishing, and given the crowds, we’d recommend anglers head elsewhere like the Bow River for a more quiet experience.

Can You Drive to Moraine Lake?

moraine lake parking

You can drive to Moraine Lake, but it comes with its own set of hassles as there is limited parking, and Moraine Lake is the most popular thing to see in all of Alberta. To get to Moraine Lake, you’ll need to drive on a 14 km paved road. I’ll cover parking below.

When Does The Road To Moraine Lake Open And Close?

Since the lake lies at a high elevation and is accessed by one small road, it is prone to high avalanche risk. This means for safety, the road is closed to all vehicles during the winter months. So if you’re wondering if the road to Moraine Lake is open, consider the month.

Moraine Lake Road usually opens around late May and closes the Tuesday after Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday (the second Monday in October). Yes, Canada has its own Thanksgiving.

There are no set dates regarding the opening and closing of the road as it’s entirely subject to the weather/snow conditions. When Parks Canada feels the route is safe, they will plow the road and open it to the public. For reference, last year, this was after the first significant snowfall on October 13th.

Is it Easy to Get Parking at Moraine Lake?

In short, no, it’s not easy to park at Moraine Lake. Lake Moraine is so beautiful and photogenic that nearly every visitor to Banff wants to visit. Parking is minimal, and with demand and traffic volume so high, Parks Canada had to step in with traffic control.

Vehicles will only be granted access to drive Moraine Lake road if parking is available. After that, they close down the road, and you will get turned away. In the summer months, this means you have to at least be there by 5:30 am or risk not getting a spot, and sometimes even getting there that early isn’t enough.

There is no space to wait for parking stalls to become available, so it’s best to have backup plans should you not get parking. Washroom and drop-off/pick-up areas cannot be accessed when parking is full.

Can you Bike to Moraine Lake?

Moraine Lake Biking

Yes, you can bike to Moraine Lake. However, we would not advise doing so unless you are a comfortable road biker due to the traffic on the narrow road.

There is an occasional time in late May when the road is free of snow but closed to vehicles. During this time, it can be a great way to visit the lake if the avalanche conditions are safe. It’s best to check with Parks Canada in advance.

Can You Swim in Moraine Lake?

You can swim in Moraine Lake, but you probably won’t want to as the water temperature ranges between 3-4°C. If you do decide to take a plunge make sure to have a way to get dry and stay warm afterward.

Natasha at Moraine Lake
Lake Moraine Early June

Cameron stops on the bike ride to Moraine Lake
Everyone taking advantage of the bike to Moraine Lake in May with the road closed to vehicles!

Can You Walk to Moraine Lake?

You can walk to Moraine Lake – and I’ve seen people do it (although I never have). Prepare for a 14 km walk one way uphill, following a pretty boring paved road.

I would plan at least 2.5 hours to walk to Moraine Lake from the start of the road. To get back would be a little shorter as you are going downhill, but not much. You may be able to hitch a ride if you get tired.

Can You Visit Moraine Lake and Lake Louise on the Same Day?

Yes, visiting both lakes is easily doable. If you aren’t planning any big hikes, you can easily see Moraine Lake in an hour and then head down to Lake Louise and spend another hour there. The Lake Connector Shuttle makes this incredible simple. Or you can try hiking up to Lake Agnes and the Beehives. You can see a full list of example Banff itineraries here.

Are there Bears around Moraine Lake?

If you plan to hike around Banff, you need to go to the local outdoor store (there’s a big one in Banff called Atmosphere) and purchase a canister of bear spray. This will set you back around $40, but it is more than worth it in the event of a threatening encounter with a bear.

Then before any hike in Banff National Park, make sure to pack bear spray, check the park websites for wildlife information (Parks Canada and AB Park), and then check again for notices at the trailhead. The valleys around Moraine Lake are well known for their bear sightings.

When you’re on the trail, make noise by banging hiking poles, talking, whistling, clapping, or singing. This is particularly important around blind bends and corners. It’s also a busy trail, so you generally don’t need to make too much noise, but always be bear aware. This means staying alert, traveling in a group, minding children and pets, and finally carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it.

Cameron paddles on Lake Louise
Canoeing on Lake Louise after we hiked up Tower of Babel at Moraine Lake

Can you Visit Moraine Lake During the Winter?

