The below information is is an aggregation of several sources and correct at the time of writing, the details can change and we will give current information upon request.
Each year Lake Louise and Moraine Lake become more popular. As a consequence when the car park becomes full (sometimes before dawn) the access road is closed by Parks Canada. This means that there are limited options to see some of the most iconic views of the Rockies.
Due to the pressures of accommodating more than 2 million vehicles per year, Parks Canada and the Town of Banff have introduced transit options and limited paid parking at Lake Louise to about 450 stalls.
Parks Canada say:- “The best thing we can do is make it easy, convenient and as cheap as possible and that will encourage people to use transit. We’re really hoping they understand it’s the guaranteed way to see those two lakes rather than trying to find a parking spot on a busy day.”
Parking at the lakes is not prohibited. You can still just risk driving to the access road to see if you will be permitted to drive up. This can be immensely frustrating if you can, and then wait on the road for a long time only to finally get to the car park only be turned away, as there is no queuing system if the car park is full.
This year Parks Canada have moved their park-and-ride lot to the Lake Louise ski hill and created better integration of Parks Canada shuttles with Roam transit.
Therefore the public transit options available are to take the Roam Transit from Banff or to park at the Park and Ride and take the Parks Canada shuttle. More details follow but the pros and cons of the two options are:
Roam Transit is a first come first served bus. This allows you to have more fluid plans, just turning up and hoping to get on. The downside is that you may experience long lines and you are not guaranteed a place either way (which might mean you getting stuck at Lake Louise if there is no capacity to return). However, to assist, in Banff, there is someone on duty at the High School Bus Transit point. If you get there early for the bus, and let the person on duty know what bus you are taking, they will tell you where to wait and try to ensure that people get on in a first come, first served manner.
The details of the Banff Roam Transit fares and schedules is https://roamtransit.com
Parks Canada Park and Ride parking is free and the shuttle is a paid for reserved ticket. Some tickets are being held and released 48 hours before the date, but with the surge in visitation expected this summer these are likely to be highly sought and therefore not enough to meet demand. The benefit is that you know you will be able to visit the Lakes. The downside is that you must be able to plan your day well as the tickets are for an hour long time slot on a given day. Please note that tickets must be reserved.
Parks shuttle and links to the reservation service is at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff/visit/parkbus
Once at Lake Louise Lakeshore, you can connect between Lake Louise and Moraine Lake on a first come first serve basis, via the Lake Connector shuttle (if using the Roam Transit you would need to have the Super Pass ticket).
BanffNow provides up to date real time information to visitors including availability of parking, major traffic events, suggestions on places to visit and more. Plan ahead, stay informed and get the most out of your trip to Banff National Park.
There are a number of private transit options (though these tend to be more expensive):
Hop On Banff https://www.hoponbanff.com/
The Hop on Banff Grizzly Route runs 3x daily from Banff starting at 7:45 a.m. through the summer. Stops include Banff, Johnson Canyon, Lake Louise Gondola, Lake Louise Village, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. The service gives a day ticket that allows you to Hop on and Hop off as you please.
Discover Banff Tours https://www.banfftours.com/activities/lake-louise-tour/
The Discover Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Tour by Discover Banff Tours departs Banff twice daily at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. May – October, 2022.
The Mountains Lakes & Waterfalls tour by Pursuit Collection departs daily from Banff starting at 8:30 a.m. The tour includes Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls.
Mountain Park Transportation https://www.mtnparktrans.com/tours-adventures/lake-tours/
The Canadian Rockies Mountain Lake Tour by Mountain Park Transportation includes pick-up from Banff and Lake Louise hotels and visits Lake Louise, Hector Lake, Crowfoot glacier lookout and Bow Lake.
Below is a range of information on getting around the rest of the area with places to visit and transit options.
Johnston Canyon - Route 9
Carved steeply into the limestone bedrock by thousands of years of water erosion, the dramatic Johnston Canyon is a breathtaking natural attraction in Banff National Park. Overhanging canyon walls, waterfalls, the deep pools of Johnston Creek, and lush forest are sure to leave a memorable impression. Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular destinations in Banff National Park.
By using Roam direct to the canyon from Banff, you can avoid the stress associated with parking. The route departs the downtown Banff High School Transit Hub. From here the bus travels directly to Johnston Canyon via Highway 1 and Castle Junction. The first departure time from downtown Banff is 9AM. The last departure from downtown Banff is at 6:25PM. The service runs 7 days a week during the summer months when in service.
Lake Minnewanka - Route 6
Lake Minnewanka is a large glacial lake five kilometres (three miles) from the town of Banff. The lake is 21 kilometres long. It is a hot spot in the summer months.
Johnson Lake, while beautiful, is not as well known as the other famous lakes in Banff and therefore is much quieter than other lakes. Few visitors venture to it even though it’s right next to Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake. It’s known as a local’s lake and the one place locals can head to right from town and soak in the sun and go for a leisurely dip or walk.
Route 6 provides service to Johnson Lake as well as Lake Minnewanka. The service leaves downtown Banff every 35 minutes and takes approximately 25 minutes to reach the lake. The service operates 7 days a week and the first bus departs at 8AM each morning.
Other local routes are:
Roam Route 1: Sulphur Mountain
Roam Route 2: Tunnel Mountain
Roam Route 4: Cave and Basin
Open Top Tours
Provide vintage-inspired automobiles which have the look and feel of the 1930s—including a fully-open, glass- or canvas-top roof and a guide in period costume.
E-bikes are an excellent way to get around but supply is limited (compared to demand) and we highly recommend that you consider this option as it gives you the freedom to come and go at will, without lining up for buses. If you do opt for renting an e-bike then you should plan ahead and book online.