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Moraine Lake is hands down one of the most stunning places to visit in the Canadian Rockies. It’s a bright blue, glacier-fed lake set against the backdrop of the Valley of the Ten Peaks, and its natural beauty has earned it a place on many a postcard, desktop screensaver, and bucket list.
The thing is, because Moraine Lake is so beautiful, it has become incredibly popular, which makes it tricky to get to. You can visit from all of the major towns in the Rockies, including Banff, Canmore, and Calgary, but it’s famously busy in the summer months and it’s basically impossible to get parking, so you’ll need to arrange alternative transportation.
We absolutely love Moraine Lake and actually got engaged there, so you definitely should visit, but driving is not the way to do it. (In fact, right now, it’s not even possible!).
We’ve really struggled to get to Moraine Lake before, which is why we’ve put together this complete guide to getting there from all the major places to stay in the Rockies.
Where is Moraine Lake?
Moraine Lake is located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks in Banff National Park, Alberta, close to the border with British Columbia. It’s encircled by the soaring peaks of Mount Temple, Mount Fay, Neputak Mountain, and more.
The lake is 79 kilometers (49 miles) from Banff and 94 kilometers (58 miles) from Canmore, which are the closest places to visit from. But it’s also only 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) from Lake Louise, so some tours in the Rockies combine visits to both of these beautiful lakes around Banff, which is definitely worth doing when you’re in the area.
It’s also 197 kilometers (122 miles) from Calgary, and 246 kilometers (153 miles) from Jasper, so depending on where you’re staying in the Rockies, getting there can take up to 3 hours.
Related Read: Moraine Lake is just one of the amazing stops we recommend in our guide to planning the most romantic honeymoon in Banff and Lake Louise!
When can you visit Moraine Lake?
Most people will need to visit Moraine Lake between June and mid-October during summer and fall in Banff National Park because the access road is only open during these months. Even tours to Moraine Lake can only bring groups here during the summer.
For the rest of the year, the paths are covered by snow and there’s an avalanche risk, so it’s too dangerous. Technically, you could hike or bike down the access road if you’re received avalanche training, but it’s risky and we’ve never done it.
What are your options for getting from Banff to Moraine Lake?
As of 2023, the access road to Moraine Lake has been permanently closed to the public, so driving yourself there is no longer an option. To be honest, it was always way too difficult to get parking for that to be the best way to go anyway, so it’s really not a big loss.
Instead, you can take the Roam public bus from Canmore or Banff, which we’ll go into more detail on later in this blog. You can also catch a Moraine Lake shuttle from the Lake Louise Ski Resort, which needs to be booked in advance, or join a guided tour.
Please note: Those with a valid disability parking permit can still gain access to Moraine Lake with their own vehicle.
Can you drive from Banff to Moraine Lake?
No! The access road and parking lot for Moraine Lake have now been completely closed to personal vehicles. In order to get there, you’ll need to either take the Park and Ride Shuttle, this privately-operated shuttle, the Roam bus, or an organized tour.
To be honest, driving to Moraine Lake has always been a bit of a nightmare. It’s down a really windy, long access road, the parking lot is small, and the road gets very busy during the summer.
When personal vehicles were allowed along the access road, there were traffic controllers around to help with the process but if the lot was full, you’d have to do a loop to Lake Louise and back to try and get in again. This would often happen multiple times before you had any success, and we once wasted our whole day just trying to get parking.
In short, the other options were always better anyway, but now you have no choice!
Sunrise at Moraine Lake
Parking at Moraine Lake is closed and the first Parks Canada shuttle does not arrive until after sunrise. However, I’ll let you in on a tip if you want to get to Moraine Lake for sunrise – the road is still “open” for sunrise for tour operators only. In fact, this new sunrise tour to Moraine Lake has just started operating.
The tour begins at 4 am in Banff, and because they are a licensed tour operator, they can access Moraine Lake for sunrise. The tour costs $220 CAD and includes not only a visit to Moraine Lake with hot chocolate and coffee to enjoy, but also an early morning visit to Lake Louise. That means you can visit two of the busiest lakes in Canada without the crowds or the stress of parking/ shuttles. You can book the tour here with free cancelation up to 24 hours before (handy with the Rocky Mountain weather!)
If the guided tour is a little too pricey for you, you can book a transport-only sunrise shuttle to Moraine Lake instead. This particular privately owned shuttle company offers departures from Lake Louise Village to Lake Moraine at both 4 am and 5 am so that you can watch the sunrise. The cost is also only $60-70 CAD per person. We expect this to be a very popular shuttle this year, so be sure to book your spot online here now to avoid missing out.
