LAKE LOUISE – Visitors to the lakeshore of Lake Louise will have to pay for parking this year as part of a two-year pilot project.
Parks Canada is introducing paid parking at the Upper Lake Louise lots from mid-May to mid-October, charging a flat rate of $11.70 per vehicle per day.
“Vehicles will be turned around when the parking lot is full,” said James Eastham, public relations and communications officer for Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay in a statement.
In addition, Parks Canada is introducing a reservation-only shuttle system to both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.
Visitors are urged to plan ahead by reserving their shuttle seat in advance at reservation.pc.gc.ca.
Reservations open beginning April 28, and additional available seats may be released starting 48 hours prior to departure.
“Reservations are required for a seat on a Parks Canada shuttle to Lake Louise or Moraine Lake and are the only way to guarantee visitors will see both lakes,” Eastham said.
“Parking is limited at both lakes and it is difficult to find parking in a personal vehicle.”
Banff National Park’s visitation is about 4.1 million people per year; with only 7.2 per cent, or 287,000 of those people arriving by mass transit such as private bus tours. The rest arrive in private vehicles.
Over the past 10 years, vehicle traffic in the park has increased 30 per cent overall, with some tourist hotspots such as the road leading to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, showing increases of up to 70 per cent.
New in 2021, is that visitors will book a shuttle bus seat within a one-hour window, rather than an exact departure time.
Eastham said this will allow for greater flexibility in allowing buses to depart while adapting the number of riders to meet COVID-19 guidelines and increase ability to physically distance.
“Buses will continue to depart on schedule, but visitors will have the ability to arrive at the park-and-ride at any point within their pre-reserved, one-hour time slot,” he said.
“A single reservation provides service to both Lake Louise Lakeshore and Moraine Lake, and returns to the Park and Ride.”
Visitors will be issued a proof of purchase that allows them to access a Lake Connector shuttle between Lake Louise Lakeshore and Moraine Lake.
The Lake Connector will run every 15 minutes and boarding is on a first-come first-served basis.
“Reserving a seat on a Parks Canada shuttle guarantees the ability to see both iconic destinations in one day,” Eastham said.
Pricing includes the use of the Lake Connector: Adult (18-64) - $8; Senior (65+) - $4; Youth (6-17) - $2; and Child (under six years) – free.
Roam transit from the Town of Banff will connect with Parks Canada shuttles at the Park and Ride.