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
- Need Help Planning Your Trip?
- Moraine Lake Shuttle
- Roam Bus to Moraine Lake
- Best Hotels Near Moraine Lake
- Tours to Moraine Lake
- The Best of Lake Louise
This post contains compensated links.
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.
Insider’s Tip: Enhance your drive to Moraine Lake with the Banff audio guide by Gypsy Tours. This entertaining and educational GPS activated audio tour begins in Calgary and covers all the main scenic drives in Banff, including Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, the Icefields Parkway and the Bow Valley Parkway.
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. 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. The parking lot fills up fast and once full, there will be a barrier put up and cars are no longer able to access Moraine Lake Road.
Keep in mind that there isn’t anywhere to park and wait for cars to leave, nor is it really possible to circle as you have to drive up to Lake Louise then all the way back down to the village before circling back.
Parks Canada has closed the Moraine Lake Road to private vehicles in 2023. Plan ahead to make sure you don’t miss seeing Moraine Lake during your visit to Banff National Park.
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. In 2022, it was been 2:30 to 3:00 am!
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 is one of the best hikes at 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. It’s one of the best places to rent a cabin in Banff National Park.
- 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.
- WowBanff Moraine/Lake Louise Shuttle Explorer
The WowBanff open-top double decker shuttle has an option to visit Lake Louise and Moraine Lake from the Lake Louise Ski Resort. It operates from June 1 to October 10th.
- Roam Bus to Moraine Lake
Roam Public Transit operates a regional route to Moraine Lake during larch season (mid-September to mid-October). Reservations are recommended for Roam Route 10 to Moraine Lake. More details below.
If you are considering visiting Moraine Lake without a car, you should also know that it’s easy to get to Banff National Park without a car. Once here, it’s also easy to get around Banff without a car and to enjoy these Banff hikes without a car.
None of the above options include your Banff Park Pass. That must be purchased separately from the park gates, a visitor centre or online.
Need Help Planning Your Trip?
Our Banff Travel Guide has everything you need to get the MOST out of your trip to Banff!
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 at the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
Taking the Parks Canada shuttle requires that you make a reservation through the Parks Canada Reservation System. Reservations for the Moraine Lake shuttle for the 2023 season can be made starting Thursday, April 13th, 2023 at 8 am MT. However, a portion of the seats are only released 48 hours prior to the departure day/time.
You might be able to get walk-up seat sales, though Parks Canada originally said this would not be possible. It’s best to have a reservation.
The Parks Canada shuttle operates from June to mid-October (October 10th in 2023).
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 4:50 from the Park and Ride. The last shuttle from Moraine Lake back is at 7:30 pm.
Reservations can be made up until 30 minutes in advance if space is available. Pets are allowed on the shuttles, but they must be in a crate that can fit on the owners lap. Shuttles are not accessible for wheelchairs. Strollers, backpack carriers and bikes are allowed on the Moraine Lake shuttle when space allows.
Bear spray must be in your bag for the duration of the ride.
Note: Make sure you print your confirmation or take a screenshot of your Moraine Lake shuttle reservation. There’s no guarantee to have cell service around Banff National Park.
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 at the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
The Park and Ride Connector runs every 30 minutes between 8 am and 7:30 pm.
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.
Tip: If the Moraine Lake shuttles aren’t available for the day you want to visit, you can make a reservation for the Lake Louise shuttle then take the Lake Connector shuttle to Moraine Lake.
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 back 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 mid-September to mid-October. Reservations CAN be made and are recommended.
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.
Check current fares here and see Moraine Lake Route 10 info here.
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 mid-September.
Another Roam Bus option for getting to Moraine Lake is to take the Roam Route 8 to Lake Louise with the Roam Super Pass, visitors will have access to the Parks Canada Lake Connector shuttle.
This means you can take the Roam Bus right from the town of Banff to Lake Louise lakeshore, then use your Roam Super Pass to hop on the Parks Canada Lake Connector shuttle to Moraine Lake. This option is reservable (recommended) and costs $25 for adults, $12.50 for youth and seniors.
You will need to take the Lake Connector Shuttle back to Lake Louise at the end of the day to return to Banff by Roam Bus 8x.
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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