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If seeing the beautiful Lake Louise is in your travel plans, great choice! This small village within the magnificent Rocky Mountains has so many incredible things to do. The lake itself is this gorgeous shade of blue, and the surrounding scenery can’t be beaten. It’s genuinely one of my favorite places in Alberta.
But Parking at Lake Louise can be a real challenge. It’s a VERY popular spot, especially during the summer months. Not planning ahead could mean you spend too much time looking for a place to park rather than enjoying the lake.
Parking used to be free at Lake Louise Lakeshore, but that changed in 2021. Now, you require a daily parking permit to park in that lot. And once it’s full, you’re out of luck.
But don’t lose hope! I’ll share my parking tips and ways you can avoid the parking nightmare completely by hopping aboard a shuttle, public transit, or staying at the Fairmont Château Lake Louise.
Here’s everything you need to know about parking in Lake Louise this year, including alternatives and tips for guaranteeing you’ll see the stunning Lake Louise. This blog has also been updated to reflect all of the new change for the 2022 summer season!
Parking at Lake Louise FAQs
How to Get a Parking at Lake Louise
The Lake Louise Lakeshore parking lot fills up quickly! And it stays full. People tend to spend the entire day here, so spots are not likely to open up partway through the day.
Choose to visit during the right season
While Lake Louise is popular at all times of the year, this parking lot is at its busiest in the summer and early fall months – June, July, August, and September.
Winter holidays around Christmas and New Years can also be pretty busy.
All other times in the winter, spring, and fall it’s generally pretty easy to get a parking spot at Lake Louise. The parking lot is huge, and the only time we’ve struggled with getting parking is during the middle of summer.
Visit during the week (Mon-Fri)
Weekends are always busier than weekdays, so avoid coming on the weekend if you can.
Also, avoid public holidays/long weekends which is when Lake Louise is generally busier.
Arrive at the right time of day
The key to getting a spot is arriving early or late! If you arrive right around 7 am when you can purchase a daily parking permit, you’re more likely to get a spot.
Stay the night in the Lake Louise village area to be close to the lake so an early start is easier. You’ll be less than 10 minutes from the lakefront parking lot rather than in Banff, which is about 45 minutes away.
Or come later in the evening when people have cleared out around 5 pm or 6 pm. In the summer, you’ll have daylight until 9 pm or so, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the lake before it gets dark.
If you arrive and the lot is full, you’re not allowed to sit in your vehicle and wait for a spot to open up. There’s just no space to accommodate vehicles waiting on the road for what could be hours. Traffic controllers will be here to direct you and ensure you don’t wait anywhere.
The washrooms here and the drop-off/pick-up areas also cannot be accessed once the lot is full.
So, if you’re not here early in the morning, make sure to have a backup plan. That could be visiting later in the day, taking a shuttle or even deciding to grab a meal and wait at one of the fantastic restaurants in Lake Louise village – some with pretty epic views!
What happens if you can’t get a parking space at Lake Louise?
There will be traffic controllers at the Lake Louise parking lot during the busiest months, and they will not allow you to sit and wait for a parking space to become available. Instead, they will immediately turn you around and send you back down the road towards Lake Louise Village.
When parking spaces become available (as people leave) the traffic controllers/parking attendants will allow vehicles to take these newly free spaces. This is the system that’s used for parking at Moraine Lake, and it is totally just luck of the draw that when you arrive at the parking lot somebody else is leaving.
If you don’t get a spot and get turned away, then you have a couple of options. First of all, you could drive down to Lake Louise Village and turn around and try again. You might get lucky this time around and might get a space. To be honest, I don’t recommend this as it is super time-consuming. It’ll take you about 30 minutes to drive up to the Lake Louise lakefront parking lot and back to the village. Doing this a couple of times is a huge waste of your holiday.
Instead, if you’re visiting Lake Louise in the summer, or other peak times, consider other options such as booking the Park Ride, riding the public bus, booking an organized tour, or staying at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (more info on all of these options below!)
Paying for Parking at Lake Louise
As you may have figured out, Parking at Lake Louise Lakeshore is really limited.
