Moraine Lake is one of the best lakes to visit in Banff National Park. To say that Moraine Lake has some incredible scenery is an understatement. It’s no wonder that most visitors to Banff National Park have Moraine Lake on their list of places to visit in Banff.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Moraine Lake parking in 2023 and how to ensure you get to visit this incredible place in Banff National Park!
The popularity of Moraine Lake is also it’s downfall. What was once an easy lake to visit in Banff National Park is now overrun, causing Parks Canada to make some tough decisions in regards to the parking at Moraine Lake.
Latest update: Parks Canada has closed the Moraine Lake Road to private vehicles in 2023. Read on to learn how you can plan ahead to make sure you don’t miss seeing Moraine Lake during your visit to Banff National Park.
I recall a time in 2010 camping in Banff National Park, when we decided randomly one weekend afternoon to make a stop at Moraine Lake. There was no questions on whether we’d find parking. In fact, we saw very few people at Moraine Lake during that visit.
Fast forward to 2022, and unless you were willing to park at 2am (no thanks) or have a Moraine Lake shuttle booked, there was a good chance you were going to miss out on seeing Moraine Lake.
As for Moraine Lake parking overnight, there was never supposed to be camping allowed in the lot, so technically people shouldn’t have been able to arrive that early and sleep in their cars.
Parks Canada staff also had to put in tremendous efforts to manage the entry onto the Moraine Lake Road throughout the night and early morning hours. All of which often left visitors confused and frustrated, especially when they were turned away because the Moraine Lake parking lot was full.
We heard this from several visitors we met along the trails in the summer of 2022.
So what does this mean for 2023? Parks Canada has decided that NO personal vehicles will be allowed to park at Moraine Lake in 2023. Meaning Moraine Lake Road will be closed to personal vehicles.
Something had to be done to help preserve this magical place, and while I don’t see this as a perfect solution I’m happy to see action. We’ve been booking shuttles to Moraine Lake since 2018 and have never had an issue with it. We’ve been telling people for years that that it’s the best and easy way to get to Moraine Lake.
These parking changes to Moraine Lake really only apply to June to mid-October when Moraine Lake Road is open. You can’t visit Moraine Lake in the winter unless you cross-country ski to the lake, but most people who ski Moraine Lake Road turn around at the sign before reaching the lake.
To make it all the way to Moraine Lake in the winter is venturing into avalanche terrain. Don’t visit unless you are trained and have the proper avalanche gear.
Moraine Lake Parking Updates
- Changes to Parking at Moraine Lake
- How to Get to Moraine Lake in 2023
- Purchasing Moraine Lake Shuttle Tickets in 2023
- FAQ on Moraine Lake Parking Changes
Changes to Parking at Moraine Lake
Why are these changes being made to the parking at Moraine Lake? Parks Canada needs to ensure that the visitor experience is improved while also considering the ecological side.
The visitor experience was hugely impacted when people arrived hoping to get into Moraine Lake and were turned away. There’s no place to turn around if the lot is full, so people had to drive to Lake Louise then turn around and head all the way back down to the village.
Also, the arrival time to get a parking spot at Moraine Lake got increasingly earlier and earlier as the summer went on.
The big change in 2023 is that Moraine Lake Road will be closed completely to private vehicles. The only vehicles on the road will be commercial operators, Parks Canada shuttles or anyone with a disabled parking tag.
The reduction of private vehicles on the road, especially through the night, will minimize the disturbance on the wildlife. If seeing Moraine Lake at sunrise is a must, don’t worry it’s still possible with the options mentioned below.
How to Get to Moraine Lake in 2023
Wondering what the best way to get to Moraine Lake is for your trip to Banff National Park? Here are a few ways that you can ensure that you see Moraine Lake during your visit. Our post on getting to Moraine Lake has way more detail to help you plan your best day at Moraine Lake!
Pre-book a Moraine Lake Shuttle
Visitors have the option of a private shuttle or the Parks Canada shuttle to Moraine Lake (this links to our post that answers all your questions on the Parks Canada shuttle to Moraine Lake including how to book a Moraine Lake shuttle and where to park).
There are other shuttles to Moraine Lake that are not operated by Parks Canada:
Moraine Lake Bus Company
The Moraine Lake Bus company offers sunrise shuttles to Moraine Lake, they also offer the shuttle throughout the day and have some time slots that make a stop at Lake Louise. All their shuttles leave from either the Lake Louise Village (sunrise) or the Lake Louise Ski Resort Park and Ride.
Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle
The Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle is a “sunrise only” option for Moraine Lake. This shuttle will get you to Moraine Lake 45 minutes before sunrise, so the departure times vary. This is one of the best ways to get from Banff or Canmore to Moraine Lake.
Explore Banff Tours & Transfers
Explore Banff Tours & Transfers offers visitors a choice of a private transfer or a share transfer from Canmore or Banff to Moraine Lake. The owner works with the visitors to ensure they have the best possible experience by finding departure and return times that work. For the private transfers, groups can choose when they depart and their return time.
Mountain Park Transportation
If you use one of these ways to get to Lake Louise, Mountain Park Transportation offers a shuttle from Lake Louise Village up to Moraine Lake. The cost of this return trip is $25 per person. You can see their schedule here.
This service doesn’t operate until after May 31st when the Moraine Lake Road opens. If you prefer to book a private vehicle, you need to contact them directly.
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 shuttles 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.
Radventures Early Bird Explorer
If seeing Moraine Lake for sunrise was on your must-see list, the Radventures Early Bird Explorer offers a multi-hour sunrise tour of Moraine Lake that includes an early morning visit to Lake Louise. You get to visit both iconic Banff lakes in one tour.
Discover Banff Tours
Discover Banff Tours offers a Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Tour. As part of the tour, you will drive the Bow Valley Parkway to get from Banff to the stunning lakes. There are two departure times a day (8am & 1pm) for this 4.5 hour tour.
Banff Hop on Hop Off Bus
Hop On Banff makes stops at Moraine Lake.
WowBanff Moraine/Lake Louise Open Top 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 to October.
Roam Public Transit Bus to Moraine Lake
In past years, the Roam Public Transit bus operates a regional route to Moraine Lake during larch season (mid-September to October). The route leaves from the town of Banff. Reservations are recommended.
Alternatively you can take the Roam Public Transit Bus to Lake Louise and with a Super Pass, catch the lake connector shuttle to Moraine Lake (allowing visitors to see Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in the same day). You will still need to return to Lake Louise to take Roam transit back to the town of Banff.
All these options require you to have your own Parks Canada Pass for Banff National Park.
Purchasing Moraine Lake Shuttle Tickets in 2023
The Parks Canada shuttle operates from mid-May to mid-October for Lake Louise and June 1 to mid-October for Moraine Lake. Similarly, the Lake Connector shuttle only operates from June 1 to mid-October.
Shuttle reservations for Moraine Lake will be open for the 2023 season Thursday, April 13th, 2023 at 8 am MT. Around 60% of the tickets will be released throughout the summer on a 48 hour rolling window (at 8 am MT).
FAQ on Moraine Lake Parking Changes
What about bringing a canoe or kayak to Moraine Lake?
If it’s an inflatable paddleboard or kayak the shuttle should be able to accommodate it. Some small kayaks might also be ok if there is enough space.
Here’s a quote from Parks Canada: “The Parks Canada shuttles can accommodate many different types of watercraft including inflatable paddleboards, packrafts, inflatable kayaks, and even small hard-sided kayaks provided space permits.”
Can I bring my dog on the Parks Canada Shuttle to Moraine Lake?
This is more difficult for Parks Canada to manage. Assistance animals and those that fit in a carrier can be brought on the shuttle (you must have the carrier on your lap). For other pet-friendly shuttles to Moraine Lake, read through the options in our post on how to get to Moraine Lake.
How do I access Paradise Valley?
There is a small parking lot along Moraine Lake Road for anyone looking to hike in Paradise Valley. Unfortunately, for this year that access will be closed to personal vehicles. New in 2023, the Paradise Valley parking lot can now be accessed using the Parks Canada Shuttle. Limited number of day hike tickets on a first come first serve basis will be available.
What if I plan on hiking Mount Temple?
Mount Temple is a challenging scrambler’s route that should not be attempted unless you know what you are doing. The trailhead for Mount Temple is located at Moraine Lake.
Since this typically means around 8-12 hours return, the Parks Canada Shuttle may not be the best choice. We recommend looking at other options for getting to Moraine Lake.
Alternatively, there are several other amazing Moraine Lake hikes to consider!
How do I get to Moraine Lake for sunrise?
The popularity of seeing Moraine Lake at sunrise is one of the main causes of the congestion of the Moraine Lake parking lot. While there are several other amazing places for sunrise in Banff National Park, many (especially photographers) still want to capture sunrise at Moraine Lake.
Parks Canada will not operate shuttles between 8pm & 6 am to limit the disturbance to wildlife. The Parks Canada shuttle also traverses the Whitehorn wildlife corridor (along with the Fairview wildlife corridor), therefore they are also working to minimize disturbances there and the Park and Ride is not accessible during this time.
Commercial vehicles will be allowed to take people up for sunrise. Here are the best options:
- Best Sunrise Option from Lake Louise – The Moraine Lake Bus company offers shuttle rides that will get you to Moraine Lake 45 minutes before sunrise. The cost of this is only $35 per adult. All their shuttles leave from either the Lake Louise Village (sunrise) or the Lake Louise Ski Resort Park and Ride for departures later in the day.
- Best Sunrise Option from Banff or Canmore – The Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle operates a “sunrise only” option that will pick up visitors in Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise.
- Best Tour to Moraine Lake – Radventures offers a tour with stops at both Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. Visits to Moraine Lake will be at sunrise and you’ll still see Lake Louise before the crowds. It’s a 7 hour tour that also includes time for breakfast.
What about parking at Lake Louise?
While paid parking is in effect at Lake Louise from May to October, no restrictions have been made to personal vehicles parking at Lake Louise. It may very well follow the same direction as Moraine Lake parking in the future.
While the decision has been made to close Moraine Lake Road to public vehicles, I doubt everything has been ironed out with shuttles and there are more changes coming. Last year, when the park and ride moved to the Lake Louise Ski Resort, we saw several changes happen throughout the season.
We recommend you book a shuttle. You can always change or cancel the shuttle at a later date.
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Celine Brewer, a local Canmore resident, is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada. She has a passion for being out in the mountains any time of year. In the summer, you'll often find her hiking or mountain biking. In the winter, she enjoys cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking the most.
As much as she loves the mountains, she also loves travel! When she's not playing outdoors at home, she's either traveling the world with her husband and two kids or working on their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.