How to avoid a headache when visiting the Rockies this long weekend

Jun 29 2019, 2:59 am

Canada Day long weekend always makes for an amazing time to get out into the Rocky Mountains… the one problem being that you and your friends will not be the only people to think up that fantastic idea.

Naturally, some of Alberta’s most gorgeous destinations will be filled to the brim on any long weekend, but especially so on a day specifically celebrating this beautiful country of ours.

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Want to hit the Rockies without feeling the headache of huge crowds, bumper to bumper traffic, and filled-to-exploding parking lots? No problem!

We, alongside our friends at Parks Canada, have a few tips and tricks to help you out this Canada Day long weekend.

For your own safety, please make sure you are prepared before heading out on your next adventure. Information on how to prepare for your trip and stay safe while on your hike is available from and AdventureSmart. Always remember to leave no trace, pack out what you pack in, stick to designated trails, and refrain from feeding wildlife. Parks Canada visitor guidelines are available here. 

Snag a shuttle

Yes, it’s nice to have a vehicle with you on a trip out to the Rockies, if only so that you can cram all your picnic gear into the trunk.

However, what’s not nice is spending half the day circling the jam-packed parking lot at Moraine Lake like a hawk.

Save yourself that slow, painful fate by grabbing a seat on one of Parks Canada’s four shuttles departing from the Lake Louise Park and Ride to Moraine Lake. They run every 30 minutes from 6 am to 7:30 am, and return between 9 am and 5:40 pm.

There are also plenty of options for getting from Calgary up into the Rockies in the first place.

Sure, you’ll have to wake up a little early to make the trip, but you can always sleep on the ride there!

Lake Louise Lake Shore can also be reached by ROAM 8S and 8X, which both stop in Lake Lousie Village.

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Moraine Lake is a glacially-fed lake in the Rocky Mountains’ Banff National Park, about 14 km outside of Lake Louise, Alberta. It is situated in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, at an elevation of approximately 1885 m. (Shutterstock)

Have reasonable expectations

It’s going to be busy. That’s the reality of the situation. Parks Canada stated in a release that the parking lots at Lake Lousie and Moraine Lake both usually fill up before sunrise, as they are iconic destination sought after by tourists from all around the world.

Instagram pros might be able to frame their photos in a way that makes it look like they’re the only ones hanging by the stunningly blue waters, but that’s far from the truth of it – there will be crowds.

Campgrounds in Banff, Yoho, and Kootenay national parks have their reserved spots completely filled up, and their first come first serve campsites are also, more than likely, already taken.. so keep that in mind before attempting a spontaneous weekend trip with the fam.

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Image: Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

Give yourself extra time

The best way to avoid the headache of long lines, huge crowds, and, worst-case-scenario, not even being able to make it to the lake at all? Plan. Ahead.

Buy some shuttle tickets in advance, get to bed a little earlier the day before, and get a head start over the thousands of other people with the same plans as you and your crew.

Besides, watching a sunrise beside one of Alberta’s must gorgeous lakes? Definitely worth the early alarm clock.

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Lake Louise sunrise/Shutterstock

Be flexible on your destination

Okay, so you didn’t manage to get into the Rockies as early as you’d have liked, and you’re hearing that the shuttles are full and the parking lots are an overflowing battleground…

Now what?

Well, luckily enough for you, the Rocky Mountains are filled with many gorgeous areas to explore, which — while they might not carry the same historical weight as the likes of Lake Louise — still make for more than memorable day trips.

Swing by Bow Lake, Peyto Lake, or Emerald Lake for a (somewhat) quieter experience, while still taking in all the beauty of the Albertan Rockies.

Lake Louise and Moraine Lake aren’t going anywhere, after all.

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Moraine Lake, Alberta/Shutterstock

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Chandler WalterChandler Walter

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