To put it simply, you can not visit Moraine Lake during the winter months, at least not to the average visitor that is. There are no vehicles permitted on the road during this time, and no tour operators are allowed to operate, so no sleigh rides, snowshoe, or dog sled tours will bring you to the lake. This is due to the avalanche risk on the road as it crosses avalanche paths.

In the winter months, there are several cross-country ski trails in the area, including one that utilizes the Moraine Lake Road. However, it stops short of the Lake when it approaches the first avalanche path. You can see the Ten Peaks in the distance at its trail end. Occasionally experienced skiers do make the trek as they are equipped to travel in avalanche terrain. We do not recommend anyone travel in such terrain without proper training and equipment.

How Can I Escape the Crowds at Moraine Lake?

Even in the heat of summer, it’s possible to have some alone time at Moraine Lake. Most visitors to Moraine Lake congregate at the rockpile and don’t venture past that. To get away from that, walk the Lake Moraine Lakeshore trail, get out on a canoe, or try one of the hikes suggested. The harder the hike, the fewer people you will see.

Your other option is to head to Lake Moraine for sunset when crowds die down in the shoulder season. It’s also best to avoid holidays and weekends if possible.

When are the Holidays at Moraine Lake?

Moraine Lake is always busy in the summer, but you should note the following holidays as it’s even busier.

  • Victoria Day Long Weekend – 1st Monday of May.
  • Canada Day – July 1st
  • Heritage Day Weekend – 1st Monday of August.
  • Labour Day Weekend – 1st Monday of September.

How to Get to Moraine Lake and Banff in General?

Moraine Lake Road

Moraine Lake is found on Moraine Lake Road, which is a 13 km road from Lake Louise. To get there, all visitors must take the Lake Louise exit and turn left from Banff or right from Field, BC. Continue past Lake Louise village. If you are low on gas, this is your last chance to fill up, and you will need at least something in your tank to make it up the 13km to Lake Moraine and back.

Moraine Lake Rd is a two-lane road. There is only one place to park: Lake Moraine itself. There are very few chances to pull over on this road. There are only 150 or so spaces at Lake Moraine, so Parks Canada will close the road down once the lot fills up. In the summer, this happens as early as 5:30 am. To get to Moraine Lake and around Banff, here are your options.

Parking at Moraine Lake presents its own problems, so we created this parking guide to help you navigate them.

Fly into Calgary or Edmonton

Calgary during the fall

Calgary (YYC) is the closest international airport, located around 200 km from Lake Louise, a two-hour car ride. It’s one of our favorite airports as it’s modern, not too busy, and has several flight connections within Canada.

It’s also well connected to several major hubs in the United States and directly to Europe. If you’re coming from Europe, we like to connect through London Gatwick Airport as Westjet offers an affordable flight with great service.

The alternative is to fly into Edmonton and make a road trip to Jasper and down the Icefields Parkway to Banff. From Banff, you can drive to Calgary and depart from that airport. It’s a spectacular drive and considered one of the best road trips in the world! Of course, you can do the route from Calgary to Jasper and out of Edmonton.

Get a Car Rental for Banff

Transport Banff

While public transport is greatly improving around the park, it’s still tough to explore without your own car. So we recommend you pick up a car rental to best explore Banff National Park and the surrounding area.

Public Transportation


If you do not feel comfortable driving or do not have your license, it is very possible to vacation in the Canadian Rockies without driving.

In fact, if you plan to visit the most popular attraction, we even recommend it. Roam Transit offers public bus service around the Bow Valley.

Banff Airporter

The Banff Airporter offers a shuttle service for visitors to Canmore and Banff. They have multiple departures a day and will deliver you to the Coast Hotel in Canmore or direct to your hotel in Banff.

They drive in modern vans or buses and have prompt, friendly service. Even as locals we’ve used them to avoid parking our car at the airport and were very happy with the service.

Bow Valley Public Transport (Roam)

You’ll probably be surprised to learn that despite the fact Banff and Canmore are small towns of 8,000 and 14,000 people, they have a public bus system that runs year-round to many of the most popular attractions around the two towns and connecting them.

The Roam transit runs a direct bus to Lake Louise, Lake Louise Village, and Moraine Lake in the summer months.

