Moraine Lake is one of the most stunning and popular destinations in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. The turquoise lake is surrounded by majestic mountains, glaciers, and forests, and offers a variety of activities for visitors of all ages and fitness levels. However, due to its popularity and limited parking space, Parks Canada has removed individual vehicle access to Moraine Lake this year. Instead, visitors must book a shuttle bus in advance to access the lake from Lake Louise or Banff townsite. In this article, we will provide you with some information, tips and insights on how to book and see Moraine Lake in 2023 by shuttle, as well as some suggestions on what to do while you’re there.
How to Book a Shuttle to Moraine Lake
The shuttle service to Moraine Lake operates from mid-May to mid-October, depending on the weather and road conditions. The shuttle buses depart from two locations: Lake Louise Park and Ride (6 km east of Lake Louise village) and Banff High School (330 Banff Avenue). You can book your shuttle tickets online at https://reservation.pc.gc.ca/Banff or by phone at 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783). You can also book your tickets in person at the Banff Visitor Centre or the Lake Louise Visitor Centre, but availability is limited and not guaranteed. The shuttle tickets are sold in time slots, which indicate the departure time from your chosen location and the return time from Moraine Lake. You can choose from morning, afternoon or evening slots, depending on your preference and availability. The shuttle tickets cost $15 CAD per person for a round trip, plus a $6 CAD reservation fee per transaction. Children under 5 years old ride for free but still need a ticket. You can book up to 12 tickets per transaction, and up to 4 transactions per day. You must book your shuttle tickets at least 48 hours in advance of your desired travel date. You can also modify or cancel your reservation up to 48 hours before your departure time, subject to availability and fees. You will receive a confirmation email with a QR code that you must present at the shuttle stop along with a valid photo ID. You must arrive at least 15 minutes before your departure time and board the shuttle bus with your QR code scanned by the driver. If you miss your departure time, you will forfeit your ticket and will not be able to board another shuttle bus.
Other Available Shuttles to Moraine Lake
If you are staying at Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows, or if you want to visit Johnston Canyon on your way to Moraine Lake, you have some other shuttle options to choose from. Here are some of them:
- Ten Peaks Shuttle: This is another seasonal service that runs from early June to mid-October and has two outgoing stops at Johnston Canyon! You can book your tickets online at https://tenpeaksshuttle.ca/ or by phone at 587-600-1643. Fares start at $45 CAD per person for a round-trip shuttle to Moraine Lake.
- Roam Transit Route 9: This is a seasonal service that runs from mid-May to mid-October, and connects Banff, Johnston Canyon and Lake Louise. You can board the bus at Johnston Canyon Resort, which is a short walk from the lodge and bungalows, and get off at Lake Louise Park and Ride, where you can transfer to the Moraine Lake shuttle. The fare is $8 CAD per person for a one-way trip, or $16 CAD for a day pass that allows unlimited travel on all Roam Transit routes. You can buy your tickets online at https://roamtransit.com/ or on board the bus with cash or credit card. You can also check the schedule and route map on their website.
- Driving or Taxi: If you have your own vehicle or want to hire a taxi, you can also drive to Lake Louise Park and Ride, where you can park your car for free and board the Moraine Lake shuttle. However, be aware that the parking lot may fill up quickly during peak season and hours, so plan ahead and arrive early. Alternatively, you can drive to Lake Louise village or Banff townsite, where you can park your car for a fee and board the Moraine Lake shuttle from there. However, this option may be more expensive and less convenient than taking a shuttle bus from Johnston Canyon.
How to See Moraine Lake by Shuttle
The shuttle bus ride from Lake Louise Park and Ride to Moraine Lake takes about 20 minutes, while the ride from Banff High School takes about an hour. The shuttle buses are comfortable and air-conditioned and have large windows for you to enjoy the scenic views along the way. The shuttle buses also have audio guides that provide some information and history about the area. Once you arrive at Moraine Lake, you will have about 3 hours to explore the lake and its surroundings before your return shuttle bus departs. This is enough time to enjoy some of the activities that Moraine Lake has to offer, such as:
- Stop by the Moraine Lake Trading Post for some souvenirs, snacks, or refreshments. The gift shop is located at the Moraine Lake Lodge, which is the only accommodation option at the lake.
- Rent a canoe from the Canoe Dock operated by Moraine Lake Lodge and paddle on the serene blue waters of the lake. The canoe rentals start from $130 CAD plus tax per canoe for a one-hour rental, and include paddle, life jackets and basic instructions. The canoe dock is open from mid-June to mid-September, depending on the water levels and weather conditions. The canoes are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and can accommodate two to three people. Pets are not allowed in the canoes.
- Hike the Rockpile Trail for the famous view of Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks. The trail is easy and short, taking about 15 minutes one way. It starts from the parking lot and climbs up a series of wooden stairs to the top of a large pile of rocks that overlooks the lake. From there, you can admire the stunning panorama of the lake and its surroundings and take some photos for your Instagram.
- Hike to Consolation Lakes for a more secluded and peaceful experience. The trail is moderate and longer, taking about an hour one way. It starts from the Rockpile Trailhead and follows a forested path along a creek to two beautiful alpine lakes that are nestled below towering peaks and glaciers. The trail may be closed due to bear activity, so check with Parks Canada before you go.
- Hike to Larch Valley or Sentinel Pass for a more challenging and rewarding adventure. The trail is difficult and steep, taking about 2 hours one way to Larch Valley and another hour to Sentinel Pass. It starts from the Rockpile Trailhead and climbs up a series of switchbacks through a forest of larch trees that turn golden in autumn. The trail then opens up to a stunning valley with views of Mount Temple, Mount Pinnacle and Mount Eiffel. From there, you can continue to Sentinel Pass, which is the highest point on the trail and offers spectacular views of both Moraine Lake and Paradise Valley. The trail is very popular and may require a minimum group size of 4 people due to bear activity, so check with Parks Canada before you go.
- Hike the Lakeshore Trail for a more moderate and family-friendly option. The trail is easy and flat, taking about 45 minutes one way. It starts from the parking lot and follows the shoreline of Moraine Lake to the end of the lake, where you can enjoy a picnic or a swim in the cold water. The trail offers scenic views of the lake and the mountains, and is suitable for all ages and abilities.
Tips and Insights for Visiting Moraine Lake by Shuttle
- Book your shuttle tickets as early as possible, as they sell out quickly and may not be available on the day of your visit.
- Check the weather forecast before you go, as it can change quickly and affect your plans. Dress in layers and bring a rain jacket, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, water and snacks.
- Respect the wildlife and keep a safe distance from bears, elk, deer and other animals. Do not feed or approach them, and carry bear spray if you plan to hike. Follow the signs and warnings from Parks Canada and report any sightings or incidents to them.
- Respect the environment and leave no trace. Do not litter, pick flowers, carve rocks or damage trees. Stay on the designated trails and do not wander off or climb on the rocks. Use the toilets and garbage bins provided at the parking lot or the lodge.
- Respect other visitors and share the space. Do not block the trails or the viewpoints, and be courteous and patient with others. Enjoy the beauty and tranquility of Moraine Lake, and have a wonderful time!
We hope this article has helped you plan your visit to Moraine Lake in 2023 by shuttle. If you have any questions or need more information, please contact us at [email protected] We are the Adventure Team at Johnston Canyon Lodge and Bungalows, and we offer a variety of accommodation options, activities and tours in Banff National Park. We would love to host you and make your stay memorable! 😊 Book Now