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Moraine Lake Bus Company Review – Is it worth it?

Moraine Lake Bus Company Review – Is it worth it?

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Moraine Lake is on our short list of the most beautiful places in the world. The surreal blue waters of this glacially-fed lake attract over 4 million visitors a year. Tucked into the Valley of the Ten Peaks, Moraine Lake offers incredible hiking and picturesque views of the Rockies you aren’t soon to forget.

However, since private vehicles are not allowed to park at the lake, we found out it’s only possible to see it using an official company. One of the more popular choices is the Moraine Lake Bus Company. So after using their bus service to get to Moraine Lake, we put together an in-depth review of our experience to see if it’s worth booking a ticket with them to visit this gorgeous lake.

About Moraine Lake Bus Company

The Moraine Lake Bus Company Shuttle witht mountains behind it Moraine Lake Canada
I love the logo!
Moraine Lake bus company shuttle at Moraine Lake, Canada
A Moraine Lake bus company shuttle

The Moraine Lake Bus Company is a family-owned business started by local Banff couple Jesse Kitteridge and Alexandra King. After Parks Canada decided to close the road to Moraine Lake to private vehicles, the couple wanted to provide a practical and convenient solution for visitors to the area. I’ve always been a fan of supporting local businesses, and the Moraine Lake Bus Company’s small team has that personal touch and renowned Canadian hospitality that I love. 

While Parks Canada and Roam Transit offer bus transfers to the lake, the Moraine Lake Bus Company is currently the only service that can bring you there for sunrise. Plus, with thousands of people visiting the lake during peak season, public transportation is increasingly more difficult to get tickets for. The Moraine Lake Bus Company’s 24-passenger busses have routes to and from Moraine Lake and Lake Louise from June 3 until October 14. Unfortunately, their buses aren’t wheelchair accessible, but if you have a disability permit with a vehicle hang tag, you’re allowed to bring your private vehicle to Moraine Lake.

Booking a ticket with the Moraine Lake Bus Company is pretty straightforward and can be done as late as an hour before the scheduled bus leaves. After that, they sell tickets to anyone waiting at the stop who didn’t reserve beforehand. I don’t necessarily recommend this method since their service is becoming increasingly popular and there is the chance they will be full.

When booking your return ticket, you’ll have to select a time. We often get asked how much time we need at the lake, and I’d answer that it’s entirely up to what you have planned! Most people spend 1-2 hours. But, my recommendation is to do some research before and choose which trail you want to hike, figure out how much time you’ll need, and book the return shuttle with enough time to fit it all in.

Daniel on the moraine lake bus company shuttle canada
It’s a comfy ride!
inside of a Moraine Lake bus shuttle
They keep it very clean.

The Moraine Lake Bus Company is super hiker-friendly, and if you want to get off at Paradise Valley, all you need to do is ask! They only provide drop-off, however, and for a return trip, you’ll have to meet them at Moraine Lake. This is an epic 19.5 km (12.1 mi) hike I would encourage anyone to do, but it’s a bit of a butt kicker so be prepared! Don’t worry, there are plenty of other hikes from Moraine Lake if you’re looking for something easier.

I’ll get into all of the details of their routes in just a moment, but it’s important to know that they have two pickup locations. The first is Samson Mall, in front of Wilson Mountain Sports, and the second is the Lake Louise Summer Gondola, from the bus loop outside of the Lodge of the Ten Peaks. Parking at each of these locations is free, but if you plan on catching a shuttle after 6 am, parking is required at the Lake Louise Summer Gondola. Since these two locations are only 5 minutes apart, if you’re not doing a sunrise tour, I recommend just going to the Lake Louise Summer Gondola pick-up point.

What types of shuttles does the Moraine Lake Bus Company offer?

Moraine Lake Sunrise 

Bailey stands on the edge of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park at sunrise
Just before I proposed to Bailey at Moraine Lake!

