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Ah, Moraine Lake, the turquoise-hued lake that dreams are made of! It’s one of the most famous places in Alberta, and for good reason, it graces many an Instagram feed, desktop screensaver, and travel brochure, and it sure does look picture-perfect in them all, but you really have to see it for yourself to truly appreciate its beauty.
Like Lake Louise, which isn’t far away – it’s one of the most-visited destinations in Banff National Park. Because traffic and parking became so bad over the years, this year (2023), Parks Canada decided to ban all personal vehicles from driving the access road (aka Moraine Lake Road) and parking here, unless, you have a disability permit. As annoying as it may sound at first, we believe it’s actually a really good thing because finding parking at the smallish parking lot was really stressful anyway!
Since you can no longer park at Moraine Lake, other ways you can get here include riding the Parks Canada Park and Ride shuttle, the Lake Louise Connector Shuttle, taking Roam public transit, or going on an organized tour. Alternatively, you can also hike, bike, or cross-country ski (in the winter). And lucky for you, we’ll go into each option in detail below!
With the new personal vehicle ban in place, we thought it was essential we put together this REALLY detailed blog post on the shuttles to Moraine Lake. It includes everything you need to know about the Moraine Lake Shuttles, including the brand-new sunrise shuttle.
- About Moraine Lake
- Can you park at Moraine Lake?
- What is the Moraine Lake shuttle?
- Is the Moraine Lake shuttle a great option?
- How much does the Moraine Lake shuttle cost?
- When do the Moraine Lake shuttle bookings open?
- Do you need to book the Moraine Lake shuttle in advance?
- Where is the Moraine Lake shuttle park and ride?
- What times does the Moraine Lake shuttle leave?
- How can I see Moraine Lake at sunrise?
- What if you can't get a booking for the Moraine Lake Shuttle?
- What are the best tours to Moraine Lake?
- Can you take Roam Public Transport to Moraine Lake?
- What is the Lake Connector Shuttle?
- Is Moraine Lake worth visiting?
- Thanks for reading!
- Renting a Car in Alberta
About Moraine Lake
The bright-blue Moraine Lake is one of the most recognizable places in Canada. Plus, it’s social media famous! In fact, you’ve probably already come across this glacier-fed lake that is backdropped by the Valley of the Ten Peaks on your Instagram feed.
Located within the equally as famous Banff National Park, Alberta, and close to the border with British Columbia, this lake is encircled by the soaring peaks of Mount Fay, Mount Temple, Neputak Mountain, and more.
This bucket-list-worthy lake has become so popular over the years, meaning it’s become more and more difficult to get to.
The best places to start your journey to Moraine Lake are from Lake Louise, Banff, Canmore, and Calgary. Still, it’s very important to note that as of 2023, you can’t drive on Moraine Lake Road or park in the parking lot at Moraine Lake in a personal vehicle – unless you have a disability permit.
The only way to get to this awe-inspiring lake is by booking the Park and Ride shuttle, taking an organized tour like the Hop-on Hop-off bus from Banff, booking the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle, taking this private shuttle, getting a taxi, or planning to ride the ROAM bus.
You should also remember that Moraine Lake Road is only open from the beginning of June to mid-October. The exact dates change annually depending on weather conditions. In 2023, the road is scheduled to open on June 1 and close on October 9.
The busiest times of the year at Moraine Lake are between the middle of June and the last week in September. If you want a more peaceful Moraine Lake experience, we recommend visiting during autumn in Banff around the first two weeks of October, just before the access road closes until the following year.
This road closes to vehicle traffic in the winter due to avalanche risk. Therefore, no tours to Moraine Lake operate outside of the above timeframe. You can cycle or hike down Moraine Lake Road, but only if you’ve received avalanche training. However, it’s risky, and we’ve never done it, so we can’t provide detailed advice on this option.
Related Read: Short on time? Read our ideal itinerary for how to spend just one day in Banff National Park!
Can you park at Moraine Lake?
No personal vehicles (unless you have a disability permit) can park at Moraine Lake! Parks Canada introduced this rule in 2023, as in previous years, the parking demand far exceeded the available spaces. The constant influx of cars during the summer meant the area was unsafe for the wildlife in Banff National Park.
The only vehicles permitted to enter the car park at Moraine Lake are tour operators, taxis, the Park and Ride Shuttle, this privately-operated shuttle, or the Roam bus.
So now you know that parking is no longer an option at Moraine Lake, what can you do?! Below you’ll see I’ve covered all bases for alternatives to parking at Moraine Lake, such as guided tours of Moraine Lake and the super-popular Park and Ride shuttle.
