Skip to Content

Moraine Lake SUNRISE Shuttle – Everything You NEED to Know in 2024

Moraine Lake SUNRISE Shuttle – Everything You NEED to Know in 2024

This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.

I can confidently say that Moraine Lake is one of the most beautiful destinations in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The crystal clear turquoise glacier water is absolutely stunning and it has the perfect forested mountain backdrop. If you are looking for the best place to watch the sunrise in the Rockies, this is it! 

While this is one of our favorite places in the Rockies, getting to Moraine Lake is not the easiest thing to do. This just recently became harder as in 2023, the access road to Moraine Lake has closed to the public, meaning you can no longer drive yourself to the lake. While you have a few options in terms of buses or shuttles to Moraine Lake, the only way to get there for sunrise is with this new sunrise shuttle!

As this shuttle is new as of 2023, below we’ve included all the details you need to know about catching the sunrise with the Moraine Lake shuttle. 

What is the new Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle? 

the Moraine Lake Bus Company shuttle
This is the brand-new sunrise shuttle!

Due to the 2023 road closure restricting private vehicle access to Moraine Lake, Moraine Lake Bus Company is a new company that specializes in direct trips to both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. With multiple departure times throughout the day, if you want to get from Lake Louise Village to Moraine Lake, this is a great option! You can even choose to travel directly to Moraine Lake or include a stop at Lake Louise along the way!

One of the best parts of this shuttle bus is that it allows you to book your return shuttle as well. This means you will not have to stand in long lines waiting for the next shuttle (like you would with the Parks Canada Shuttles), just get on the one you booked!

While there are a few other transportation options to get you to Moraine Lake, the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle is the only way to get there early enough to catch the sunrise, unless you book a guided tour (more on that below). The Parks Canada shuttles and Roam public buses do not start early enough to make it to Moraine Lake in time for sunrise. So, if you’re goal is to see the iconic sunrise at Moraine Lake (and it should!) then you should seriously consider booking this new shuttle.

Note: Just as in all other areas of Banff National Park, you will be required by Parks Canada to have a Parks Canada Pass in order to be here. These passes are available online, at information centers in both Banff and Lake Louise, or at one of Parks Canada’s gates. 

How much does the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle cost? 

Bailey walks on the shoreline on Moraine Lake in Banff at sunrise
Sunrise is easily the best time to visit!

The Moraine Lake direct shuttle price varies based on the day you’re booking for, and the time of day the shuttle departs. As you may expect, “peak times”, such as long weekends, are understandably more expensive. The cost for the direct shuttle to Moraine Lake is between $35 CAD and $65 CAD for adults 16+, and $25 CAD to $53 CAD for children 3 – 15 years old. The cost for the shuttle is per seat, meaning only infants who can safely sit on a lap will be granted access free of charge, and there are no child seats on board. 

If you’re interested in going to Lake Louise as well, you can book a combo shuttle bus where you will add a 1 hour stop at Lake Louise Lakefront. The cost for this shuttle also varies depending on the date and time chosen and costs between $45 CAD and $59 CAD. However, these shuttles leave later in the day and will not allow you to catch the sunrise at Moraine Lake. 

Do you need to book the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle in advance?

People line up for the bus at Moraine Lake
The long line for the Parks Canada and Roam shuttles are the reason this new shuttle will be popular!

Yes!

Watching the sunrise at Moraine Lake is an incredibly popular activity in Banff National Park. A bucket list Canadian Rocky Mountain experience, it was not uncommon for people to show up at 3 am when the parking lot was open to guarantee a spot to catch the morning sun – that’s how popular it is!

While this shuttle is very new, I can practically guarantee that it will become very popular and will book up well in advance. If seeing the sunrise is important to you and your experience, I highly recommend prioritizing booking this experience in advance to ensure you get a spot. 

With limited travel options to get to Moraine Lake, even if you are not looking to catch the sunrise and are okay with a later bus, they are very likely to book up as well. Regardless of when you are looking to go, I highly recommend booking ahead of time. If you have not booked your ticket in advance, you can try to show up at the bus stop in hopes of buying a ticket on-site. If there is space available, you will be able to purchase a ticket from the driver, but I would highly recommend not relying on this as it is likely you will get turned away. 

The shuttle bus has a 48-hour cancellation policy. If you need to cancel your trip for any reason, you will receive a 100% refund when canceling more than 48 hours in advance. If you are within the 48 hour cancellation window, it is important to note that no refunds or modifications to your ticket will be offered. 

You can secure your spot on the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle online here with free cancellation up to 48 hours in advance!

What is the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle schedule?

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo at Moraine Lake
Early sunrise!

For the direct Moraine Lake shuttle service, you will be happy to know that there are multiple departure times between 4 am and 12:35 pm.

There are two different shuttle departure points, one right in Lake Louise Village at Samson Mall, and one from the Lake Louise Summer Gondola (Lake Louise Ski Resort.) Shuttles from Samson Mall are offered at 4 am, 5 am, 6:30 am, 6:55 am, 10:35 am, 11:00 am, 12:10 pm, and 12:35 pm. If you are departing from Lake Louise Summer Gondola, you will find direct shuttles departing at 6:20 am, 6:45 am, 10:25 am, 10:50 am, 12 pm, and 12:25 pm.

Note: the above schedule is for direct buses to Moraine Lake only. More departure times are offered if you are wanting to stop at Lake Louise – more on that below!

It is important to note that you will want to be at the bus stop at least 10 minutes early as the buses leave right on schedule and will not wait for you. If you miss your bus, you may be offered a seat on the next bus if there is one available, however if the bus is full, you will not be able to be accommodated. 

If your goal is to catch the sunrise at Moraine Lake, I highly recommend aiming for the 4 am shuttle. This shuttle will arrive at Moraine Lake at 4:35 am allowing time for you to find the best spot to take in the sunrise. In summer months, the sunrise is at around 5:30 am so arriving as early as possible ensures you will be able to catch the whole show. The 5 am shuttle will also get there for sunrise, you’ll just have less time to get settled beforehand.

At the time of booking, you will reserve a return bus as well. There are 15 return buses that run throughout the day between 5:35 am and 6:20 pm. If you are not sure how long you will be, I recommend booking a later bus as you can always try to get on an earlier bus but there is no guarantee there will be space on later buses.  

Where does the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle leave from?

Moraine Lake with lights from the Lake Louise hotel area at sunrise in Banff
Moraine Lake just as the sun rises!

You have two departure options, either Samson Mall or Lake Louise Summer Gondola

The Samson Mall station is where you will go for early morning shuttle departures prior to 6 am. The shuttle leaves from the taxi stand just outside of the Wilson Mountain Sports in Lake Louise Village. It is important to note that you can not park at Samson Mall. If you are driving here and arrive before 6 am, I recommend utilizing the parking lot across the street behind the Shell gas station and walking across Village Road in order to get to the bus stop (a 5-minute walk). Alternatively, if you staying in Lake Louise Village, you can easily walk to the pick-up point.

If you are leaving from the Lake Louise Summer Gondola, the buses leave from the bus loop just outside the Lodge of the Ten Peaks. It is important to note that this parking lot is incredibly large so be sure to allow for at least 10 minutes to walk across the parking lot before your bus leaves. If you are leaving later than 6 am and need to park your car, you will need to use this departure location. 

Because both departure points are in Lake Louise, if you’re staying in Banff you will need to get yourself to Lake Louise. If you have your own wheels, this is very easy, and we highly recommend driving the scenic Bow Valley Parkway on your way back as there are some really special attractions there, including Johnston Canyon.

If you don;t have a car to drive to Lake Louise, then your best bet is to book an organized tour like this one from Banff.

Related Read: Heading to Lake Louise from Canmore? Learn about how to get from Canmore to Lake Louise including the best road trip stops!

Does the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle include a visit to Lake Louise?

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

Yes and no. Not all shuttles will stop at Lake Louise. If you are wanting to stop at both of these famous lakes around Banff, you will have to make sure you book the right combo shuttle. 

You have two options, you can choose between a direct shuttle to Moraine Lake, or include a 1 hour stop at Lake Louise. If you are wanting to catch the sunrise at Moraine Lake, you will want to choose the early morning direct shuttle as the combo shuttles to Lake Louise leave much later in the day. 

If you are booking a combo tour shuttle, and departing from Samson Mall, you can choose between an 8 am, 8:25 am, 1:45 pm, and 2:05 pm departure time. If you are departing from Lake Louise Summer Gondola, the shuttle will leave 10 minutes earlier.

Getting parking at Lake Louise is also very difficult these days, so the combo tour is an excellent option, in our opinion.

You can see all shuttle options including departure times online here!

Related Read: Moraine Lake is not open in the winter, but there are lots of other fun things to do in Lake Louise during the winter months!

Is the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle the best way to see Moraine Lake at sunrise?

canoes on the edge of Moraine Lake with ten peaks covered in clouds
A foggy morning at Moraine Lake!

What I love about the Moraine Lake Shuttle is that it provides flexibility to spend your day how you’d like. Strollers, large backpacks, and even inflatable paddle boards will be accommodated for travelers looking to enjoy some activities at the lake. We typically enjoy independent travel where we have the freedom to explore at our leisure and the shuttle bus is the best way to do just that.

