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Mom and child overlooking Moraine Lake

Escape the Gridlock: New Shuttle Plans for Lake Louise and Moraine Lake 

This season was the busiest ever, with almost one million trips made, and most riders visiting both lakes

Defined by crystal blue lakes and breathtaking views, it’s no wonder Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are two of the most popular tourist destinations in Canada. 

But the area’s popularity is matched by equally high demand. To ensure everyone can enjoy the area, Parks Canada is changing its shuttle service, which will be announced soon.

The need for changes was made clear last year when traffic flaggers were needed 24 hours a day to manage the demand for access at Moraine Lake Road. 

Personal vehicles parked along Moraine Lake Road in Banff | National Parks Traveller

According to Parks Canada, the Moraine Lake parking lot remained full for nearly 24 hours a day during the peak of summer 2022. 

To limit traffic in the area, Parks Canada announced earlier this year that Moraine Lake Road is closed to personal vehicles.

Parks Canada encourages visitors to use the Moraine Lake Shuttle to visit the iconic spot.

Parking at Lake Louise has also been problematic, with the parking lot being closed twice this past summer due to congestion. Parks Canada also runs a shuttle up to scenic Lake Louise that passengers can take from Banff or the Lake Louise townsite.

The shuttles require reservations, but are a good alternative to driving. A shuttle pass only costs $8 for adults and $4 for seniors and is free for kids aged six and under. But there is a $3 non-refundable transaction fee per reservation. That’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. 

Shuttle and transit hours will impact how much time visitors can enjoy activities. 

For visitors relying on shuttles, sunrise and sunset hikes will be next to impossible. This could also affect photographers in the area who prefer sunrise and sunset for more impactful photos.

The shuttle services for the 2023 season ended on October 9. 

More Demand Than Service Availability

There’s no denying that the demand far exceeds the available parking at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. 

Parks Canada turned away as many as 5,000 personal vehicles due to limited parking when Moraine Lake Road was still accessible. Clogged parking lots leave many visitors skipping Lake Louise altogether due to congestion. 

The numbers show there are more people relying on commercial transportation as was intended. 

According to James Eastham, a spokesperson for Lake Louise, Yoho, and Kootenay, this season was the busiest ever, with almost one million trips made. That’s a more than three-fifths increase compared to 2022.

He claims almost 339,000 unique visitors took 966,000 trips via shuttles, with most riders visiting both lakes. 

Parks Canada Lake Louise shuttle | Travel Banff Canada

In addition to Parks Canada’s shuttles, there were an average of 108 commercial buses carrying almost 2,000 people daily to Moraine Lake this summer.  

Moraine Lake is now inaccessible by personal vehicle, but Lake Louise is still free game for personal vehicles. Just under 2,300 visitors per day used shuttles, and about 750 per day used Roam Transit to reach the lake. 

Unfortunately, the majority of visitors still access Lake Louise using personal vehicles. 

But with the additions of shuttles and transit, road traffic in Lake Louise was down almost a fifth from 2022. 

But even with less traffic, Lake Louise still needed to limit access to some areas to residents, registered hotel and campground guests, commercial vehicles, and emergency response vehicles.

To accommodate more people using the shuttle, Parks Canada’s traffic management team is reviewing the service. 

“Those changes will be announced early in the new year,” said Eastham.

So next time you visit Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, think twice before bringing a personal vehicle.

You may be even further limited to where you can drive your vehicle in the park, with changes to access and shuttle services to be announced in the new year.

So, save yourself a headache and book the shuttle and transit services to be sure you get in those epic views and not epic gridlock. 

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