Don’t be discouraged by the new “no parking” rule. Parking was so unreliable here that we never considered it a dependable option anyway. In fact, in the summer of 2022, we spent hours circling the car park trying to find a space. It was chaos!
What is the Moraine Lake shuttle?
If you’re looking for a way to get to Moraine Lake, but aren’t interested in booking a full guided tour, there are two main shuttle options available. The one offered by Parks Canada and a private shuttle offered by the Moraine Lake Bus Company.
Parks Canada Shuttle
If you’re staying in Lake Louise in the summer, you can take advantage of the Parks Canada Park and Ride shuttle. This very popular option to get to Moraine Lake leaves from the Lake Louise Ski Resort parking lot every day between the beginning of June and mid-October (the exact dates vary yearly.)
Departing every 20 minutes from 6:30 am to 6 pm, it costs just $8 CAD for adults; $4 CAD for seniors, and anyone 17 and under is free. That price is for a return journey, so it really is great value for money!
When you’ve finished exploring the lake, you can take any Park and Ride shuttle from Moraine Lake back to the meeting point in Lake Louise. But you should remember the final shuttle leaves Moraine Lake to return to the Park and Ride location at 7:30 pm. So, don’t miss it – as your only option if you do is to call for a cab, which will be costly!
The Park and Ride Shuttle MUST BE BOOKED IN ADVANCE, and it is often fully booked. When you buy tickets, you’ll buy for a one-hour window and can show up anytime within that hour.
If the date/time you were hoping for is booked up, remember that 50% of the spaces on the shuttle are saved for “last-minute bookings.” These open precisely two days before at 8 am. For example, if you want to head to Moraine Lake on Wednesday, be online on the reservation system at 8 am on the Monday before.
Operated by the Moraine Lake Bus Company, you can now take this privately-operated shuttle to Moraine Lake. These are small buses that can hold 24 passengers and will have a Moraine Lake Bus Company logo on the side.
They offer daily shuttles from 4 am to 6 pm. Now, the main advantage here is that this is one of the ONLY ways you can get to Moraine Lake for sunrise. If being an early bird is not for you, there are also 8 shuttles daily that include a one-hour stop at Lake Louise – two lakes for the price of one!
You’ll need to book online in advance. The standard roundtrip fare is $35 CAD for adults and $25 CAD for kids. The price goes up slightly to $45 CAD if you want the one-hour stop at Lake Louise included. Sunrise shuttles are also slightly more at $69 CAD for the 4 am shuttle and $59 CAD for the 5 am shuttle.
If you are departing before 6 am, you’ll park your car at the Shell gas station and meet the bus across the street at Wilson Mountain Sports. All departures after 6 am will be from the Lake Louise Summer Gondola parking lot and you’ll meet the bus outside the main lodge there.
Look for our 24-passenger buses with the Moraine Lake Bus Company logo on the side. You can’t miss us!
Related Read: If you plan to park at the Lake Louise Lakeshore then you should check out our detailed guide to parking there!
Is the Moraine Lake shuttle a great option?
The Parks Canada Shuttle is a good option but not a great one to take you to Moraine Lake. Why you may ask? Well, because the shuttle only operates between 6 am and 8 pm, you won’t be able to take it if you want to get to the lake for sunrise (which is the best time to visit Moraine Lake, in my opinion!).
Plus, because it’s such a popular option, you will likely get stuck in a lengthy queue waiting for your return shuttle back to Lake Louise.
Therefore, we much prefer to book our visit to Moraine Lake with the Moraine Lake Bus Company by grabbing a spot on one of their shuttles to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise.
Like the Park and Ride Shuttle, it’s a transport-only option (no tour guide included), but it offers a variety of departure times including those coveted early morning departures – at 4 am and 5 am. This means you’ll get to the lake in time for sunrise!
Overall, it’s pricier than the Park and Ride Shuttle at $35 CAD for daytime departures and $60-70 CAD for sunrise departures. But we think it’s worth it to grab the earliest shuttle you can so you can see the sky turning various shades of pink, which on a calm morning is reflected onto the surface of the lake. So magical!
The other great thing about this shuttle is that your spot on the shuttle is reserved (no queueing required!). There’s even an option for $45 CAD to add on an hour-long stop at Lake Louise Lakefront if you wish!
This particular shuttle departs from either Lake Louise Village or the Lake Louise Gondola, depending on the departure time that you book.