If you are looking for other options to catch the sunrise, your only other option would be to take an organized sunrise at Moraine Lake tour like this one. It is more expensive coming in at $262.50 CAD per person. This full day tour starts at 4 am and will allow about 1.5 hours to explore Moraine Lake for sunrise as well as about 1.5 hours to explore Lake Louise. This tour leaves from Banff Train Station and gets ahead of many of the other tours meaning you will miss the crowds and get to some of the best sightseeing spots as well as have free time to explore. 

With other transportation options to the lake not leaving early enough to catch the sunrise, the shuttle or the guided tour is really your only two options to get here. If you are wanting a more structured experience with tour guides who keep you on schedule and show you where to go for the best views, booking the guided sunrise tour is a good option. If instead, you’d prefer to be able to explore your own way, do some independent activities at the lake or just save some money, booking the shuttle will be your best option. 

Can you take pets on the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle? 

Bailey and her mum at Moraine Lake Rockpile Viewpoint on a sunny afternoon in Banff National Park
So beautiful and Rex loved it!

The Moraine Lake Shuttle is pet friendly – so long as your pet is small enough to fit into a carrying case that is to be kept on your lap for the entirety of your bus ride. If you have a certified service animal, there are no size restrictions for your pet. 

Is the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle worth it? 

Sunrise reflections at Moraine Lake, Banff
Seriously, how can you miss sunrise at Moraine Lake?!

Definitely! Especially with the recent parking lot closure, taking the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle is one of the best ways to see and experience all the magic of Moraine Lake. This shuttle bus runs often throughout the day starting early enough to catch the sunrise and allowing you the most freedom to plan your day.

There is so much to see and do at Moraine Lake and booking a shuttle bus ensures you will have the time to explore it all during your Banff itinerary.

It is important to note that unfortunately, the Moraine Lake Sunrise Shuttle is not wheelchair accessible. If you require wheelchair accessibility and have a blue hang tag for your vehicle, you will be granted access to drive to the Moraine Lake parking lot. 

You can secure your spot on the Moraine Lake Shuttle online here!

Related Read: The only other lake that we like as much as Moraine Lake is Peyto Lake. You can easily visit the Peyto Lake Viewpoint which is not that far from Lake Louise.

Where to Stay in Lake Louise

Lake Louise Inn pool
Photo credit: Lake Louise Inn

If you have more than just one day to spend in Lake Louise, then you’ll need to find somewhere to stay overnight. Of course, with being such a small village, there are limited places to stay in Lake Louise, so you should book online well in advance. Below are our favorite places to stay in Lake Louise in all budget categories:

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 or private rooms. 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 with either Hostelworld.com or Booking.com!

Lake Louise Inn ($$)

The Lake Louise Inn is still a budget-friendly option but a little fancier than the above hostel. The hotel features an indoor pool, 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. It’s location is also ideal, right in the heart of Lake Louise Village. You can book the Lake Louise Inn online here!

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! You can book the Fairmont online here!

Related Read: Planning on staying in Banff instead? Read about the best hotels in Banff town!

Other Things to do While You’re in Banff National Park

Banff gondola building and boardwalk on a early spring day with lots of snow
The top of the Banff Gondola
Bailey and her mum pose for a photo at Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake!

Taking a ride up one of the gondolas around here is just one of many things to do in Banff. But with so much to choose from, it might feel overwhelming. So below, I’ve picked some of my other favorite activities in the area to help you out!

  • Look for wildlife – Banff is home to some pretty 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 – While many nature-based activities are nearby, you shouldn’t neglect Banff town itself! Start your morning by visiting one of the cute local cafes, or grab patio drinks along Banff Avenue in the afternoon. To avoid traffic, check out the pedestrian-only Bear Street, with even more restaurants, cafes, and shops. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a Farmers Market every Wednesday in the summertime.

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”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.

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is memorizing!

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!

Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!

We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!

SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.

They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.  

We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!

Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)

Thanks for reading!

Daniel proposes to Bailey at Moraine Lake, Banff
Daniel proposed at Moraine Lake! Thanks for reading!

Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are some of the most popular places to visit in Alberta, surely, you won’t want to miss them! There is so much to see and do at both of these lakes, whether you’re looking to catch the sunrise, go for a hike around the lake, or paddleboard on the water. With the recent parking restrictions at the lake, taking these shuttles is one of the best ways to see the lake and one we couldn’t recommend more! 

If you found this blog helpful, we are sure you’ll enjoy our other blogs about Banff including a couple of our most popular posts below:

The BEST Cafes in Banff

33 BEST Things to do in Canmore

Guide to Driving the Icefields Parkway