Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are one of the best bucket list destinations in North America. These incredible lakes offer stunning water surrounded by incredible mountain vistas.
As more and more people visit these lakes, Parks Canada is making needed changes to help manage the number of people and cars, especially during the summer months including limited access to Moraine Lake Road. Before visiting, it’s important to know exactly how to get from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake.
In this article, we’ll share the details on how to schedule your visit and what to know about the shuttle from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake as well as a complete itinerary for how to spend the perfect day in Banff.
Looking for more lakes? Check out the Best Lakes in Banff.
Overview of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are two iconic and breathtaking alpine lakes nestled within the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, Canada. Lake Louise, situated within Banff National Park, is famous for its mirror-like surface that reflects the surrounding mountains, notably the majestic Victoria Glacier. It offers a range of outdoor activities year-round, from hiking and canoeing in the summer to ice skating and snowshoeing in the winter.
Moraine Lake, located in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, captivates visitors with its intense turquoise hue and the dramatic backdrop of ten towering mountain peaks. Accessible during the warmer months, the lake’s beauty is complemented by various hiking trails that unveil panoramic vistas.
Both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake stand as testament to the stunning natural beauty of the Canadian Rockies, drawing visitors from around the world to witness their awe-inspiring charm.
Lake Louise is about a 40 minute drive from the town of Banff.
Highlights of One Day at Moraine Lake and Lake Louise
There are many way to spend the day exploring Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. Our top recommendations for making the more of the day are to:
- Pre-book transportation to Lake Louise and from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake
- Select a few short or medium Lake Louise and Lake Moraine hikes
- Start your day early to avoid the crowds
- Consider renting boats, visting a teahouse or taking a tour
Here is the itinerary we chose to make the most of our day. This is an ambitious hiking itinerary that covers a lot of ground in a single day. You can also do shorter versions of all the Lake Louise hikes and Lake Moraine hikes.
- Arrive to the Lake Louise Shuttle Park and Ride and take the shuttle to Lake Louise – arrive by 7:00 am
- Walk down to the lake for some early morning photos before the crowds
- Get the first bus to Moraine Lake
- Hike the Rockpile Trail for views of the Lake
- Hike the Moraine Lakeshore Trail
- Eat a Picnic Lunch
- Take the shuttle back to Lake Louise
- Hike from Lake Lousie up to the Lake Agnes Tea house and Big Beehive
- Finish with a walk along Lake Louise before taking the shuttle back to your car.
How to Get to Lake Louise and How to Get to Moraine Lake
Parking and driving is limited to get to Lake Louise and from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake. During the summer season, you can’t drive your car to Moraine Lake and need to get there by shuttle bus or tour. It is possible to drive to Lake Louise, but parking is limited and expensive.
Below you can see everything we learned about booking shuttle service for Lake Louise to Moraine Lake and you can also see up to date schedules and pricing and Parks Canada.
Lake Louise Shuttle Reservations
The best way to ensure you can get to Lake Louise and from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake is to book a spot on the shuttle in advance. This was so easy, efficient and a good deal for our family of 5. We chose to book our shuttle through Parks Canada. These shuttles were frequent and comfortable and were the least expensive. Check out the release dates for your visit and make sure to book your pass as soon as possible.
It was cheaper to book the shuttle than to pay for parking.
When you reserve your shuttle spot, you will need to select a specific time. This is just for the first shuttle to Lake Louise. Once you take that shuttle, you can then use the shuttle service whenever you want throughout the day. Shuttles run from the Park and Ride to Lake Louise and from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake and back again.
You can also book a shuttle through ROAM Public Transportation. This Lake Louise to Moraine Lake Shuttle service is from several different locations and is a good option if you don’t want to drive and park at the park and ride. This shuttle service is also more expensive.
Parking at Lake Louise
There is a large parking lot at Lake Louise where you can pay to park. Despite the large number of spaces, this parking lot fills up early in the morning. When we were there in early July, the lot filled up by 8 am.
If you plan to park in the Lake Louise lot, arrive early in the morning.
You can not drive from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake, so even if you find parking at Lake Louise, you won’t be able to get to Moraine Lake.
Best Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Tours
Another option for getting to the lakes is to book a tour. This will be the most expensive option, but gives you a great opportunity to see the lakes and maybe even a few additional sites. If you have a big group, this private tour offers several stops.
Taking a tour is the best way to see sunrise at Moraine Lake unless you are staying overnight at the lake.
Hiking or Biking to Moraine Lake
If you are looking for other alternatives to get to the lake, you can also consider biking or hiking. You can bike to both lakes – see more information on how to bike from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake.
It is theoretically possible to hike fomr Lake Louise to Moraine Lake, but it is a long hike and there are other better hikes in the area. We recommend taking the shuttle between the two lakes and hiking at each lake.
Things to Know About Visiting Lake Louise to Moraine Lake
Best Time of Year to Visit Lake Louise and Moraine
The best time to visit the lakes is after the snow melts in the spring (usually in May or later). The road is not open before this and the lakes will be covered in snow and ice.
It is possible to visit Lake Louise during the winter and it is a lovely time to hike but you obviously won’t see the blue of the lake.
Moraine Lake vs Lake Louise
If you are trying to decide which lake to visit, the quick answer is to visit them both. The lakes are equally stunning and the easiest way to get to Moraine Lake is to take the shuttle from Lake Louise.
If I had to pick, I would say the Moraine Lake is prettier with the mountains truly hugging the water.
Itinerary for One Day at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
If you have one day to spend visiting these two lakes you may be having difficulty deciding exactly how to spend your time. In the next section I will share the details on a 1 day Lake Louise itinerary for making the most of your time. This is an ambitious day with lots of hiking. It is easy to do just a short section of each hike and still get some incredible views.
Scroll down for a complete list of Lake Louise activities and things to do at Moraine Lake to find some alternative activities and other options to make the most of your day at Lake Louise.
Arrive to the Lake Louise Shuttle Park and Ride and take the shuttle to Lake Louise
Take an early shuttle. Ideally take a shuttle around 6:30 in the morning so you arrive at Lake Louise by 7. You can also take a 7:00 shuttle. It takes about 40 minutes to drive from Banff to the Park and ride so this will be an early morning!
Walk down to the lake for some early morning photos before the crowds
Once you arrive at Lake Louise, walk down to the waterfront to enjoy the morning reflections and few people. The water was like glass when we visited and it was truly breathtaking.
Some of the best photos were down by Lake Moraine canoe rental center.
Get the first bus to Moraine Lake
A few minutes before 8, get in the line to get the first bus to Moraine Lake (it’s worth asking on your morning bus if this is the time the shuttle is running on the day you are visiting).
We caught the first shuttle up the Moraine Lake and with the exception of people who spent the night, other shuttle services and private tours, this was a great and quieter time to visit.
Hike the Rockpile Trail for views of the Lake
Once you arrive at Moraine Lake, hike up the 0.5 mile Rockpile trail at the close end of the lake. This is a short little hike that is well marked and takes you for a great view of Moraine Lake. This is the best place to see the entire lake with the mountain peaks in the background.
You can see a quick overview of the hike at All Trails, or talk to one of the people giving information right near the shuttle stop.
Hike the Moraine Lakeshore Trail
After snapping some photos, walk back to to the parking lot and hike the Moraine Lake Shoreline trail. The entire trail to the end of the lake and back is only about 2 miles round trip, but you can easily walk out and back on just part of the trail.
This trail is easy and follows mostly along the edge of the lake. There are many places to stop and sit. We walked all the way to end and it was fun to see the glacier water flowing down into the lake.
Eat a Picnic Lunch
There are so many great spots to stop along the side of Moraine Lake for a picnic. You can also purchase snacks in the shop next to the parking lot. We chose to eat overlooking the lake at the far end of the trail.
We ate lunch early around 10:30 after an early start to the day.
Take the shuttle back to Lake Louise
After lunch, take the shuttle back down to Lake Louise. We arrive back down to the lake by about 11:30. At this time of day there was no line for the shuttle although there are stories of it taking much longer later in the day.
Hike from Lake Lousie up to the Lake Agnes Tea house and Big Beehive
This is the long hike of the day. There are several different options and ways to do this hike. You can see complete details of this hike in our post of the Big Beehive and Agnes Lake Teahouse.
The hike start with a steady but steep ascent up to Lake Agnes. You will gain incredible views of Lake Louise and pass a waterfall before reaching Lake Agnes. On the shores of this pretty lake is the Teahouse. This teahouse offers snack and even lunch.
Take some time to enjoy a pot of tea and a baked ggood before continuing on your hike.
From here you can either hike back down, hike up and over the Big Beehive, or hike towards the Plain of Six Glaciers.
Finish with a walk along Lake Louise before taking the shuttle back to your car.
Finish your hike with a walk along the shore of Lake Louise. From the delta at the end of the lake, the trail is easy and pleasant.
Catch the final shuttle back to the park and ride. Be prepared to wait for a bit to get this shuttle and many people will be heading back to the park and ride at the end of the day.
Things to do at Lake Louise
If you want to plan your own itinerary to Lake Louise, you can see the top 10 things to do at Lake Louise and you can use this list to create your own one day itinerary for Lake Louise.
- Hike to Lake Agnes Tea House: Hike an easy but steep trail to reach the lovely and fun mountain tea house and enjoy stunning views of Lake Louise from above.
- Canoeing on Lake Louise: Glide across the turquoise waters in a canoe, surrounded by the majestic Rocky Mountains. You can rent canoes right on the shoreside – this is a one-of-a-kind activity and a bit expensive.
- Lake Louise Gondola Ride: Take a scenic gondola ride to a mountaintop observation deck offering panoramic vistas of the lake and its surroundings.
- Plain of Six Glaciers Hike: Embark on a challenging hike to witness glaciers and breathtaking alpine scenery, culminating at a historic tea house.
- Skiing and Snowboarding: Hit the slopes during winter to experience world-class skiing and snowboarding in a stunning winter wonderland.
- Ice Skating: When frozen in winter, the lake transforms into an ice skating rink, providing a unique and picturesque experience.
- Lake Louise Shoreline Trail: Stroll along the easy trail encircling the lake, taking in the incredible views and snapping memorable photographs.
- Rock Climbing Adventures: Test your climbing skills on the surrounding rock walls and boulders, with routes suitable for varying levels of expertise.
- Wildlife Watching: Keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that inhabits the area, including grizzly bears, elk, and mountain goats.
- Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: Visit the iconic Fairmont hotel, indulge in luxurious amenities, and enjoy afternoon tea while gazing at the lake’s beauty.
Things to do at Moraine Lake
Below you can find the top 10 things to do at Moraine Lake to help create your own perfect itinerary.
- Rockpile Trail Viewpoint: Hike the short but rewarding Rockpile Trail to a stunning vantage point that overlooks the vibrant turquoise waters of Moraine Lake against a backdrop of majestic mountains.
- Canoeing and Kayaking: Explore the brilliant blue waters up close by renting a canoe or kayak and paddling around the pristine lake surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
- Larch Valley Hike: Embark on a challenging hike that takes you through alpine meadows and offers incredible vistas of Moraine Lake, especially during the larch tree golden season.
- Photography Paradise: Capture the unparalleled beauty of Moraine Lake, which is a photographer’s dream with its vivid hues and awe-inspiring mountain setting.
- Fishing: Enjoy a peaceful fishing experience in the serene waters, surrounded by the tranquility of the mountains.
- Picnicking: Pack a picnic and relax at one of the designated areas, immersing yourself in the serenity of the surroundings.
- Guided Interpretive Programs: Participate in informative guided walks and talks that provide insights into the natural and cultural history of Moraine Lake and its ecosystem.
- Sentinel Pass Trail: Embark on a challenging full-day hike that leads you to Sentinel Pass, offering breathtaking views of both Moraine Lake and Paradise Valley.
- Winter Snowshoeing: During the winter months, explore the snow-covered landscape on snowshoes, reveling in the serene beauty of Moraine Lake in its frozen state.
- Valley of the Ten Peaks: Take a scenic drive along the nearby road to experience the awe-inspiring views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks, of which Moraine Lake is nestled within.
Common Questions about Lake Lousie and Moraine Lake
Can you swim in Lake Louise? You can swim in Lake Louis although the water is very cold.
Are there any guided tours around Lake Louise? Yes, guided tours are available around Lake Louise, offering insights into the area’s natural history and culture. Guided hikes, gondola rides, and interpretive programs are commonly offered to enhance visitors’ experiences.
Is Lake Louise frozen in the winter? Yes, Lake Louise freezes over in the winter, creating a magical ice skating rink. The frozen lake and surrounding snowy landscapes provide a unique winter wonderland setting.
What is the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise? The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a historic and luxurious hotel located on the shores of Lake Louise. It’s an iconic landmark known for its stunning architecture, upscale accommodations, and breathtaking lake views.
What gives Moraine Lake its stunning turquoise color? The vibrant turquoise color of Moraine Lake comes from rock flour, or fine glacial sediment, that is suspended in the water. Sunlight reflecting off these particles creates the dazzling blue-green hue.
Is canoeing allowed on Moraine Lake? Yes, canoeing is permitted on Moraine Lake. Renting a canoe provides a unique way to experience the lake’s beauty up close and capture incredible photos.
Can you fish in Lake Louise? Fishing is not permitted in Lake Louise due to its status as a glacial-fed lake within a national park. However, there are nearby rivers and lakes where fishing is allowed for those interested in angling.
Looking at more adventures in the Rocky Mountains?
Check out Johnston Canyon to the Ink Pots
Or head further South and explore Rocky Mountain National Park.