How much does the Moraine Lake shuttle cost?
Parks Canada Shuttle
The Moraine Lake Park and Ride Shuttle is super-cheap, costing just $8 CAD for adults, $4 CAD for seniors, and is completely free for kids and teens 17 and under. That price is for a return ticket!
I should also add that there is a $3 CAD non-refundable transaction fee for every reservation booked via the Parks Canada Reservation System.
The new private shuttle service to Moraine Lake costs $35 CAD for daytime departures, between $60-70 CAD for sunrise departures, and $45 CAD if you want to add on an hour-long stop at Lake Louise Lakefront to the daytime shuttles.
Please remember that the ticket prices for both these shuttles does not include a National Park entry fee!
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.
When do the Moraine Lake shuttle bookings open?
Parks Canada Shuttle
Bookings for the Moraine Lake Park and Ride Shuttle open in April every year (the exact date changes each year). For example, in 2023, it opened on April 13th at 8 am.
50% of the slots are saved for ‘last-minute bookings’, which open 48 hours before at 8 am. For example, if you wish to visit Moraine Lake on a Wednesday, you will need to be on the reservation system at 8 am on the Monday before.
The great thing about the private shuttle is you can book it at any time throughout the year, but remember the shuttle only operates when Moraine Lake Road is open, which is from early June to mid-October.
Do you need to book the Moraine Lake shuttle in advance?
Parks Canada Shuttle
Yes, you MUST book the Moraine Lake Park and Ride Shuttle in advance! As I mentioned, 50% of the spaces are released in April, and the remaining 50% are released two days before at 8 am. So, if you wish to visit Moraine Lake on a Wednesday, you will need to book your ticket online at 8 am on the Monday before.
Your ticket is valid for a one-hour window and can show up anytime during that hour. Once at Moraine Lake, you can stay as long as you choose but remember the last shuttle of the day leaves Moraine Lake at 7:30 pm.
Because of the limited number of seats, we strongly advise you to reserve your seat on the private shuttle in advance. However, if there are seats available when the bus shows up, you may buy a ticket directly from the bus driver.
Where is the Moraine Lake shuttle park and ride?
All Parks Canada shuttles into Moraine Lake start and end at the Lake Louise Ski Resort on 1 Whitehorn Road, Lake Louise.
Related Read: Although you can’t visit Moraine Lake in the colder months, Lake Louise in the winter is still an awesome place to go!
What times does the Moraine Lake shuttle leave?
Parks Canada Shuttle
The Moraine Lake Shuttle departs from 1 Whitehorn Road, Lake Louise, every 20 minutes between 6:30 am and 6:30 pm every day. The last shuttle from Moraine Lake to get you back to Lake Louise leaves at 7:30 pm daily. It is a seasonal shuttle that starts running at the beginning of June and stops in mid-October. For 2023, the dates of the shuttle are June 1st to October 9th.
To book a space on the Moraine Lake Park and Ride Shuttle, you can book it online via the Parks Canada Reservation Service or by calling 1-877-737-3783.
Having used the online system numerous times, I can vouch it’s a very straightforward process. Simply search for the date you want to visit Moraine Lake. A map will appear on the following page, and you must click on the shuttle option on this map (it has a bus icon next to it). On the next page, a list of available one-hour time slots will appear (a green dot is next to the available times). You will see that the Lake Louise shuttle is in the left-hand column and Moraine Lake in the right column. Select the time you want in the Moraine Lake column and click ‘Reserve.’
You will then come to the review page, double-check the details are accurate, and then tick the box to confirm all reservation details are correct.
An account with Parks Canada Reservation Service is needed to proceed with your booking. You can find all the information about creating an account here. It’s advisable to create an account beforehand to avoid disappointment on the day, as your booking will only be held by the system for 20 minutes.
When you show up for your shuttle, please have a printed or downloaded copy of your reservation confirmation email AND photo ID matching the name on the reservation. Keep in mind that cell service is limited at the meeting point, so ensure you download your reservation beforehand.
The Moraine Lake Bus Company private shuttle departs from the Lake Louise Summer Gondola at 6:20 am; 6:45 am; 7:50 am; 8:15 am; 10:25 am; 10:50 am; 12 pm; 12:25 pm; 1:35 pm, and 1:35 pm. The shuttle arrives at Samson Mall 10 minutes after all the above-listed times.
It’s worth noting that only the 8:50 am; 8:15 am; 1:35 pm, and 1:55 pm options include an hour-long stop at Lake Louise.
As for the sunrise shuttle service they offer, there are two services daily at 4 am and 5 am, and they only depart from Samson Mall!
Booking this private shuttle online is super easy. Simply click on the ‘Book’ button on the website, choose either the Direct Shuttle to Moraine Lake or Shuttle with 1 hour at Lake Louise, and click ‘Book.’ On the next page, select your desired date and time and click ‘next.’ Fill out your personal details and click ‘continue,’ on the following screen it will ask you to select your return shuttle time. And finally, you will come to the payment screen.
How can I see Moraine Lake at sunrise?
There are a few options to get to Moraine Lake for sunrise, including booking a sunrise tour or cycling or walking Moraine Lake Access Road. But because you will have to walk this road in the dark, we don’t recommend it for safety reasons. And it’s also a longer hike or bike – 25 km (15.5 miles) round-trip.
For those who prefer the guided tour option, your day will begin bright and early in Banff at 4 am and costs $288 CAD. That price includes a yummy hot chocolate or coffee to enjoy, as well as an early morning stop at Lake Louise. That means you can see two of the busiest lakes in the country without the crowds or the stress of parking/ shuttles.
You can book the tour here with free cancelation up to 24 hours before, which is handy considering the very changeable Rocky Mountain weather!
If the guided tour is out of your price range, you should consider this particular privately owned shuttle which leaves Lake Louise at either 4 am or 5 am. It’s much cheaper at only $69 CAD for the 4 am departure and $59 CAD for the 5 am departure.
One other way to guarantee you’ll see the sunrise is to stay at the cozy Moraine Lake Lodge. However, as you can imagine, this is an extremely popular option, and books up months in advance!
What if you can’t get a booking for the Moraine Lake Shuttle?
If you can’t get a booking for the Moraine Lake Shuttle, your options are a guided tour like this highly-rated 4-hour guided tour, or if you want to see Moraine Lake at sunrise, book this sunrise tour to Moraine Lake. You can also book a space on the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus from Banff that visits various spots around Banff including Moraine Lake, and the stunning Johnston Canyon.
Alternatively, a great cheap option is Roam Public Transport from Canmore or Banff, which I’ll go into more detail about below!
What are the best tours to Moraine Lake?
As you can imagine, there are loads of tours to Moraine Lake available. These are our picks for the best ones –
Guided tour of Moraine Lake and Lake Louise
This 4-hour guided tour starts in Banff and includes a visit to Lake Louise and the main attraction – Moraine Lake. On the tour, your knowledgeable local guide will tell you all about the area’s history and take you to a lesser-visited viewpoint of Moraine Lake.
This small group tour is one of the top tours from Banff to Lake Louise. Prices start from around $105 CAD per person and include round-trip transportation from Banff.
Sunrise tour of Moraine Lake
For the early birds and sunrise lovers, you can’t go wrong with this sunrise tour to Moraine Lake, which departs from Banff at 4 am. You will also make an early-morning pitstop at Lake Louise, meaning you’ll get to see two iconic Canadian lakes in one day.
Coffee or yummy hot chocolate is included in the price too!
The price is $288 CAD per person, and you can book the tour here with free cancelation up to 24 hours before, which is handy considering the unpredictable weather in the Rockies!
Hop-on, hop-off bus from Banff
The Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus tour from Banff is similar to other hop-on buses worldwide. Your ticket includes stops at 7 of the best places in Banff National Park, including Moraine Lake, Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise, Samson Mall, and the Lake Louise Gondola.
You can choose to hop off at all 7 stops or just pick a few favorites. Tickets for the hop-on-hop-off bus cost $82 CAD and can be purchased online.
Full-day sightseeing tour from Banff or Canmore
This tour is a super convenient tour option to Moraine Lake because it will pick you up from your accommodations in Canmore or Banff. And not only do you get to see Moraine Lake, but you’ll also stop at Lake Minnewanka, aka the largest of the lakes in Banff National Park, and Lake Louise.
After spending some time at Moraine Lake, you’ll also drive along the Icefields Parkway, more widely known as one of the most beautiful drives in the world.
So, in short, you’ll get to see some of the best sights in the Canadian Rockies in one day. This is a popular Icefields Parkway tour, and at $180 CAD, it often sells out, so make sure you book online now!
Guided tour from Calgary or Banff
This guided tour from Calgary or Banff runs throughout the year but will only take you to Moraine Lake between June and mid-October. You’ll not only spend some time at Moraine Lake, but you’ll also stop at Lake Louise as well. It features commentary from a super friendly and funny guide, and sights you’ll see along the way include the famous Spiral Tunnels, Emerald Lake, and the stunning natural bridge in Yoho National Park.