Related Read: If you have more time, consider tackling one of the incredible hikes that start from Moriane Lake!
Parking at Moraine Lake FAQs
How to Get from Banff to Moraine Lake
Roam Public Transit
The Roam Transit bus is an efficient and reliable way of getting around in the Canadian Rockies, and you can take a direct bus from September until mid-October by catching the #10 bus from the Banff High School Transit Hub directly to Moraine Lake.
The direct journey takes around an hour and 15 minutes, and costs $10 CAD each way for adults, or $5 CAD each way for 13-17 year-olds and seniors, while under 13s can ride for free. There are 7 buses per day, which depart from 6:30 am and go roughly once per hour, and the last bus back to Banff leaves at 5:30 pm.
However, if you want to take the Roam bus between June and August, you’ll need to take the 8X or 8S bus to the Lake Louise lakeshore, change to the LL route to transfer to the Park and Ride, and then take the shuttle to Moraine Lake from there. This last step is free if you have a Roam Superpass or have pre-booked a Park and Ride ticket (but more on that in a moment).
The 8S is the scenic route and takes you along the Bow Valley Parkway for some beautiful views, while the 8X route is faster and takes around an hour, so we think it’s better if you’re pressed for time. Buses leave from 7:30 am onwards and there are at least seven departures throughout the day at 2 or 3-hour intervals, but we recommend taking either the 7:30 am or 9:30 am bus to get there decently early to beat some of the midday crowds.
Once you reach the lakeshore, the connecting bus to the Park and Ride takes another 15 minutes. The route fares are the same as for the express bus, and the 8X bus runs year round while the scenic route is only available from July onwards.
There are fare boxes on the bus that accept both US and Canadian currency, but if you’re paying with cash then remember to bring exact change. Alternatively, you can get a Roam Smart Card online or register for one at the Roam Customer Service Centre in Banff town center. The buses also have free WiFi on board, which we think is a nice bonus!
Park and Ride Parks Canada Shuttle
Parks Canada operates a Park and Ride Shuttle from the Ski Louise parking lot to Moraine Lake from June until mid-October every year. You can either drive to Lake Louise, which takes about 45 minutes, and park at the ski resort for free, or take the Roam bus like we talked about above.
A return ticket costs $8 CAD for adults, $4 CAD for seniors, and $2 CAD for 6-17-year-olds. The buses depart every 20 minutes from 6:30 am until 5:50 pm, while the last shuttle back to Lake Louise from Moraine Lake leaves at 7:30 pm.
One important thing to consider with this option is that the Park and Ride shuttle needs to be arranged in advance, and given Moraine Lake’s immense popularity, it tends to book up pretty fast. Reservations tend to open from May onwards, so if you already know the exact date you want to visit Moraine Lake, then we say get online and do it as soon as possible!
However, if you’re not sure about the date of your visit yet, then Parks Canada does save 50% of the seats for last-minute bookings – although they’re not really last minute. The spaces become available to book at 8 am two days before your journey, so if you want to visit on, say, July 8, you’ll need to get on the website at 8 am on July 6 to book your trip. It does mean an early morning but we promise you that seeing Moraine Lake will make it all worth it!
Hop-on hop-off bus to Moraine Lake
So, as you can tell, reaching Moraine Lake via public transport usually involves quite a bit of planning ahead, which is why we think that a hop-on hop-off bus tour is the perfect alternative. You don’t need to worry about booking a spot on the Park and Ride Shuttle or whether or not you’re on the right bus – it’s all taken care of for you!
Plus, a big advantage of a hop-on hop-off bus tour in Banff is that you get to stop at other beautiful attractions along the way and see more of the amazing Canadian Rockies. You’ll drive along the Bow Valley Parkway and have the option to get off at Johnston Canyon, where you can make the short and easy hike along the boardwalk to see two very pretty waterfalls. The full hike is only 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) each way, but you can make it even shorter by turning back after the first waterfall, which is 1.7 kilometers (1 mile) in.
There’s also a stop at Lake Louise (making this a great tour to get from Banff to Lake Louise!), where you can walk around the lake, ride the Summer Sightseeing Gondola, or even visit the Fairmont Chateau for some afternoon tea while you soak in the views.
We also love the fact that you get commentary as you travel through the Rockies – it’s a great way to learn about the history of the area and appreciate its beauty even more.
At $80 CAD for adults and $65 CAD for 6-17-year-olds, this option is more expensive than taking public transport, but you’ll see a lot more of the Rockies this way. Plus, you have the flexibility to tailor your Banff National Park itinerary, which is something we always really appreciate. It also takes so much of the hassle out of getting to Moraine Lake because you can just sit back and enjoy the ride – on an old-school style yellow bus, no less (although don’t worry, the buses are actually all new and well-maintained!).
The buses leave from the Moose Hotel in Banff at 7:45 am, 9:30 am, or 12:15 pm each day, or you can always catch one five minutes later from the Banff Train Station if that’s closer to where you’re staying. We definitely recommend taking the first bus of the day if you can so that you can really get your money’s worth and make the most of your time.
Guided bus tour
Alternatively, we think that this guided bus tour is another great option that will also allow you to visit both Moraine Lake and Lake Louise in the summer without any hassle. You won’t need to worry about timings, transfers, or missing the last bus back.
The tour lasts for just over 4 hours, with a 30-minute stop at both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Your guide will also take you to an excellent lookout point over Moraine Lake so that you can really appreciate its beauty. It’s a small group tour with a maximum of 24 travelers, so it feels personal and friendly, and you’ll have lots of chances to ask your guide questions and hear stories about the area.
The tour costs $105 CAD for adults and $53 CAD for kids aged 6-12. You can choose to depart at either 8 am or 1 pm from the parking lot behind the Mount Royal Hotel in Banff, so it’s ideal if you’re not an early riser. You’ll also get free water and a maple cookie snack along the way, because you can never have too many maple treats when you’re in Canada, right?
Make sure you book this tour in advance online – you can always pay later and even change your reservation up to 24 hours beforehand.
Shuttle from Lake Louise
A brand new company has just started offering shuttles to Moraine Lake from Lake Louise. Unlike the tours mentioned above, this option is transport only. So, no tour guide; however, that does make it a lot more affordable than the tours starting at only $35 CAD per adult.
The other thing that we love about this new shuttle is that it offers early morning departures at both 4 am and 5 am, which means you’ll get to enjoy sunrise at Moraine Lake! But even if you aren’t an early riser, this shuttle is super convenient because your spot on the shuttle is booked, meaning no waiting around in long lines like you would with the Parks Canada shuttles.
When you book the shuttle, you can also choose to add on a quick hour-long stop at Lake Louise Lakefront. This is the perfect choice for anybody who also wants to check out Lake Louise for a few photo ops without the stress of trying to get parking.
One thing to note about this shuttle is that it departs from Lake Louise (either Lake Louise Village or the Lake Louise Gondola, depending on the departure time that you book.) So, you will have to get yourself to the meeting point.
We expect this shuttle to be very popular this year, so we recommend booking online here to secure your spot.
Related Read: Banff is full of incredible experiences, so make sure to browse the best tours in Banff before you go!
How to Get from Canmore to Moraine Lake
Roam Public Transit
If you’re looking to take Roam Transit from Canmore to Moraine Lake, then you’ll need to take the Route 3 bus from Canmore to Banff, which costs $6 CAD each way for adults or $3 CAD for seniors and youths.
Buses depart twice per hour from both Canmore 9th Street bus station and the Canmore Shoppers Drug Mart from 6:20 am onwards, with the last bus leaving from Banff High School Transit Hub at 10:15 pm. The journey to Banff takes roughly half an hour but you’ll have free WiFi on board to keep you entertained.
Once you arrive at Banff High School Transit Hub, you can change to the 8X route which will take you to Lake Louise, where you can then get on the LL bus to go to the Park and Ride departure for the final leg of your journey. Or, if you’re traveling in September, you can take the 10 route which will take you directly to Moraine Lake.
As we mentioned above, tickets for this portion of the journey cost $10 CAD each way or $5 CAD for seniors and youths. We definitely recommend purchasing a day Super Pass if you’re traveling from Canmore to Moraine Lake on the Roam bus because it costs $25 CAD for the whole day for adults (or half that for seniors and youths). This means that adult riders will save $7 CAD, as well as the trouble of purchasing separate tickets.
Park and Ride Shuttle
You can take the Roam bus to the Lake Louise parking lot from Canmore, as discussed above, or you can drive the 80 kilometers (50 miles) yourself, which takes just under an hour. You can park in the Lake Louise Ski Resort parking lot and then catch the Parks Canada shuttle directly to Moraine Lake for $6 CAD return.
Remember to book your spot on the Park and Ride shuttle either well in advance, or get on the website at 8 am two days before your planned visit. For example, if you want to go to Moraine Lake on a Friday, wake up and book your ticket at 8 am on Wednesday.
This tour is a super convenient option because it will pick you up from your accommodation in Canmore, so there’s no need to worry about missing the bus! Plus, not only do you get to see Moraine Lake, you’ll also stop at Lake Minnewanka, which is the biggest lake in Banff National Park, and Lake Louise before you arrive at the main attraction. It’s definitely one of the top tours from Canmore!
After your visit to Moraine Lake, you’ll also drive along the Icefields Parkway, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful roads in the world (and we agree!) to see Bow Lake, the Crowfoot Glacier, and Peyto Lake. So basically, you’ll get to see some of the most breathtaking scenery that the Canadian Rockies have to offer in a single day, rather than focusing all of your efforts on just getting to and from Moraine Lake.
What we really like about this tour is that it’s capped at 15 people, so it’s a nice, personal experience and you’ll have plenty of chances to chat with your guide. It costs $180 CAD per person, so we think it offers quite a lot of bang for your buck and it takes all of the stress out of visiting Moraine Lake from Canmore, so you can just focus on enjoying the experience.
How to Get from Calgary to Moraine Lake
Park and Ride Shuttle
If you’re coming from Calgary and want to use the Park and Ride Shuttle to Moraine Lake, it’s best to drive yourself. It’s 185 kilometers (115 miles) from Calgary to Lake Louise, where you catch the shuttle from the Lake Louise Ski Resort parking lot, so the drive should take you around 2 hours. The shuttles leave every 20 minutes, so you shouldn’t need to wait long, and then it’s another 30 minutes to reach Moraine Lake.
And at the risk of repeating ourselves, remember to book in advance online, either when bookings open in May or at 8 am 2 days before you plan to travel to Moraine Lake. You really don’t want to drive all that way only to find that you can’t get a spot on the shuttle.
If you’d rather leave the driving to someone else and not have to worry about securing a spot on the shuttle, then there are some great Banff tours from Calgary that stop at Moraine Lake. Our pick is this guided tour from Calgary. The tour does run year-round but remember that it will only take you to Moraine Lake between June and mid-October.
You’ll meet at the Coast Calgary Downtown Hotel at 7:50 am and then head to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, with commentary from a super friendly and funny guide as you go. You’ll also drive by the famous Spiral Tunnels, which are pretty cool to see, and then visit Emerald Lake and the stunning natural bridge in Yoho National Park before heading home.
This tour is really well-organized and it means that you get to visit two national parks in the Canadian Rockies. Visiting Moraine Lake all the way from Calgary via public transport can feel like a bit of a mission, but joining a tour takes all the hassle out of it and lets you see a lot more along the way. It costs $165 CAD for adults and $143 CAD for kids aged between 6-15 and can be booked online here.
Related Read: For more fun experiences, these are other top tours from Calgary!
How to Get from Jasper to Moraine Lake
Park and Ride Shuttle
Last but not least, the only way to visit Moraine Lake from Jasper is to drive yourself from Jasper to Lake Louise and take the Park and Ride Shuttle from the ski resort parking lot. It’s 235 kilometers (146 miles) to get there and the journey should take just under 3 hours, but there’s no need to do it all in one go!
The drive from Jasper to Lake Louise will take you along the Icefields Parkway, which has lots of amazing stops along the way so we highly recommend taking the time to check them out. You can pull into the Crowfoot Glacier viewpoint for a quick stop to see some magnificent views, visit beautiful Bow Lake, see the gorgeous Athabasca Falls, or even tour the Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Glacier.
Related Read: Don’t rush this epic roadtrip! There are lots of places to stay along the Icefields Parkway whether you want to camp or stay in a hotel.
Parks Canada Pass Quick Info
If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.
Single Daily Admission:
This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.
- Adult (ages 18-64) is $10.50 CAD
- Senior (65+) is $9.00 CAD
- Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE
Group Daily Admission:
If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)
- $21.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day
Parks Canada Discovery Pass
The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.
- Adult (age 18-64) – $72.25 CAD
- Senior (64+) – $61.75 CAD
- Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $145.25 CAD
Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!
Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.
Renting a Car in Alberta
If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.
Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Thanks for reading!
There you have it, all the various ways you can get to Moraine Lake no matter where you’re visiting from! While it takes a bit of extra planning, this stunning lake is totally worth it. This is a really special place for us, but I know you’ll love it too.
If you found this guide helpful then be sure to browse all our Canada blogs! We have lots of awesome guides to places in the Rocky Mountains including: