Visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in 2024? Here’s what you need to know

Visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in the Canadian Rockies is a rite of passage for many photographers and outdoor enthusiasts. I’ve been three times now, but it was the first time for my fiancee, and I was so stoked to show her what I believe is the most beautiful part of North America. (PS: She LOVED it!)

This area is ripe for adventure and exploration and should be on everyone’s bucket list. It’ ‘s honestly that good, which is why I’m writing a detailed guide for visiting the two most famous lakes in the area.

Inside, you’ll get everything you need to hike, photograph, and explore this pristine landscape!

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Top Things to Know When Visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

I’m covering everything you need to know about visiting these two famous lakes.

Lake Louise

a view of lake louise in banff national park
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

How To Get There

There are four ways to get to Lake Louise during the busy summer months.

  1. Take a shuttle
  2. Hike in
  3. Drive in, but you’ll want to get there early or late to beat the traffic
  4. Stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise


Most people will want to park at Lake Louise Ski Resort, where all the shuttles will pick them up. You’ll want to book your shuttle with Parks Canada, but if there are no open slots, there are private companies that will also take you.

However, if you’re in the town of Banff, you can hop on one of the ROAM buses and be dropped off at Lake Louise. I believe it’s $5 for all-day access.


Don’t want to pay for any buses? You can hike from Lake Louise Village up to the lake. It’s two miles each way with 800 feet of gain. I anticipate this will take 75 minutes. Make sure to bring bear spray while you go. See the route.


You are allowed to drive in and park at Lake Louise. The issue is there’s limited parking and even when people were exiting, they weren’t letting you park. We drove up and were immediately sent back down, which was annoying.

If you plan to do this, arrive early in the morning or later in the evening when most crowds have dispersed.

It costs $37 CAD to park to visit Lake Louise.


The final way to get to Lake Louis is to stay at the famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. As someone who hasn’t stayed there, I have no idea if parking is extra on top of your room charge, but I know they offer parking.

Hike to Lake Anges Tea House (Moderate)
half frozen lake agnes in the canadian rockies
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

This is one of the classic and popular hikes in the Lake Louise area. It’s not too long and is a gentle approach to the Lake Agnes Tea House.

You can combine this with either of the Beehive hikes, Devil’s Thumb, or even go all the way out to the Plain of Many Glaciers Tea House.

5 miles, 1,300 feet of gain

Hike to the Big or Little Beehive (Moderate to Hard)
the view looking down at lake louise from the little beehive. it' sone of the top hikes when visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

I highly recommend making your way to one of the Beehive lookouts. It was INCREDIBLE to see Lake Louise from above. The Little Beehive is only a couple hundred feet lower, so neither is overly difficult. That said, the Big Beehive route will hold snow far longer than the Little Beehive, so if you’re visiting early in the season, go with the latter route.

6 miles to Little Beehive
7 miles to Big Beehive

Hike the Plain of Many Glaciers (Moderate)

I did this one back in 2017 and loved it. It’s pretty mellow for the first two miles as you hike along the Lake Louis shoreline. After you leave the lake, you’ll start your elevation gain to the tea house. I was astounded at the glaciers high above, seemingly holding on for dear life.

It was a great hike with far fewer crowds.

9 miles, 1,700 feet of gain

Hike the Devils Thumb (Hard)

This one has a very steep final section to the top with unbelievable views of Lake Louise, Lake Anges, and the surrounding peaks. Probably not for those who don’t like loose rocks and steep slopes.

8 miles, 3,000 feet of gain

Trek the Fairview Lookout Loop (Easy to Moderate)

This provides you a shorter and easier way to get above Lake Louise. Most likely best for those short on time or not looking for a hard hike.

1.5 miles, 500 feet of gain

Summit Mount Fairview (Hard)

Looking to get way above Lake Louise? This is your route. I haven’t done it, but the trail reports look like this is a non-technical hike all the way up.

6 miles, 3,300 feet of gain

Enjoy Sunrise or Sunset (Easy)

Come and hang out at Lake Louise and soak in the stunning views of one of the most famous lakes in the world. There are no bad views here and plenty of benches to sit on while you eat or drink.

Rent Canoes on Lake Louise (Easy)
two canoers raise their hands while on lake louise. This is a popular visitor activity when visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Looking to get out on the water, you can rent canoes on Lake Louise (walk to the left side of the lake) for an hour at a time. For an hour, it is $165 – though if you’re staying at the hotel, you’ll save $60.