Private Tour Operators

You also have the option to use one of the countless tour operators in Banff who offer tours that include Moraine Lake. Booking an organized tour like this or utilizing the Banff Hop on Hop Off Bus ensure you get to see Moraine Lake.

They also have many activities to test out for whatever suits your fancy. Want to go dog sledding, canoeing, horseback riding, ice walking, climbing, skiing, wildlife photography, hiking, or white water rafting.

Gear We Recommend in the Rockies

Women's Merrell Moab II

Merrell Moab II

Many hikers will enjoy the security, comfort, and value in the Merrell Moab II. It’s a great beginner hiking boot.

Arc'teryx Cerium Hoody

Arc’teryx Cerium

Arc’teryx Cerium is our pick for the best down jacket. It’s incredibly light, and we bring it on almost every hike in the Rockies.

Peak Design Capture Clip

PD Capture Clip

This nifty clip from Peak Design secures a camera to my backpack strap for easy reach. No more digging in the backpack!

Hiking Poles

Hiking Poles

A pair of durable and lightweight hiking poles are a great asset on the hiking trail. 

Gregory Nano Backpack

Gregory Nano 20L

20L feels like the ideal size for quick hikes and scrambles. We love the Nano from Gregory with a hydration reservoir.

Garmin Inreach Mini

Garmin Inreach Mini

There is not much cell service in the Canadian Rockies. In case of emergencies, we carry an emergency beacon with GPS.

Moraine Lake in Early June

Hopefully this guide to Moraine Lake will help you plan your trip to Banff. I know that it is A LOT of information and the shuttles are particularly confusing, but it’s all worth it to see the most beautiful lake in the world!

Where to Stay in Banff

For a small mountain town, Banff has a plethora of accommodation options. Some of our favorites are:

  • Banff Springs Hotel: Most luxurious place to stay in Banff. Definitely a splurge, but worthwhile if you are celebrating a special occasion.
  • Baker Creek Resort: Cabins in the wilderness of Banff. If you are looking for somewhere away from the hustle and bustle of downtown this is for you.
  • The Rimrock: Is a super great pet friendly option in Banff. It’s close to Sulphur Mountain and the Banff Hot Springs.
  • Canmore: You can always stay in the nearby town of Canmore! One of our favorite hotels is the Lady Macdonald Country Inn.

↓ 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 where you can meet one another when you need adventure buddies. 

Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

About Cameron

Cameron is a resident of Canmore, Alberta. After traveling the world for six years, he settled down in the beautiful Bow Valley with Natasha. He has been featured as a travel expert with numerous publications worldwide and has spoken on several occasions about the power of travel. He has a passion for all things in the Canadian Rockies and loves to spend his time snowboarding, scrambling, camping, biking, and trail running. Conservation is a deep fundamental in his life, and he aims to inspire others to care about our natural world. You can learn more on the about us page.

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12 thoughts on “Moraine Lake • Guide to Visiting Canada’s Most Beautiful Lake”

  1. This is an amazing post, so helpful, thank you so much!
    But I’m still VERY confused about the shuttle service which seems to be needed to visit Moraine Lake. So I have to know exactly the day and slot of time I want to visit it before hand in order to book the shuttle? Oh my god, it’s a nightmare. Should I try my luck trying to find parking?
    I’m so confused!

    • We don’t blame you! Yes, it is a little confusing. You do need to know your day and time window for booking the shuttle. I would recommend you wait until you arrive for your trip and then book when you know your plans/weather. Parking is a slim possibility, but it is hard to come by.

    • Lake Moraine is beautiful. However, the parking is very frustrating. We visited as family and had two cars. We were able to enter the park but the parking staffs wouldn’t let the other car in even if there are over 10 parking spots available. They loop three times, seen 3 cars left down the road, pointed to parking staffs that there were three cars that just left but they still wouldn’t let them in.
      I think it’s high time for the staffs of the park to come up with a better system using any available technology to be more efficient with the parking issues.

  2. Hi Cameron/Natasha,
    If we head to Moraine Lake on summer weekdays around 7:00 AM, what are the chances of getting a parking spot? Also, what other times would you think are good times for getting a parking?

    • I don’t think you will get parking arriving that late. Many have been reporting they need to be there well before 5am, even on the weekday in the summer. We highly recommend taking the shuttle and not dealing with trying to park at Moraine.


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