If you want to see Moraine Lake at sunrise, their shuttle has departures at both 4 am and 5:05 am from Samson Mall. It’s important to keep in mind that if you want to be there at sunrise (which I highly recommend!), take the 4 am shuttle if you visit before July 21. After July 21, the “later” bus at 5:05 am will get you there with enough time to hike the rockpile trail and catch an epic sunrise over Moraine Lake. 

By September and October, the regular 6:20 am and 6:45 am shuttles will also get you to Moraine Lake before sunrise, so it may not be necessary to book the sunrise shuttle then. Plus I like sneaking in a bit more sleep and the fall colors around here are stunning.

When booking, the online calendar has three different shades (prices) of green. Booking sunrise tickets on dates with the lightest shade of green is $99 CAD. Tickets with a semi-darker green are $119 CAD, and dates with the darkest shade of green are $129 CAD per person. It sounds a little confusing, but when you book the ticket online here you’ll see what I’m talking about. We found the website really easy to navigate when booking our ticket.

This is a round-trip shuttle service, so you will be able to choose one of any 13 departure times from Moraine Lake.

Since catching the sunrise at Moraine Lake is one of our favorite experiences, we have an entire guide on the Moraine Lake sunrise shuttle with even more details!

Moraine Lake Daytime 

The Moraine Lake Bus Company Shuttle with the sun behind it canada
Your sweet ride

The Moraine Lake day shuttle has 9 departure times throughout the day starting at 6:25 am and going until 4:50 pm. In late September and October, it’s possible to catch the sunrise over Moraine Lake if you take either the 6:25 am or 6:50 am shuttle. Keep in mind that depending on how fast you hike, you may or may not make it to the rockpile overlook in time. So I would still opt for an earlier shuttle if seeing the sunrise is a must.

This round-trip shuttle is $49 CAD, $59 CAD, or $69 CAD depending on the date you choose when reserving a seat in advance on their website.

Moraine Lake with Lake Louise Stop 

The blue water of Moraine Lake as seen from the rockpile
Look at that water!

This Moraine Lake shuttle option is a 2-for-1 combo with a 1-hour stop at Lake Louise on the way to Moraine Lake. It does only stop for an hour, so this is just enough time to see the lake before moving on and not enough time to hike. There are 3 pick-up times throughout the day at 7:55 am, 8:25 am, and 1:40 pm.

We think this is a great option for those who want to see the natural beauty of both locations but still spend more time at Moraine Lake. When you book this combo shuttle, the calendar will have either light or dark green on the date you select. Light green dates are $69 CAD, while dark green are $89 CAD. 

Related Read: If you like Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, you’ll love these other beautiful lakes near Banff.

Outbound Lake Louise Shuttle 

Bailey stands on the edge of Lake Louise in Banff National Park
Lake Louise!

If you’re only interested in going to Lake Louise, this shuttle is for you! With departures between 9 am and 4 pm, you can spend your day exploring Lake Louise. Their last return shuttle leaves at 5:30 pm, so I recommend taking the earliest shuttle to make the most of your day. If you’re like us and love to hike, some incredible trails start right from the Lakefront.

Depending on the day you go tickets will either be $29 CAD or $39 CAD. You can check their calendar and reserve your ticket in advance.

What we loved about Moraine Lake Bus Company  

Driver talsk to us on our Moraine Lake bus
He was so friendly!
The Moraine Lake Bus Company Shuttle with its doors open Canada
After you!

Stop at Lake Louise 

In a location as beautiful as the Canadian Rockies, it can be hard to choose to see one thing over the other. I love both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake so the fact that the Moraine Lake Bus Company has an option for you to see both means you don’t miss either! While the stop at Lake Louise is only an hour, this is more than enough time to walk around the front of the lake and get some great pictures. Win-win! 

Plus, if you’re already based in Lake Louise, it makes for easy transit to Moraine Lake. But for a full list of transport options between the two, read our guide on getting to Moraine Lake from Lake Louise.

Super convenient 

Let me put it plainly, the Moraine Lake Bus Company is the most traveler-friendly, convenient, laid-back way to get to and from Moraine Lake. With the number of people visiting this destination on the rise, it makes securing tickets from the Parks Canada or Roam Transit bus, well, difficult to say the least. Couple that with the Moraine Lake Bus Company’s many pick-up and departure times throughout the day, and we think it’s a 5-star experience from beginning to end.

On-time pick-up and drop-off 

The Moraine Lake Bus Company Shuttle on the way for pickup canada
Right on time!

One of the things this company prides itself on is being on time, every time. I can confidently tell you they do just that which is important when you’re trying to get to the lake for sunrise or you’re just ready to go home and have some dinner. Knowing that the bus was going to be there when the schedule said made our day easy to plan and hassle-free. 

Friendly staff 

We’ve been all over the world, and Canadian hospitality still stands out as some of the best there is. Each member of the staff we met throughout the day was not only friendly but helpful with lots of tips and pretty much made our trip there and back a guided tour. Even at 4 am before the sun was up, you could tell each driver loved their job. It makes a difference!

Multiple departure times from Moraine Lake 

Moraine Lake is loaded with epic activities. I love to hike, and it easily has some of the best of the best in the Rockies. Since the Moraine Lake Bus Company has 13 different departure times from the lake, it’s easy to plan your day of activities and spend the perfect amount of time there. 

No Parks Canada line 

People line up for the bus at Moraine Lake
The line for the Parks Canada bus, no thanks!

One of the biggest reasons I prefer a Moraine Lake Bus Company shuttle over Parks Canada is because you have a reserved time for getting back. Parks Canada on the other hand does not offer reserved departure which leads to insanely long lines for the bus (just check out my photo above!).

This can be a real bummer if you’re tired and just want to get on and go. So instead of having to stand around waiting to get on, or for another bus if it’s full, you completely avoid either of those problems with a Moraine Lake bus since there’s a reserved seat with your name on it!

Affordable 

Tours to Moraine Lake can be expensive. So if you don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars to visit, there are only a couple of other options. While transfers like Roam or the Parks Canada bus are cheaper than the Moraine Lake Bus, we feel they don’t offer the same convenience or 5-star service. Moraine Lake Bus Company hits that sweet spot of affordability and convenience so you don’t have to sacrifice either.

Related Read: Moraine Lake is just one of the beautiful spots that made our list of most Instagrammable places in Banff National Park.

Cons of the Moraine Lake Bus Company shuttle

People on the Moraine Lake Bus Company Shuttle canada
A full ride

Lake Louise visit is only one hour 

While the option to visit Lake Louise is great, having only 1 hour isn’t enough time to experience everything it has to offer. I wish that there was more flexibility with visits to Lake Louise so you could spend 3 hours at one lake and 4 hours at another, but sadly you cannot. Of course, if you have the time you could always spend one day at Moraine Lake and another at Lake Louise, but if this isn’t an option, you’ll have to pick one over the other.

Booking to Lake Louise was confusing 

While choosing a pick-up and departure time is straightforward what isn’t so clear is how your visit to Lake Louise works if you decide you want to do the combo tour. If you do decide to do the combo, you will visit Lake Louise first, spend an hour there, and then go to Moraine Lake. So if you want to spend 5 hours at Moraine Lake set your departure 6-7 hours from your pick-up time since 1 of those hours is spent at Lake Louise.

Would I book with Moraine Lake Bus Company again? 

The Moraine Lake Bus Company Shuttle parked in a Parking lot Moraine Lake Canada
Yes!

Yes, we will absolutely book with them again! We loved their locally-owned vibe, friendly and prompt service, and multiple pick-up and drop-off times offered. When it comes to getting to and from Moraine Lake, they are the best in the business. Especially with how hectic it is becoming to get to the lake, they provide not just fantastic service, but a whole experience as well. If you want to get to Moraine Lake, hands down, we say this is the way to go.

Other Things to do While You’re in Banff

Banff gondola building and boardwalk on a early spring day with lots of snow
The top of the Banff Gondola
Evelyns Cafe in Banff, Canada
Walking Banff with a coffee!

Banff is chock-full of so many amazing activities and things to do, it’s impossible to put them all down on one list! To save you some time, here are some of our favorite activities that are always included in our Banff itinerary:

  • Ride the Banff Gondola – There are four gondolas in Banff that provide pretty spectacular views. While we’d have a hard time choosing a favorite, a ride up the Banff Gondola never lets us down! Not only is it a great way to see some amazing wildlife, but you’ll find a host of things to do at the top, including a lovely café, shops, and even a theater! The best way to get Banff Gondola tickets is to book ahead in advance here.
  • Hike Johnston Canyon – One of the stops on the Banff hop-on hop-off tour, Johnston Canyon is famous for its picturesque location and magnificent waterfalls. It’s also one of the easier hikes in the Banff area, making it super accessible for most people. If you get the chance, definitely don’t miss out on a magical nighttime tour here like this evening Icewalk tour!
  • Look for wildlife – Banff is home to some incredible wildlife. You might just spot elk, bears, deer, foxes, coyotes, bighorn sheep, and more! The best chance you have of seeing the most critters is on a wildlife tour in Banff. We really liked this small group tour where the guides tailor the itinerary to recent wildlife spottings and you get to see highlights of the national park along the way.
  • Explore Banff town – It’s easy to get immersed in the beauty of the mountains, but there are also a ton of things to do in Banff town too! Bear Street is where you’ll find tons of boutique shops and cute cafés, and from May to the beginning of October the farmer’s market is held in Central Park, bringing with it amazing local produce and some unique souvenirs too!

Where to Stay near Moraine Lake

Lake Louise Inn pool
Photo credit: Lake Louise Inn

There’s only one actual hotel at Moraine Lake. The Moraine Lake Lodge is beautiful, but books up months in advance and is often $1,000+ CAD per night! Because of that, I recommend finding a nice place to stay in Lake Louise Village. My favorite options are below:

Fairmont Château Lake Louise ($$$)

For those with a bigger budget, you can’t look past the Fairmont Château Lake Louise. The hotel sits on the shoreline of Lake Louise with epic views in the most stunning of locations. I’ve added spending a night or two here to my personal bucket list! There are also a few restaurants in the hotel that are only available to hotel guests, not to mention the onsite spa! A night here will set you back at least $550 CAD but typically it will be even higher in peak season. You can book the Fairmont online here!

Lake Louise Inn ($$)

The Lake Louise Inn features an indoor pool, an onsite restaurant and bar, modern rooms, and even apartments for larger groups. It basically has all the comforts you’d expect at a standard hotel and the reviews are really good. Its location is also ideal, right in the heart of Lake Louise Village and you can grab a room for an average of $200 CAD. You can book the Lake Louise Inn online here!

Hi Lake Louise Alpine Center ($)

For budget travelers, the Hi Lake Louise Alpine Center is the best option in Lake Louise Village. The location is right in town, they have a shared kitchen, basic but comfortable rooms, and friendly staff. You can choose between dorm rooms starting at $33 CAD a night or private rooms for around $100 CAD a night. It is by far the cheapest place to stay in Lake Louise, and honestly, it’s a nice hostel and we’ve actually stayed there a few times. You can book it online through Hostelworld.com or Booking.com!

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 $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 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.)

  • $22.00 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) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 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.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo the the rockpile at Moraine Lake
Thanks for reading!

Moraine Lake is one of the most popular spots in Banff National Park (and one of our favorites)! The Moraine Lake Bus Company is by far one of the easiest ways to get to the lake, while still being pretty affordable. We couldn’t recommend it more.

If this blog was useful to you, take a look at more of our blogs about Banff. You can get started with one of the related guides linked below:

21 BEST Things to do in Downtown Banff

8 BEST Athabasca Glacier Tours to See the Columbia Icefield

13 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Yoho National Park