Moraine Lake

How To Get There

Due to rule changes by Banff National Park in 2023, you can no longer drive your personal vehicle to Moraine Lake. Due to this, there are only three ways to reach Moraine Lake in 2024.

  1. Buy a shuttle pass (Select day use and then the shuttles)
  2. Stay a night at the ~$800 per night Moraine Lake Lodge
  3. Ride your bike to the lake. It’s 10.5 miles (17km) with 1,200 feet of elevation gain (400 meters).

The odds are that most of you will pick the shuttle, so let’s dive into that one.

How To Get Shuttle Tickets

There are two ways to get shuttle tickets: Months in advance and two days before. I’m going to skip over the months in advance because, odds are, you either have them or, if you don’t, there are none available.

But for the “last-minute” ones, you need to log into your account at 8 a.m. Banff time and buy your tickets for the date two days in advance. These will go fast, so don’t doddle.

If you don’t get the Parks Canada shuttles, there are private buses that will drive you.

Alpine Start

blue hour when visit moraine lake in banff national park
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

During the summer months, they offer a 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. shuttle. Over summer, sunrise is at 530 ish, meaning that if you want to be there before dawn, you need to be on the 4 a.m. shuttle. This is because the ride from Lake Louise to Moraine Lake is about 25 minutes.

Later in the year, the 4 a.m. shuttle will be too early, and you’ll simply be sitting in the dark at the Rockpile.

They only offer a select number of these seats and one bus, so there is a very limited selection of buses for these parks.

What to bring for an early start at Moraine Lake:

This screenshot of the Parks Canada website shows availability for the shuttles.

Other Hours

Regular shuttles run throughout the day, starting at 6:30 a.m., bringing guests from the Lake Louise Ski Resort to Moraine Lake.

Click to view tours around the Canadian Rockies


My fiancee and I paid $19 CAD for the Alpine Start shuttle to visit Moraine Lake. (The shuttle costs $8 CAD per person, with a $3 CAD booking fee.) Unfortunately, you also have to spend $36.75 CAD to park at Lake Louise.

Watch Sunrise (Easy)

The hardest part is waking up at 3:30 a.m. during the summer months to get to the shuttle. But once you’re there, you’ll get to experience the Valley of Ten Peaks and soak in the majestic views. It’s honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.

two hikers smile at the camera at moraine lake.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Remember, you have to book a Moraine Lake Alpine Shuttle to get here. (Unless you’re paying for a night at the lodge.)

Hike up to Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass (Moderate to Hard)

This is one awesome hike! In 2021, I hiked up to Sentinel Pass during fall colors and was blown away by the views. Larch Valley is a nice turnaround for those not looking to add extra miles but gonig all the way up is mindblowingly beautiful.

Larch Valley: 5.5 miles, 1,800 feet of gain
Sentinel Pass: 7 miles, 2,500 feet of gain

Looking down into Larch Valley from Sentinel Pass in banff.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch
Climb Above Moraine Lake to the Tower of Babel (Strenuous)

This one’s not for the faint of heart. It’s an incredibly steep climb on loose scree to one of the peaks overlooking Moraine Lake. You’ll want a helmet and to be experienced at strenuous hikes to get here.

Tower of Babel: 1.8 miles, 1,700 feet of gain

Hike the Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail (Easy)

A lovely stroll through the forest with plenty of views of Moraine Lake as you head to the back of the lake. It’s predominately flat, so it’s good for all hiking levels. The last bit is on a boardwalk that takes you out to a stream that flows into the lake.

This is likely the most popular trail for those visiting Moraine Lake.

2 miles, mostly flat

a hiker stands near the lake side in canada
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch
Explore Consolation Lakes Trail (Easy to Moderate)

If you’re looking for a low-key hike in the Moraine Lake area, check out Consolation Lakes. This is a quick little hike that will get you away from most of the crowds in the area.

Consolation Lakes: 5 miles, 1000 feet of gain

Summit Mount Temple (Strenuous)

It’s probably not for many people reading this, but if you’re in for a nice scramble to a summit, Mt. Temple offers majestic views of the Canadian Rockies. You’ll hike as if you’re going to Sentinel Pass and then keep going right.

You’ll cover almost 3,000 feet of gain in 1.5 miles from the pass to the top.

Mount Temple: 9.5 miles, 5,300 feet of gain

Hike to Eiffel Lake (Moderate)

Once you’re done with the switchbacks towards Larch Valley, continue going straight on the trail toward the back of the lake. This will lead you to Eiffel Lake (and away from most crowds). From the junction, your trail is a gentle incline to the lake.

7.6 miles, 2,000 feet of gain

Paddle on Moraine Lake (Easy)

During summer and fall, you are able to rent canoes. These cost $140 CAD per hour. If you come too early in the season, the lake won’t be full yet, which prevents them from being rented.

Where to Stay When Visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

Let’s dive into what sort of lodging options there are while you’re visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

Camping Options

We camped our way through the Canadian Rockies and had decent weather, except for the last evening/morning when it rained. On our first night, we stayed at Monarch Campground, a first-come, first-serve spot in Yoho National Park. It’s a 12-minute drive to Lake Louise Village.

This is considered primitive camping by Canada terms because there are no showers or flush toilets. That said, there is running water and a place to wash dishes. It’s also just down the street from Kickinghorse Campground, which requires reservations (and has showers).

Monarch Campground

Monarch Campground was $20 CAD per night, and you either have to pay cash or write down your credit card information. We arrived around 11 a.m., and the campground was empty. But later that afternoon, it had filled up. So, if you’re looking for a spot and all the other campgrounds in the area are full, try your hand at this one.

Banff Lake Louise Soft-Sided Campground

a 4runner and tent are in a campground

We also stayed at the Lake Louise Campground. This was to get us shower access and to get us closer to the Lake Loise area because we were doing an alpine start for Moraine Lake and wanted to cut down our drive time at 4:30 a.m.

There are hundreds of spots, but because of its location, it’s super popular and should be full most weekends. If you are looking to camp in the area, make sure to book ahead of time or check for cancellations.

This spot cost us just under $50 CAD per night.

Hotel Options

As you can surely imagine, hotel costs during the summer months are not cheap. It’s why we camped. But if you’re looking to not sleep on the ground, here are some hotel options in the area.

Solo/Younger Travelers: HI Lake Louise Hostel—I’ve stayed here twice, and it’s been awesome. It’s one of the best-located hostels, and for the price point, it’s super affordable!
HI Lake Louise HostelHI Banff Hostel
Mid-Range Options: Mountaineer LodgeDeer LodgeLake Louise Inn
Luxury Options: Emerald Lake LodgeChateau Lake Louise Baker Creek by Basecamp

Things to Consider When Visiting the Canadian Rockies

Be Prepared for Changing Weather

Even in mid-June, my fiancee and I were rained and lightly snowed on almost every day. This is what happens in the mountains this far north. When visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, it’s smart to always be prepared for inclement weather and hike with a warm jacket at all times.

Summer Crowds Are Real

If it’s easy to get to, it’s going to be crowded. The only way to diminish the crowds is to show up early in the morning or later in the day. Another thing is to try to time your locations to be there when tour buses are not there.

Plan a Full Day on the Icefields Parkway

the view from the icefields parkway in banff and jasper national park
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

This is the most scenic paved road in North America. It’s 140 miles long, stretching from Lake Louise to Jasper, Alberta. The entire thing – and I say that quite literally – is picturesque, requiring a full day to see the sights.

I cannot implore this enough. Do not rush this!

Canada’s Exchange Rate is About 25% Off

Coming from the USA, our dollar is far stronger than the Canadian dollar. Because of this, whenever you buy something, your credit card will receive an unofficial 25% discount.

Expect Higher Gas Prices

Gas Prices are equivalent to $6.20 a gallon or so. But when factoring in the currency exchange rate, they’ll come down to below $5.

Be Wildlife Smart

a black bear hangs out on the side of the road in banff national park
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Bears and other wildlife frequent the Canadian Rockies. When you’re visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, do not approach or feed any wild animal, especially bears. And when you’re hiking, carry bear spray on all hikes.

What photography gear to bring?

snowy mountain peaks rise above a lake on the icefields parkway. It's one of the popular places when visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

I carried a 24-105mm and 70-200mm lens for my hikes. For driving, I made sure to have my 150-600mm lens close by in case we saw wildlife.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

The Canadian Rockies are one of my favorite places to explore, and my most recent trip lit a fire under me that I had been missing for a while. Visiting Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are two of the most spectacular places North America offers, and you’ll have to pick up your jaw after it hits the floor.

The views are truly that good, and seeing places like this is a blessing.

Until next time, adventurers, stay safe.

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Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside