Visiting Moraine Lake in the Canadian Rockies is an absolute dream yet the popularity of this beautiful lake has meant Parks Canada have changed the rules of how to get to Moraine Lake.
Up until the summer of 2022 Parks Canada allowed private vehicles access to Moraine Lake by driving up to the car park themselves and staying as long as desired.
This has all come to a necessary but screeching halt in 2023 as private vehicles are no longer allowed up the road and visitors must pre-book transport to and from Lake Moraine.
This article will cover the Top 10 Ways to get to Moraine Lake in 2023 and beyond, however if you are short on time and need to know just the basics, this is our top pick for accessing Moraine Lake.
All prices listed on this page is in Canadian dollars.
Our Top Pick for getting to Moraine Lake
The Moraine Lake Bus company is a privately run bus tour company that specialises in transporting visitors to both Lake Louise and Moraine lake and are not an official service of Parks Canada shuttles.
This is our top pick for getting to Moraine lake as they offer a sunrise shuttle to Moraine Lake where you can watch the sunrise over the Valley of the Ten peaks an hour before sunrise to capture the whole event.
Read Next: Moraine lake is only one of the awesome things to do in Banff in summer
A short intro to Moraine Lake
If this is your first time visiting Alberta then I can promise you, your’e visit here is ticking off some incredible bucket list destinations in Canada.
Far south in Alberta lies the Canadian Rockies mountain range which spans across Alberta into British Columbia.
Arguably the most famous of all the national parks here is Banff national park, Canada’s first national park designated in 1885.
To nail it down even further we would suggest that tourist flock here for two main lakes, Lake Louise and Moraine lake.
Where is Moraine lake?
There are dozens of incredibly beautiful lakes to visit in Banff but none more so impressive than Lake Moraine; which is why we really want to show you all the way on how to get to Moraine lake.
As you arrive up the Moraine Lake tourist road you’re greeted with the majesty of the Valley of the Ten Peaks mountain range in the back, with an enormous rock pile from where you can sit and enjoy the sunrise as it hits the peaks of the mountain ranges.
Surrounded by giant mountains like Mount Temple, Mount Fay, Neputak mountain and Mount Babel, the sheer size of this place will blow your mind.
Moraine lake is exactly 1 hour drive from Banff village, 71km and a 21 minute, 14.2 km drive to Lake Louise by private car.
Read More: Moraine lake is one of many terrific turquoise lakes hidden in the Canadian Rockies
Parks Canada Pass Information guide
Before considering individual lakes and trails in Canada you will need to purchase a Parks Canada pass that comes in two forms: a single day pass or a Discovery pass. Both options allow you to access the following national parks
-Banff national park
-Jasper national park
-Kootenay national park
-Yoho national park
-Glacier national park
-Waterton lakes national park
-Elk island national park
Single Day Pass – parks listed above
Cost: Adult $10.50, $9.00 for seniors, youth enter free and a group in one vehicle is $21.00
Time: Until 4pm day of purchase
Cost: Adult $72.75, $61.75 for seniors, $145.25 for families
Time: One year from date of purchase
Location: Over 80 national parks, marine areas and historic sites around Canada.
When can you visit Moraine Lake?
Being a national park, Moraine lake is subject to the rules set out by Parks Canada and makes decisions based principally on weather.
The summer and fall months from June to mid-October are by far the busiest seasons for travel to Banff national Park and is also when the weather is at its warmest.
Before and after these dates Parks Canada closed off the access roads leading up to Moraine lake and Lake Louise due to heavy snowfall and avalanche risks in the area.
All summer tour operators close business outside of these times, and whilst you could technically go off trail and hike or bike through snow and forest, unless you have advanced avalanche training we do not personally recommend this.
Even if you do, it’s a big risk in an unpredictable environment.
Why did Parks Canada change the rules?
Firstly to clarify, prior to 2023 Parks Canada allowed visitors and tourists to drive their private cars into the car park at Moraine Lake.
Over the years however (undoubtedly due to social media and covid bounce back) Moraine lake gained considerable popularity and the capacity of the car park to house everyone diminished.
To the point where Parks Canada were forced to close the access road to Moraine lake by 3-4 am each summer morning as it was already full!
What we have now is a number of both private and public transportation options to choose from when it comes to accessing Moraine Lake.
Use our 2023 Guide to the Best Things To Do In Banff
What’s the weather like at Moraine lake?
The summer months from June 1st to September 1st provide the warmest weather season long, however this is also very dependent on the year and global weather conditions, as Canada this year 2023 has already seen late snowfall into the summer, before being covered in devastating forest fires.
September to November is the fall or autumn season in Canada and generally brings slightly cooler weather and the leaves on the trees begin to change colour.
This is also when the Larch season begins and the larch trees, a type of coniferous tree, loses its needles and turns from green to yellow.
Can I fly into Moraine Lake
There is no official airport in the Canadian Rockies region but you have the choice of flying into either Edmonton airport (4 hours north of Banff) and pick up your rental car from the airport, or flying into Calgary and driving for just 1 hour and 19 minutes.
How to get to Moraine lake
Since the closure of the main road leading up to Moraine lake in Banff national park, a number of alternatives have become available like the park and ride option, parks Canada shuttle, the lake connector shuttle and the Moraine lake sunrise shuttle; all of which have varying degrees of prices, availability and ease of use.
Here’s a brief overview of the different options on how to get to Moraine lake
Moraine lake bus company
If it’s sunrise your after then booking with the Moraine Lake bus company is the one for you.
This privately run tour company offers transport to both Lake Louise and Moraine lake in Banff national park during the summer and fall months from June 2nd to October 9th.
There are two pick up zones, Samson Mall lake Louise village which departs on-time at 4am and arrives at Moraine Lake by 4:35am in time for sunrise.
From August onwards the 5am shuttle to Moraine lake will also mean you arrive before sunrise.
The other option is to depart from the Lake Louise summer gondola however the earliest departure from here is at 6:20am and arriving at Moraine Lake by 7:15am and will miss sunrise.
The round trips start at $35CAD for adults and $25CAD for children.
This summer is going to be very busy so make sure you book your tickets ahead of time!
Alternatively if you don’t mind missing sunrise yet still want an early start then why not take the bus that stops at Lake Louise before hand.
Roam transit public service
This service will resume operation to Moraine Lake from September 18th 2023 and normally operates route #10 of the Roam transit service.
The public route #10 with service to Moraine lake departs from the downtown Banff high school transit hub 7 times a day, 7 days a week and is a non-stop service.
The route operates until the close of business roughly until 12th October 2023.
As far as we have been able to research, for the Banff to Moraine Lake express a day pass for adults will cost $20, youth and senior 65 years + $10 children ≤12 years ride free.
Here is a free PDF version for full fares with roam transit
The earliest bus route departs Banff at 630am leaving roughly every hour and returns at 530pm.
This is one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to explore Banff national park by using the Roam transit service and takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes.
The next part can get a little confusing so bear (pun intended) with us.
Option A -Roam Route 8X – Runs daily, year round between the town of Banff and lake Louise foreshore. Change to the LL route where you need to transfer to the Park and Ride.
Option B- Roam route 10 – Moraine Louise Express – this is a fall service only between mid September to mid October that runs from Banff to Moraine lake along the main highway
Upgrade to the roam super pass and the transfer to the park and ride is free!
To get the most scenic route through Banff national park we recommend taking the 8S bus route to get to Moraine lake as you travel along the Bow Valley parkway for more than an hours bus ride.
Buses from Banff depart from 730 onwards up to 7 times a day, and you can imagine the crowds at midday when families are in full tourist mode so we personally would take the earliest route possible.
The buses here accept both Canadian and US currency but you will need exact change if paying in cash.
Alternatively you can purchase a Roam Transit smart card from the Banff Information visitor centre and register it online. Simply a plastic, re-useable card used like a credit card to pay for fares and trips.
Park and Ride shuttle service
Parks Canada operates a cheap and reliable shuttle service from Lake Louise Ski resort off Whitehorn road not far from Lake Louise village.
Parks Canada only release 40% of the operating season early, the remaining 60% is released on a rolling window at 8am, 48 hours before the day of departure through the entirety of the season.
There are two options for getting here.
Drive yourself from Banff village to Lake Louise ski resort park and ride which takes 45 minutes to reach.
To park your car at the lakeshore it will cost $21 for general parking and $8 in the accessible parking.
The second is to catch the Roam transit bus as mentioned earlier.
From the park and ride you can visit both Moraine lake and Lake Louise lakeshore from May to October however you will need to book your trips in advance.
Park and Ride Shuttle system (2023)
Here’s a step. by step guide on how this system works:
1) Reserve your spot here on the Parks Canada website
2)Tickets are for 1 hour windows throughout the day, show up anytime in that hour.
3)When you arrive at your lake, stay as long as you want.
4)Go between lake Louise and Moraine lake via the lake connector shuttle, first come, first served. No reservations.
5)Your ticket is a return ticket.
Hot tip: If you’re staying in the lake Louise community or lake Louise campground, leave your car at your accommodation and take the park and ride connector to the park and ride carpark.
Park and Ride Shuttle service fees (2023)
Seniors: ≥65 years $4
Youth: (6-17) $2
Children: (<6 years) free
The shuttle runs every 20 minutes from 6:30am to 6pm with the last bus returning from Moraine lake to the park and ride at 7:30pm
What shuttle should I take if I’m staying in Lake Louise?
If you’re staying in the Lake Louise campground, foreshore or Lake Louise area then you can use the park and ride connector shuttle for free when it makes it run through the village.
If you have already purchased your Roam Super pass and take the roam bus to lake Louise lakeshore you also get access to the connector shuttle between Moraine lake and lake Louise.
If you’re staying at the Lake Louise Inn, they offer a Moraine Lake direct shuttle service for hotel guests under the Fairview Limousine service, typically for $35 cad return per person.
Mountain park transportation
Since its inception in 1999, MPT have been offering guests viable, direct routes within Banff national park.
They also include guided tours along the Ice fields parkway, Columbia Ice fields, Alberta foothills tours and airport transfers including to and from Calgary.
If you’re wondering how to access Moraine lake, these guys can pick you up from within Lake Louise village at three seperate locations which means you have to already be here to use this service.
Book your stay at the Mountaineer Lodge then it will take you 45 minutes to get to Moraine Lake and cost you $34.99 cad round trip for adults with return times varying from 8:45, 10:15, 11:45, 1:45, 3:15 and 4:30pm.
Children 13-17 cost $25cad, 5-12 year olds $15cad and infants ≤4 years old ride free.
Another great option is to make a reservation at the HI hostel Lake Louise, also known as the HI Lake Louise alpine centre through booking.com for an alternative. Here you will meet in the carpark at your reserved time and make your way to Lake Louise.
The last hotel that mountain park transport service is the 4.6 star rated Post Hotel and Spa in Lake Louise village only a 39 minute drive from Banff village and 54 minutes from Canmore.
All three of these hotels are situated right off of Lake Louise Drive on the road that takes you straight in to Lake Louise.
All three accommodations have fairly large car park access and this is where you will meet your shuttle.
Another great option is Moraine lake lodge that overlooks the Ten peaks mountains and Moraine lake itself.
This type of accommodation is a little expensive and generally books out well in advance for good reason but if you reserve a spot well enough in advance you will not be disappointed.
Hop on Hop off bus to Moraine Lake
The Hop on Hop Off bus tour company are one of Banff’s number 1 tourist providers and solve the issue of how to get to Moraine Lake.
They stop at popular Banff attractions like Johnston Canyon, lake Louise gondola and Banff village.
Pick up is at 7:45am, 09:30 and 12:15 from the Moose Hotel and Suites or from the Banff train station at 7:50am and heading straight down the Trans Canada highway onto the Bow Valley parkway at 8am; the first traffic is allowed here in early season from 8am.
Prices for this Moraine lake tour start at $80 for adults and children 6-17 years old at $65 per person.
Children ≤5 are not recommended on this particular tour group and there is no access for prams or strollers and they have a great cancellation policy of ≥24 hours.
If you plan to visit Lake Louise then this is also a fantastic option to include in your itinerary.
Where to get coffee and food in Lake Louise village
While you’re waiting for your mountain lodge transport to arrive, there’s a fantastic little cafe outside Samson Mall called the Trailhead Cafe.
We stopped here on our way to the Ice fields Parkway one morning and enjoyed a very nice take away coffee and slice to start the day off! It was also fun to hear a couple of Australians working in this cafe too!
A great little tip if you’ve been out all day driving the Ice fields parkway and need a place to stop, eat and refresh then we personally recommend the Lake Louise village Grill and Bar.
It’s by no means a fine dining restaurant but if you are happy with a quick pit-stop to refuel then this is about the only place to do it.
There are public washrooms here but they’re permanently closed so use the ones in the restaurant instead.
Guided tours to Moraine Lake
If you prefer to let the experts handle the driving then have a good look at this highly rated tour on Get Your Guide called the Moraine Lake sightseeing tour.
If you’re wondering how to get to Moraine lake then perhaps consider leaving this to the experts.
This tour runs for 4 hours and departs from Banff town taking you along the Trans Canada highway to lake Louise, admiring the Fairmont Chateau lake Louise.
For $115 you can book and reserve your spot on the Moraine lake tour and even pay later when it’s convenient for you.
The tour departs from the Mount Royal Hotel 5 minutes before the 7:42 am pick up time behind the public bus parking spot. Find it here on google maps
Sunrise tour at Moraine lake
Radventures offer this highly rated 4.8/5 star tour on Get Your Guide with free cancellation ≤24 hours before, reserve now pay later options and takes you to incredible attractions in Banff national park over 7 hours.
Watch the sun rise over the mountain top, enjoy a beautiful coffee or hot chocolate with an expert guided tour.
Alternatively you can join this night time tour admiring the starry sky of Canada in the intimacy of a small group.
Open top shuttle bus
Want to experience the feeling of breathing in fresh Rocky Mountain air from the top of an open shuttle bus?
This tour is likely to sell out so get in quick to book your spot ahead of time
Travel stress free on board this double decker bus for $47 cad and take as many photos as you want of the surrounding Lake Louise park, Lake Moraine itself and as much of Banff national park as you can see.
The best part about this tour is that your tickets are valid all day from 8am to 5pm and you can travel between Banff, Moraine lake and lake Louise in the hours you choose- just make sure you choose your return time and spend as much time here as you like.
The earliest departure from the Lake Louise ski resort is at 8am to 3pm every hour, and travels between both lakes every hour either on the hour, or on the half-hour up until 5pm.
Other alternatives to visiting Moraine lake – Bike hire
If none of the above interest you then why not explore the Trans Canada highway and the surrounding beauty by hiring a bike or an e-scooter from Banff town.
There’s an incredible track that runs along the the main highway called the Banff Legacy trail that runs from Canmore to Banff town.
Getting to Moraine lake is bed done by using the 3km turn point on Lake Louise drive before making your way up Moraine lake road.
There is no shoulder for bikes and you will be competing with buses so ride early or late in the day.
Visit these hops in Banff town to hire your bike
If you plan on biking to Moraine lake here are some simple safety tips to follow to ensure you enjoy the trails.
Always carry bear spray; bears love the mountains as much as you and often use the roads to cross between their habitats, don’t get caught in a sticky situation without it.
Always wear a helmet, reflective clothing and use a bell to warn approaching pedestrians or other cyclists and try to bike in groups of at least two.
Hiking to Moraine lake
The only way to hike to Moraine lake is by taking backcountry hiking paths, which can be dangerous and out of reach of the public eye.
This means Grizzly bear country and you must hike in groups of 4 at a minimum.
You can follow a back country hike from Lake Louise village to Moraine lake across 28 km with moderate elevation gain, however there is no marked route and we strongly suggest making sure you carry bear spray and seek expert advice before attempting.
Alternatively hike the Moraine lake highline trail near lake Louise, a 18.5 km return hike that will take on average just over 6 hours that leads to Moraine lake.
Some people use this as an alternative to visiting Moraine like if they were unable to get shuttle passes.
Make sure that you have the proper permits, safety gear and rescue gear in case of emergency and need to contact emergency services in areas of no reception.
Useful tips for enjoying your visit to Moraine lake
Banff national park is by far one of our favourite places on earth and it goes without saying that the rules of Parks Canada should be adhered to at all times for your safety and wildlife.
Here’s a few tips we’ve picked up along the way to help you out;
-Always have a camera ready. There’s an old saying the best camera is the one you have on you.
-Moraine lake is the busiest lake in the entire Rockies so be prepared for big crowds, long cues and extended waits for transport in peak season.
The shoulder seasons are our preferred time to visit when holidays have finished and the crowds have almost halved, so head there either before June or in September to October before the snow returns.
How to get to Moraine lake from Calgary
The easiest way for you to get the great lakes of Banff national park from Calgary is to drive yourself along the Trans Canada Highway and head west.
Road trips are best enjoyed with friends so pick up your rental car here and make the 2 hour and 15 minute drive into Moraine lake.
How to get to Moraine lake from Jasper
Jasper national park still sits on the Albertan side of the Rockies and is north of Banff national park on the Ice fields parkway.
This is great news for because that means this self-drive itinerary to Moraine lake is jam packed full of epic places to see along the Ice fields parkway like Peyto Lake, Bow lake, Athabasca glacier, the Columbia Icefields and Johnston canyon.
If you didn’t stop to take photos, the drive from Jasper to Banff would take you 3 hours and 5 minutes but w all know that there is incredible scenery along this world famous stretch of road.
If you have the time for a quick detour, Yoho national park is another fantastic attraction of Parks Canada that has stunning likes like Emerald lake.
The parks Canada shuttle buses dont take you out here but if you feel like going off the beaten path then we highly recommend a visit here.