It costs $164 CAD and can be booked online here.
Related Read: If you have some time to spare, be sure to try one of the best hikes that start right from Moraine Lake!
Can you take Roam Public Transport to Moraine Lake?
Yes, you can take Roam public transport from Canmore or Banff to Moraine Lake. To do this, we recommend buying the Superpass, which costs $25 CAD as that allows travel on any/all Roam routes.
You can buy the Super Pass on the bus, at the Roam office in Banff, or through the Token Transit App. I’ve explained both routes and more about the Superpass in detail below!
FYI – It is highly recommended that you book your ROAM Superpass in advance during the summer months.
The Roam Transit bus is an efficient and reliable way of getting from Banff to Moraine Lake. Between September and mid-October, you can take a direct bus to Moraine Lake by catching the #10 bus from the Banff High School Transit Hub. It’s been put in place, especially for larch season, and in 2023 the exact dates of operation are between September 19 and October 10.
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 those under 13 can ride for free. There are seven 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 May 20 and September 18, 2023, you’ll need to take the 8X bus to the Lake Louise lakeshore, change to the LL route to transfer to the Park and Ride, and then take the Parks Canada shuttle to Moraine Lake from there. Buses leave from 7:30 am onwards, and there are at least seven departures throughout the day at 2 or 3-hour intervals.
REMEMBER you will need to have a reservation for the Parks Canada Shuttle as they don’t accept walk-ups!
The 8S bus is another good option to get you from Banff to Lake Louise lakeshore between mid-May and mid-September, although it’s longer as it follows the scenic route taking in sights such as Johnston Canyon. It operates three days a week (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) from July 1 to August 31. Once you get to the Lake Louise lakeshore, the connecting bus to the Park and Ride takes another 15 minutes. The route fares are the same as for the 8X bus. Advance booking is recommended, but you can still walk up and pay on the bus using the fare boxes.
From Canmore, there’s not one direct public bus to Moraine Lake, and instead, you will need to take either two or three buses depending on the time of year you do it.
No matter the season, you will first need to take the Route 3 bus from Canmore to Banff, this costs $6 CAD each way for adults or $3 CAD for seniors and youths. This drops you off at Banff High School Transit Hub.
If you plan to do this journey between September and mid-October, you can then catch the #10 bus from the Banff High School Transit Hub, which will take you directly to Moraine Lake. But, between June and August, you’ll need to hop on the 8X or 8S bus to the Lake Louise lakeshore, then change to the LL route to transfer to the Park and Ride, and then take the shuttle to Moraine Lake from there.
What is the Lake Connector Shuttle?
If you book the Moraine Lake Park and Ride Shuttle, you’ll get access to the Lake Connector Shuttle for free! The Lake Connector Shuttle runs between Lake Louise and Moraine Lake every 15 minutes between 8 am and 6 pm.
So with your Park and Ride ticket, you can access two awesome lakes in one day!
This connector is on a first-come-first-serve basis but is ONLY available to people who have a Park and Ride reservation or a Roam Superpass.
To use the Lake Connector, you will still need to check in at the Park and Ride Lot and take the shuttle unless you have a Roam Transit Super Pass. In that case, you can hop on at Moraine Lake or Lake Louise Lakeshore. Simply show your ROAM pass to Parks Canada staff at either lake and they will give you a boarding pass for the Parks Canada Shuttle.
Is Moraine Lake worth visiting?
Yes! Despite the hassle of arranging a way to get here, visiting Moraine Lake is totally worth it. This place is breathtaking, and any stress of getting here melts away when you take in that spellbinding view.
And even now that you know parking isn’t an option at Moraine Lake, it’s still SO worth visiting, as parking was never reliable anyway. As you can see from reading the above information, there are still plenty of ways you can visit one of the top attractions in Banff National Park!
Moraine Lake will always be special to us as it was where we got engaged, but I know you’ll make your own amazing memories when you visit here too. If you do a bit of advance planning, a trip to Moraine Lake will undoubtedly be an amazing addition to your Banff itinerary.
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!
I hope this guide to the Moraine Lake Shuttle has been helpful! Of course, there are plenty of other options to get to Moraine Lake, meaning you’ll be able to find the perfect transport option here that fits your travel style.
If you have any questions about traveling to Moraine Lake. please leave a comment below! Also, if you loved this travel guide, don’t miss all our other Canada travel guides here or these related articles below.