While it used to be free, Parks Canada has recently introduced parking fees for this specific parking lot during the busier months. So, if you’ve visited Lake Louise and parked here in the past, a few things have changed!
From June until mid-October, you’ll be required to pay $12.25 per vehicle per day to park here (2022 updated pricing.) The paid parking is in effect from 7 am until 7 pm daily.
So, how do you pay for parking in Lake Louise? Well, once you’ve secured one of the highly coveted spots, head to one of the parking kiosk machines next to the path leading to the lake.
This is a “pay-by-plate” system, so take a photo of your license plate to have handy while paying. You won’t need to go back to your vehicle to put any permit in the window.
Also, there’s another fee to remember! Lake Louise requires a Park Pass as it’s located in Banff National Park. If you’ve already purchased this or have an annual Discovery Pass, you’re all set. If not, the parking kiosk machines also have an option for you to purchase a daily entry park pass for $10.50 CAD or $21 CAD for a family or group of up to seven people (more info about the Parks Canada Pass below.)
Hot Tip: To avoid paying for parking, visit Lake Louise in the evening for sunset! Arrive after 7 pm and enjoy this beautiful time of day, remembering that the sun doesn’t usually set until 9 or 10 pm in the summer in Lake Louise! Plus, this time of day is much less busy, and should have no problem securing a parking space.
Parks Canada Pass Quick Info
If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glaicer, 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.
Shuttles to Lake Louise
The good thing is that paid parking at Lake Louise also coincides with the time of year when daily shuttles are operating. There are a few different options, including the shuttles run by Parks Canada (Park and Ride) and public transit (ROAM).
These are good options if you want to avoid the hassle of trying to get a parking space at Lake Louise. In the summer and on weekends, these shuttles are probably your best bet! In fact, a lot of changes have been made for this summer season (2022) to make taking the shuttle and riding public transport easier. They really want to discourage people from trying to get parking.
Parks Canada Park and Ride Shuttle
One of the best options is the Park and Ride shuttle service operated by Parks Canada.
New in 2022: The Park and Ride shuttle now departs from Lake Louise Ski Resort parking lot. During previous years, it departed from an overflow parking lot located 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) east of Lake Louise Village on the road between Lake Lousie and Banff. That has now changed for the 2022 summer season, details about the change can be found here.
The Park and Ride shuttle runs from May to October (exact dates change annually) and departs every 20 minutes from 8 am to 6:20 pm (with some select early-bird shuttles departing even earlier!)
The cost is very reasonable, with adult fares at $8 CAD, seniors for $4 CAD, youth for $2 CAD, and kids under 6 are free. All the fares include the return trip back to the Park and Ride lot.
You MUST book this shuttle in advance. Tickets can be bought here.
Also new as of 2022, 50% of shuttle tickets will be sold in advance starting from May 4. The other half of the seats will be sold 48 hours prior to departure on a rolling-over system. So for example, if you want to ride the shuttle on July 10, on the morning of July 8th you can book the shuttle.
When booking this shuttle, you’ll choose a one-hour time slot that works for your schedule. You can arrive anytime during the one-hour window and take any available shuttle. Because they leave every 20 minutes, you’ll have multiple options.
Important: Remember to print or screenshot the confirmation email you get when you book the shuttle! This is required for check-in. Cell service can be spotty at the Park and Ride lot, so do this before you get there.
Hot Tip: If you book the Park and Ride to get to Lake Louise, you will be able to ride the Lake Connector Shuttle for free! This shuttle is a great way to get to Moraine Lake from Lake Louise – bonus! I’ve included more details about this connector shuttle below.
If the Park and Ride is fully booked, another good option is this Hop-on Hop-off bus tour from Banff. It is super affordable and is one of the best bus tours near Banff since it visits the most popular places (hardest places to get parking) including Lake Louise Lakefront, Moraine Lake, and Johnston Canyon. Plus, there is a tour guide on every bus!
Lake Connector Shuttle
If you’ve booked a Park and Ride shuttle to either Lake Louise or Moraine Lake, the Lake Connector bus between them is completely free! This is an incredible way to see both lakes on the same day. This is especially handy since getting parking at Moraine Lake is even more challenging than parking at Lake Louise.
I highly recommend exploring Moraine Lake and all it has to offer. I may be biased (this is where Dan proposed to me!), but it truly is one of the most beautiful spots in Canada.
The Lake Connector shuttle doesn’t require reservations – you’ll just need your proof of a ticket on the Park and Ride shuttle.
It departs both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake every 15 minutes from 9 am to 6 pm from June until October.
New in 2022: The Lake Connector Shuttle is also available to people who have a ROAM Transit Superpass. This Superpass allows you to get from Banff or Canmore to Lake Louise Lakefront AND THEN ride the lake connector shuttle. More info on ROAM Transit below.
ROAM Transit (Public Transport)
Taking ROAM Public Transit is a great year-round option. Unlike the Park and Ride shuttle, which is only available in the summer in Banff National Park, ROAM goes in all seasons!
You’ll be taking the Roam Route 8X or 8S. There are several departure times throughout the day. It’s best to find out the exact schedule, by visiting the ROAM website directly. You can take ROAM bus from either Canmore or Banff to both Lake Louise Village or Lake Louise Lakefront.
If you’re coming from Banff to Lake Louise, it’s $10 CAD per adult each way, $5 CAD for seniors and youth, and free for kids 12 and under. You can reserve ahead of time (recommended during the busy summer season) or just hop on the bus.
If you’re staying in Lake Louise, you can catch this bus up to the Lakefront easily too. ROAM goes between Lake Louise Village and the Lake Louise Lakeshore in only 7 minutes! Just head to the Lake Louise Village South bus stop. The cost each way from Lake Louise Village to the Lake Louise Lakeshore is only $2 CAD per adult, $1 CAD for seniors and youth, and free for kids 12 and under.
All Roam buses have electronic fareboxes, so you can pay with any credit card with a chip in it. They also accept both Canadian and American currencies – just not pennies or bills larger than $20. If you have the exact change, this is preferred.
New in 2022: If you want to visit Moraine Lake too, you can buy the new bus pass called the ROAM Superpass. This pass is $25 but includes a ride on the Lake Connector Shuttle, meaning you can also get to Moraine Lake! How it works is with your Superpass you will ride the ROAM bus to Lake Louise Lakefront, explore Lake Louise, and then get on the Parks Canada Connector Shuttle that takes you to Moraine Lake before returning back the way you came. Previously, this connector shuttle was only available to Park and Ride users, but not this year! ROAM Superpasss users will also be able to ride the connector shuttle -how convenient!
Note: ROAM Transit will only go to Lake Louise Lakefront and Lake Louise Village this year (2022.) In previous years it also went to the Park and Ride parking lot, but that is not the case this year. If you want to ride the Park and Ride, you’ll have to drive yourself to the parking lot at Lake Louise Ski Resort.
Free Connector for those Staying in Lake Louise Village and Lake Louise Campground
If you’re staying in Lake Louise Village or at the Lake Louise Campground, check out the Park and Ride Connector Service. It will help you get to the Park and Ride shuttle location and leave your vehicle behind wherever you’re staying.
This daily service from May to October is completely free! Shuttles run every 30 minutes from 8 am until 8 pm.
The bus makes a loop from the Lake Louise Campground to the Samson Mall in Lake Louise village and then drops off at the Park and Ride location 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) east of the village.
From here, you can board a Park and Ride shuttle – which you must have booked in advance.
Free Parking at Lake Louise for those staying at the Fairmont
If your budget allows, staying at the beautiful Fairmont Château Lake Louise is an incredible way to have a front-row seat at Lake Louise with no parking woes.
The hotel has its own partially covered parkade. Hotel guests are guaranteed spots for an additional charge of $30 CAD per day.
The Fairmont is literally on the shores of Lake Louise and looks like a fairytale castle set amongst the mountains. It was first built back in 1890 for guests who arrived by train. It’s still a popular and luxurious place to stay while you’re in Lake Louise.
Staying at the Fairmont will allow you to access Lake Louise at all times without worrying about parking. In the winter in Lake Louise, the Fairmont maintains the frozen lake as a public ice skating rink as well as operates horse-drawn sleigh rides. In the summer, take advantage of the endless hiking opportunities that start right from the hotel!
Book an Organized Tour that Visits Lake Louise
If you want to guarantee you’ll see Lake Louise on a stress-free day, then the only way to go is on an organized tour. There are some great tours of the Canadian Rockies that will take you right to the lake and you won’t waste any time looking for parking!
This specific sightseeing tour not only will take you to Lake Louise, but it includes a visit to nearby Moraine Lake too. On the tour, you will learn about the history of the area, and get the chance to take some photos at the Valley of Ten Peaks. This particular tour is only available to book between April and November and costs $95 CAD.
Another great alternative is this hop-on hop-off bus tour. Not only is it cheaper, but you can explore the most popular attractions at your own pace. It stops at 7 different places, including Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Johnston Canyon. Personally, I think it’s the perfect option for guaranteeing that you’ll get to experience some of the top attractions in Banff without having to worry about getting turned away due to parking.
Must-do Activities while you’re in Lake Louise
- Relax at the Lake Louise foreshore – When it comes to enjoying Lake Louise, one of the easiest and most common ways is to enjoy the views are from the Lake Louise foreshore. Within minutes of arriving, you can have a coffee in hand and stare out at mountain peaks, glaciers, and the bluest lake you’ll ever see. Note, the lake is only blue during the summer months in Lake Louise when it is not frozen.
- Hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House – My favorite hike in Lake Louise is the Lake Agnes Tea House trail. Starting right from the foreshore, the trail has you hiking high above Lake Louise where you can peer down and see parts of the lake from above. Lake Agnes Tea House Trail is a 7.3-kilometer (4.5 miles) return track that climbs 400 meters in elevation. The trail is moderately difficult but not technical at all!
- Rent a canoe and explore Lake Louise – When I think of iconic Canadian activities a few come to mind. However, one of the most relaxing and breathtaking is paddling an alpine lake in a Canadian Canoe. You can do this throughout Canada, but there aren’t many places as beautiful as Lake Louise to enjoy this activity.
- Go ice skating on Lake Louise – Lake Louise is the color of the sky in summer and that color has made the lake famous. But in the winter, the cold temperatures completely freeze the lake over and it now becomes an ice-skating dream! This is one of the best things to do in Lake Louise in the winter, and it’s completely free if you bring your own skates!
- Eat at a delicious restaurant – Located inside The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is an amazing restaurant you just have to try. The Fairview Bar & Restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Lake Louise. The location of the Fairview could not be better, as the dining room looks out over the beautiful Lake Louise. They are a fine dining location, perfect for a date night or to celebrate a special occasion with loved ones. The romantic ambiance makes it a popular restaurant in Lake Louise for anyone visiting Banff National Park on a honeymoon.
Where to Stay in Lake Louise
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.
Lake Louise Inn
The Lake Louise Inn is still a budget 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.
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!
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!
While parking at Lake Louise can be a headache, a little planning ahead goes a long way. This blog should have you ready to visit Lake Louise, and no matter how you choose to get there, I’m sure you’ll have a great time.
Be sure to check out some of our related blogs including:
Guide to the BEST Things to do in Lake Louise
17 Things to KNOW About the Lake Louise Gondola
40 EPIC Things to do in Banff in Summer
Friday 29th of July 2022
Very informative! Thank you. I see where you have to pay for parking from 7a-7p, but can you arrive at 5am and not pay? Is parking even open at that time or does it open at 7am?
Wednesday 3rd of August 2022
You will still have to pay from 7 am. So yes, you will get 2 hours of free parking.
Hope this helps. Daniel
Tuesday 5th of July 2022
Do the Lake Louise Lakeshore parking pay station accept debit cards and cash or just credit cards ? Thanks ...
Thursday 7th of July 2022
I am not sure. However, it is most likely they accept all payment methods. Just to be safe, bring a few options such as cash and a credit card.