Parking in the Lake Louise area

Banff National Park

Due to high demand, visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in Banff National Park requires planning. Parking is limited at the Lake Louise Lakeshore. Lots fill early and remain full until sunset. Taking transit or booking a Parks Canada shuttle is easy, stress-free and the only way to ensure you see these iconic lakes. Booking your shuttle in advance is required.

New in 2023 - Moraine Lake Road is closed to personal vehicles

Moraine Lake Road is closed to personal vehicles year round. Parks Canada shuttles, Roam Public Transit, and commercial buses are permitted from June to mid-October.

Parking at Lake Louise Lakeshore

Attempting to take your personal vehicle to this iconic destination is not recommended.

This parking lot fills by 7 am and stays full throughout daylight hours. Finding parking can be difficult in any season, especially from June to October. When parking has filled, there is no space to wait for parking stalls to become available. If you choose to drive, plan ahead, arrive with extra time and patience, and have back-up destinations to visit.

Paid parking is in effect at this location during the shuttle season (May – October). Visit our fees page for pricing. This fee is in addition to your park entry pass.

Frequently asked questions

  • If parking is so difficult, how should I access Lake Louise
    • The best way to experience Lake Louise and Moraine lake is by Parks Canada shuttle or Roam Public Transit. Commercial tours and third party shuttle operators are another good option.
  • When is paid parking in effect?
    • Paid parking is in effect during the shuttle operational season, from 7 am - 7 pm. In 2023, these dates are May 19 to October 9, 2023.
  • Who is required to pay for parking at Lake Louise Lakeshore?
    • All public vehicles, including motorcycles and RV are required to pay for parking if parked at Lake Louise Lakeshore. Commercial buses with a valid Parks Canada business license are not required to pay for parking.
  • Where is paid parking required?
    • Paid parking is required at the Lake Louise Lakeshore day use area, in all public stalls. Parking is free at the Lake Louise Park and Ride, as well as within the community of Lake Louise.
  • What is the pay parking fee?
    • Please visit our fees page for more information.
  • Are drop offs allowed?
    • Drop offs will only be permitted if the traffic flow is low enough to not cause added congestion. During busy periods, traffic control personnel may not permit drop offs.
  • How do I pay for my parking permit?
    • Parking permits can only be purchased at the Lake Louise Lakeshore. Parking machines are located in both the lower and upper parking lots.
    • The Lake Louise Lakeshore parking lot will operate on a pay-by-plate system, so be sure to remember to take a photo of your license plate! You do not need to return to your vehicle to display your parking permit.
  • Can I park my car overnight in the Lake Louise Lakeshore parking lot?
    • Overnight parking is only allowed for visitors with a valid backcountry permit.
  • Where does the revenue go?
    • All revenue collected from parking fees at Lake Louise Lakeshore and from the Lake Louise shuttles remain within Banff National Park and are used to offset the cost of traffic management of the Lake Louise area.
    • Parks Canada is committed to developing and implementing long term, sustainable transit solutions for Banff National Park, and the revenue collected through parking fees at the Lake Louise Lakeshore will help offset the cost of providing visitor transportation services within the Lake Louise area and Banff National Park as a whole. Visitor fees never exceed the costs of delivering the service to visitors, they only ever recover costs, keeping visitor experiences affordable.
  • Do I need to pay for a parking permit in addition to my National Park entry pass? Why?
    • Yes, all visitors must pay for parking at Lake Louise Lakeshore. The cost is not included in your national park admission or Discovery Pass. Fees collected from paid parking at the lakeshore stay in Banff National Park and go directly to offsetting the cost of traffic management and transit service in the Lake Louise area.

Parking at Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake Road is closed to personal vehicles year round. Parks Canada shuttles, Roam Public Transit, and third party transportation providers (e.g. tour buses) are permitted from June to mid-October.

