Thinking of doing a day trip to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake from Banff?
Yes, it is totally doable, and in this article, you will find all the information needed to visit these beautiful lakes in the Canadian Rockies.
No trip to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, is complete without a visit to the postcard-perfect Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.
These lakes are famous for all the right reasons, with the turquoise blue waters and views of the surrounding mountains that feed glacier water into the lake. The Fairmont Chateau at the banks of Lake Louise almost gives it a fairytale feeling.
As Lake Louise is an expensive location to stay overnight, many travelers choose to do a day trip to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake from Banff.
Lake Louise and Moraine Lake enjoy close proximity to Banff town, and it is easy to see both of them on a day trip.
In our seven-day Banff and Jasper road trip itinerary, Lake Louise was our favorite and we found it to be the most beautiful.
➡ In a hurry? Below are my top recommendations for Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and nearby attractions –
- Hop-on Hop-off bus from Banff – Goes to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. You cannot drive to Moraine Lake yourself anymore due to parking restrictions.
- Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway full-day tour from Banff – Includes Moraine Lake!
- Columbia Icefield Glacier and Skywalk combo tour tickets – most popular thing to do near Lake Louise!
- Banff Gondola round trip admission ticket
- 1-hour Lake Minnewanka Cruise in Banff
- Jasper Wildlife and Waterfalls Tour with Maligne Lake Cruise from Jasper
➡ For rental car, check rates and availability with Discover Cars for best rates.
➡ Top Hotel Recommendations:
One day in Lake Louise and Moraine Lake itinerary
My Lake Louise and Moraine lake itinerary below will allow you to experience both lakes in a day trip from Banff. There are accommodation options listed as well, in case you decide to spend the night at one of these lakes.
Below is a summary of day trip to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Itinerary:
Morning: Visit Lake Louise
- Admire the stunning Lake Louise views
- Hike the short Lake Louise Lakeshore trail for epic views
- Do the moe challenging Lake Agnes Tea House hike
- Try Canoeing at Lake Louise
- Indulge in afternoon tea at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
- Ride the Lake Louise Summer Gondola
Late Afternoon: Visit Moraine Lake
- Admire the magnificent Moraine Lake views
- Hike the Moraine Lake Lakeshore trail
- Climb the Rockpile for epic photos
- Admire Sunset at Lake Moraine
- Try Canoeing at Moraine Lake
Visiting Lake Louise
Lake Louise is the most famous lake in the Canadian Rockies. Located in Banff National Park, in the Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise is famous for its turquoise waters, majestic mountain backdrop, and endless opportunities for exploration.
One of the best things about visiting Lake Louise is that there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a casual stroller, or just looking for a scenic spot to relax, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.
During winter Lake Louise is frozen and a winter wonderland with ice skating, skiing, and snowshoeing activities.
Things to do in Lake Louise in one day
You can spend half a day just admiring the Lake Louise views if you wish, but there are also plenty of things to do at Lake Louise! You can do hiking, canoeing, taking a gondola ride to the top for scenic views, and fine dining.
For a day trip, other than admiring the lake itself, it’s best to pick one hike and either canoeing or gondola ride.
Admire the Lake Louise views
Once you leave the Lake Louise visitor parking lot, it’s just a brief stroll to reach the Lakeshore of Lake Louise. The vistas that unfold before you are nothing short of magnificent.
The turquoise-blue waters of the lake glisten in the sunlight, while the Victoria glacier and the majestic mountains provide a breathtaking backdrop.
And towering above it all like a regal crown is the iconic Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise, adding to the splendor of the scene.
Lake Louise is truly one of the most magical lakes in the Canadian Rockies.
Hike the Lake Louise Lakeshore trail
The Lakeshore Trail at Lake Louise is a pleasant, almost-flat out-and-back path that runs along the right side of the lake, taking you to the far end of the lake. This trail is ideal for all levels of hikers, as it’s an easy stroll that’s doable by most people.
The trail begins as a paved pathway near the Fairmont Chateau Hotel, and then turns into a dirt trail. As you follow the trail, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Fairmont Chateau from the other end of the lake.
The entire trail spans about three miles round trip and takes about an hour. While the trailhead can be quite busy, the crowds tend to thin out as you get further away from the start.
The scenery along the trail is simply breathtaking, with picture-perfect views at every turn. Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply looking for a peaceful stroll, the Lakeshore Trail is a must-visit when at Lake Louise.
