Moraine Lake in Banff tops most visitors must-see list when they plan a trip to Banff National Park. And for good reason! Moraine Lake might just be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Even us locals don’t tire of seeing Moraine Lake.
The only issue is how to guarantee you get to see it. Saying Moraine Lake is popular is a huge understatement. If you haven’t planned ahead, you’ll find your options will be limited on how to get to Moraine Lake (think VERY EARLY or LATE in the day). Even worse, you might just leave Banff never having seen it.
Here you’ll find everything you need to know on how to get to Moraine Lake. We want to take the stress out of getting from Banff to Moraine Lake (or further places like Calgary and Canmore).
How to Get to Moraine Lake
- How Far is Moraine Lake from Banff
- Moraine Lake Parking
- How to get to Moraine Lake Without a Car
- Moraine Lake Shuttle
- Roam Bus to Moraine Lake
- Best Hotels Near Moraine Lake
- Tours to Moraine Lake
- The Best of Lake Louise
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How Far is Moraine Lake from Banff
Before we explore the best ways to get from Banff to Moraine Lake, here are some things to know about Moraine Lake:
Moraine Lake is located just outside of the village of Lake Louise in Banff National Park. Once in the village of Lake Louise the directions to Moraine Lake are fairly easy, follow Lake Louise Drive and turn left onto Moraine Lake Road. The distance from the village of Lake Louise to Moraine Lake is approximately 13 km.
Distances to Moraine Lake
Banff to Moraine Lake Distance: 70 km or 58 minutes
Canmore to Moraine Lake Distance: 94 km or 1 hour 10 minutes
Calgary to Moraine Lake Distance: 200 km or 2 hours 15 minutes (will vary depending on actual location)
Moraine Lake Parking
The real elephant in the room that needs to be discussed is the Moraine Lake parking lot. How to get to Moraine Lake from Banff should be as simple as getting in your rental car and driving up to the Moraine Lake parking lot.
Unfortunately, due to its popularity and small parking lot, this is much easier said than done.
Is Moraine Lake Open?
If you are visiting between the end of May and early October, then yes Moraine Lake is open. In the winter, the Moraine Lake Road is closed (typically in October after Canadian Thanksgiving) due to avalanche risk. The Moraine Lake road closure is in place for the duration of the winter. The road to Moraine Lake is opened back up between the third week of May and the first week of June.
That being said, driving by with the barriers blocking Moraine Lake Road might have you questioning this.
It’s important to know that once the Moraine Lake parking lot fills up, Parks Canada closes the road until parking spots open up. In our experience, this isn’t a one out / one in situation. So it’s nearly impossible to know when you’ll be able to drive up, nor does Parks Canada allow you to line up and wait – it’s purely luck-of-the-draw.
The other important note about Moraine Lake parking is that there is no Moraine Lake parking overnight. So you can’t park and sleep in your car, RV or van.
When does the Moraine Lake parking fill up?
EARLY! People flock to Moraine Lake before sunrise to see Moraine Lake at sunrise. At times this can mean getting to Moraine Lake before 5:30 am and even before 4:30 am in the summer.
There have also been accounts of people being able to access Moraine Lake parking in the late afternoon or early evening to enjoy a Moraine Lake sunset.
While many think that September will bring some relief to the parking at Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, this just isn’t the case. While summer is most definitely high season in Banff National Park, September brings the beginning of larch season. One of the best places to experience hiking amongst the golden larches is the Larch Valley hike, which leaves from Moraine Lake.
Moraine Lake retains it’s popularity through September and into October. Larch hiking season is typically from the third week of September until early October.
Looking for larch hikes other than Larch Valley? Don’t miss our Best Alberta Larch Hikes post.
How to get to Moraine Lake Without a Car
If arriving at Moraine Lake before sunrise isn’t in the cards for you, then how can you get to Moraine Lake without a car (or needing to park)? Thankfully, there are several options to get to Moraine Lake. Some require pre-booking, so plan ahead.
The best ways to get to Moraine Lake without needing to worry about the Moraine Lake parking lot status are:
- Pre-book a Moraine Lake Shuttle
Visitors have the option of a private shuttle or the Parks Canada shuttle to Moraine Lake.
- Stay in a Hotel Near Moraine Lake
The Moraine Lake Lodge is the only hotel located right at Moraine Lake. No parking hassles, just walk right out the door.
- Ride a Bike
While you’ll need to contend with cars on the Moraine Lake Road, it’s possible to ride a bike up to Moraine Lake. This is a popular activity in the spring after the road is cleared but it’s not open for vehicles yet. Another alternative is to rent an e-bike in the village from Wilson Mountain Sports.
- Join a Tour to Moraine Lake
There are plenty of tours that offer guided hikes that will take visitors to Moraine Lake.
- Banff Hop on Hop Off Bus
Hop On Banff makes stops at Moraine Lake.
- Roam Bus to Moraine Lake
In 2021, the Roam bus will operate a regional route to Moraine Lake during larch season (September 20 – October 11). Reservations are recommended. More details below.
None of the above options include your Parks Canada Park Pass. That must be purchased separately from the park gates, a visitor centre or online.
Moraine Lake Shuttle
Visitors to Moraine Lake have the option of taking a private shuttle from Lake Louise Village or a Parks Canada shuttle to Moraine Lake.
Private Shuttle to Moraine Lake
Taking a private shuttle from the village is a great option if you are staying at a hotel in Lake Louise. You should already have parking for your car at the hotel.
Mountain Park Transportation offers a daily shuttle from the Lake Louise Village to Moraine Lake. These can be pre-booked or on a first come first serve basis.
The cost for this shuttle is $25 per person for a round-trip.
Parks Canada Moraine Lake Shuttle
Parks Canada operates a shuttle to Moraine Lake from the Lake Louise Park and Ride. The Park and Ride is found along the Trans-Canada Highway 1 near Lake Louise. It’s hard to miss since it has both signs and the speed limit is reduced in this area.
Taking the Parks Canada shuttle requires that you make a reservation through the Parks Canada Reservation System. Reservations for the Moraine Lake shuttle opened in April 2021 for the 2021 season. However, a portion of the seats are only released 48 hours prior to the departure day/time.
You CAN NOT get walk-up seat sales. You must have a reservation.
The Parks Canada shuttle operates from June 1 to October 11 in 2021.
Cost for the Parks Canada Moraine Lake Shuttle is $8 for adults, $4 for seniors, $2 for youth. Children under 6 ride free. There is also a $3 surcharge on all reservations. This is the least costly of all the ways to get to Moraine Lake and great for anyone visiting Banff on a budget.
The Parks Canada shuttle runs every 20 minutes from 8:10 until 5:30 from the Park and Ride. The last shuttle from Moraine Lake back is at 7:50 pm. If you prefer to go earlier than 8 am, book the early bird service to catch a shuttle between 6 and 8 am.
Reservations can be made up until 30 minutes in advance if space is available. Pets are not allowed on the shuttles and they are not accessible for wheelchairs. Strollers and backpack carriers are allowed on the Moraine Lake shuttle.
Note: Make sure you print your confirmation or take a screenshot of your Moraine Lake shuttle reservation. You will not have cell service when you arrive at the Park and Ride.
Masks are required on the shuttle and bear spray must be in your bag for the duration of the ride.
If you are staying the village of Lake Louise and don’t have a car, Parks Canada runs a free connector to the Park and Ride! You can take this free shuttle from the village of Lake Louise to the Park and Ride (found 6 km east of the village along the Trans-Canada Highway 1).
Keep in mind that while the Park and Ride Connector is free and doesn’t require reservations, you’ll still need a reservation for either the Lake Louise Shuttle or the Moraine Lake Shuttle from the Park and Ride.
Shuttle from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake
While you make a reservation for either Lake Louise or Moraine Lake, the Parks Canada shuttle reservation includes a free connector between Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. You don’t need to make a reservation for each of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake if you plan to visit them in the same day.
You don’t need to book a specific time to take the Lake Connector shuttle bus from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake. It runs every 15 minutes between 9 am and 6 pm.
The Parks Canada Lake Connector (as part of your shuttle reservations to either Lake Louise or Moraine Lake) is the best way to visit both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in the same day.
Roam Bus to Moraine Lake
The Roam Bus operates a route that will take visitors from Banff to Moraine Lake. The Moraine Lake Route 10 will offer 7 trips per day from Banff High School to Moraine Lake. These are express trips with only the two stops.
The first departure starts in Banff at 6:30AM and the last departure from Moraine Lake to Banff is at 5:30PM. Each trip takes approximately 1 hour 15 minutes.
NOTE: Moraine Lake Route 10 will operate from September 20 until October 11 in 2021. Reservations CAN be made and will open on September 8, 2021.
Each way is $10 for adults, $5 for youth & seniors. Round trip cost is $20 for adults, $10 for youth & seniors. Children (under 13 years old) ride free.
There is also a regional bus that operates from Banff to Lake Louise (either express or scenic). Either Roam routes will take visitors to the village or right to the Lake Louise lakeshore, but the scenic route only operates until September 19th in 2021.
Best Hotels Near Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake Lodge right at Moraine Lake
Hotels within easy walking distance of the Park and Ride Connector (leaving from Lake Louise Village) are:
- Post Hotel and Spa: One of the best hotels in Banff National Park!
- Lake Louise Inn: An affordable family-friendly Lake Louise hotel
- HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre: A hostel for those traveling to Lake Louise on a budget
- Mountaineer Lodge: The closest hotel to the Lake Louise Village
Get all the information about the best hotels in Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.
Tours to Moraine Lake
Discover Banff Tours offers a Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Tour. Not only will you drive the Bow Valley Parkway, but this tour takes visitors to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake later in the day in hopes of avoiding the crowds.
This highly rated half-day Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Sightseeing Tour is a great way to see both of Banff’s most famous lakes. This tour will take visitors to both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake with an added bonus of driving the Bow Valley Parkway.
The Mountain Lakes and Waterfalls Full-Day Tour takes visitors to all the best locations in Yoho and Banff National Park including Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls, the second-highest waterfall in Canada. Enjoy lunch at the historic Emerald Lake Lodge.
The Best of Lake Louise
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