Frequently asked questions

  • Why has Parks Canada decided to restrict personal vehicle traffic on the Moraine Lake Road?
    • Demand to reach Moraine Lake far exceeds available parking. In 2022, traffic flaggers were required 24 hours a day to manage the demand for access. During the peak of summer 2022, the parking lot remained full nearly 24 hours a day. 
    • Traffic control at Moraine Lake Road has ensured that safe access into and out of the area was maintained. However, it has also contributed to the degradation of the visitor experience. Most visitors who attempt to drive to Moraine Lake are turned away as parking lots are full.
    • Replacing personal vehicles with Parks Canada shuttles, Roam Transit and other commercial transportation providers will provide several benefits. These include:
      • Predictability and improved visitor experience - Visitors with Parks Canada shuttle reservations are guaranteed to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. This removes the uncertainty and frustration when arriving in a personal vehicle but unable to park.
      • Improved wildlife movement in the Fairview wildlife corridor - Moraine Lake Road runs through an important wildlife corridor. Eliminating personal vehicles will reduce stress on animals who use the corridor, particularly in the late evening and early morning.
      • Reduced carbon emissions - Eliminating personal vehicles means a reduction of approximately 900 cars per day and 20,000 kilometres per day of driving. Based on an average fuel consumption of 9.0L/100km, this would mean a reduction of more than 4 tonnes of CO2 per day.
  • How can people see Moraine Lake in 2023?
    • Visitors who wish to visit Moraine Lake will have four options in 2023:
      1. Take the Parks Canada Shuttle – Visitors can reserve a seat in advance on a Parks Canada shuttle to see Moraine Lake. Shuttle fares include the Lake Connector route between Moraine Lake and Lake Louise, allowing visitors to see both lakes in one day. 40% of tickets are released for reservation in the spring. The remaining 60% of seats are released for reservation 48 hours in advance of departure. More information can be found here.
      2. Take Roam Transit: Roam riders departing from Canmore or Banff who purchase the Roam Transit ‘superpass’ can connect to Moraine Lake via the Parks Canada Lake Connector Shuttle upon arrival at the Lake Louise Lakeshore. Riders can reconnect with the Roam system by returning to the Lake Louise Lakeshore on the Parks Canada Lake Connector Shuttle.
      3. Use a commercial transportation provider – Visitors can use a commercial transportation operator or registered taxi to get to Moraine Lake.
      4. Bike the Moraine Lake Road – Bicycles, including pedal assist e-bikes will be allowed on Moraine Lake Road. Visitors will be able to access the lake by bicycle. The journey is 25 km round trip. Please note: There is very limited parking within the community of Lake Louise, and this is best suited for visitors who are already staying in the community.
  • Will Parks Canada be running more shuttles to accommodate visitors who had been driving to the lake?
    • Yes. Some additional shuttle capacity will be added for 2023 to help accommodate visitors who had been driving.
  • Will Parks Canada be running a sunrise shuttle?
    • In order to protect our important wildlife corridors, Parks Canada is unable to run a sunrise shuttle. To help minimize disturbances to wildlife using the Whitehorn wildlife corridor, access to the Park and Ride via Whitehorn Drive is restricted between 8:00 pm and 6:00 am. Parks Canada understands that not every visitor’s desired visiting times or requirements will be met by the shuttle and appreciates the disappointment that may cause.
    • Parks Canada is unable to provide a shuttle for sunrise but will allow commercial transportation providers to accommodate visitors wishing to see the sunrise at Moraine Lake. Parks Canada is committed to evaluating management strategies and will continually look for ways to improve visitor experience while maintaining ecological integrity.
  • Why aren’t the shuttles free?
    • Parks Canada charges fees when visitors receive a private benefit, such as a campground or seat on a shuttle. Fees never exceed the cost of delivering services.
    • Based on the experience of shuttle systems in other national parks, fees are also necessary to ensure that visitors use their reservations or cancel to receive a refund, freeing the shuttle seats for visitors who are able to use them. Free shuttles have high rates of no-shows, resulting in visitors unable to use the shuttle even though spaces are available.
    • In the 2022/23 fiscal year (April 1, 2022 – March 31, 2023) the cost of traffic management in the Moraine Lake and Lake Louise area will be $5.71 million. This includes the cost of the shuttles, traffic management contractors and staffing directly related to traffic management.
    • Revenue from shuttle fares in the same time period was $1.78 million and revenue from paid parking was $2.09 million. The remaining $1.84 million cost has been covered from Parks Canada’s budget for Banff National Park.
    • For this upcoming year, shuttle fees have been reduced. The shuttle reservation fee has been lowered to $3 and children under 18 will now ride for free. Adult and senior fares are unchanged at $8 and $4 respectively.
  • I have a disabled parking tag; can I drive to Moraine Lake?
    • Yes. Visitors in possession of a disabled parking hang tag will be granted vehicle access to Moraine Lake. Please have your tag visible and speak to the traffic control staff when you arrive at the Moraine Lake Road Junction.
    • Visitors who require accessible parking but do not possess a disable parking hang tag should proceed to the Park and Ride and speak with Parks Canada staff.
  • Will I be allowed to take my pet on the shuttle?
    • Certified assistance animals are allowed on board at no charge. Owners of assistance animals should be prepared to show the animal's verification of training.
    • Passenger pets are allowed on board at no charge. All pets must be crated in a secure and clean carrier designed and intended for the carrying of animals which is small enough to fit on the owner's lap.
    • Passengers must hold onto the carrier at all times and are responsible for the safety of their pet.
  • I want to visit Paradise Valley. Can I drive my car?
    • No. Access to Paradise Valley will be via the Parks Canada shuttle.
    • Camping at the Paradise Valley Backcountry Campground? Visit Parks Canada staff at the Park and Ride and show your backcountry permit. You will receive a special Paradise Valley ticket and must show this to the bus driver. All reservations for this campground must be made 24 hours in advance through the Banff or Lake Louise visitor centres. This campground is closed when group access restrictions are in effect due to bear activity.
    • Day hiking in the Paradise Valley? On the day of your hike, visit Parks Canada staff at the Park and Ride for a first-come-first-serve seat on the Parks Canada shuttle. A limited number of tickets is available each day. The number of first-come-first-serve seats corresponds to the average daily use recorded by trail counters in 2022. You will receive a special Paradise Valley ticket and must show this to the bus driver.
    • To return to the Park and Ride, visitors can hike through to Moraine Lake and catch the shuttle from the lakeshore or return the way they came, and catch the next available shuttle to the Park and Ride from the Paradise Valley Trailhead. Two seats on every return shuttle are reserved for Paradise Valley users.
  • I am a climber or mountaineer. Can I drive to Moraine Lake?
    • The only vehicles permitted on Moraine Lake Road in 2023 are Parks Canada shuttles, Roam Transit, and commercial buses. Buses are defined as “commercially registered vehicles that transport 11 or more people, have a business license with Banff National Park, and have a commercial park entry pass”. Visitors with a disabled parking hang tag will also be permitted.
    • Climbers and mountaineers travelling by personal vehicle are unable to drive to Moraine Lake and will need to take the Parks Canada shuttle or a commercial transportation operator. Mountaineers staying at the Neil Colgan hut, or who have obtained bivy permits will be provided with a shuttle ticket as part of their reservation.
    • Climbers who need access outside of the hours when Parks Canada shuttles are running will need to arrange private transportation.
  • If I have a watercraft, can I drive to Moraine Lake?
    • No. The Parks Canada shuttles can accommodate many different types of watercraft including inflatable paddleboards, packrafts, inflatable kayaks, and even small hard-sided kayaks provided space permits. If you are unsure about whether your watercraft can be accommodated, please speak to the Parks Canada staff at the park and ride.
  • What happens if I miss the last shuttle?
    • Parks Canada takes great care to ensure that no visitors are left stranded at Moraine Lake. In the event that visitors return later than planned and miss the last shuttle, they are responsible for their own return to the Park and Ride lot via private transport, bike or foot. Phone access is available at the Moraine Lake Lodge located at Moraine Lake.
    • Visitors returning later than the last shuttle to the Park and Ride lot should note that access to Whitehorn Drive is restricted using a permanent gate between 8 pm and 6 am from May to October. Vehicles cannot be retrieved after 8 pm and will not be accessible until 6 am the following morning.
    • Cell service is available approximately 5km from the lake, down Moraine Lake Road. Parks Canada is investigating additional options for emergency communications located at the lake.
  • Why not use reservable parking?
    • Both 24-hour reservable parking and reservable parking outside of shuttle access hours were considered by Parks Canada, however, these options were deemed infeasible for managing traffic at Moraine Lake.
    • Reservable parking requires a large space to stop and check vehicles against the reservation list.
    • The Moraine Lake Road junction does not have the space to conduct these checks without causing significant congestion. Even one car stopped for 30 seconds can be enough to cause a traffic jam to form. The junction’s close proximity to the Trans Canada highway means that congestion can quickly back up onto the highway.
    • In order to maximize the use of available parking, reservable parking systems also feature timed entry and parking time limits. For example, in Bruce Peninsula National Park, parking at the Grotto is reservable for four hour blocks. Creating a system to efficiently use the space at the Moraine Lake parking lot with reservations would not meet the needs of many users or improve visitor experience at this location.

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