Lake Agnes Tea House hike
If you are up for a more moderately challenging hike, the Lake Agnes trail that leads to the Lake Agnes teahouse is a very popular trail in Lake Louise.
The trail starts from the Lake Louise lakeshore area. It is around 5 miles out and back with 1,427 feet of elevation gain. You should plan to keep around 3-4 hours for this hike.
The Lake Agnes teahouse is very busy during summer, and there are lines out the door! Skip the Lakeshore trail if doing this one, as you will need time to visit Moraine Lake later in the day.
Canoeing at Lake Louise
Canoeing at Lake Louise is an incredible experience to enjoy the calm waters of the lake and soak in the views of the Victoria Glacier. Paddling your canoe across the iconic Lake Louise will be a memory you will always cherish.
Canoe rentals at Lake Louise are available at the Boathouse on the west shore of the lake. You can rent a canoe for an hour or a half hour. Each canoe can hold three adults or two adults and two small children.
There are discounted prices for hotel guests vs. day visitors. Canoeing at Lake Louise is a bucket list activity!
Fairmont Chateau also has a Sunrise Canoe experience at Lake Louise only for hotel guests. Imagine the photo opportunities at sunrise! Another reason to stay at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise!
Afternoon tea at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
If you have never tried afternoon high tea before, this is a must-do thing at Lake Louise. This will definitely be a memorable experience, and you will feel like royalty.
The afternoon tea has a fixed, regular menu, an alternative vegetarian/vegan menu, plus a children’s menu. The food menu has three categories – Scones, Savories, and desserts.
The tea menu has a lot of options with all the classic tea blends, herbal teas, and specials like Masala chai! Everyone gets their own cute teapots.
This tea experience at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise was one of the highlights of our trip. I was so glad we decided to try it. This also made us feel part of Fairmont Chateau even though we didn’t stay there and added to our Lake Louise experience.
Plan to spend around 2 hours for afternoon tea at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
Lake Louise Summer Gondola
The Lake Louise ski resort operates Gondola rides in the summer. This is a good way to see the panoramic aerial ways of Lake Louise and the surrounding mountains.
The tickets can be purchased at the lower Gondola station. They have both enclosed gondolas as well as open chair lifts, so depending on the weather, you can choose!
There are high chances of spotting wildlife in the mountain while going up or down the Gondola. There are several hiking trails at the top if you would like to explore the area and see different views. The area is electric-fenced, so you can explore the trails without worrying about bears.
There is a wildlife information center at the top as well as a restaurant with some great views!
Parking at Lake Louise
Parking at Lake Louise can be a bit of a challenge due to the popularity of this iconic destination. The parking lot at Lake Louise can fill up quickly, especially during the peak tourist season, which typically runs from July through August.
If you plan to visit during these months, it’s best to arrive very early in the morning to secure a parking spot. The parking lot can sometimes fill up before sunrise at Lake Louise!
In the busy months of July and August, it is highly recommended to use the shuttle service to avoid being turned away from the parking lot. Alternatively, you can book the Hop-on Hop-off bus from Banff.
Shuttle service to Lake Louise
During the busy tourist months of May to October, the Parks Canada shuttle service runs between Lake Louise Park and Ride at Lake Louise Ski Resort, Lake Louise, and Moraine Lake. Advance reservations are required and can be made on the Parks Canada website.
If you pick Lake Louise during the shuttle reservation, you board the Lake Louise shuttle at the Park and Ride.
After visiting Lake Louise, you can then board a connector shuttle to Moraine Lake at no extra cost with your existing reservation. At Lake Moraine you can then board a shuttle to go back to the Park and Ride to your car.
Visiting Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake is a stunning glacially fed lake located in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. Known for its crystal-clear waters and striking blue-green hue, Moraine Lake is a popular destination and often referred to as one of the most beautiful places in the world.
After exploring the incredible Lake Louise to your heart’s content, go to Lake Moraine. It’s around a 30-minute drive from Lake Louise. Leaving Lake Louise latest by 4 PM will allow you to visit both Lake Louise and Moraine lake in a day trip.
Note: Starting in 2023, you can no longer drive your personal vehicle to Moraine Lake due to parking congestion.
Things to do in Moraine Lake in one day
The stunning scenery, hiking trails, and outdoor activities make Moraine Lake a perfect day trip destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.
Moraine Lake views
As you approach the lake, you are immediately struck by its beauty. The surrounding mountains and forest create a picturesque backdrop for the lake’s turquoise waters.
Moraine Lake has unmatched beauty and is truly one of the most beautiful lakes in the world!
We visited Moraine lake in the first week of June, and it was a winter wonderland! The lake was still frozen with recent snow on it, and everyone was playing in the snow. It was an amazing experience!
There is a massive rock pile on one end of the lake, the lake in the middle, and snow-covered mountains around it.
Moraine Lake Lakeshore trail
The Moraine Lake Lakeshore trail is a nice out-and-back walk along the side of the lake that goes till the very end of the lake. There is a small stream at the end. The total trail length is 3 miles and is fairly crowded the first half of the trail.
The views are incredible in the morning as the water changes to different hues of vibrant blue with the sun’s location. The canoes in the lake add a nice touch of color to the blue waters.
Moraine Lake Rockpile viewpoint
Almost all of the amazing pictures of Lake Moraine that you see on the internet are taken from the top of the rockpile which is on one end of Moraine Lake.
First, when I saw that massive rock pile, I wondered how the people managed to scramble this.
Later I learned there is easy access to the top of the rockpile via some stairs in the back! It is less than half a mile, and you will be at the top of the rockpile to take that amazing shot of Moraine Lake with the ten mountain peaks in the backdrop.
Sunrise and Sunset at Lake Moraine
Starting in 2023, the only way to go to Moraine Lake at sunrise is with a commercial transport provider, as personal vehicles are not allowed at Moraine Lake, and the Parks Canada shuttle does not operate before 6 AM.
Please keep in mind that sunrise in that region during the summer months is around 5:30 AM, and sunset is around 10 PM. If making a day trip, it might be better to stay later for the sunset and then drive back to Banff.
If staying for sunset, make sure to check the shuttle timings or your transport provider’s timings so that you do not miss the last bus back.
Canoeing at Moraine Lake
Paddling through the beautiful blue waters of Lake Moraine and admiring the mountains around you is a meditative experience.
Canoe rentals by the hour are available at Moraine Lake on the canoe dock operated by the Moraine Lake Lodge.
The canoe rentals are first come, first served and can seat 2 to 3 adults. The rental includes life jackets, paddles, and instructions.
The canoe dock is seasonal and is only operational from mid-June to mid-September.
Parking at Moraine Lake
From 2023 onwards, visitors to Moraine Lake will no longer be able to drive their personal vehicles to Moraine Lake.
Instead, you’ll need to rely on alternative modes of transportation such as the Parks Canada shuttle service, the Hop-on Hop-off bus from Banff, or taking a day tour to Moraine Lake. You can also use the ROAM Transit bus from Banff.
This change was introduced as parking congestion has become a significant issue in the last few years, with the Moraine Lake parking lot remaining full 24 hours a day and staff having to continuously turn away visitors coming to Moraine Lake.
Shuttle to Moraine Lake
There is a shuttle service that runs between Lake Louise Park and Ride and Moraine lake from May to October. Advance reservations are required and can be made on the Parks Canada website.
If you pick Moraine Lake during the shuttle reservation, you board the Moraine Lake shuttle at the Park and Ride.
After visiting Moraine Lake, you can then board a connector shuttle to Lake Louise at no extra cost with your existing reservation. At Lake Louise, you can board a shuttle to return to the Park and Ride to your car.
Canoe at Lake Louise or at Lake Moraine
If you are a guest at Fairmont Lake Louise, then you will get hotel guest discounts on canoe rentals at Lake Louise. In that case, it makes more sense to canoe at Lake Louise.
If you are a day visitor to both lakes, then it all depends on which lake you find more beautiful, as everyone has their own viewpoint. The hourly canoe rental prices on both lakes are similar, so other considerations are parking at the lake and the line for canoe rental.
Personally, I think canoeing at Lake Moraine is a more stunning experience with the majestic ten peaks to admire. Both lake boathouses get busy in the middle of the day, so it’s best to either go early morning or later in the evening to avoid long waits.
Where to stay at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
This Lake Louise itinerary is for one day, but if you decide to stay overnight to see sunrise or sunset at either of the lakes, there are some great accommodation options here.
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is the place to stay if you can afford it! It’s like living in a castle built at the edge of the most beautiful lake in the world! It is luxury at its finest!
Lake Louise Inn is a budget-friendly option at Lake Louise. We stayed here for one night, and it was pretty nice. The lobby is impressive, and they have several restaurants. Some of the buildings are newly renovated.
Moraine Lake Lodge at Moraine Lake is a luxury lodge with cabin-style accommodations. A lot of amenities are complimentary in the reservation, like breakfast, afternoon tea, Canoe rental, free parking, and guided hikes.
How to get to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake?
Luckily, Lake Louise is only a 40-minute drive from Banff, and Lake Moraine is another 30 minutes from Lake Louise, making it very easy to make a day trip to Lake Louise from Banff and see both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in one day.
You would need to start your day early from Banff to experience them both in one day.
Below are distances and travel times to Lake Louise from nearby cities:
- Travel time from Banff to Lake Louise – 40 minutes drive (57 km/35 miles)
- Travel time from Canmore to Lake Louise – 50 minutes drive (80 km/50 miles)
- Travel time from Calgary to Lake Louise – 2-hour drive (183 km/113 miles)
- Travel time from Jasper to Lake Louise – 3-hour drive (232 km/144 miles
There are three ways you can get to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake from Banff – rent a car, take a day tour to Lake Louise, or use the Hop-on hop-off Banff transport service.
Rent a car to drive to Lake Louise
Most visitors to Banff and Lake Louise fly into Calgary, and it is best to rent a car from Calgary airport.
Take a day tour from Banff to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
Alternatively, you can take a day tour to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake from Banff and ensure you experience all the highlights and not worry about driving.
➡ Check rates and availability for this top-rated small group Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway full-day tour from Banff which covers top sights in Lake Louise, Icefields Parkway, and Moraine Lake (when open).
Use a transport service
Another option from June to September is to use this Hop-on Hop-off bus from Banff that stops at Banff town, Jonhston Canyon, Lake Louise, and Moraine Lake, and you can explore on your own at your own pace.
The bus has a guide on board to answer all your questions about Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.
➡ Check rates and availability for Hop-on Hop-off bus from Banff
You can also use the ROAM Transit Service from Banff to Lake Louise.
Where to eat at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
If you are a guest at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, there are several restaurants within Fairmont that cater to hotel guests and visitors. Afternoon tea at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a unique dining option for day visitors to Fairmont.
Timberwolf Pizza and Pasta Cafe at Lake Louise Inn is great for lunch or dinner. They have some great pizzas and appetizers. Lake Louise Inn is in the village, a short drive from Lake Louise.
Lake Louise Inn also has a breakfast buffet at their Legends restaurant. The buffet spread was quite good and they even had a chocolate fountain!
Moraine Lake Lodge Cafe is open from 9 AM to 5 PM and has got hot and cold deli items, snacks, and beverages. You can buy some snacks and refreshments here for the ride back to Banff.
If you are a guest at the Moraine Lake Lodge, you will have access to complimentary breakfast. You can also make dinner reservations at their Walter Wilcox Dining Room restaurant.
Things to do near Lake Louise
There are several amazing things to do near Lake Louise:
- Drive on Icefields Parkway and admire the jaw-dropping sights from the stops along Icefields Parkway. Icefields parkway drive starts from Lake Louise and goes all the way to Jasper National Park.
- Visit Jasper National Park – Jasper National Park has so many incredible things to do, like Lake Maligne, Johnston Canyon Falls, and Whistler Mountain.
- Visit Banff National Park. Banff National Park is very popular and usually a base for people visiting the Canadian Rockies. There are plenty of amazing things to do in Banff, like the Banff Gondola, Banff hot springs, Lake Minnewanka, and many more.
- Explore Calgary – If flying into Calgary for your trip to Banff, consider staying a couple of days to explore the many amazing places to visit in Calgary.
Final Takeaways: Day trip to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
Lake Louise and Lake Moraine are the most scenic destinations I have ever been to and a must-do in any Banff National Park itinerary.
Even if you are short of time, it is really possible to visit both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake in one day by making a day trip. Pick a few things to do from my list at each lake that best suits you.
Hope this post helps you plan your Lake Louise itinerary and you have an amazing time in the Canadian Rockies!
Check out other posts from my Banff and Jasper National Park series: