‘Life is like water, if you block one side, it takes another turn to continue its journey.’ – Unknown
While I was able to get camp spots in Banff, I neglected to realize that you needed to have shuttle reservations to access Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Due to crowds and limited parking at either location, you have only have a couple of options-book a room at the inn at either lake, hike the 10 or so miles up hill, or take the shuttle. This is where being a solo traveler comes in handy. I arrived in the town of Lake Louise (I use the term ‘town’ loosely, lol) just before 10 am. I saw you had to have shuttle reservations, which I did not have. So I quickly went to the website and snagged the only spot on the 10 am shuttle. Phew!
The shuttles depart from the ski area a few minutes from town, very easy to get to. Just park and check in at the kiosk. If you don’t have a shuttle reservation, you can go straight here to see if any are available or purchase for later in the day. I boarded the shuttle and off I went. The shuttle will take you to both glacier lakes. Once you arrive, you can spend as much time as you would like before getting on the next shuttle (which will take you to the other lake or back to your car and once you leave, you cannot rebound the shuttle to go back). It was nice to explore both lakes and the weather was lovely!
There are cafes at both locations. You can also rent a canoe to explore via the water. I just wandered around a because I had bigger plans to return! One of the reasons I picked the campsites at Lake Louise is the proximity to the lakes after hours. I decided to split sunset and sunrise. I had read Moraine Lake is one of the best sunrises in North America and it was easier to get a parking spot for sunset at Lake Louise, so that is what I did.
I returned to Lake Louise about an hour before sunset. I had some snacks, a book, and some music (my travel essentials) and found a great spot right in the middle of the lake. As I’m sure you know from my blog and, particularly, my Instagram, I am a sucker for a sunset. This may be because I am rarely up early enough to catch the sunrise but regardless. The sunset at Lake Louise was magical. The cloud were perfect and the sky turned a really pretty pinkish-blue. It was just very calm and not a ton of people there, so that was nice. You know where there were still a lot of people…Moraine Lake. I thought afterward my sunset I could catch the waining light there. I could not. The parking lot was still closed and the road was blocked. The goal was sunrise anyway!
Sunrise at Moraine Lake is a commitment. In order to get a parking spot, you have to be there by 3 am for the 7 am-ish sunrise. I was car camping so I slept in my clothes, set my alarm, and headed out about 2:30 am. Perk of a close camp spot. I had a small lantern and found a seat on the banks of the lake. There are other spots on top of the hill you can climb to get better views but maneuvering on rocks in pitch darkness didn’t seem like a great idea but I did move over there eventually. My perch was great because you could see the moon shift and it would have been behind me on the rocks. I met a really nice couple from Arkansas and we chatted a bit, which helped pass the time. It was not super cold but definitely wear some layers.
I am going to be completely honest, I enjoyed the sunset more than this sunrise. The mirror effect is cool, and more apt to happen first thing in the morning when the water is its calmest, but it was fine. Maybe because it ended up being a bluebird sky but I enjoyed Lake Louise better. And that is immediately where I headed after the the sun came out. And I think my Lake Louise post-sunrise pictures are better too. I am glad I experienced it wasn’t the best I have ever seen…sorry!